Expert Gardener Shares The Best Flowers For Poor Soil

No, you don't need to leave THAT patch of your garden bare.
Wayne Gerard Trotman / 500px via Getty Images

Depending on your soil type, you might feel like growing anything at all in your garden is next to impossible. Beginners and pros alike can find thin, sandy soil, waterlogged lawns and silty gardens challenging.

But given that house-builders Redrow report that a whopping 26% of us haven’t so much as seen a butterfly in the last month, it might be time to think about making all soil – even the most challenging types – work for us. After all, spending time in nature is really good for our mental health.

HuffPost UK recently spoke to gardener and writer Arthur Parkinson about how to tackle the most unforgiving gardens.

Here’s what he had to say about the best flowers for tricky, “poor” soils (and good news – they look gorgeous).

It’s not just your soil type that can cause issues

Yes, heavy clay soils are known for being hard to plant in. But as Michigan State University says, compacted – or dense and tight – soil can also cause shallow root formation and poor drainage.

It’s especially likely to happen in clay and loam soils and can be the result of over-tilling (so basically, turning over old soil too often), adding sand to your garden to loosen it (don’t do that!), or working up the soil when it’s too wet.

And if you’ve got a newer garden, it could have been compacted by the construction equipment, too. “A lot of new build gardens, obviously the soil is compacted due to the diggers and things that have recently been on the ground,” Parkinson says.

So whether you have compacted or rocky gardens, he thought he’d share the best plants for “poor” soil.

Wildflowers have got your back

“The only bonus of that (soil), from the perspective of people wanting a wildflower meadow, is that wildflowers thrive on poor soil, not rich soil,” Parkinson says.

“Perennial wildflowers like ox-eye daisy you can sow onto very poor soils and they will establish well from being sown in the early autumn. Annual chamomile and cornfield poppies will thrive too if their seed is sown in spring,” he adds.

Other beautiful native wildflower blooms to grow on tricky soils include ragged robin, corn cockle, bellflower, hemp agrimony, primrose, forget-me-not, and much, much more.

Their success on poor soils is due not so much to wildflowers’ love of tricky gardens, but because grasses – which tend to take over soil if they can grow there at all – like them even less.

“If the soil contains too many nutrients, grasses and weeds can overpower wildflowers,” Petal Republic says. They add that “after wildfires, wildflowers are usually the first plants to recolonise the newly-cleared area”.

The good news continues with wildflower sowing – not only can you start populating your lawn by simply ripping a chamomile teabag open and sprinkling the contents on your garden, but wildflowers are also great for pollinators like bees.

After all, as the Woodland Trust says: “Native plants have evolved alongside our native insects and some rarer species tend to favour native wildflowers.”

Don’t mind me, just running out back with some teabags ASAP...