Plants for Clay Soil in the UK

There are five basic types of soil found in the UK: clay, sand, loam, chalk and peat. Gardeners with clay soil need plants that can take a wet, sticky soil in the winter and an occasionally dry soil in the summer. Clay soil has one advantage; it keeps the nutrients in the soil where the roots can soak them up and get them to the rest of the plant. Gardening experts at the BBC recommend a few specific plants for clay soil in the UK.

Old Fashioned Weigela

Old fashioned weigela (Weigela florida) is a native of Japan. The plant is a deciduous shrub that grow from 6 to 9 feet tall and 9 to 12 feet wide. The plant features egg-shaped leaves up to 4 1/2 inches long. Bell-shaped, rose-pink colored flowers measure 1 inch in diameter and bloom in May and June. The flowers give way to 1-inch-long seed capsules. Plant in full sun. The shrub is adaptable to different types of soil. Use old fashioned weigela as a shrub border or in a group planting.


Beebalm (Monarda didyma), also known as Oswego tea, bergamot and scarlet beebalm, is a member of the mint family. The plant will die back to the ground in the winter and re-appear the next spring. Oval-elongated leaves measure 2 to 6 inches long and clusters of scarlet-red flowers grow in round clusters. The plant grows from 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. The plant grows in full sun or partial shade and needs a soil that is consistently wet. It is not at all drought tolerant. Use beebalm in a hummingbird or butterfly garden or as a perennial border plant.

Japanese Quince

Japanese quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), also known as flowering quince, is a member of the rose family. The shrub grows from 5 to 10 feet tall and about the same in width. Scarlet, crimson, rose or red flowers bloom in late winter or early spring. Flowering quince prefers heavy, wet soils and full sun or partial shade. Use in mixed hedges and borders or by a garden wall.


Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), also known as Helen’s flower, is a member of the Aster family. The shrub grows from 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Daisy-like flowers with yellow petals and a dull-yellow center disk measure 2 inches across and bloom from August through October. Dark-green, lance-shaped leaves grow up to 6 inches long. Plant in full sun and a moist to wet soil. Use sneezeweed in a cottage garden or by the side of streams or garden ponds.

Keywords: UK plants, clay soil plants, clay soil

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Regina Sass has been a writer for 10 years, penning articles for publications in the real estate and retail industries. Her online experience includes writing, advertising and editing for an educational website. Sass is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.