What's the scoop on soil?

What interesting facts can I exude with regards to soil?

It is not one of the most tantalising and enticing of conversation starters. 

While it is not perhaps the most enthused about element in a garden, it is vital never to underestimate the power of your soil. It is the nerve centre of a garden and plays an essential role in the health and development of our plants.

It is an element which frustrates both amateur and avid gardeners alike, especially when trying to pick plants and shrubs that we want to see prosper and flourish year after year. There is a lot to consider when choosing plants that are fit for purpose within your designated soil type.

Therefore I have compiled a mini guide of the most commonly derived soil types whilst highlighting a small range of plants that will grow best in each variety: 

Wet soils:

A perfect combination of air and water are vital when supporting plant roots. Plants in saturated soils will have insufficient oxygen, often leading to root decay.  
Do not fear however, as there are plants and shrubs that thrive in permanently moist conditions – a lesser amount are able to cope in waterlogged/flooded conditions but they are out there!

Click hereCaltha Palustris
Perfect Plants:

-     Caltha Palustris

-     Actaea simplex Brunette

-     Primula japonica Miller's Crimson

-     Lobelia Queen Victoria

-     Monarda didyma Pink Lace

Room for Improvement:

It is possible to improve the drainage of incredibly wet conditions by breaking up any mounds of clumped soil with a spade or fork. This will avoid large pockets of water from forming, which will saturate the roots and diminish their chances of survival. To enhance your drainage further, add well-rotted garden compost on an annual basis to ventilate the soil, increasing the amount of air reaching the root system.


Clay soil:

Soils that are rich in clay particles are known are heavy soils. Conditions of this type are renowned for being difficult to handle, as they become a sticky mess in the winter and can considered similar to that of a concrete block in winter. The main benefit to this soil type is that it is often extremely fertile.
Click here: Geranium 

Perfect Plants:

-     Geranium

-     Helleborus

-     Astrantia

-     Kniphofia

-     Hosta

Room for Improvement:

If you do have clay soil in your gardens, it is always recommended to make some improvements to it by adding in extra material. One main material which is worth adding to clay soil is long manure. Alternatively leaf mould, composted bark or garden compost will improve the conditions of clay soil – just to a lesser extent.


Chalk soil:

Chalk and limestone soil types are alkaline based, locating itself extensively across the UK. It is often seen as a challenge to work with in a standard garden setting. Chalky soil varieties are most commonly shallow, stony and free draining whereby organic matter can decay quickly – diminishing its level of fertility.
Click here: Digitalis Purpurea Candy Mountain 

Perfect Plants:

-     Ceanothus

-     Campanula

-     Digitalis Purpurea

-     Geranium

-     Lavandula

Room for Improvement:

Although organic matter will disappear very quickly, it is important to add plenty of it when dealing with chalky soil. Mulch each plant you place in chalky soil with materials such as manure and garden compost and apply plenty of fertiliser. This should help to conserve moisture and encourage healthy growth.


Sandy soil:

Sandy soils are easy to work with, although will drain quickly when watered. Rain water will often wash away nutrients which can diminish a plants chance of survival if not monitored carefully.  
Click here: Salvia 

Perfect Plants:

-  Acanthus

-   Dianthus

-  Verbascum

-   Heliopsis Winter Sun

-   Salvia

Room for Improvement:

In order to improve the nutrient levels in sandy soils, incorporate generous amounts of moisture retentive organic matter. This can include farm manure, garden compost or leaf mould. You may wish to apply a slow release fertiliser at the time of planting to encourage optimum health and growth. A deep mulch of bark will also reduce water loss and keep the planting area moist.


I hope this has helped you a little when planning a planting scheme for your soil type.

Let me know which plants have thrived in your gardens! 



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