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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - July 10, 2013

From: Santa Rosa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Soils, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Plants for heavy clay in Sonoma County, California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I live in Northern California, Sonoma County, and would like to transition my front garden into mostly native plants. Trouble is, my soil is clay, yicky, heavy clay, and some of the natives I've tried before haven't survived. Any suggestions on what might like and thrive in clay soil in Sonoma County? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Below are plants that are native to Sonoma County and that will tolerate clay soil.

Artemisia californica (Coastal sagebrush) is an evergreen shrub and will grow in clay.  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery in Escondido and Santa Margarita, CA.

Arctostaphylos glandulosa (Eastwood's manzanita) is an evergreen shrub and will grow in clay.  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Arctostaphylos manzanita (Whiteleaf manzanita) is an evergreen shrub or small tree and will grow in clay.  Here are photos and more information from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Cercis orbiculata [syn. = C. occidentalis] (California redbud) is a flowering shrub or small tree.  Here is ore information from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Diplacus aurantiacus (Orange bush monkeyflower) is a perennial that will grow in clay.   Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery.

Eriodictyon californicum (California yerba santa) is a perennial that will is clay.  Here are more photos and information from Las Pilitas Nursery and CalPhotos University of California-Berkeley.

Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) is an evergreen shrub or small tree that till tolerate clay soil.   Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and from Sonoma County Master Gardeners.

You might also like to contact the Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society about native plants that grow well in Sonoma County clay soil.  Sonoma County Master Gardeners also has a list of native plants that grow well in Sonoma County.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coastal sagebrush
Artemisia californica

Eastwood's manzanita
Arctostaphylos glandulosa

California redbud
Cercis orbiculata

Orange bush monkeyflower
Diplacus aurantiacus ssp. aurantiacus

California yerba santa
Eriodictyon californicum

Toyon
Heteromeles arbutifolia

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