Shrubs for clay soil

tjsangel(z5 OH)September 30, 2007

I'm looking for reliable shrubs that will grow well in clay soil. My whole yard is clay and hard to work with. I do add compost every year to the beds and plant with good soil every time. Full sun/partial shade I have both moist and dry conditions. Thank you!


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I have clay.

I grow lilacs, roses, red-Twigged dogwood, mock orange, juniper, spirea, forsythia, Hydrangea, Mugo pine, Barberry, Witch Hazel, Fothergilla, etc.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 12:20PM
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In my yard and around the neighborhood that seem to do well in heavy clay around here. This stuff turns to cement when it gets dry...

Euonymus, boxwood, lilac, yew, juniper, roses, hydrangea, privet among others. Just dig a well-amended planting hole so the plant can get established easily.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 6:58PM
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Try Viburnnum dentatum (arrowwood virburnum), virburnum trilobum (american cranberry bush)

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 3:42PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

I can grow pretty much anything in my clay, but how well it succeeds may depend on my watering heavily now and again. I look at my clay as a bonus, holds water better than sand or loam in the dry times.

Something you can do is add dry stuff to the hole you plant in. I have a leaf shredder, so I save some of those little leaf pieces all year for adding to holes of new things. I have been quite surprised how well the leaf shreds attract worms, feed the roots on new plantings. Most of my leaves are Oak, so they stay a bit crisper than some other leaf varieties. I rototiller them into the soil, use as mulch on the garden beds.

With Fall coming, you could get leaves from your yard, the neighbors, for adding to your plants. Lots of discussion on other forums about STEALING bagged leaves from the roadsides!!

Running over the leaf piles with lawn mower works just as well as a shredder. Without a bagger on mower, you just have to pull the smaller pieces back into a pile for using.

I really recommend adding leaves or leaf shreds, to anything you plant. Sure has improved my soil. However even with clay, you need to keep the plantings damp, especially in drought times, off to a good start, for success. Some shrubs need a year or two to get good roots going. I have been real happy with soaker hoses, saves on wasted water, to keep some plantings happy. My big Oaks do drink a lot of the rainfall, so some bushes need extra water, have soaker hoses.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 2:50PM
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I haven't really found anything I can't grow in clay. I have roses, hydrangeas, barberry, honeysuckle bush, spireas, clematis, cotoneaster, forsythia, winter berry, holly, rhodies/azaleas, summersweet, mountain laurel, ninebark, cambucas, abelia, sweetspire, weigala etc.

The only thing I don't seem to be able to grow is Coralberry, which is supposed to like clay soil - go figure.

I only lightly ammend the soil when I plant because if I heavily ammend, the clay will suck all the water away (in dry year, like this year).

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 6:36AM
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tjsangel(z5 OH)

Thanks everyone! Great suggestions. I seem to have heavy clay, and trouble getting some things to thrive. So I do lots digging and amending when I plant, and compost twice a year. I planted a Viburnum this summer, and a small Spirea. The Aborvitaes up front seem to be fine, along w/the creeping Juniper and Mugo pine. I'm getting braver lol. I have 3 large Oaks in the front yard, plenty of chopped leaves to add every year. I'll be patient and wait for my soil to become richer. I will also try a few of your suggestions. Thanks so much!


    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 7:10AM
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