If you have clay garden soil, you know that it can be tricky to get some perennial flowers to grow in it.
Clay soil can be tough on plants because it easily becomes compacted, drainage is poor, oxygen content is low and roots have a tough time working their way through the soil.
Those with clay soil have less sand and silt than other soils. This can be improved and amended over time or you can work with the soil you have and use plants that don’t mind these conditions.
Luckily, there are some wonderful perennials that are quite happy in clay soil.
Perennial flax (Linum perenne) is hardy to zone 5 and reaches 1-2 feet in height. These pretty blue flowers bloom in spring and summer.
Columbine (Aquelegia canadensis) has so many wonderful attributes. It self seeds easily, comes in a range of beautiful colors, and attracts hummingbirds. The delicate plants grow to 1-3 feet and are hardy to zone 2.
Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is another plant that is ridiculously easy to grow. The flowers reseed and spread easily. These golden flowers bloom from summer into fall and attract butterflies. They reach a height of 3-4 feet and are hardy to zone 4.
Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) are perfectly suited for sloped hills, where they’ll help control erosion and bloom in the summer. While yellow and orange daylilies are most common, there are now varieties in many colors. They reach a height of 1-3 feet and are hardy to zone 3.
Blazing Star (Liatris spp.) reaches a height of 2-5 feet and is so easy to grow that it can be invasive. This purple or white flower also attracts butterflies and is deer resistant and drought tolerant.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) has a long bloom period from summer into fall. This pink-purple flowers attract butterflies and reach 2-4 feet. The flowers reseed and spread easily and are hardy to zone 3.
Yarrow (Achillea) is a superstar in the garden. The flowers come in a wide variety of colors from pastel to bright that attract butterflies on feathery foliage. Yarrow is deer and rabbit resistant, easy to grow and comes in many heights. Deadhead the spent blooms for rebloom later in the season. Yarrow is hardy to zone 3.
There are many varieties of sedums, from low growing Sedum glaucophyllum pictured here to the ever-popular Sedum Autumn Joy. Sedums are quite drought tolerant and easy to grow. They provide interesting shapes and foliage to the garden and bloom in various colors. Height is generally 1-3 feet and they are hardy to zone 3.
Aster (Aster novae-angliae) is a great perennial for the fall garden. Plants range from 1-5 feet, with some varieties reaching impressive sizes. Asters come in a wide variety of colors and are attractive to butterflies. They are hardy to zone 4.
Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) gets its name from its use by some Native Americans as an antidote for rattlesnake venom. This interesting looking plant has flowers that are bluish-white or greenish-white. It reaches 3-4 feet and is hardy to zone 4.
This article originally appeared in my green living column at examiner.com.
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