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Shrubs that will tolerate shallow chalk or alkaline soils in exposed locations

There is a good selection of hardy shrubs that will be quite happy on dry chalk soils, in fact there are many dry and sun loving shrubs - as well as a good selection of conifers – which will positively flourish on well drained shallow chalky soils.

On planting it is always sensible to stake and tie plants securely, especially if the planting location is open and exposed chalk down land. You might also considersome protection from rabbits and the worst excesses of cold damaging winds, especially if you are undertaking more naturalistic planting of hedging or screening plants. Always dig in plenty of compost and a sprinkling of fertilizer such as bone meal into the planting pit to give the young plant a good start. After planting always water in and use a generous mulch of bark or compost to help lock in any soil moisture. All of the above will help reduce the impact of drying that can so often damage young establishing plants; you will find this will become less of an issue as plants put out roots and provide for themselves, usually within the first year or two after planting.

There are also many attractive native trees and shrubs that are tough enough to tolerate extreme exposed alkaline conditions. Such plants can provide invaluable shelter for establishing ornamental plants.


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Latin &
Common Name
EarmarkType & FormFlowers & Foliage
Convolvulus cneorum - ConvolvulusConvolvulus cneorum

Convolvulus
Shrub, Ground cover, Container-friendly, Spreading clumpWhite flowers (Summer)
Cotoneaster conspicuus - Decorus - CotoneasterCotoneaster conspicuus

'Decorus'

Cotoneaster
Shrub, Ground cover, SpreadingWhite flowers (Spring)
Elaeagnus angustifolia - Russian OliveElaeagnus angustifolia

Russian Olive
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - BushYellow flowers (Summer, scented)
Viburnum tinus - Eve Price - LaurustinusViburnum tinus

'Eve Price'

Laurustinus
Shrub, Ground cover, Hedging & Screening, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushWhite flowers (Winter, scented)
Taxus baccata - YewTaxus baccata

Yew
Tree, Conifer, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - TreeNon-flowering
Yucca filamentosa - Bright Edge - Adams needleYucca filamentosa

'Bright Edge'

Adam's needle
Shrub, Container-friendly, SpikeyWhite flowers (Summer)
Ceanothus - Blue Mound - Californian Lilac, CeanothusCeanothus

'Blue Mound'

Californian Lilac, Ceanothus
Shrub, Ground cover, Spreading archingDark blue flowers (Summer)
Viburnum opulus - Guelder RoseViburnum opulus

Guelder Rose
Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - BushWhite flowers (Summer early)
Rosmarinus officinalis - Sissinghurst Blue - RosemaryRosmarinus officinalis

'Sissinghurst Blue'

Rosemary
Shrub, Herbs, Hedging & Screening, Culinary, Container-friendly, Rounded - BushDark blue flowers (Summer)
Buddleja davidii - Lochinch - butterfly bushBuddleja davidii

'Lochinch'

butterfly bush
Shrub, Rounded - TreeLight blue flowers (Summer late, scented)


You can use our plant-finder to find plants that match your garden conditions exactly, for example Shrubs that will tolerate shallow chalk or alkaline soils in exposed locations - click to give it a try!

Have you seen our other plant top ten recommendations?