Gardening in Clay Soil

I am very fond of flower beds of vibrant colours around the house. The ones which are filled with several plants of varying bloom times and heights giving me a massive display that spans a full growing season from early spring to late fall.  This year is the first year in our new house and the first year for the vegetable garden. The soil is clay — therefore  — amendments were greatly needed.  When I first began to build the vegetable garden I did so with much doubt from neighbors and friends but as you can see it is a huge success.  The reason for this is that I amended each section within the larger vegetable garden with an amendment designed for the vegetable plant going into that individual spot.  And not leaving anything to chance, I noted in my garden planner tablet the best plant choice in these individual sections within the larger garden for next year based upon the existing amendments and plant rotation.  As you can tell this success did not happen by happenstance — it was planned.

The same will be true for the flower borders-beds around the house that are planned. Remembering that I am dealing with clay soil and the expense incurred for required amendments in the vegetable garden, an expense I did not want to repeat when doing my flower beds, I did some research for best plant selections for this horrid clay soil. Here are some of the plants with some information on each you might find useful in your own clay soil.

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Above is a nice slideshow to dampen your interest. The information below is information for each of the suggested plants for your clay soil.

As you can see you are not as limited as you might think when dealing with clay soil. You can have beautiful flower borders around your home full of delightful colours that will span the full growing season.

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Annual & Perennial Plants (USA) for clay soil are:

Black-eyed Susan — Golden black-eyed Susan is a summer staple for sunny borders. ‘Goldsturm’ is the most commonly grown variety. It spreads quickly, but not invasively, to fill a planting bed with long-lasting color.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun
Zones:
3-11
Plant Type:
Annual, Perennial
Plant Height:
2-10 feet tall, depending on variety
Plant Width:
1-1/2 to 3 feet wide, depending on variety
Flower Color:
Yellow or orange flowers, depending on variety
Bloom Time:
Blooms midsummer into fall, depending on variety
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow.Top varieties of the black-eyed Susan are:

Top varieties of the black-eyed susan are:

‘Autumn Colors’ black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia ‘Autumn Colors’ is an award-winning annual series that bears 5-inch-wide gold flowers flushed with bronze, red, and rust. It grows 2 feet tall. Zones 3-11

Brown-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia triloba is a North American native biennial or short-lived perennial that has clusters of small yellow flowers in summer and autumn. It grows 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Zones 4-7

‘Goldsturm’ black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ is one of the most popular perennials of all time. It offers 3- to 4-inch bright yellow daisies, accented with a dark brown cone from midsummer to fall. It reaches 2 feet tall and is hardy in Zones 4-9.

‘Indian Summer’ black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’ features bright golden flowers and hairy foliage. It grows 3 feet tall and blooms from summer to frost. Zones 3-7, but is often grown as an annual.

‘Maya’ black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia ‘Maya’ is an annual, dwarf variety with golden-yellow double flowers. It grows 18 inches tall. Zone 3-11

‘Prairie Sun’ black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’ features yellow-orange flowers from summer to frost. It’s hardy in Zones 3-8, but it’s usually grown as an annual. Zone 3-11

‘Radiance’ black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia ‘Radiance’ is usually grown as an annual and offers distinct double flowers with quilled petals. It grows 18 inches tall. Zone 3-11

‘Sonora’ black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia ‘Sonora’ is an annual type with large mahogany petals tipped in yellow. It grows 20 inches tall. Zone 3-11

‘Toto Lemon’ black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia ‘Toto Lemon’ is a dwarf annual selection with cheery bright yellow blooms all summer. It grows 15 inches tall. Zone 3-11

‘Toto Rustic’ black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia ‘Toto Rustic’ is an annual type that bears with golden blooms with rich burgundy-red centers. It grows 15 inches tall. Zone 3-11

Bluestar —The bluestar is a garden champ because it adapts to most growing conditions, from soggy sites to dry clay, and full sun to part shade. It shines in midspring with steel-blue, star-shape flowers and again in fall, when the lustrous willowy foliage turns bright gold.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun
Zones:
3-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
1-4 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-4 feet wide
Flower Color:
Steel or powder blue star-shape flowers
Bloom Time:
Blooms mid- to late spring
Landscape Uses:
Containers,Beds & Borders,Privacy
Special Features:
Flowers,Attractive Foliage,Fall Color,Attracts Butterflies,Drought Tolerant,Tolerates Wet Soil,Deer Resistant,Easy to Grow
Top varieties of the bluestar are:

Arkansas bluestar
Amsonia hubrectii grows 2-3 feet high with fine feathery chartreuse foliage. Powder blue flowers are borne midspring, and the plant turns golden in fall. Zones 5-9

Downy bluestar
Amsonia ciliata offers fine-textured, feathery leaves on a 2- to 3-foot-tall mounded plant. It adds great color to the garden thanks to the silvery, fuzzy hairs that appear on new leaves and plant stems. Zones 5-9

Shining bluestar
Amsonia illustris features shiny, leathery leaves. Swallowtail butterflies love the nectar of the steel blue flowers. Zones 5-9

Willowleaf bluestar
Amsonia tabernaemontana salicifolia grows 3-4 feet tall and has a lovely, upright habit. Cut back plants immediately after their blue flowers appear in late spring to prevent self-seeding and to prevent plants from becoming floppy. Zones 3-9

Aster  — Asters are adaptable, daisy like flowers with peak bloom season in fall.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
3-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
1-5 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-4 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers, Cut Flowers, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties of the aster are:

‘Alma Potschke’ New England aster
Aster novae-angliae ‘Alma Potschke’ blooms from August to frost with red-violet daisies on a plant 4 feet tall. Zones 4-8

Calico aster
Aster lateriflorus is a 2- to 3-foot-tall mounded, shrubby plant with pinkish-white daisies in September and October. Zones 4-8

‘Fellowship’ New York aster
Aster novi-belgii‘ Fellowship’ has clear pink daisy flowers on plants that reach 3 feet tall. Zones 4-8

‘Hella Lacy’ New England aster
Aster novae-angliae ‘Hella Lacy’ grows 3 feet tall and features clear purple flowers from midsummer through fall. Zones 4-8

‘Monch’ aster
Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’ forms a tidy mound 2 feet tall and wide with lavender-blue semi double daisy like flowers from June to September. Zones 5-8

‘Purple Dome’ New England aster
Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ grows only 18 inches tall and has bright purple flowers in September and October. Zones 4-8

‘Triumph’ aster
Aster x alpellus ‘Triumph’ is a petite summer bloomer, reaching only 1 foot tall. Its compact form is ideal for the front of the border or container gardens. Zones 4-9

‘Wonder of Staffa’ aster
Aster x frikartii ‘Wonder of Staffa’ is similar to ‘Monch’, but grows 28 inches tall and has paler blue blooms. Zones 5-8

Baptisia — Also called false indigo for its blue springtime flowers, baptisia is a native prairie plant with deep roots that push through the toughest clay soil. Baptisia flowers in white, yellow, and purple.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun
Zones:
3-8
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
2-4 feet tall
Plant Width:
2-4 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the baptisia are:

Baptisia
Baptisia australis has blue-green foliage that is attractive even when not in bloom and, because of its size (3-4 feet tall), makes an excellent shrub substitute. Zones 3-9

Lesser baptisia
Baptisia australis minor is a smaller version of baptisia, growing to only 2 feet tall and blooming slightly later. Zones 3-9

‘Starlight Prairieblues’ baptisia
Baptisia ‘Starlite Prairieblues’ is a hybrid between two species of baptisia. Its bi-colored flowers are lavender blue and cream with a touch of yellow. It grows to 3 feet tall. Zones 4-8

‘Twilight Prairieblues’ baptisia
Baptisia ‘Twilight Prairieblues’ is an extremely floriferous hybrid with unique deep purple blossoms with a splash of lemon yellow. It is a compact plant that grows to 30 inches tall. Zones 4-8

Coreops — The Coreopsis is a long-blooming summer perennial. The ‘Zagreb’ variety has thread leaf fine feathery foliage, and spreads to make an effective sun-loving groundcover in heavy clay soil so it is my choice when using coreops in my border beds.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
3-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Width:
1-3 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Groundcover
Special Features:
Flowers, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties of the coreops are:

Coreopsis grandiflora
Coreopsis grandiflora grows to 2-1/2 feet tall, with 2-inch-wide golden-yellow flowers. Zones 3-8

‘Creme Brule’ coreopsis
Coreopsis ‘Creme Brule’ is a more vigorous version of ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis. It is hardy in Zones 5-9 and produces larger flowers all along its stem, giving the plant a fuller appearance.

‘Domino’ coreopsis
Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Domino’ forms a lovely 15- to 18-inch-tall mound with spectacular gold daisies with a maroon center. Zones 4-9

‘Early Sunrise’ coreopsis
Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Early Sunrise’ is a dwarf form that grows only 15 inches tall and blooms the first year from seed. It tends to be short-lived. Zones 4-9

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata is hardy in Zones 3-8 and bears bright yellow daisies in May and June on plants to 2 feet tall.

‘Limerock Dream’ coreopsis
Coreopsis ‘Limerock Dream’ is usually grown as an annual, even though it is hardy in Zones 6-9. It produces two-tone pink daisies on feathery plants. It requires good soil drainage over winter.

‘Limerock Ruby’ coreopsis
Coreopsis ‘Limerock Ruby’ produces deep pink daisies on feathery foliage that resembles that of threadleaf coreopsis. It’s usually grown as an annual but is hardy in Zones 7-9.

‘Moonbeam’ threadleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ is a stalwart in the sunny perennial border. It is self-cleaning and has a long season of pale yellow daisies. Zones 4-9

Pink coreopsis
Coreopsis rosea is the oddball of the family. It has pink flowers instead of yellow and prefers more moisture. Divide the spreading clumps yearly to keep it growing vigorously. Zones 3-8

‘Zagreb’ threadleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’ grows to 18 inches tall and bears brilliant gold daisies on ferny medium green foliage. Zones 4-9

Purple Coneflower — Purple coneflower is a butterfly-and-bird magnet for sunny sites. But, it prefers a well-drained soil, although it will tolerate clay soil I find that if the soil is heavy with clay this flower does not do as well as I’d wish. Hybrids of the coneflower have colors ranging from pink to white, orange, burgundy, and red which adds a very nice punch to a border bed.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
3-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
2-4 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-2 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers, Fragrant, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the coneflower are:

‘Bravado’ purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea ‘Bravado’ is a robust plant that grows to 4 feet tall. It bears loads of 4- to 5-inch-wide blooms that range in color from light pink to magenta rose. Petals stand out for maximum display. Zones 3-9

‘Fragrant Angel’ coneflower
Echinacea purpurea ‘Fragrant Angel’ has 5-inch-wide white daisies with an orange center cone. It grows 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

‘Green Envy’ coneflower
Echinacea ‘Green Envy’ offers mauve-purple petals tipped in lime green. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

Harvest Moon coneflower
Echinacea ‘Matthew Saul’ blooms in bright orangey-yellow with a golden-orange cone. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

‘Magnus’ purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ blooms in bright rose with a brownish-red cone and petals that stand out rather than droop. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

Mango Meadowbrite coneflower
Echinacea ‘CBG Cone 3’ offers peachy-yellow flowers with a slightly darker orange stem. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

Orange Meadowbrite coneflower
Echinacea ‘Art’s Pride’ is also sold as Art’s Pride coneflower. It blooms in bright orange with dark cones and grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

Pale purple coneflower
Echinacea pallida is perfectly at home in a naturalized meadow, with pale pink straplike petals and a skyrocket central cone. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 4-8

Pixie Meadowbrite coneflower
Echinacea ‘CBG Cone 2’ has flat, pink, dark-eyed daisies on 18-inch-tall plants. It grows 2 feet tall wide. Zones 3-9

Purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea offers mauve-purple flowers all summer on a 5-foot-tall, 2-foot-wide plant. Zones 3-9

‘Tiki Torch’ coneflower
Echinacea ‘Tiki Torch’ is a remarkable selection with bright orange fragrant flowers in summer and autumn. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 4-

Sea Holly — Sea holly is a wonderful plant for adding texture to the garden. It offers jagged leaves, which I like, with clusters of steel-blue flowers surrounded by a crown of spiny-looking bracts. It is related to thistles although it doesn’t spread like the problematic thistle does. The sea holly is also deer- and rabbit- resistant.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
2-10
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
1-6 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-3 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the sea holly are:

Alpine sea holly
Eryngium alpinum has deeply serrated bracts (petals) surrounding a central cone, giving the flower a lacy appearance. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 5-8

Amethyst sea holly
Eryngium amethystinum is the hardiest species. It bears purple-blue flowers on plants 2-1/2 feet tall. Zones 2-10

Flat sea holly
Eryngium planum has silver-blue flowers on plants 2-3 feet tall. Its leaves are scalloped rather than spiny. Zones 5-10

‘Miss Willmott’s ghost’
Eryngium giganteum gets its name from its dramatic ghostly gray-green to silvery blue flowers on plants up to 6 feet tall. Also sometimes called giant sea holly. Zones 5-10

‘Rattlesnake-master’
Eryngium yuccifolium is a native of the Great Plains. It is a stately plant that reaches 4-5 feet tall and bears silvery white balls on spiny foliage that resembles that of yucca. Extracts of the plant were used by Native Americans as medicine. Zones 4-8

Sapphire Blue sea holly
Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’, also sometimes sold as ‘Jos Eijking’, is a sterile variety that does not self-sow. Zones 5-9

Perennial Geranium — Also called cranesbill for the shape of its seedpods, perennial geranium makes a great groundcover on sites with clay soil. It grows in full sun to part shade, and blooms profusely in spring. Some varieties continue to bloom throughout the summer. Many develop wonderful fall color to boot.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun
Zones:
5-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
6 inches to 4 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-4 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fragrant, Fall Color, Winter Interest, Drought Tolerant, Tolerates Wet Soil, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the perennial geranium are:

Ann Folkard geranium
Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ has yellowish-green foliage on 2-foot-long scrambling stems that weave among other plants. In midsummer into fall, bright magenta flowers punctuated with black veins and eyes bloom freely. Zones 5-9

Bigroot geranium
Geranium macrorrhizummakes a fine groundcover and tolerates dry, light shade. The aromatic 6-inch-wide leaves take on splendid fall color. Bright magenta flowers appear in spring; several less strident cultivars are available. Zones 4-8

Bloody geranium
Geranium sanguineummakes 1-foot-tall mounds of foliage that becomes golden in fall. Vibrant magenta flowers cover the plants in late spring. It tolerates hot weather well. Zones 3-8

Johnson’s Blue geranium
Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ is a long-blooming variety with 2-inch bright blue flowers. It grows to 18 inches tall. Zones 4-8

Mourning widow geranium
Geranium phaeum bears nodding dark purple blooms in late spring over attractive hand-shape foliage. Zones 4-8

‘Rozanne’ geranium
Geranium ‘Rozanne’ blooms June to frost with silvery mottled foliage on spreading plants that can grow 3 feet wide. Zones 5-9

Striped bloody geranium
Geranium sanguineum var.striatum is a long-blooming selection that grows only 4 inches or so in height. In spring it’s covered with pale pink flowers striped with darker veins. Zones 3-8
False Sunflower — It’s hard to beat false sunflower for garden performance. This tough perennial blooms all summer long and boasts impressive heat- and drought-tolerance. Most varieties, such as ‘Summer Sun’ grow 3-5 feet tall. ‘Tuscan Sun’ remains under 3 feet tall, perfect for small-space gardens.
Requirements:
Sun
Zones:
3-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
3-6 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-2 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers, Cut  Flowers, Drought Tolerant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the sunflower are:

‘Hohlspiegel’ false sunflower
Heliopsis helianthoides‘Hohlspiegel’ has brilliant orange-yellow semidouble flowers with darker discs. The flower shape is slightly concave. It grows to 4 feet tall. Zones 4-9

‘Lorraine Sunshine’ false sunflower
Heliopsis helianthoides‘Lorraine Sunshine’ has stunning white leaves etched with bright green veins. Its yellow daisy flowers are long-blooming on 18-inch stems. Zones 3-9

‘Summer Sun’ false sunflower
Heliopsis helianthoidessubsp. Scabra ‘Sommersonne’ produces compact clumps of serrated leaves, above which bloom slightly double, 3-inch-wide golden daisies. It’s very long-blooming. Zones 3-9
Daylily   — Tough-as-nails daylily grows almost anywhere. Its trumpet-shape blooms each last only a day, but plants can bloom for several weeks because they produce many flower buds. Some varieties bloom several times through the summer. And I have found that this plant does equally well in full sun, part sun and even shade as long as it is not in deep shade.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun
Zones:
3-10
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
6 inches to 4 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-3 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Privacy, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features:
Flowers, Fragrant, Drought Tolerant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the daylily are:

‘Apple Tart’ daylily
Hemerocallis ‘Apple Tart’ is a repeat bloomer that opens in the late afternoon with single bright red flowers accented with yellow stripes. It grows to 3 feet tall. Zones 3-9

‘Bright Sunset’ daylily
Hemerocallis ‘Bright Sunset’ offers fragrant copper-orange flowers brushed with golden yellow. Zones 3-9

‘Catherine Woodbury’ daylily
Hemerocallis ‘Catherine Woodbury’ is a classic with fragrant large flowers of clear pale pink. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-9

‘Hyperion’ daylily
Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’ has very fragrant, large lemon-yellow single flowers that open toward evening. It grows 4 feet tall. Zones 3-9

‘Little Grapette’ daylily
Hemerocallis ‘Little Grapette’ has single miniature flowers the color of grape juice with a greenish-yellow eye open in the late afternoon. It grows to 18 inches tall. Zones 4-10

‘Mary Todd’ daylily
Hemerocallis ‘Mary Todd’ is an old cultivar that blooms early with large, bright yellow flowers. It grows to 3 feet tall. Zones 4-10

‘Stella d’Oro’ daylily
Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’Oro’ is an extremely popular variety. It re-blooms freely from midseason on with single brilliant gold flowers that are slightly fragrant. This tough plant grows only a foot or so tall. Zones 3-9
Coral Bells —  My favorite is ‘Paris’ coral bells which produces a frothy sea of pink blooms floating above silvery green foliage, so even when this perennial flower is not in bloom, it looks great. Other varieties are grown strictly for their attractive foliage colors, with shades ranging from deep purple to bronze, peach, silver, and mixtures of these colours.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun, Shade
Zones:
3-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
12-36 inches tall
Plant Width:
6-30 inches wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fall Color, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Attracts Hummingbirds, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the coral bells are:

‘Amber Waves’ coralbells
Heuchera ‘Amber Waves’ has 8-inch mounds of exciting wavy-edge leaves that are salmon pink when young but mature to rusty gold with lavender overtones. In spring it produces loose spires of small pink flowers. Zones 4-9

‘Dolce Blackcurrant’ coralbells
Heuchera ‘Dolce Blackcurrant’ offers rich purple leaves with splashes of silver. It grows 16 inches tall and 20 inches wide. Zones 4-9

‘Dolce Creme Brulee’ coralbells
Heuchera ‘Dolce Creme Brulee’ offers lovely bronzy foliage from spring to fall. It grows 16 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Zones 4-9

‘Dolce Key Lime Pie’ coralbells
Heuchera ‘Dolce Key Lime Pie’ features exciting lime-green foliage from spring to fall and clusters of pink flowers in spring. It grows 16 inches tall and 14 inches wide. Zones 4-9

‘Green Spice’ coralbells
Heuchera ‘Green Spice’ has 9-inch mounds of scalloped, red-veined silvery leaves edged with gray-green. Dainty spires of white flowers rise above the foliage. Zones 4-9

‘Palace Purple’ coralbells
Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’ has 12-inch mounds of long-petioled, ivy-shape, deep purple leaves with dark red undersides. These may fade out to greenish bronze in full summer sun. Panicles of tiny flowers bloom aloft in spring. Zones 4-9

‘Pewter Veil’ coralbells
Heuchera ‘Pewter Veil’ has scalloped, rounded leaves of metallic silver with purple-gray veins and pink undersides. They form 12-inch mounds, above which panicles of tiny white flowers bloom in spring. Zones 4-9
Hosta — A total favorite plant of mine to use in and around the yard. It works well in the shade garden and has attractive foliage, many of the hostas also produce pretty spikes of white or lavender blooms.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun, Shade
Zones:
3-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
To 5 feet tall
Plant Width:
To 4 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Privacy, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features: 
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fragrant, Cut Flowers, Drought Tolerant, Tolerates Wet Soil, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the hosta are:

‘Aureomarginata’ hosta
Hosta montana‘ Aureomarginata’ develops wide clumps of glossy, tapering leaves with wavy, irregular yellow edges. Mauve flowers bloom in early summer. Zones 3-9

‘Aztec Treasure’ hosta
Hosta ‘Aztec Treasure’ has 1-foot mounds of heart-shape chartreuse leaves and bell-shape purple flowers in summer. Zones 3-8

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ hosta
Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is a charming dwarf selection with rounded blue leaves. It grows 5 inches tall and 12 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Chartreuse Wiggles’ hosta
Hosta ‘Chartreuse Wiggles’ bears thin golden-green leaves with wavy edges. It grows 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Daybreak’ hosta
Hosta ‘Daybreak’ bears deep gold leaves with a corrugated texture. It has lavender flowers and grows 3 feet wide. Zones 3-8

‘Deja Blu’ hosta
Hosta ‘Deja Blu’ offers blue-green leaves that bear a golden-green edge. It grows 14 inches tall and 20 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Formal Attire’ hosta
Hosta ‘Formal Attire’ has large blue-green leaves edged in creamy white. The foliage has a distinctive puckered texture. It grows 30 inches tall and wide. Zones 3-9

Fragrant hosta
Hosta plantaginea bears rich-green leaves and 5-foot-tall stems of fragrant white flowers. It grows 26 inches tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 3-9

‘Francee’ hosta
Hosta ‘Francee’ develops wide mounds of large oval leaves rimmed with cream. Funnel-shape lavender flowers bloom in summer on 30-inch stems. Zones 3-9

‘Frances Williams’ hosta
Hosta ‘Frances Williams’ is one of the most decorative hostas. Its bold cupped and puckered, heart-shape blue-green leaves have irregular yellowish-green edges. Dirty-white bells rise on 2-foot scapes in summer. Zones 3-9

‘Golden Prayers’ hosta
Hosta ‘Golden Prayers’ shows off cupped golden-yellow leaves. It’s a compact selection that grows 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Great American Expectations’ hosta
Hosta ‘Great American Expectations’ features large chartreuse leaves edged in blue. It grows 26 inches tall and wide. Zones 3-9

‘Great Expectations’ hosta
Hosta ‘Great Expectations’ has puckered chartreuse leaves irregularly edged in blue. It grows 22 inches tall and 40 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Heavenly Tiara’ hosta
Hosta ‘Heavenly Tiara’ bears light green foliage edged in gold. It grows 12 inches tall and 36 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘June’ hosta
Hosta ‘June’ is an award-winning selection that features golden-yellow leaves broadly edged in blue. It grows 15 inches tall and 20 inches wide. It’s somewhat sun-tolerant. Zones 3-9

‘Krossa Regal’ hosta
Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ is an elegant selection that offers blue-green foliage and a unique vase-shape habit. It grows 36 inches tall and 60 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Pandora’s Box’ hosta
Hosta ‘Pandora’s Box’ shows off creamy-white foliage edged in dark green. This miniature variety grows only 2 inches tall and 5 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Paradigm’ hosta
Hosta ‘Paradigm’ is an award-winning selection with thick, golden leaves narrowly edged in blue-green. It’s a large variety that grows to 46 inches tall and 48 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Pathfinder’ hosta
Hosta ‘Pathfinder’ is a compact variety with thick, slug-resistant, creamy-white foliage edged in dark green. It grows 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Patriot’ hosta
Hosta ‘Patriot’ is an award-winning variety with dark green leaves boldly edged in white. It grows 12 inches tall and 30 inches wide. Zones 3-8

‘Sagae’ hosta
Hosta ‘Sagae’ is a popular variety with blue-green leaves edged in creamy yellow. It grows 28 inches tall and 3 feet wide. Zones 3-8

‘Silver Threads and Golden Needles’ hosta
Hosta ‘Silver Threads and Golden Needles’ is a miniature variety bearing green leaves edged and streaked in gold and silver. It grows 6 inches tall and 8 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Stitch in Time’ hosta
Hosta ‘Stitch in Time’ is a compact selection with green leaves edged in cream. The foliage has a unique quilted look. It grows 14 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Striptease’ hosta
Hosta ‘Striptease’ features golden leaves with wide green edges. A thin white sliver separates the green and yellow colors. It grows 20 inches tall and 36 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Sum and Substance’ hosta
Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ is one of the largest and most popular hostas around. It has huge chartreuse leaves that can reach 24 inches long. The plant grows 24 inches tall and 60 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Sun Power’ hosta
Hosta ‘Sun Power’ is a sun-tolerant variety with yellow-green leaves. It shows brightest color when it gets direct sun in the morning. ‘Sun Power’ grows 24 inches tall and 48 inches wide.

‘Tokudama Flavocircinalis’ hosta
Hosta ‘Tokudama Flavocircinalis’ has textured, heart-shape leaves with irregular yellow margins. The summer flowers are pale lavender on 18-inch stems. It makes a fine groundcover. Zones 3-9

‘Touch of Class’ hosta
Hosta ‘Touch of Class’ is a stunning selection bearing chartreuse leaves widely edged in blue. It grows 7 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Whirlwind’ hosta
Hosta ‘Whirlwind’ bears upright leaves that start out creamy white edged in green but become all green as the summer passes. It grows 5 inches tall and 40 inches wide. Zones 3-9

‘Wolverine’ hosta
Hosta ‘Wolverine’ bears long, narrow blue-green leaves edged crisply in gold. It grows 15 inches tall and 40 inches wide. Zones 3-9
Blazing Star — Blazing star is a native United States prairie plant that has become a popular cut flower in recent years. I consider it a must-have perennial for my butterfly gardens. It offers spikes of purple or white flowers over clumps of grassy like foliage which is a nice addition to any cut floral arrangement.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
3-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
2-5 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-2 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Cut Flowers, Attracts Hummingbirds, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the blazing star are:

‘Floristan White’ blazing star
Liatris spicata ‘Floristan White’ may reach 3 feet tall. Its leafy stems carry long spikes of creamy white flower heads at their tips. Zones 4-9

‘Kobold’ blazing star
Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ is one of the best varieties for cutting. Its robust spikes of bright purple flowers appear in early summer. It grows about 2 feet tall. Zones 4-9
Bee Balm — Bee balm is an old-fashioned favorite of my grandmothers and now mine as well.  It produces flowers in shades of red to pink, lavender, and purple and grows well in heavy clay soil. Bee Balm attracts plenty of hummingbirds while being deer- and rabbit- resistant.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun
Zones:
3-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
1-4 feet tall
Plant Width:
To 2 feet wide
Bloom Time:
Blooms mid- to late summer and into fall, depending on variety
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fragrant, Cut Flowers, Attracts Hummingbirds, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Tolerates Wet Soil, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the bee balm are:

‘Cambridge Scarlet’ bee balm
Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’ has leafy clumps of 3-foot stems clothed with aromatic oval leaves. The terminal whorls of bright red two-lipped flowers are surrounded by brownish-red bracts. Zones 3-9

‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm
Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’ grows about 2-1/2 feet tall and is topped with rounded clusters of rose red two-lipped flowers that are surrounded by wine red bracts. Zones 3-9
Russian Sage — Russian sage grows so well in hot, dry, sunny clay that in some areas it is considered invasive, so you may want to check local restrictions before planting of it. With its wispy lavender flower spikes and silvery foliage it does make an awesome anchor in the summer border if used though.  I usually skip this one but you may wish to give it a try.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
4-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
3-5 feet tall
Plant Width:
2.5-3 feet wide
Bloom Time:
Blooms midsummer into fall, depending on variety
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Privacy
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fragrant, Fall Color, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow

Yarrow — Yarrow is one of those tough-as-nails plants that grows well in dry, sunny conditions. The yarrow is usually very attractive to butterflies and it is also deer-resistant.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
3-10
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
6-60 inches tall
Plant Width:
18-36 inches wide
Flower Color:
Red, yellow, gold, pink, or white flowers, depending on variety
Bloom Time:
Blooms spring, summer, and fall depending on variety
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
Top varieties for the yarrow are:

‘Appleblossom’ yarrow
Achillea millefolium‘Appleblossom’ is a fast-spreading plant with pale pink blooms and grayish-green feathery leaves. Zones 3-9

‘Apricot Delight’ yarrow
Achillea millefolium ‘Apricot Delight’ bears reddish, apricot-color blooms that fade to lovely shades of peachy coral as they age. The long-blooming flowers form on compact plants. Zones 3-9

‘Cerise Queen’ yarrow
Achillea millefolium ‘Cerise Queen’ produces pretty, magenta-pink blooms in late spring to early summer that hover over fernlike green foliage. Zones 3-9
‘Coronation Gold’ yarrow
Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’ is a fern-leaf type with yellow flowers that are good for drying on 3-foot-tall stems. It forms mounds of ferny gray foliage. Zones 3-9.

Fernleaf yarrow
Achillea filipendulina offers finely cut gray-green foliage and reaches 3-5 feet tall. It bears mustard-yellow flowers in mid- to late summer. Zones 3-9

‘Moonshine’ yarrow
Achillea ‘Moonshine’ is an adaptable plant that bears pale yellow blooms on silvery-gray foliage. It forms spreading mounds to 2 feet tall. Zones 4-8

‘Paprika’ yarrow
Achillea millefolium‘Paprika’ blooms in brilliant scarlet red with a distinctive yellow eye. With age the flowers take on a pink hue. The plant blooms all summer if deadheaded. Zones 3-9

‘Pink Grapefruit’ yarrow
Achillea millefolium ‘Pink Grapefruit’ is a compact, vigorous plant with large domed flowers that open deep pink and slowly change to creamy rose. Zones 3-9

‘Strawberry Seduction’ yarrow
Achillea millefolium‘Strawberry Seduction’ shows off velvety-red blooms with bright gold centers that fade to maize-yellow as they age. Zones 3-9

Woolly yarrow
Achillea tomentosa ‘Lemon’ bears clear yellow flowers in early summer that appear over the 6-inch-tall foliage that’s covered in soft, silvery hairs. Zones 4-8
Sedum — The sedum is a drought-resistant perennial that grows well in most soil types, even dense clay. But, for best results for late-summer blooms which attract butterflies you’ll want to plant sedum in full sun. Trust me on this one! Full sun or forget about an abundance of blooms.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun
Zones:
3-10
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
2-24 inches tall, depending on variety
Plant Width:
6 inches or several feet wide, depending on variety
Flower Color:
White, pink, red, purple, yellow, or orange flowers, depending on variety; Gray/Silver Leaves, Red/Purple Leaves, Blue-Green Leaves, Variegated Leaves, depending on variety
Bloom Time:
Blooms midsummer to autumn, depending on variety
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fall Color, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Attracts Birds, Attracts Hummingbirds, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Easy to Grow
The top varieties of the sedum are:

Angelina sedum
(Sedum ‘Angelina’) is a quick-growing groundcover with golden, needle-like leaves that turn orange in fall. It grows 4 inches tall. Zones 6-9

Autumn Charm sedum
(Sedum telephium ‘Autumn Charm’) shows off rose-pink flowers in late summer and autumn and lovely white-edged foliage. It grows 15 inches tall and wide. Zones 4-8

Autumn Joy sedum
(Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’) is a classic. Its 2-foot-tall stems carry gray fleshy leaves and are topped with green broccoli-like heads of flower buds that open pink and turn rusty red by fall. Zones 3-8

Black Jack sedum
(Sedum ‘Black Jack’) has sturdy 24-inch-tall deep-purple stems clothed with succulent dark purple leaves. Pink flowers cluster in 5- to 8-inch-wide heads. It thrives in full sun in Zones 3-8.

Frosty Morn sedum
(Sedum ‘Frosty Morn’) bears stunning, silver-edged gray-green leaves and clusters of pink flowers in fall. It grows 1 foot tall. Zones 3-9

Kamschatka sedum
(Sedum kamtschaticum) has evergreen foliage, making it an effective groundcover. The yellow flowers look great over the rich green foliage. To 4 inches tall. Zones 3-9

Ogon Makinoi’s sedum
(Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’) has mats of small, pink-flushed gold leaves on creeping stems. Yellow green flowers are produced in summer. This is a fine ground cover plant in rock and crevice gardens. It grows 8 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 7-9.

Purple Emperor sedum
(Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’) bears rich purple foliage and clusters of pinkish-purple blooms in late summer and fall. It grows 2 feet tall. Zones 3-7

Sedum acre
Sedum acre is an evergreen that grows 2 to 3 inches tall and has dark green foliage with yellow flowers in summer. Zones 4-9

Sedum cauticola
Sedum cauticola is a Japanese species with lovely silvery, blue-green leaves and pink-purple flowers in autumn. It grows 2 inches tall. Zones 5-9

Sedum sieboldii
Sedum sieboldii has blue-green leaves blushed with purple. In fall, it produces clusters of rosy-pink flowers. This groundcover grows 4 inches tall. Zones 6-9

Sedum spathulifolium
Sedum spathulifolium is a quick-spreading selection to 4 inches tall that has silvery-gray foliage and bright yellow flowers in summer. Zones 5-9

Tricolor sedum
(Sedum spurium ‘Tricolor’) bears green leaves edged in pink and white. The pink flowers appear in summer. Zones 3-8

Variegated Kamschatka sedum
(Sedum kamtschaticum‘Variegatum’) has lustrous green, flushed pink, spoon-shaped leaves frosted with white along the edge. Its bright yellow starry flowers bloom from summer into fall, gradually becoming orange. It grows 4 inches tall. Zones 3-8

Vera Jameson sedum
(Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’) offers purple foliage and pinky-rose flowers in late summer or early fall. It grows 1 foot tall. Zones 4-9

Goldenrod – One of my favorite goldenrods is the ‘Crown of Rays’ which has spiky yellow blooms in late summer on a tidy plant that stays under 2 feet tall. It is well-behaved, spreading gradually to form a large clump in the border. Other goldenrods are also clay-resistant, but can grow up to 5 feet tall. I happen to like the ‘Crown of Rays’ because of its compact nature.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun, Shade
Zones:
4-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
2 inches-6 feet tall
Plant Width:
8 inches-3 feet wide
Flower Color:
Yellow flowers
Bloom Time:
Blooms in summer and fall, depending on variety
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fragrant, Fall Color, Cut Flowers, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Tolerates Wet Soil, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
The top variety of the goldenrod is:

Goldenmosa goldenrod
(Solidago ‘Goldenmosa’) bears plenty of foot-long sprays of golden yellow flowers atop leafy stems. This hybrid grows 30 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 4-9.
Best Ornamental Grasses for the clay soil are:
Miscanthus – The miscanthus bears silvery seed heads that seem to glow in the late-summer and autumn sunshine. This ornamental grass grows nearly anywhere, from soggy soil to sun-baked clay. It can drop a lot of seedlings, so deadheading the plumes as they mature to keep it from becoming weedy in your garden is a must. But, as grasses goes this is a nice one to use.
Name: Miscanthus selections
Zones: 4-9
Miscanthus selections
Requirements:
Light:
Sun, Part Sun
Zones:
4-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
2-9 feet tall
Plant Width:
2-5 feet wide
Bloom Time:
Blooms summer and fall, depending on variety
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Privacy, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fall Color, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Attracts Birds, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
The top varieties of the miscanthus are:

‘Morning Light’ miscanthus
Miscanthus sinensis‘Morning Light’ makes dense, silvery 4-foot clumps of fine-textured arching leaves edged with white. Its reddish-pink plumes of flowers mature to tan. Zones 6-9

Purple miscanthus
Miscanthus sinensis var.purpurascens is a compact 4-foot cultivar with reddish summer foliage that turns vibrant purple-red come fall. Its plumes of flowers bleach white in the sun. Zones 6-9

Zebragrass
Miscanthus sinensis‘Zebrinus’ is one of the zebra-stripe varieties with horizontal yellow banding on the leaves. Zones 6-9

Switchgrass — Among the most versatile of ornamental grasses, switchgrass thrives in moist, dry, or clay soil — and even in part shade. It offers wispy seedheads that sway gracefully in the breeze. Some varieties, such as ‘Heavy Metal’ have bluish-green foliage; others turn shades of red and maroon in autumn.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
5-9
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
2-5 feet tall
Plant Width:
9-42 inches wide
Bloom Time:
Blooms late summer and into fall, depending on variety
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fall Color, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Attracts Birds, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
The top varieties of the switchgrass are:

‘Cloud Nine’ switchgrass
Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’ has clumps of metallic-blue foliage topped with clouds of spikelets that turn reddish-brown in fall. ‘Cloud Nine’ may reach 6 feet tall. Zones 5-9

‘Shenandoah’ switchgrass
Panicum virgatum‘Shenandoah’ is one of the reddest switchgrasses. Its strong color shows itself by early to midsummer and becomes more intense as the season progresses. It may reach 3 feet tall. Zones 5-9
Fountaingrass — Fountaingrass offers bottlebrush like seed heads that gracefully arch outward from a mounded plant. ‘Hameln’, my favorite of the fountaingrass is a dwarf variety that grows about 2-1/2 feet tall and wide which makes it a more compact plant in my garden but the real plus is that it is also a great low-maintenance ornamental grass. If you have ever had to dive into trimming up any of the grasses you’ll appreciate this one for its low-maintenance attributes.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
6-11
Plant Type:
Annual, Perennial
Plant Height:
10 inches-5 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-4 feet wide
Bloom Time:
Blooms in summer and early fall, depending on variety
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features:
Flowers, Attractive Foliage, Fall Color, Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Attracts Birds, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
The top  varieties of the fountaingrass are:

Perennial fountaingrass
Pennisetum alopecuroides makes neat but dense 2- to 5-foot clumps of 1/2-inch-wide leaves that turn golden in fall and persist into the winter. The bottlebrush panicles of silvery white spikelets (flowers) arise in late summer and mature to bronze, according to variety. Zones 6-9

‘Prince’ purple fountaingrass
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Prince’ shows off delightful purple foliage that deepens in color as temperatures rise. It can grow 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It’s often grown as an annual in the North. Zones 8-11

‘Rubrum’ purple fountaingrass
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ makes mounds of purplish-red leaves. Erect red stems carry arching 1-foot-long pink to reddish-purple panicles of spikelets from midsummer through fall. It’s usually grown as an annual, though it is perennial in Zones 8-11.
Little Bluestem — Little bluestem is a gorgeous grass from the North American prairies that bears blue-green foliage that turns crimson in fall. The ‘Blue Heaven’ variety has especially blue leaves. The bluestem sends its roots deep into the soil and withstands long periods of drought which is nice.
Requirements:
Light:
Sun
Zones:
2-7
Plant Type:
Perennial
Plant Height:
2-4 feet tall, depending on variety
Plant Width:
1 foot wide
Flower Color:
Tan spikelets
Bloom Time:
Blooms late summer into fall
Landscape Uses:
Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes
Special Features:
Attractive Foliage, Fall Color,  Winter Interest, Cut Flowers, Attracts Birds, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Easy to Grow
The top variety of the little bluestem is:

‘The Blues’ little blustem
Schizachyrium scoparium‘ The Blues’ is a newer selection that offers grass blades that are more blue than the wild species. In autumn, it turns burgundy purple. ‘The Blues’ grows 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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