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What grows in heavy clay soil part shade, part sun?

Warwickshire, United Kingdom Gb


I'm new to this but am trying harder with the garden with each passing year. We have heavy clay soil to one half of our garden & are flumouxed as to what we can grow. Just wondered if anyone had any useful ideas? I've found a couple of answer from this site which have been helpful. I'm fed up with having a flowery one side to my garden & a dull side opposite!

Thanks in advance!



I have very heavy clay in my front garden - difficult because its very waterlogged in winter and baked hard in summer. I have a mixture of evergreens, hebe, viburnum, also a couple of roses, perennial geranium and geum, zebra grass, box, foxgloves grew well last year too. I also have a couple of the little variegated willows, one a standard, the other a bush. Verbena and evening primrose also do well and spread like mad. Hope this helps.

17 Jan, 2009


Thanks for the swift reply. You've certainly helped.

We currently have a Viburnum, a couple of roses & a Peony. Am looking forward to developing it more this year!

17 Jan, 2009


I have heavy clay soil so I normally add a little compost and grit into the soil around the planting holes to help and am currently successfully growing in the shade all of the following, flowering shrubs: escallonia (light shade), forsythia (light shade), fuchsias (light shade), hydrangea, hypericum (light shade), kerria (light shade), honeysuckle (plent of mulch as prefers moist soil), mahonia (thrives in the shade), ribes, christmas box, weigela (light shade), viburnum plicatum (light shade)
You can also try Cotoneaster, hawthorn, spindleberry and Fatsia..
I don't know much about flowers but I'm sure someone has some good suggestions

17 Jan, 2009


How heavy is heavy? I grow about 3000 plant varieties in generally heavy soil. Though I will concede that the heavy yellow streaky clay in which I could make pots out of does defeat the majority.

Check out my "which plant, which soil" pages in the "Gardening Guides" section of my gardening web site for a multitude of suggestions.

18 Jan, 2009


Every time you plant something in the clay side prepare a larger hole than you need for the rootball and add lots of compost and grit. Then fill the hole in again with this lovely mixture, then dig out the size of hole needed for the rootball and plant your new plant. Mulch the surface as much as possible every year. Avoid walking on the soil when wet.

19 Jan, 2009


I have ridiculously heavy clay soil too. I tilled it (by hand - oy.) to about 6 inches down, and built it up mixing in peat moss, a loamy soil mix with fertilizer added, and manure, then added top soil. (Just make sure you mix the clay through well, otherwise you'll trap the nutrients in an oxygen-less environment - not so good.)

After that, I added a Joe-Pye Weed (or purple boneset) in the part-shaded area next to the fence, a butterfly bush (B. Davidii, Buddleia) in the sunnier spot, and false sunflowers in the full sun. It's been only 2 weeks, and they're all thriving better than I could have imagined. (I'm in zone 4-5, Toronto, ON).

Good luck!!!

29 Jul, 2009


Bistort,is a lovely plant and also edible,silver leaf gives a great ground cover and grows up right with very nice yellow flowers in spring,pink campion is nice, also butterbur and solomans seal.
Also have you tried digging the clay out to make all kinds of structures for the garden from sheds through to pergolas and walls. Try looking up clom buildings.
Acers like partial shade . I have loose strife that grows to 8 feet.Giant mombreatia is good as well and the normal sized one with its bright green leaves.
I will arise and go now to the isle of Inisfree and there a cabin build of clay and watles made, and live alone in the bee loud glade.

13 May, 2012

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