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Shrubs that will tolerate heavy clay soils

Below is a list shrubs that will grow on heavy clay soils; in fact many will flourish on heavy clay soils. Planting such shrubs could actually help dry and improve wet clay soils in the long term prior to future planting.

On planting such shrubs dig in plenty of well rotted organic matter to improve drainage immediately around the root system and use a fertilizer such as blood fish and bone to give the young plants a good start.

Click on the plant or genus name to view information, cultivation tips and pictures.


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Latin &
Common Name
EarmarkType & FormFlowers & Foliage
Abelia X grandiflora - AbeliaAbelia X grandiflora

Abelia
Shrub, Ground cover, Rounded - BushNon-flowering
Berberis X stenophylla - BerberisBerberis X stenophylla

Berberis
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Spreading archingYellow flowers (Summer early, scented)
Rubus cockburnianusRubus cockburnianus Shrub, Ground cover, Rounded - BushNon-flowering
Sambucus racemosa - Plumosa Aurea - Cut leaf ElderSambucus racemosa

'Plumosa Aurea'

Cut leaf Elder
Shrub, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushWhite flowers (Summer early)
Spiraea nipponica - Snowmound - Bridal wreath, SpiraeaSpiraea nipponica

'Snowmound'

Bridal wreath, Spiraea
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Spreading archingWhite flowers (Summer)
Viburnum opulus - Sterile - Guelder RoseViburnum opulus

'Sterile'

Guelder Rose
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - BushWhite flowers (Summer, scented)
Salix caprea - Kilmarnock - Dwarf weeping willowSalix caprea

'Kilmarnock'

Dwarf weeping willow
Tree, Shrub, Weeping - TreeNon-flowering
Cornus controversa - DogwoodCornus controversa

Dogwood
Tree, Shrub, Rounded - TreeWhite flowers (Summer early)
Elaeagnus ebbingei - Gilt Edge - OleasterElaeagnus ebbingei

'Gilt Edge'

Oleaster
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - BushNon-flowering
Cotinus coggygria - Smoke tree, Venetian sumachCotinus coggygria

Smoke tree, Venetian sumach
Tree, Shrub, Rounded - BushDark pink flowers (Summer late)


You can use our plant-finder to find plants that match your garden conditions exactly, for example Shrubs that will tolerate heavy clay soils - click to give it a try!

Have you seen our other plant top ten recommendations?