What Kinds of Shrubs Thrive in Clay Soil?


Quick Answer

There are many different species of shrubs that thrive in clay soil, including chokeberry, honeysuckle, willow, lilac and white cedar. Most nursery-raised shrubs, including several species of dogwood shrubs, cannot adapt to clay soils due to their already-established root systems.

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Full Answer

In addition to the shrubs that can thrive in clay soil, there are also many other shrubs that can survive under various conditions, including being planted in clay. This includes sumac, juniper, witch hazel, barberry and American elderberry.

The biggest problem with clay soil is that it retains too much water, which doesn't allow a sufficient amount of air to reach the roots of a plant. This tends to either severely limit the growth of the plant or cause it to die. To combat this, certain precautions should be taken before planting, including moving any drains or downspouts away from the shrubs to avoid excess water draining into the soil. It's also a good idea to mix topsoil, clay loam, gypsum and other soil conditioners into heavily compacted soil, as this helps break up the clay and ensures air can reach the roots of the shrubs. If possible, it may also help to sow a winter crop, such as winter wheat, and till this with the soil in the spring.

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