Types of Plants Grown in Silty Soil

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Silty soil has characteristics of clay soil -- fine particle size, prone to compaction and moisture retention -- but without the drainage problems typical of clay soil. It is usually found in areas once covered by water or areas near water such as riverbeds, deltas and lakes. Plants that grow well in clay soil will thrive in silty soil. The added drainage, high nutrient content and stable base of silt makes it suitable for growing a variety of plants, including herbaceous perennials, roses and other shrubs, bulb plants and ferns.

Perennials

  • Hostas (Hosta spp.) typically require shade and thrive in damp soil, which makes them options for silty soil. Commonly grown for their foliage, over 40 varieties are available. Hostas are perennial, or hardy, in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, depending on their variety.
  • Hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus, Ballard's Group), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, is a group of flowering perennials well-suited for the moist, well-draining conditions presented by silty soil. Their showy flowers appear in early spring.
  • Cranesbill (Geranium spp.), flowering perennials also called hardy geraniums, grow in moist soil that drains well, making them well-suited for silty gardens. They are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8, depending on the type.

Roses

Roses (_Rosa _spp.) grow well in silt because they prefer soil on the heavy side. Hundreds of rose varieties are available. They are hardy in USDA zones 2 through 11, depending on their kind.

  • 'Polar Ice' rose (Rosa rugosa 'Polar Ice') is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 9. 
  • Hedgehog rose (Rosa rugosa var. alba), also hardy in USDA zones 2 through 9, works well in cottage gardens. It features simple open flowers.
  • Lady Banks rose (Rosa banksia 'Lutea'), with pale-yellow flowers, is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 11.

Other Shrubs

  • Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, grows well in silty soil because it adapts to wet and dry conditions. This shrub is so successful that it is invasive in some areas; keep it pruned and remove unwanted seedlings to prevent that problem. 
  • Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 10, grows well in silt soil. With many cultivars to choose from, you should be able to find one that is just right for your landscape. 
  • Smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria), hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8, makes a statement in the landscape with its smokelike foliage. It grows well in silty soil that has good drainage

Ferns

A variety of ferns grow well in the moist, often wet conditions of silty soil.

  • Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) is a 2- to 3-foot-tall plant for shady areas. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8. 
  • Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) grows 3 to 6 feet tall and prefers moist, shady areas. It is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 7.

Bulbs

Some flowering bulbs are well-suited for silty soil. Their bloom times vary.

  • Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), hardy in USDA zones 3 through 7, blooms in late winter or spring.
  • Daffodils (Narcissus spp.), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, flower in early spring or in the middle of spring.
  • Crocus (Crocus vernus), hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8, flower in early spring.
  • Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, blooms in early to mid-spring.
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