Plants to Grow in Clay Soil


Clay soil typically drains poorly, is hard to dig and is a heavy, dense soil with little room for plant root oxygen. Though clay can be amended by adding organic material, a better solution is choosing plants suited to clay conditions.


Choose trees that thrive in clay soil. Auburn University horticulturists suggest ornamental trees such as redbud, crape myrtle and Japanese cherry.


Use shrubs, including the space-filling butterfly bush, tree-like nandina, berried hollies and hedge-filling privet. All of these adapt well to clay soil.


Plant herbs such as rosemary, sage and wild thyme that are suited to poor soil or clay soil gardens.

Landscape Flowers

Design groupings with plants and flowers like verbena, vinca, iris and lilies that grow well in dense clay.

Cutting Flowers

Select flowers such as Shasta daisies, chrysanthemums and snapdragons that grow well in most clay soils.


  • Auburn University: Plants for Clay Soil

Who Can Help

  • What Plants Work with Clay Soil
Keywords: clay soil, clay tolerant, garden clay

About this Author

Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.