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Different Types of Soil for Plants

Arid soil image by Igor Baryshev from

Different plants have different soil requirements. The right type of soil is essential for healthy plant life and growth, as it supports roots and provides essential nutrients. It pays to know the type of soil in your backyard or garden so you can amend it according to the particular plant needs, or grow plants suitable to that type of soil.


Naturally occurring clay soils are comprised of tiny particles with very little or almost no gaps in between that impede water or air from penetrating and reaching plant roots. This type of soil forms after years of rock weathering and disintegration. This poorly-draining soil that is naturally used to seal dams. When water is added to a sample taken from a garden and mixed well, the resulting paste is elastic and sticks to the finger when wet, but hardens when dry. The paste rolls into a ball and is easily molded into a U-shaped cylinder without the appearance of any cracks. According to Birds & Blooms, aster, ferns, daylily and switchgrass are suitable for clay soils. For best results, till the soil prior to planting and add organic-dense fertilizer to it.


Loamy soils are considered to be ideal for growing a variety of plants because they are comprised of a mixture of clay, sand and silt, according to Lawson Fairbank, an online guide for landowners and prospective land buyers. Loam soil is a mixture of 40 percent sand, 20 percent clay and 40 percent silt. Humus, an organic mixture of stems, decaying leaves and twigs is also naturally included in loam. Loamy soils are not only well-draining, but also retain water and nutrients for plant roots. Natural or modified versions of this lightweight and fluffy soil occur in farmlands throughout the world.


One of the most fertile and nutrient-dense soils for growing different types of plants, silt naturally comprises organic matter including quartz and other minerals that promote plant health and vitality. It occurs naturally as soil or as suspended load in the surface of or at the base of a body of water. It features granules that are smaller than sand particles but larger than clay. In powder form silt has a fine texture that resembles dark sand and is easily transported to far-off places by air, and by water in the form of annual flooding. It is easy to work with when moist.


Sandy soils feature the biggest-sized particles that determine soil drainage and aeration. This granular, gritty textured soil comprises of tiny mineral and rock particles. When packed with organic matter, sandy soils are easy to cultivate and work with, but cause plants to dehydrate in the summer as they cause over-drainage. Water plants regularly in the summers and less in the winter or rainy season.

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