Read our guide to improving clay soil
What to plant in clay soil
Roses for clay soil
All repeat-flowering roses do well on clay soils because it’s rich. In fact many roses prefer clay.
You can add extra Gypsum to break up the clay particles as you plant, should you wish. Or you can add Perlite to the planting hole by mixing it with the soil before backfilling. This creates air spaces and warms up the soil.
Visit Saga Garden Centre for a special offer on autumn bedding plants and choose between wallflowers, pansies or a mixture. Get 55 plug plants for £8.99 or 165 for £12.99 with free P&P. Shop now.
Ten perennials for clay soil
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ AGM
The crisp, brown-eyed yellow daisy comes in many forms. ‘Goldsturm’ is one of the best, flowering from the second half of summer onwards. Many American prairie plants tolerate clay.
Another yellow daisy. My favourite one, ‘Summer Nights’, produces dark stems and a branching head of single golden daisies with dark middles. There are also double forms.
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’
A tall clump former with lemon daisies that chase the sun.
Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’
This stylish maroon thistle, which prefers semi-shade, loves a damp situation. It’s sterile, so no unwanted seedlings, and it’s a non-runner so it stays put. Flowers in early summer, but often flushes again.
Astilbe chinensis ‘Purpurlanze’
The iconic purple plume so often used by Piet Oudolf in prairie planting. From midsummer onwards and it dies beautifully in winter, forming grass-like plumes.
Astrantia - any dark-red forms
These red pincushion plants love heavy soil. However the paler ones are less keen.
Aster novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’
The raspberry-red September flowering aster is one of many clay-tolerant asters.
Helenium autumnale and other forms
These daisies have brown-velvet middles surrounded by sunny yellow, orange or red petals. The taller ones flower much later. One of the best, ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’, has flowers that dazzle in shades of orange. No two are alike. Buy helenium bandera from Saga Garden Centre.
Eupatorium maculatum ‘Riesenschirm’ AGM
Puffs of sultry purple-red heads lead skywards and the black stems are a real feature on this variety.
Monarda species and forms
Not long-lived or enduring, so these do need dividing and moving about, but the reds are stunning. Try ‘Joseph Cline’ or ‘Garden View Scarlet’.
Read our suggestions for trees and shrubs for clay soil
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