valdo650
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Posts: 9
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 12:36 am
Location: Austin, Texas

Newbie Request for Gardening Aid...

Hi There,

I live in Austin, Texas (Zone 8) and I have been blessed with clay acidic soil :cry: . I moved into a new home in September and have since a large portion of my garden, most likely because the landscapers made some really bad decisions on plant selection (That and it's rained A LOT here). My garden area has naturally organic much about 2 inches high.

Thus far, the only thing that has enjoyed success in my garden have been daylilies, which are doing great and are blooming well and two Star Grazer Lilies, which have about 3 or 4 blooms going.

I want to add some variety in my front garden. The front of the garden area is bordered by Hypoestes, which I have been told are annuals. About 80% of them are growing well and the other 20% are growing, but much slower.

I also have a Dinnerplate Dahlia growing in a pot (We tried planting it directly, but it rained so much here the tuber couldn't sprout, so we placed it in a pot indoors and now it's sprout and growing like a weed).

Anyway, I do not want to ammend my clay soil because it's going to be far too much work and I already have plants in place in the garden.

I am thinking of replacing my Blue Cloud Texas Sages because I only have 3 left and they are doing poorly. I originally had 7 and 4 are dead. The remaining 3 are quickly on their way of dying. My nursery told me they do not like wet feet, so I figured that the poorly drained clay soil plus all the rain we are getting is killing them.

Anyway, to sum it up this is what I'm thinking:

1) I heard that roses are great for Clay Soil. I am thinking of getting Knockout Rose Shrubs to replace my dying sages. Would they thrive in Clay Soil? I have heard wonderful stories of these plants.

2) I want to add more variety in my garden other than lilies lol. What other perennials will grow in my soil? I am looking for plants that flower and would grow about 2-3 feet tall with a spread of around 1-2 feet. I have heard Hibusus are good for my soil too, but a lot of them get giantic and spread too much for my area.

3) Is my Dinnerplate Dahlia doomed to be in a pot forever? Would it be able to thrive in my clay soil when it is big enough? I love this Dahlia and I have a perfect spot for it and would like to not lose it.

Thank You

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Jess
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Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:50 pm
Location: England

Hi Valdo :D

Your garden sounds wonderful. Clay and acid! There are many plants that thrive in this you just have to move away from the things you are obviously used to growing like the sage. Firstly the Dahlia. I am afraid that a pot is the best place for it. The tuber is very likely to rot off in the clay.

The roses would be alright in the clay but not if it is acidic.

For shrubs instead of the roses try Clethra alnifolia, Kalmia latifolia,Sambucus,Viburnum opulis, Salix, Rhodes and Azaleas.

For perennials try; Astilbes, ferns, Aruncus, Anemone x hybrida, Bergenias, Trilliums, Gentians, Lupins, Cimicifuga, Dicentra, Foxgloves, Epimediums, Caltha palustris, Lily of the valley, Primroses and bluebells.

Some of these need semi-shade and some require more free draining soil like Rhodes. To do this just add horticultural grit or grit sand to the planting hole or if you have any trees plant them near the base so the tree roots takes some of the moisture.

There are plenty more but I thought these would keep you busy for a while :lol:

valdo650
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Posts: 9
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 12:36 am
Location: Austin, Texas

I was corrected in our PH in that we actually don't know if it's acidic or more of a basic. If the Ph is more on the base side, what can grow in it?

I am going to test my soil pH this weekend as soon as I can find a place that sells a test kit.

I have very poorly drained soil. The soil is like slim when wet and VERY hard to work with. When it dries, it's like cement. What I usually do is replace the soil with potting soil when I plant. This seems to have worked great for my daylilies and bulb lilies.

I also have a pair of peonies that actually are doing very well in the clay soil. The problem with peonies in that not only are they expensive, but they also are very hard to find locally. I got these on-line :? .

My garden area gets at least 6 hours of sun a day. I believe this classifies my garden as "full-sun."

Hortoholic
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Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:49 pm
Location: NH - Zone4

Funny thing PH - major will grow at neutral 7.0 and a minority will grow at opposite ends of the spectrum.... :wink:

valdo650
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Posts: 9
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 12:36 am
Location: Austin, Texas

I got a soil tester and I got a Ph range from 6.7 - 7.0 in three spots in my bed.

Guess this makes sense why the Sages are dying. The info I've read on them state they grow better in more alkanine soil. I have one that looks really bad now and the other 3 are starting to fade away as well :cry: .

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Jess
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Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:50 pm
Location: England

valdo650 wrote:I got a soil tester and I got a Ph range from 6.7 - 7.0 in three spots in my bed.

Guess this makes sense why the Sages are dying. The info I've read on them state they grow better in more alkanine soil. I have one that looks really bad now and the other 3 are starting to fade away as well :cry: .
Its not just the PH level of your soil. It is the fact it is clay. The soil particles in clay are very fine which makes it slow to drain and it caps easily hence the crust and cracking in the summer and the slimy goo you have to work with in the winter. Sage prefer open free draining soil. They cannot tolerate wet roots. Having said that clay is very nutritious it just doesn't let your plants have it in a hurry. That is why you need to add organic matter by the barrow load. Leaf mulch, homemade compost anything you can get your hands on that will open the soil so it can warm up quicker, hand over the nutrients faster and you can work with it. The plants I mentioned earlier will thrive in your soil apart from the acid lovers (Rhodes etc.) Your PH level is not low enough for them. If I were you I would put the Sage in a pot along with your Dahlia.

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