Different Types of Soil for Garden Plants

Soil is a vital component of gardening. To organize a flourishing garden, it is important to know the various types of soil you could have and also the fertilizers and manure that can be used to enhance its quality. At times, the color of the soil can define its fertility. The percentage of water, air, organic matter and minerals vary for each type of soil. Mixing a specific soil type with water and observing the solution is an efficient method to check the soil type.

Clay Soil

If the soil is sticky and lumpy when wet and hard like a rock when dry, it is the clay soil. In spring, it warms up slowly. The draining quality is low. It is hard to garden in clay soil, but if it is taken care of with proper nourishment, the soil can store nutrients in abundance. Clay soil is good for flowering plants like Helen's flower, aster, weigela and bergamot. If mixed with water, clay soil turns the solution cloudy.

Sandy Soil

If the soil becomes warm in spring and is gritty in nature, it is sandy soil. Though it is easy to cultivate plants in this soil type, sandy soil can hardly store nutrients. Sandy soil is also called hungry soil because most of its nutrients get washed away and it dries up fast. Plants that can be grown in drought-prone areas, such as cacti, are fit for sandy soil. Other plants like tulip, sun rose and tree mallow can also be grown. Sandy soil when mixed with water leaves the solution clear with sediments at the bottom.

Silty Soil

Silty soil yields the best crops if managed appropriately. The soil particles are usually smooth and well draining. Silty soil can store more nutrients than the sandy soil and is easy to cultivate as well. Silty soil helps in growing colorful flowering plants like mahonia, ornamental vine and New Zealand flax. When mixed with water, silty soil turns the solution partly cloudy. Some sediments are also seen at the bottom.

Peaty Soil

Peaty soil contains significant amounts of organic matter. This particular type of soil is dark in color and retains most of the water. Peaty soil needs appropriate fertilizers to enhance its fertility. Rhododendrons and camellias can be grown in peaty soil. When mixed with water, peaty soil gives a cloudy solution and a little sediment.

Chalky Soil

If the soil is found in a limestone or chalk bed, it is chalky soil. This soil has a pH of 7.5 or even more. It contains minerals like iron and manganese that cause serious diseases in plants. Yet, if proper fertilizers are used, the soil can be rejuvenated to give a lush growth. When mixed with water, chalky soil results in a pale gray solution and white sediments.

Loamy Soil

Loamy soil is the best type of soil for a gardener. The particles are good, retain water and are full of nutrients. It is easy to cultivate and does not dry up in summer. Being a gardener's delight, any type of plant can be grown in this soil. Loamy soil gives a clear solution with few particles at the top when mixed with water.

Keywords: different garden soils, different soil types, soils for gardening

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Devin Dupre-Neary has a bachelor's degree in nursing from UC Davis. Rather than move towards a master's or work in a hospital, he chose a different route. In 2009, he wrote professionally, part-time, writing articles on a host of subjects from health issues to gardening.