Some call it sandy soil, others call it light soil. Whatever you call it, clay soil doesn’t usually top the list for favorite types of soil to work with. Mostly made up of superfine clay particles, this slow-draining soil can become easily compacted, which prevents root systems from being properly established. The high alkaline levels in the soil can also make it hard for certain plants to grow.

But enough of all the challenges involved with clay soil. Tens of thousands of plant and flower species have adapted to life on this planet, and many of them have found a home in clay soil. So if you live in an area with hard, compact clay soil, don’t wish you were gardening elsewhere! Take advantage of it.

There are some truly incredible plants that thrive in clay soils. To realize the full potential of your garden, be sure you're aware of what plants will do best in your particular kind of soil. To help you get started, here is a list of 10 amazing plants that thrive in clay soils.


Zones 3 to 8

These beautiful bursts of color are perfect in any garden. When cut and placed in a vase, they make a perfect addition to any room. Asters don't require much care, but are susceptible to mildew, which can be easily controlled with some insect-killing soap. Many aster varieties bloom in late summer or autumn, providing a final spark before winter.

Scarlet Runner Bean

Annual to Zone 7

This beautiful plant is at home in both a vegetable garden or when used for strictly ornamental purposes. The thick lush flowers are truly unique, and the beans they produce are colorful and delicious. If you are looking for a plant to produce a large amount of foliage, this might be the choice for you.


Zones 3 to 9

Who doesn't love hostas? With their thick leaves, deep colors and thousands of varieties, pretty much every yard and garden has space for a hosta. Though hostas can certainly thrive in clay soil, you'll have to use plenty of organic material when planting them. Once the roots are established, it will pretty much take care of itself.


Zones 4 to 9

Can you think of any kind of bush that is more beautiful than a hydrangea? With their enormous blooms, these hedges can come to define a yard and give your house a truly stunning character. They come in many forms, but some favorites to look out for are the Annabelle, Lacecap and PeeGee varieties.

Black-Eyed Susan

Zones 3 to 9

One of the most iconic wildflowers in North America, the black-eyed Susan can bring a prairie aesthetic to your garden. And really, is there any other way to make a cheerful statement than by planting these sunny flowers? For clay soil-friendly prairie plants to go along with your black-eyed Susans, take a look at the Purple Milkweed and Big Bluestem grass.


Zones 4 to 10

If you're dealing with some tough soil, planting a flower with a name like ironweed will inspire serious confidence. Hot summer days? No problem. Drought and weeks without rain? Check. Hard clay soil? No problem. Ironweed thrives in conditions that would kill most plants, and by late summer it's sporting purple flowers that butterflies love.


Zones 3 to 11

Like ironweed, coreopsis is an extremely hardy flower that can stand up to harsh conditions. These perennials come in a number of varieties that touch on the entire spectrum of the rainbow. For example, the Rum Punch has a watermelon-pink glow and can stand up to mild winters and cold springs. Other favorites include Pineapple Pie, which displays a stunning combination of yellow and iron-red coloring. Also, the Pink Lemonade and Strawberry Punch varieties look just how you'd imagine.


Zones 2 to 7

From around June until fall, these hearty shrubs display beautiful little flowers. Gardeners in colder climates love them for their hardiness and ability to bloom in even harsh conditions. Long after most other flowers have faded, these will be out in bloom. A perfect plant to use as a foundation or extra ground cover.


Zones 4 to 8

The weigela is a spring-blooming shrub that shoots out with abundant blossoms in the spring, making it a favorite of flower lovers everywhere. After the full force of their bloom passes, you’ll need to keep these bushes pruned to keep them healthy and to optimize how they look.


Zones 3 to 9

We decided to finish off the list with a real showstopper. Daylilies are not only remarkably adaptable and resilient flowers, they're also stunning and have an intense fragrance that can really add to the atmosphere of your garden. You should ideally plant these in the full light of the sun with some organic matter to help the roots take. And if you want to really personalize your garden, these are a great choice, as there are more than 35,000 types of daylilies!

No matter what kind of soil you have to work with, you can find all the tools and gardening materials at Fleet Farm. And if you need some input on what plants would work best in your garden or yard, our green thumbs will be happy to share their knowledge and experience with you.