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Garden Obstacles: Clayey Soil

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

It doesn't happen often on Long Island but there are some areas with pockets of soil with clay in them. It's usually still well draining because our natural soil is a sandy loam. Improve the texture of your clay soil and you’ll be able to plant even more species. Amend it by mixing in organic matter, such as mulched leaves and compost. Position plants so the top of the crown or root ball is slightly above the top of the soil (about 1"). This will help prevent their suffocating in the event the clay stays too soggy even after you’ve improved its texture. Most of these plants take full sun to partial shade but there are a few that will take shade.

Key: 🦌 deer resistant, 🐇 rabbit resistant, 🌚 shade

Native Plants For Clayey Soil


Matteuccia struthiopteris - Ostrich Fern 🦌🐇🌚

Onoclea sensibilis - Sensitive Fern 🦌🐇🌚

Osmunda cinnamomea - Cinnamon Fern 🦌🐇🌚

Osmunda regalis - Royal Fern 🦌🐇🌚


Andropogon gerardii - Big Bluestem 🦌

Elymus virginicus var. halophilus - Salt Marsh Wild Rye 🦌

Panicum virgatum - Switch Grass 🦌

Schizachyrium scoparium - Little Bluestem 🦌

Sorghastrum nutans - Indian Grass 🦌


Achillea millefolium - Common Yarrow 🦌

Allium cernuum - Nodding Onion 🐇

Amsonia tabernaemontona - Bluestar

Anemone canadensis - Windflower 🦌🐇🌚

Aruncus dioicus - Goatsbeard 🦌🐇🌚

Asarum canadense - Wild Ginger 🦌🌚

Asclepias incarnata - Swamp Milkweed 🐇🦌

Asclepias syriaca - Common Milkweed 🐇🦌

Baptisia australis - False Indigo 🐇

Boltonia asteroides - False Aster

Callirhoe involucrata - Poppy Mallow 🦌

Conoclinium coelestinum - Mist Flower 🌚

Echinacea pallida - Pale Purple Coneflower