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Best Perennial Plants for Clay Soil

Clay Soils are Common in The US

Clay soil is widespread in many parts of the US. It is often the result of the evaporation of lakes or glaciers that covered an area thousands of years ago. Clay soil can be wet and sticky or dry and heavy. The soil sticks together in hard clumps and needs to allow for good drainage. This kind of soil can be very challenging for a gardener.  

How to Work with Clay Soil in Your Garden

There are ways to deal with clay soil, the first of which is soil additions. Supplements like composted manure, composted leaves, peat moss, humus, used coffee grounds, and wood ash can be added by digging or breaking up the soil into smaller pieces using a shovel or pitchfork. But this is often a temporary solution and must be repeated yearly. Another approach to working with garden clay soil is choosing plants that tolerate this soil. Luckily, several reliable perennials will grow and thrive in clay soils

Most perennials do best if they are divided every 3-4 years or more often. Dividing perennials in clay soil may be more labor-intensive than in softer soils, so keep perennial clumps manageable. This is especially important with perennials with large stringy root systems, such as hostas. 

Best Perennial Plants For Clay Soil

Daylilies (Hemerocallis

They are easy to grow and provide weeks of beauty throughout the summer. Some of them bloom early and then rebloom in autumn. The native orange day lily (commonly called “ditch lily”) can be somewhat invasive in the garden but is also an excellent plant to fill in a large area quickly, such as a long driveway edge or alongside a ditch. It can be recognized by its early flowering, very tall stems, and pale orange flower with a yellow eye edged in red. Species and hybrid daylilies are easier to control and come in various colors and sizes. True to their name, each flower lasts about a day, so keep the plants deadheaded for a neat look. Daylilies like a fair amount of water. They help crowd out other weeds due to their thick root systems. Once they are done flowering, you can shear the foliage back to the ground, and it will grow back a tidy clump to finish the season. Some colorful varieties to try: ‘Janice Brown’ (pale pink with rosy pink center, reblooming), ‘Rocket City’ (bright golden orange), ‘’Catherine Woodbury’ (pale pink and white with a bright yellow eye), Moonlit Masquerade’ (pale yellow petals with a deep violet center), ‘Joan Senior’ (creamy white with a pale yellow eye, reblooming), and ‘Bela Lugosi’ (deep purple with a greenish yellow eye).  


These popular shade perennials have delicate lacy leaves and fluffy plumes of tiny flowers. They spread via small rhizomes. The clumps can get quite large over time, so dividing them every 3-4 years is best once established. They come in various colors and sizes, adding brightness to shady areas with their delicate blooms. Some suitable varieties to try include: ‘Deutschland’ (long delicate white flower plumes), ‘Maggie Daley’ (thick plumes of lilac-pink flowers), ‘Red Sentinel’ (delicate dark red flowers and dark green leaves), ‘Ostrich Plume’ (pale pink flowers that grow on stems that curve and droop, unlike most astilbes which have straight stems), and ‘Amethyst’ (tall stems of pale lavender flowers). 

Stonecrop (Sedum

Sedums, a hardy sun-loving perennial, can be grown in various soil conditions. They come in multiple shapes and sizes, from creeping varieties to clumping plants whose flowering stems grow up to 3 feet tall. Sedums have fleshy roots that are easy to divide, and unlike many plants, they can be gently separated and moved at any time in their growing season. The foliage and flowers come in various colors, from pale silvery green to deep burgundy. These plants put up tiny green rosettes in spring and then put on a show all season long. One of the most popular varieties is ‘Autumn Joy,’ which has rosy-pink flowers that shift to reddish bronze and burgundy from summer to fall. You can leave the flower stems intact through winter to create pleasing shapes in your snowy garden. Other varieties to try: ‘Matrona’ (tall, sturdy plants with reddish stems and pale pink flowers), ‘Neon’ (bright, vivid pink blooms),  

Echinacea (Coneflower)

These long-blooming daisy-like perennials attract pollinators and birds. They like a sunny location. Native echinacea comes in shades of pink and greenish white with orange cone-shaped centers, while newer hybrids come in various colors. You can deadhead the flowers when they fade, but songbirds will appreciate it if you leave them intact so they can snack on the seeds. Some varieties to enjoy: ‘Tiki Torch’ (tall plants with bright orange flowers and dark red cones), ‘Double Decker’ (pink petals with brown cones and a cluster of pink petals emerging from the top of the cones) ‘Cantaloupe’ (pale orange outer petals and fluffy inner petals surrounding orange cone), ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ (range of colors from yellow to red with dark brown cones). 


These well-known perennials grow wild in meadow gardens and along roadsides. You can purchase wide varieties to grow in your garden, ranging from 10 inches to 4 feet tall. Some taller ones include ‘Crimson Brocade’ (24 inches tall, crimson red flowers with yellow centers) and ‘Honeysong’ (3 feet tall, pink flowers that attract pollinators). ‘Woods Blue’ is a shorter sprawling aster (12 inches high) with vibrant pale blue flowers with yellow centers; this variety also has pink and purple versions. 

Bearded Iris (Iris germanica

The iris is named for the Roman goddess of the rainbow and comes in a dizzying array of colors and color combinations. Bearded irises (the “beard” is the fuzzy part at the flower’s center) are low-maintenance and vigorous growers and not fussy about soil. The good part of the flower is the “standard,” while the lower petals are called “falls.” Planting irises is essential so that part of the rhizome remains exposed above the soil surface. They can be easily divided by digging them up and trimming off parts of the rhizome that don’t have roots. Many hardy heirlooms with multiple colors (like ‘Quaker Lady,’ which has buff-colored standards, pale violet falls, and bright yellow beards) tend to multiply more quickly than the larger ones, frillier hybrids of recent years. Other well-loved varieties include ‘Perfection’ (pale blue-violet standards with deep purple fall and white 

beards), ‘Schiaparelli’ (pale pink standards and falls with orange beards), ‘Princess Caroline of Monaco’ (pale blue standards and falls with orange beards), and ‘Plumeri’ (rosy pink standards, lavender falls, and yellow beards). 

Bee Balm (Monarda

These long-blooming perennials need full sun to thrive but are not fussy about soil. They tend to spread, but their shallow roots make them easy to divide and control. Bee balm attracts honeybees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. The older heirlooms (like the magenta ‘Raspberry Wine’ and bright red ‘Cambridge Scarlet’) grow about 2-3 feet tall, but there are many newer hybrid dwarf plants that are more compact. Newer varieties include ‘Petite Delight’ (12 inches tall with bushy form and rose-pink flowers) and ‘Fireball’ (deep green leaves with dark red flowers).

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Red Daylily - TN Nursery

Red Daylily

Red Daylily's bold, red blossoms sit atop sturdy stems, making them excellent focal points that draw attention and develop a sense of landscape drama. They are renowned for their captivating magnificence and versatility, making them a popular choice for landscaping enthusiasts. These vibrant and elegant plants offer many benefits when incorporated into various landscaping designs. There are more than 60,000 cultivars of them, but this plant is among the most striking, even if it grows to just 3 feet tall. They are one of the hardiest of perennials and will grow well with almost any other flowers or trees in the garden. The Flowers Of This Perennial As the name implies, the six-petaled flowers are bright crimson with streaks of various lighter shades that frame a set of yellow stamina. This plant produces a great many blooms, so the wash of color will be dazzling in intensity. Also, the prefix "day-" is remarkably apropos as the gorgeous blooms are replaced every one or two days, which charmingly evokes the idea of rebirth or new life. Many versions of this plant have yellow, pink, or even white throats. The Leaves Of Red Daylily This plant's leaves are flat, long, and shaped like straps. These leaves grow from a nice-looking crown, and the plant is evergreen in all seasons, lending a shade of green throughout the winter. The leaves also form attractive clumps before separating to form additional lovely stems with outstanding blooms. How TN Nursery's Plants Contribute to the Environment Pollinators of all kinds are drawn to the magnificent blooms, which contribute to the overall health of the garden and the environment at large. On the varieties of these plants with yellow throats, the bees that visit them to collect nectar match the color of the inner part of the flowers, which heightens their lovely effect. As patches of these flowers grow within the garden year after year, the colors can shift slightly, creating lighter and darker shades. These many different shades then attract different butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. Because of the shape of their roots, they prevent soil erosion on slopes, meaning that when arranged beautifully in a cascade upon a slope, they'll hold everything together. The Bloom Of Of This Plant When planted in the late spring, these flowers will create their splendid washes of color beginning in the first week of July and lasting until the shadows start to lengthen in the middle of August. As hardy perennials, these wondrous plants will beautify any garden for many years.

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Coneflower Plant - TN Nursery

Coneflower Plant

The coneflower perennial plant, also known as echinacea, is known for its distinctive daisy-like, purple flowers with a prominent cone-shaped center. These flowers attract pollinators and add color to gardens.  Take Advantage of This Perennial With TN Nursery Coneflowers, which resemble daisies, typically bloom in the middle to end of summer. Certain types may begin blooming earlier or continue into the autumn. They are available in a rainbow of hues, from yellow to deep pink, and with both single and double blooms that are extremely vibrant. Magnus Superior variants bloom from the end of spring until the end of summer with rosy-violet rays that can reach a diameter of seven inches. These plants respond exceptionally well to deadheading.   Enjoy a Naturalizing Effect With a Coneflower Plant They spread gracefully, like wildflowers, thanks to their abundant seed production and self-sowing capabilities. Their delicate branches and colorful flowers make them perfect for gardens, where they provide visual interest without drawing attention to themselves. This naturalizing effect makes the plant look better and also works well for filling in gaps between flower beds. Add Diversity to Your Garden With This Perennial Because of their unusual shape and composition, cones are a great way to add variety to your landscape. Their unique cone shapes also make them eye-catching accents among other garden plants. They provide textural variety to a garden by growing erect, which contrasts wonderfully with trailing or mounding plants. In expansion, they can adjust to a broad range of soil types and light levels, so you have more alternatives for planting them. Invite Pollinators to Your Yard  Since they produce both nectar and pollen, many pollinators rely on these flowers for sustenance. Each of the 250 to 500 blooms that make up its black, cone-shaped flower head serves as a little cup of nectar for the pollinators. Bees and hummingbirds are just a few of the pollinators that love it. This variant can grow up to three feet tall and typically blooms between the middle of summer and the beginning of September each year. Because they produce seeds, they are a popular nectar source for birds as well.

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Monarda "Jacob Cline" Bee Balm - TN Nursery

Monarda Bee Balm

Monarda Bee Balm boasts clusters of large, scarlet-red flowers that attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. It is a vibrant and captivating perennial plant with numerous landscaping benefits. With its striking appearance and unique features, this plant can enhance the aesthetic appeal of gardens and outdoor spaces while contributing to the ecosystem.   One of the primary benefits of incorporating it into landscaping is its stunning visual impact. These flowers of this plant, besides being beautiful. These are valuable additions for those interested in supporting local wildlife populations. Furthermore, the upright growth habit of it creates a natural vertical element in landscaping designs. This can be particularly useful for adding structure and dimension to flower beds and mixed borders. The plant's lush green foliage, which often releases a pleasant fragrance when touched, adds a layer of texture and contrast against its vibrant blossoms. Besides its aesthetic qualities, it also offers practical benefits. Its dense growth pattern can effectively help suppress weed growth, reducing the need for excessive weeding and maintenance. Planting in larger groupings can also be a natural ground cover, helping stabilize soil and prevent slope erosion. Its adaptability to various soil types and its tolerance to varying moisture conditions make it a versatile choice for landscaping projects. Its hardy nature also means it can withstand different weather conditions, adding to its overall reliability as a landscaping plant. In conclusion, it offers many benefits for landscaping endeavors. From its eye-catching appearance and ability to attract pollinators to its contribution to weed suppression and soil stabilization, this plant brings aesthetic and functional advantages to outdoor spaces. Whether used in cottage gardens, perennial borders, or mixed plantings, it is a dynamic choice that can elevate any landscape's overall design and enjoyment. Order Yours From TN Nursery Today Monarda "Jacob Cline," commonly known as Bee Balm or Scarlet Bee Balm, is a striking perennial herbaceous plant with remarkable ornamental qualities. Native to North America, this eye-catching member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) is celebrated for its vibrant appearance, attracting both garden enthusiasts and pollinators alike. The Graphic Appeal Of This Perennial Standing at 3 to 4 feet, it boasts a robust and upright growth habit. Its sturdy stems are clothed in lance-shaped, dark green leaves that emit a subtle fragrance when brushed against. The leaves provide an attractive backdrop to the main event: the brilliantly colored flowers. These blossoms emerge in mid to late summer and are spectacular. Each flower head is a cluster of tubular blossoms characterized by their intense scarlet-red hue. The flowers are grouped in dense, spherical clusters, creating a stunning visual exhibit reminiscent of a lush bouquet. Beyond their visual appeal, Monarda "Jacob Cline" flowers serve as a beacon for pollinators, particularly bees and hummingbirds. These creatures are irresistibly drawn to the nectar-rich blooms, making this plant an excellent addition to any wildlife garden or naturalized landscape. As the bees and hummingbirds flit from one flower to another, the garden comes alive with activity and color, creating a harmonious ecosystem. Monarda "Jacob Cline," Is Relatively Low Maintenance To successfully cultivate it provide well-drained soil and full to partial sunlight. This plant is relatively low-maintenance, and its vigor makes it resistant to most pests and diseases. Regular watering, especially during dry spells, will keep it thriving and blooming abundantly. Deadheading spent flowers can encourage prolonged flowering and prevent self-seeding, which can sometimes be invasive. In conclusion, Monarda "Jacob Cline" Bee Balm is a horticultural gem celebrated for its stunning scarlet-red blossoms and its role in supporting local pollinators. Whether you're looking to create a vibrant, wildlife-friendly garden or simply seeking a beautiful addition to your landscape, this native American perennial is a fantastic choice, adding color and life to your outdoor space.

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