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Plants for Sun and Dry Soil

What is meant by "dry soil"? As a definition for this article it means dry to slightly moist soil that is well drained and has some nutrients. To check for well-drained soil, dig a hole where you want to plant and fill the hole with water. If the water drains within 24 hours or less then it is well drained. To be sure that the planting soil has some nutrients, it should be amended at planting time with compost or peat moss. So that the plants on this list have a good start in life they must be watered on a regular basis for the first year after planting. After the first year, the plants should be watered during long periods of drought, perhaps after three or four weeks of no rain. If these guidelines are followed, then these plants should perform very well during dry periods such as we have had in the past and I'm sure we'll continue to experience in the future. The plants should be placed in an area that receives at least six hours of sun each day.

In the beginning, this list was much longer, but I've deleted many plants that require frequent division. There are some plants, though, that I couldn't delete even though they require more work than others: Bearded Iris and Hemerocallis or daylilies, for instance. I've also noted the mature width in feet in parentheses after the plant's name. You should allow at least this much room in the bed for the plant.

Botanical Name Common Name Clay Soil Tolerant
Asclepias tuberosa (2) Butterfly Weed yes
Baptisia australis (4) False Indigo yes
Berberis thunbergii 'Crimson Pygmy' (2.5) Crimson Pygmy Barberry yes
Calamagrostis x acutiflora (2) Feather Reed Grass yes
Calamintha grandiflora 'Variegata' (1.5) Variegated Calamint no
Caryopteris x clandonensis (4) Bluebeard yes
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (1.5) Plumbago yes
Coreopsis (2) Tickseed  
Cornus racemosa (3 or 4) Shrub Dogwood  
Crocus (.5) Crocus yes
Dianthus (1.5) Pinks yes
Echinacea (2) Coneflower yes
Echinops (2) Globe Thistle  
Erianthus ravennae (4) Ravenna grass  
Eryngium (3) Sea Holly  
Euphorbia (2) Spurge yes - some
Gaura lindheimeri (3) White Gaura no
Helictotrichon sempervirens (2.5) Blue Oat Grass yes
Hemerocallis (same width as height) Daylily yes
Iberis sempervirens (2) Candytuft yes
Iris Hybrids (1) Bearded Iris yes
Juniperus (depends on cultivar) Juniper yes
Knautia macedonica (2) Knautia yes
Lavandula (2) Lavender yes - some
Liatris (1.5) Gayfeather  
Lilium hybrids (1) Lilies yes
Lilium regale (1) Regal Lily yes
Limonium latifolium (2.5) Statice  
Linum perenne (1.5) Flax no
Liriope (2) Lily-turf yes
Nepeta (2 or 3) Catmint yes
Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' (2) Yellow Oregano  
Panicum (2) Switch Grass  
Pennisetum (3 or 4) Fountain Grass  
Perovskia (4 or 5) Russian Sage  
Philadelphus (Depends on cultivar) Mockorange yes
Phlox subulata (1.5) Moss Phlox yes
Platycodon grandiflorus (1.5) Balloon Flower yes
Potentilla (2) Cinquefoil yes
Rudbeckia (2) Black-eyed Susan yes
Ruta graveolens (3 or 4) Rue  
Salvia (2) Sage yes
Scilla siberica (.5) Siberian Squill yes
Sedum (2) Stonecrop yes - some
Spiraea all species except thunbergii (3 or 4) Spirea yes
Syringa (5+) Lilac yes
Taxus (4+) Yew yes
Thymus (1) Thyme yes
Tulipa (1) Tulip yes
Veronicastrum virginicum (2) Ironweed yes
Yucca (3) Adam's Needle  

I've included a column regarding clay soil tolerance. In many instances I tried growing the plant but the rabbits ate the plant before any determination could be made.

Even with this shortened list, lovely garden pictures can be developed that will give long lasting beauty with reduced maintenance. The plants are mostly perennials, but there are some bulbs and small shrubs that work well with the perennials. It's most important to group plants with like cultural requirements together in a design. There are enough differences in the plants in this listing that many interesting designs can be made. And you have the added benefit of not having to worry about too little water or too much water required for individual specimens.





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