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GardenSMART :: Five New Perennials That Will Love Your Clay Soil

Five New Perennials That Will Love Your Clay Soil

By Susan Martin, Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Clay soil—for many it presents a real challenge in the garden. Though there are lots of ways to improve its texture and drainage, make it easy on yourself and choose to grow plants that naturally thrive in clay soils. Here's a closer look at five new perennials introduced this year that will love your clay soil.

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'Chantilly Lace' Goatsbeard (Aruncus)

You might think this is an astilbe at first glance since it does have similar flowers, but this is 'Chantilly Lace', commonly known as goatsbeard. It blooms before astilbe in late spring and is much more forgiving if you miss a day of watering. This cultivar is mid-sized with neatly mounded foliage, so it fits best near the middle of the flower border. Tiny pollinator insects enjoy the flowers when in bloom.

Goatsbeard grows well in any type of soil, from clay to sand. It doesn't love a ton of root competition, so planting it right at the base of a tree or ornamental grass wouldn't be the best place, but normal competition from other perennials is just fine. Part shade is ideal, though this perennial will easily grow and bloom in sun or shade. 30-32" tall, zones 3-7, deer resistant.

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'Stand By Me' Bush Clematis (Clematis)

This extremely prolific clematis becomes covered in bright blue, nodding bell-shaped flowers in late spring followed by frilly white seed heads in summer. All sorts of bees delight in its pollen-filled blossoms. Rather than vining like many clematis, 'Stand By Me' is a bush-type, meaning it forms an upright clump like a regular perennial. It does appreciate having some support nearby to lean on, so be sure to surround it with other perennials or small shrubs. You could also use a support like a peony ring to keep it nice and upright.

Grow this clematis in full sun to part shade in well-drained, alkaline to neutral pH soil. If your clay soil is very dense, amend it with compost or humus to improve the drainage. Clematis likes its roots to stay cool, so it's a good idea to spread mulch at its base or shade the roots by planting other perennials close by. 34-38" tall, zones 3-7, deer resistant.

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Rainbow Rhythm® 'Orange Smoothie' Daylily (Hemerocallis)

Daylilies have long been popular perennials because they are so easy to grow and become more impressive every year as they mature. 'Orange Smoothie' has many of the most desirable traits in a daylily: perfect flower form, a sweet fragrance, foliage that remains attractive all season and reliable rebloom. Ruffled, orange mango blossoms with a rose band sparkle in the sun atop scapes that are loaded with buds in midsummer. They bloom for several weeks then, and rebloom again later in the season.

Grow daylilies in full sun to light shade with average water for best flowering performance. They'll tolerate almost any soil type, including clay, and multiply from year to year. They can be divided every few years and moved around the garden to add color to all your sunny spaces. See the entire Rainbow Rhythm series. 24" tall, zones 3-9.

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Shadowland® 'Waterslide' Hosta (Hosta)

Guaranteed to be one of the most distinctive hostas in your collection, this new mid-sized variety has very distinctly rippled foliage. Its powdery blue, thick leaves hold their color well into the summer season, especially when sited in filtered sun to full shade. An eastern exposure (morning sun) is ideal for this plant. Lavender flowers appear in late summer.

Hostas are extremely durable plants in the landscape, surviving all the way down to zone 3. Their main predator is deer, so you may need to provide some protection if they are an issue in your garden. Hostas grow well in almost any soil, including clay, and prefer for their roots to stay moist. If you plant them under trees, you might consider laying drip irrigation or a soaker hose down under your mulch when planting. See the entire Shadowland collection. 14" tall x 32" wide, zones 3-9.

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Summerific® 'Cherry Choco Latte' Rose Mallow (Hibiscus)

Rose mallow is the star of the late summer garden when its dinner plate-sized blossoms appear abundantly. It is a very large plant, growing the size of a shrub in the landscape, and bears the largest flowers of any hardy perennial. The new 'Cherry Choco Latte' forms a sizeable, bushy clump of dark olive green foliage with bronze highlights. Huge 8-9" flowers begin to pop open in high summer and continue into fall. Their bright white, ruffled petals are accented with extensive red veining and a red eye in the center of each flower.  

The most important factor in growing rose mallow is water—don't let these plants dry out. Clay soil tends to hold moisture well and they will happily soak up any extra water you provide. They will also benefit from the nutrients of any compost or humus you mix in. Grow them in full sun for best flowering performance and foliage color. See the entire Summerific collection. 4' tall, zones 4-9, deer resistant.

Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners. Follow her on Facebook @Gardener Sue's News.

Patent Info: 'Chantilly Lace' Aruncus USPPAF CanPBRAF; 'Stand by Me' Clematis USPPAF CanPBRAF; Rainbow Rhythm® 'Orange Smoothie' Hemerocallis USPP28643 CanPBRAF; Shadowland® 'Waterslide' Hosta USPPAF CanPBRAF; Summerific® 'Cherry Choco Latte' Hibiscus USPPAF CanPBRAF


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