Gardeners have a love-hate relationship with clay soil. It’s sticky, heavy, and can be quite difficult to work with, especially when wet; but for gardeners who understand the secrets of how to water and fertilise clay soil, their garden bed is definitely reaping the benefits. Read on to discover the best plants that grow in clay soil in Australia!
As the particles in clay soil are small and tightly packed in comparison to sandy soils, they do a better job of retaining water and nutrients. This improved retention of water and nutrients means gardeners can reduce the amount of times they need to water and feed their clay soil plants.
What are the Best Plants for Clay Soil?
There are a variety of plants that like clay soil. Whether it’s a ground cover shrub, or a large native tree, there are plenty of plants that will thrive in clay soil.
Callistemons are small shrubs that absolutely love clay soil. They’re among the best plants for clay soil as the proper conditions will help their bottle brush flowers burst to life during spring and summer.
Lomandra are one of the most tolerant plants that grow in clay soil. They’re extremely hardy and resistant to both frost and dry weather conditions. If you’re looking for a plant that is adaptable to clay soil, and can grow well under trees, then Lomandra is a must-have for your garden.
While roses may be suitable to most soils, clay soil can also offer a perfect growth environment. Roses like clay soil for its ability to retain moisture and nutrients, but be sure your clay soil can drain easily to prevent root rot.
4. Seaside daisy
The perfect combination for a successful seaside daisy is a mild climate and sandy or clay soil. Seaside daisies are great to border your walkways or provide some depth to a flowerbed.
5. Other European trees
Many European trees and shrubs are some of the best plants for clay soil. Australia has seen silver birch and liquidambar become mainstays in large gardens all over the country. Both these trees are adaptable to wet or permanently moist soils.
How to Grow Plants in Clay Soil
1. Water clay thoroughly
When it comes to cultivating a clay soil bed, watering is all about being thorough but not excessive. Ensure you water your clay soil area thoroughly, but infrequently. Watering clay soil too often can lead to water-logging.
2. Add organic matter
One of the cheapest and easiest ways of improving clay soil is to dig through potting mix. The varying sizes of organic particles opens up the clay and provides a longer lasting difference than any other product.
Ensure the organic matter has not been treated with chemicals such as grass clippings, rotted manure, shredded leaves, and compost. Mix the organic matter into the top six to eight inches of the soil by digging it in and mixing it with a shovel.
3. Avoid compacting soil
As clay soil is very sticky, it is highly recommended that you avoid compacting soil as this can lead to poor root growth. One key way to prevent compaction is to avoid foot traffic over your clay soil.
4. Add mulch
Adding a layer of top mulch can help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
5. Aerate the soil
Regularly aerating the soil can improve root growth. Clay soil is quite dense, so aerating the soil can help prevent the soil from clumping together and hardening.
6. Test soil pH
Most plants prefer a slightly acidic soil environment as opposed to neutral soil. Test your soil pH levels and adjust if needed.
For more information on the best plants for clay soil, and cultivating your clay soil bed, please feel free to get in touch with the friendly team at Garden Express by calling 1300 606 242 or filling out our contact form.