Soil here is pure clay

Asked July 17, 2018, 12:49 PM EDT

I'd like to plant hostas and flowers but the soil is very hard clay. What do you suggest I try adding to the clay to make it hospitable for plants. [Is it true clay is full of good nutrients for plants?] Thank you

Ingham County Michigan

1 Response

The first step to successfully growing perennials is to know the details of your soil by getting it tested. MSU has a great soil test kit which you can purchase from the MSU bookstore for $25. The kit contains everything you will need including instructions and mailing materials. The test will take about two weeks to complete and then you will receive an email with your soil test number and a link to the online website where you can find your results.
Included in the results will be an analysis of the nutrients in your soil, the organic matter content, and the capacity of your soil to retain water products that you might apply (aka Cation Exchange Capacity or CEC). And, most importantly, the soil test results will provide you with recommendations for practices you can follow to amend and improve your soil, if needed. See the website below for more information about healthy soils.

Most likely the recommendations for your clay soil will be to improve the organic matter which sustains the living component of the soil and releases nutrients as it breaks down. Perennials can grow in clay - they just need nutrients, water and places where the roots can anchor. Hope that helps!