Clay soils are hard on plants because it lacks nutrients and drains poorly. For the best results, choose plants that are adaptable and add soil amendments like compost and good mulching. If you want to plant fruit trees in this difficult soil, there are some that grow better in this soil.
Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana) is also known as the callery pear and is from the Rosaceae family. It is a fast grower that will get 30 to 40 feet tall and a little over 10 feet wide. Leaves are deciduous and leathery, 2 to 3 inches long and dark green. They will turn red, orange and purple in the fall. Flowers are white and will bloom April and May. Plant this one in full sun and it is adaptable to the soil it is planted in. Propagate via cuttings.
Wild plum (Prunus americana), is also known as the American plum and is from the Rosaceae family. It is a fragrant tree that will attract birds. Leaves are deciduous and 3 to 4 inches long on a tree that gets 20 to 40 feet tall. Fragrant flowers are 1 inch wide and white. Plant this in full sun in any soil. Propagate via seed or cuttings.
Fig (Ficus carica), is from the Moraceae family. It will get 15 to 30 feet tall and wide. Smooth bark is grayish and the leaves are deciduous and 4 inches long. Figs can be used in many culinary aspects. Plant this one in partial sun to full sun in well drained soil or in average soils. Amend clay soil with nutrients prior to planting. Propagate via hardwood cuttings or suckers.
Japanese plum (Eriobotrya japonica), is also known as loquat and is from the Rosaceae family. It is a fragrant evergreen tree that attracts birds. It will get around 20 feet tall with 10 inch long dark green leaves that are red when new growth appears. Flowers are white and fragrant appearing on clusters in the fall. Fruits are small, edible, and yellow. Plant this one in full sun with good drainage, mulch well if grown in clay. Propagate via seed.