If you’ve been on the hunt for the best types of plants for clay soil, then there’s a high chance that you already know that it’s not ideal for every variety.
Soil is made when rocks break down and mix with plant and animal matter. The properties of your soil are largely determined by the amount of organic material it contains, as well as the type of parent rock it comes from. Whether we like it or not, the health of your soil will directly influence the health of any type of flora that resides in it.
One way or another, the type of soil available to you in your garden, paddock or pasture will affect the plants that you’re trying to grow. For some, you may be up against multiple soil varieties, which often directly relates to the climate and landscape of where you live. Many Aussie gardeners are under the misconception that clay soil environments are the worst for trying to grow crops, shrubs and even flowers. However, if you know what to plant in this soil and when, specific plants for clay soil can make even the most challenging of environments bloom.
The Best Plants For Clay Soil
If you’re wondering if particular areas are more prone to clay soil than others, the simple answer is yes. The most extensive areas of clay soils are on the coastal plains of south-western Australia, southern Queensland, New South Wales, and the large sand islands of the southern Queensland coast.
The particles found in clay soil are tiny, making it tightly compacted and quite heavy. There’s very little air space, so they can become easily waterlogged with poor drainage. If you can create drainage through cultivation or racking the area, that will help your plants uptake the moisture and nutrients available. The density of clay soils will also help plants stay rooted, as there is little wash away with rainfall.
When it comes to choosing plants for clay soil environments, the answer is a lot more simple than most people think. Instead of overthinking your options, the most hardy and easy to take care of varieties include many that are already native to Australian landscapes, particularly ones that have been home to clay soil for thousands of years.
Claret Tops – Melaleuca linariifolia, otherwise known as claret tops, is an eye catching tree, with beautifully coloured red new growth all year round. It is dense and compact with small leaves, and grows in the form of a conifer. As a bonus, it also has masses of small white flowers through spring, and is considered to be relatively easy to care for.
Kings Park Special – The name of this shrub is derived from it’s first known origins – Kings Park in Perth. This relatively compact, free-flowering bottlebrush with bright red flower heads are considered to be very attractive to nectar loving birds, and is very tolerant of a wide variety of positions and soil types including clay. It makes a great choice for features or as a screen plant.
Little Lemon Scents – Otherwise known as leptospermum petersonii, little lemon scents are an evergreen, compact form of the lemon scented tea tree. Come spring, and it’s snow white flowers make for a great feature in any garden. It’s regarded as a very tolerant and tough shrub, and the foliage of the plant even gives off a fresh lemon scent when crushed.
Ulladulla Beacon – Melaleuca, or ulladulla beacon, is a low, spreading, mounded ground cover that reaches a height of 50 centimetres with a spread of at least 1.5 metres. Its lance-like leaves are light green and about four centimetres long, and produce many large orange-red bottlebrush-shaped flowers over the spring and summer months.
Mauve Clusters – If you’re on the hunt for the best ground cover plants for clay environments, you can’t go past mauve clusters. A vigorous and relatively long-lived soft-wooded ground cover with small leaves, the plant’s small flower size is compensated with its volume, as the flowers can quickly cover vast areas of bare earth.
All Aglow – The callistemon plant is yet another gorgeous native bottlebrush variety that is one of the best plants for clay soil gardens. As an upright growing shrub that can reach heights of 2.5 metres, the pink, orange and red brush blooms not only provide shelter for birds, but also attract native bees. As such, it makes a great choice for hedges.
Before you start shopping, it’s also worth measuring the soil pH levels of your garden. Some species are much more sensitive to others, and the quality of your soil has quite the impact on the overall health of any plant variety you introduce to it. However, if this practice goes slightly over your head, then it’s always worth speaking to the professionals – but where do you find them?
How To Optimise Your Clay Soil With Nutrients
Do your plants – and yourself – a favour, and give them a head start by optimising your soil prior to planting. By adding a natural plant food like Biotic Booster, this will help your garden to:
- Provide essential nutrients and microbes
- Act as a liquid fertiliser to unlock your soil’s potential
- Drought proof your plants and lower water consumption
- Increase and speed up the germination process
- Assist in protecting your plants from pests and diseases
- Provide a natural solution that’s safe to use around your herbs, fruit and veggies
If you’re ready to take the leap into improving the health of your plants while minimising the use of chemical based fertilisers, then it may be time to try plant food and a plant probiotic. Our Ultimate Garden Health Pack includes our Biotic Booster, FP-60 Probiotic Spray, RE-250 Soil Energiser, plant food and plant probiotics. In each concentrated bottle, millions of natural bacterias are waiting to find a new home in your garden.
Here at Bioweed, we specialise in environmentally friendly gardening products, including herbicides, plant food and plant probiotics, and natural alternatives to traditional gardening solutions. Should you have any questions about how to improve the sustainability of your garden, or even what to plant in clay soil environments, get in touch with us today.