clay soil suggestions

ajab124(z5 WI)May 25, 2003

I have clay soil and I hate to amend soil,I want plants/flowers that do well in ANY soil. Suggestions please! Thanks! Julie

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catahoula(NE Alabama)

CLAY IS THE PITS!!! Here in Alabama I belive thats all we have!! Like you I am not into amending soil. But I have had luck with many plants. Roses love it!! As do Rose of Sharons, irises, Kerria, daffodils, forsynia, tickseed, ice plants, sedium, hostas, Glads, impatiens, cannas. I will however dig a hole and add some store bought top soil to help out some of the ones I am wary of and so far the carnations, dusty miller, and lavender are all doing good. Oh and I also mulch as much as my wallet allows. When I see something new that I love, I look for a CHEAP one and try it. If it makes it THEN I get more. I also dont feed them but maybe twice a year to keep from burning them up. Hope this helps!!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2003 at 9:06PM
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Windy007

I grow hardy hibiscus, poppies, forsythia, honeysuckle,roses,ornamental grasses, sunflowers, morning glories, cosmos, marigolds, datura,catmint, cat thyme,coreopsis,rudbeckias, Mexican hat, Boxwoods, Obedient plant, ajuga, vinca, hiacynth bean vine, dame's rocket, spirea,daylilies,Iris.
I grow just about anything in this soil. Good drainage is probably the trick rather than amending soil with any humus or manure.
The soil does get worse when left to dry out, so watering is necessary when starting things from seed to make sure they germinate before drying out.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2003 at 10:28AM
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Sheila_GeorgiaPeach(Lincolnton GA)

I too also have clay soil-Georgia red clay, so I can fully sympathize. Last year was my first time gardening and I didn't know anything about the disadvantage of clay soil back then or anything about amendments. When I started having problems due to my clay soil, I found this garden site. All suggestions to me was that the only solution to clay soil was amendments. By the time I had these suggestions, my plants were already established in my garden. And it takes a long time to amend clay soil until it becomes rich soil. So what I did was to keep stacks of newspaper around my plants, and then this past fall/winter when my garden was through, started throwing all my kitchen scrapes, coffee grounds and any grass clippings or leaves that I had, over the fence into my garden, and just left it to lay. This created a lasagna bed. It was no more work to save my kitchen scrapes in a container next to my trash can in the kitchen than it was to throw them into the garbage can. When my container was full, I just went out into the yard and threw them over the fence. Since my grass has to be cut all the time anyway, I just threw that over the fence also. This year I hope to have better luck with my clay soil than last year, but it will still be a couple of years before I see a lot of rich soil. Just a suggestion since you don't like to put amendments in your soil, this was no trouble to do.
Sheila

    Bookmark   May 28, 2003 at 8:34AM
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billsgirl

The following is a list of plants that should do well in clay soil:
Aster novae-angliae
Echinacea purpurea
Liatris
Monarda fistulosa
Ratibida pinnata
Rudbeckia hirta
Solidago rigida
Hope this is helpful.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2003 at 10:15AM
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DaisyBird(z5 IL)

I have clay everywhere and as we've "redone" the yard over the years we have amended the soil--except in one large stretch of the yard where we got lazy. But there I have hostas, lungwort, pansies and impatiens growing and the lenten roses I planted last spring came up beautifully too. My buddleia, day lilies, cone flowers and columbine also do just fine. If anything, I throw a handful of peat into the hole when planting and cover with some mulch.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2003 at 11:22AM
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artemiss(7 AL)

The best thing I've done for my Alabama brickyard garden (nothin' but clay) is to install drip irrigation. Well, my husband actually installed it, I just directed the installation ;>) I plant high, use good topsoil to mound around each plant, mulch, and add drippers to the system as I go. I recommend it highly...it's easy to install (I probably could have done it myself but don't tell DH!)...and it's sure easier than amending the clay.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2003 at 9:19PM
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loniesmom(z5 (6?) NE OH)

I emphatically agree with two previously stated suggestions - mulch as much as your wallet will allow and as you plant mix some of that mulch along with some compost to each hole, planting a little higher than you normally would and mound the 'good' mixed clay/mulch/compost around the top of the rootball and follow with a good thick layer of mulch on top of that; if you're only 'amending' one hole at a time it's WAY less work than the idea of digging out an entire bed or yard (which I'd NEVER do). After 3 years of this approach I'm mixing back in the original mulch which has partially decomposed and it makes a huge difference. I can see my plants performing dramatically better than those of my neighbors.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2003 at 3:30PM
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david123(4b/5a WI)

Our landscaper suggested we simply set the bottom of the plant on top of the clay (balled/burlapped and containerized plants) with no hole dug at all and then cover the root ball with top soil. Our neighbors landscaper told them the same thing- The planting beds look wonderful- slightly raised- gives the plants a few inches-a foot extra height. These landscapers claim that even with ammending, the clay hole will hold water like a bowl. Which was exactly what was happening to our poor shrub and tree planting holes. We are all crossing our fingers that this will work- but it can't be any worse than what we have been doing and failing at!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2003 at 6:26PM
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froghouse

We have clay soil and I have planted the following in pure clay and they have done great: Agastache "Blue Fortune", phlox "Laura" and "Ms. Lingard", Rudbeckia "Goldsturm", Shasta Daisy "Alaska", Sweet William, Purple Coneflower, Russian Sage, Blanket Flower, and Veronica. Basically we just dug down in the ground as far as we could and plopped the plant in and hoped for the best. We didn't even mulch any of these and they have done just fine. I even planted lavender from seed in clay. I never watered it and the clay was like a brick around it and it thrived. (It did not make it through our winter however). This year I am trying Monarda, Catmint, daylilies, and more phlox. I have read that peonies also thrive in clay so I am trying those also. I also have a cutting garden of annuals in clay and grow cosmos, sunflower, zinnia, etc. from seed.
Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2003 at 1:56PM
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phil_marcus(Zone 8 TX)

I had really good luck with melons in soil that looked a lot like modelling clay. Just fertilize and improve or till as much as you can - it'll compact itself anyway. But things grow fine, just water.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2003 at 1:43PM
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estuardo(z6 NY)

Some of the new super surfactants allow you to grow things in clay soil if put on regularly. Try a product called Aerify! or Openall. They both help clay loosen up

    Bookmark   February 15, 2004 at 7:19PM
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safariofthemind(z7b NC)

Another vote for piling on the good soil on top of the clay. We have horrendous red clay too. In my beds I dug down 8" or so with a landscapers fork, added permatill (a pebble like aggregate made of heated, expanded shale) and mulch. Mix it really well and pile 1 to 2' higher than the surrounding soil. Then once a year add some rotted manure and mulch. This lets the worms do most of the work aerating the soil and prevents your plants from drowning during winter time or soggy periods. After 2 years have the soil tested by your ag extension to see if it needs lime or other minerals. And that's it. You can keep this system going forever.

RJ in Raleigh, NC

    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 3:12PM
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CindyBelleZ6NJ(z6NJ)

I have heavy clay soil, I have been top dressing with leaf mulch, sawdust, coffee grinds, and chicken manure. I usually put a handful of leaves in the hole where I am planting. Plants growing well for me are silver mound (artmesia) assorted iris, forsythia, hydrangeas, hostas, columbine, lamium, rudbeckia, coneflowers, scabiosa, yucca, yarrow, asclepia, lily of the valley, dianthus, sweet william, anise hyssop, nepata, and peonies. I put some new things in this past Fall, they do well at my brothers house he has clay too-they are butterfly bush, Joe Pye Weed, liatris, hibicus. Unknowns are Veronica Speedwell, heucheras-a couple of varieties, and hellebores. Lilacs seem to do well around here, as do bleeding hearts, astilbes, balloon flowers, shasta daisies, and all kinds of mums. You might want to consider building a compost pile or vermicomposting and using the worm tea-a friend of mine has huge,huge plants, same soil, just uses the worm tea. I enlarged my garden bed by smothering the lawn with layers of black and white newspaper, this seemed to attract earthworms, which, of course, are incredibly good for your soil, and then I started planting right through the newspaper and mulched over a lot of it. Some I had to take up because I had made it so thick I couldn't get through it, but it really was an easy way to go. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2004 at 6:07PM
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flwrlvrnhouston(Texas -Zone 9)

I have the worst clay soil ever! The only thing I have successfully grown in my clay without amending the soil has been cannas. Fortunately I really do love them as they flower continuously it seems & they reproduce and comeback every year. I have tried the butterfly bush. It didnt grow all that well but when it finally seemed to be on a growing spree, the deer ate most of it. I finally just pulled it up. The deer have never touched my cannas!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2004 at 10:43AM
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rbt1248

I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GROW A GOOD LAWN BUT MY GRASS COMES UP ONLY IN PATCHES. I HAVE TRIED A LITTLE TOP SOIL BUT SINCE IT IS A LARGE EREA CAN'T AFFORD ALL THE TOP SOIL THAT I REALY NEED.I AM HOPING THAT IT WILL FILL IN A LITTLE BETTER THIS COMING SPRING BUT AM NOT TO OPTIMISTIC.I LIVE IN EAST TENN AND HAVE A RED CLAY SOIL THAT COMPACTS TO A VERY HARD CLAY IN THE SUMMER MONTHS. I WONDER IF I FERTILIZE HEAVY FOR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS IF THAT WILL HELP(JAN AND FEB ) I HAVE TRIED LIME PELLETS BUT HAVE NOT NOTICED A DIFFERENCE. I WILL TRY SOME OF YOU ALLS SUGGESTIONS AND HOPE THEY WILL HELP. THANKS FOR THE HELP.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2006 at 12:47AM
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