21 Plants That Can Grow in Poor Soil Conditions

If you have poor soil conditions, picking plants to add to your garden can be a challenge! The good news is that there are many different plants that will grow in poor soil, and have learned to adapt to harsher conditions over time. In this article, we take a look at our favorite plants that will grow in even the poorest soil conditions.

plants that thrive in poor soil


Just because you have poor soil, it does not mean you cannot have a thriving garden! So what is poor soil? Poor soil is any soil that does not have enough nutrients to support plant growth. This can be due to a lack of organic matter, mineral deficiencies, or high salt levels.

While it may seem like poor soil health is a death sentence for your garden, there are many plants that have adapted to poor soil, and grow quite well in these conditions. Plants are tenacious, and many have adapted to rocky, soggy, overly dry, or clay soil.

Before you plant, check your hardiness zone. Understanding your plant hardiness zone is important, as it can help you choose plants that will thrive in your garden. If you’re living in a drought area, you can even plan your garden to help you conserve water and protect your soil!

With a little patience and some creativity, you can create a beautiful garden no matter what kind of soil you have. So don’t let poor soil keep you from enjoying the beauty and bounty of gardening!


Asters need bright diffused light, so they are planted in a well-lit place in the open air.
Scientific Name: Aster
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America, Eurasia
  • Plant Size: 1-8 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 8

Asters grow in a variety of different conditions and typically have bright, colorful flowers. Aster plants are a great choice for pollinators, as they provide a lot of nectar. They are also a popular choice for gardeners, as they are relatively easy to care for.

Perhaps best of all, aster plants come in many different varieties, which makes them very versatile flowers. Whether you’re looking for a bold fuschia or a soft purple bloom, there is sure to be an aster plant that is perfect for you.

Bee Balm

Bee Balm is a shrub with straight and branched stems and oblong leaves, producing white, red, purple, and yellow flowers.
Scientific Name: Monarda
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: Up to 4 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 4 to 9

Bee Balm is native to North America. Bee Balm grows in moist soils in open fields, meadows, and near streams and ponds.

The Bee Balm plant produces clusters of tubular flowers that range in color from white to pink to purple. The flowers are super attractive to bees and other pollinators. Bee Balm has many different uses and can handle very tough soil conditions.

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan is one of the brightest perennials, blooming in the second half of summer the next year after sowing.
Scientific Name: Rudbeckia hirta
  • Plant Type: Perennial, Biennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 7

The cheerful Black-Eyed Susan is a perennial plant that has been around for centuries. They are easy to grow and care for. These plants thrive in full sun and well-drained soil.

Once established, black-eyed Susans require very little care, and will continue to grow and bloom year after year.

Blazing Star

Liatris pycnostachya
Blazing Star is a beautiful flowering herbaceous plant, which can be an excellent decoration of the garden thanks to its long inflorescences similar to fluffy candles.
Scientific Name: Liatris pycnostachya
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: Up to 5 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 9

The Liatris plant is a beautiful addition to any garden. It has tall, spiky blooms in shades of purple, pink, and white that are sure to catch the eye.

They make a great choice for gardeners who want a long-lasting flowering perennial. They bloom from late summer into fall, and their flowers are a favorite of butterflies and other pollinators.

Bleeding Heart

Lamprocapnos spectabilis
The unpretentious ‘Bleeding Heart’ will decorate any shaded flower garden with its graceful flowers and delicate dissected leaves, reminiscent of a fern.
Scientific Name: Lamprocapnos spectabilis
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Asia
  • Plant Size: Up to 3 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to Full Shade
  • Plant Zone: 2 to 9

The Bleeding Heart plant is a popular garden flower with heart-shaped leaves and delicate pink flowers. They are a woody perennial, and can adapt to almost any growing environment. The only thing they don’t tolerate as well is full sun, and high heat levels.

So, if you plan on growing bleeding hearts as perennials, make sure you are in the proper hardiness zone. These perennials do very well in the shade, and can adapt to a variety of different soil conditions.


Calendula officinalis
Calendula is an annual herbaceous plant. with bright orange flowers, actively used as ornamental flowers with excellent medicinal properties.
Scientific Name: Calendula officinalis
  • Plant Type: Perennial, Annual
  • Geographic Origin: Mediterranean
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 2 to 11

Calendula is an annual flower that is easy to grow from seed. It blooms throughout the summer and into fall, providing a cheerful splash of color in the garden.

Calendula is commonly companion planted amongst many different types of vegetables. It’s quite hardy, and can be grown as a perennial if the conditions are perfect. Their orange blooms are also quite striking, and can provide some additional color in your veggie patch.


Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel care is quite simple – weeding, loosening the soil and watering.
Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Mediterranean
  • Plant Size: 4-6 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 4 to 9

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is an easy-to-grow herb that is a member of the carrot family. The fennel plant grows to a height of about 3 feet and has feathery leaves and small yellow flowers. Fennel can be grown from seed or transplants.

Fennel is a hardy herb that can be grown in almost any soil type as long as it is well-drained. Fennel prefers a sunny location but is drought tolerant, and will tolerate some shade.

Fountain Grass

Fountain Grass is a long-rhizome rather aggressive plant found in nature in China.
Scientific Name: Pennisetum
  • Plant Type: Perennial Ornamental Grass
  • Geographic Origin: Asia, Africa, Australia
  • Plant Size: Up to 4 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 10

Fountain grass, a perennial ornamental grass, is often used in gardens and landscapes. It is a low-maintenance plant that is drought-tolerant and grows well in full sun or partial shade. Fountain grass can be grown from seeds or plugs.

One common variety of fountain grass is Pennisetum alopecuroides, or “Hameln”. It is sometimes called Chinese fountain grass due to its origin in China. This variety grows to about 3 feet tall and has distinctive, fluffy, cream-colored flowers that appear in late summer or early fall.


Gaillardia x Grandiflora
Gaillardia is extremely undemanding and can tolerate different conditions of existence.
Scientific Name: Gaillardia x Grandiflora
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 10

Gaillardia, or blanket flower, is a genus of about 20 species of annual and perennial herbs in the sunflower family. Gaillardia is native to North America, Central America, South America, and Mexico.

The flowers are daisy-like and come in a variety of colors including red, orange, yellow, and pink. The flowers have a long blooming period and are popular in gardens. They love the sun, and can tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions.


Goldenrod is a perennial plant that does not require special care, grows quickly, and blooms profusely.
Scientific Name: Solidago
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North Africa, Europe
  • Plant Size: 1-5 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 9

Goldenrod is a plant native to Europe and North Africa. The flowers are typically a bright yellow and smell sweet. Goldenrod is also known for its ability to attract bees and other pollinators.

It prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Goldenrod is a great addition to any garden, as it can grow in poor soil. It’s also drought-tolerant, so it’s the perfect plant to add if you’re looking to increase the biodiversity of your garden.


Vernonia noveboracensis
Ironweed is an upright plant that can easily reach up to 6 feet tall, with deciduous foliage of jagged bluish-green with tousled purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Vernonia noveboracensis
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 3-6 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 5 to 9

Ironweed is a hardy plant and can withstand low-nutrient conditions. It also has deep roots that help to improve the soil quality over time. The flowers range in color from purple to pink, and they bloom from summer to fall.

Ironweed is also a host plant for the larvae of several types of butterflies, so it can help attract these pollinators to your garden.

If you are looking for a fast-growing plant, Ironweed is an ideal choice. It can grow up to six feet tall in a single season and often forms large clumps due to its spreading roots. Because it does not require much care or attention, growing Ironweed is an easy way to add beauty and interest to your garden.


Sandy, dry soil is excellent for Lavender cultivation, but it also grows quite well on well-drained loamy soil.
Scientific Name: Lavandula
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe
  • Plant Size: 2–3 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 5 to 9

Lavender doesn’t require a lot of nutrients to thrive. In fact, lavender actually prefers a little neglect. Additionally, lavender can survive with low levels of water. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who don’t have access to ample irrigation or those who live in a climate with low rainfall.

Lavender is also known for its ability to repel pests, making it a great plant to grow if you’re looking for natural pest control. There are also many lavender cultivars, giving you plenty of options depending on the color or your hardiness zone. If you’re searching for a plant that is both beautiful and useful, lavender is a great choice.

Lenten Rose

Helleborus x hybridus
Lenten Rose grows well in moist, even compacted soil, but well-drained and acidic.
Scientific Name: Helleborus x hybridus
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Asia, Europe
  • Plant Size: 1-1.5 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Sun
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Lenten rose is a common name for Hellebore, a hardy perennial that blooms in late winter or early spring before the leaves emerge. The flowers are long-lasting, making them a popular choice for flower gardens.

You’ll want to plant Lenten Rose for its showy flowers and ability to tolerate cold weather. The Lenten Rose is not a rose, but a member of the buttercup family. Hellebore is drought tolerant and also prefers shade.

Perennial Sunflower

 Helianthus × laetiflorus
Perennial Sunflower is a perennial plant that can adapt to different growing conditions.
Scientific Name: Helianthus × laetiflorus
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 3-6 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 4 to 8

Perennial sunflowers are easy to grow in poor soil because they have a deep root system that can reach down to find water and nutrients. Their strong stems can also withstand wind and rain, making them a hardy plant that is adaptable to a variety of growing conditions.

You’ll find perennial sunflowers in a variety of colors, from bright yellow to deep red. They have an upright habit and grow between 3 and 8 feet tall, depending on the variety.

If you’re looking for something a bit smaller, consider opting for one of the dwarf varieties that reach only about 2 feet tall.

Because perennial sunflowers grow so tall and strong, they make a great addition to borders. You can use them as an ornamental grass replacement, or as a background plant in your flower garden.


Vinca minor
Periwinkle produces large single flowers, most often blue, although white, pink, and pure lilac are also available.
Scientific Name: Vinca minor
  • Plant Type: Evergreen perennial
  • Geographic Origin:
  • Plant Size: 3-6 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Shade
  • Plant Zone: 4 to 9

The periwinkle plant is a flowering plant that typically grows in the wild. It has small, delicate flowers that come in a variety of colors, including blue, white, and purple.

The periwinkle plant is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, but has spread to many parts of the world. It prefers to grow in moist, shady areas, and it grows in woodlands or near streams and rivers.

The periwinkle plant is low maintenance. It’s a fast-growing ground cover that can quickly fill in an area, and it’s also tolerant of shade and poor soil conditions.

Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea
Purple Coneflower should be watered frequently and abundantly, and it is better to water it in the evening.
Scientific Name: Echinacea purpurea
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 2-5 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 8

The Purple Coneflower or Echinacea plant is a beautiful flower that you’ll find in many gardens. Purple Coneflower is one of the best plants for poor soil because it can withstand extreme conditions. It also has a deep root system that helps to stabilize the soil and improve its fertility.

Coneflowers grow perennially in the right climates. There are many uses for this flower outside of its beautiful pink and purplish blooms. It’s commonly grown as an annual, and makes a welcome addition to any flower garden. It’s also revered for it’s long bloom times, often blooming up to the first frost in most climates.


Salvia rosmarinus
Rosemary is native to the temperate Mediterranean, drought-tolerant plant with a very pleasant aroma and beautiful purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Salvia rosmarinus
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Mediterranean
  • Plant Size: 2-6 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 8-10

If you’re looking for a plant that is both drought-tolerant and has a pleasant aroma, rosemary is a good choice for your garden. It is an easy herb to grow and can thrive in a variety of climates. Additionally, rosemary can help keep insects away.

Rosemary is a flavorful herb that you can use in many dishes. You can dry out Rosemary stems and use them year-round in cooking. Similar to lavender, rosemary can handle a little bit of neglect.

Russian Sage

Perovskia atriplicifolia
Russian Sage is a herbaceous perennial, which is valued precisely for its long and colorful flowering.
Scientific Name: Perovskia atriplicifolia
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Central Asia
  • Plant Size: 2.5-5 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 5 to 9

Russian Sage is a perennial plant that is native to central Asia. It is drought tolerant and blooms from late summer through fall with spikes of flowers.

Russian Sage can grow in a variety of soils, but it prefers sandy or alkaline ones. It is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and borders.

Sea Holly

Eryngium planum
Sea Holly is a perennial plant up to 70 cm tall with leathery, prickly, pinnately divided leaves and blue or light blue flowers.
Scientific Name: Eryngium planum
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Asia, Europe
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 5 to 9

Sea Holly is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions. It can grow in full sun or partial shade, and it can tolerate dry or wet soil. The leaves of Sea Holly are also quite attractive and can add to foliage displays if you use them as an accent alongside other plants.

Young flowers will bloom in the summer and will continue to bloom until fall. The flowers are a deep blue color and have a very unique spiky shape. The blooms of Sea Holly will attract bees and other pollinators to your garden.


Tanacetum vulgare
Tansy is a perennial herbaceous plant of the Asteraceae family, with round, yellow flower baskets, consisting of tubular flowers, collected in a flat corymbose inflorescence.
Scientific Name: Tanacetum vulgare
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe
  • Plant Size: 2-4 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 8

Tansy is a bright, cheerful plant, with button-like flowers. This perennial is hardy, as it does not need much nitrogen to grow. Additionally, tansy can help improve the soil quality over time by fixing nitrogen in the soil. This makes tansy an excellent plant to grow in a permaculture garden.

If you want to grow Tansy in your garden, it is important to note that the plant can be quite invasive. Tansy will self-seed readily and can quickly take over an area if left unchecked. It is best to grow tansy in an area where it can be easily contained, such as in a raised bed or container garden.


Achillea millefolium
Yarrow is a fragrant perennial plant with a stem height of 1-3 feet..
Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Asia, Europe, North America
  • Plant Size: 1-3 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 9

Yarrow is a beneficial plant, providing many nutrients to the soil. This plant is also very easy to maintain and can be grown in a variety of environments. Yarrow is a hardy plant that can tolerate drought and heat, so it is a good choice for those who live in hot, dry climates.

Yarrow is a common companion plant to many vegetables, in order to help ward off unwanted pests and diseases. It grows quickly, and is a highly adaptable plant.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let poor soil stop you from growing beautiful plants. If you’re looking to start a garden but don’t have the best soil quality, don’t worry! There are so many plants that can grow quite well in poor soil and yield beautiful results.

All you need is a bit of creativity and planning. Now that you know how to garden in tough conditions, what will you try growing first?

In a lush creeping thyme lawn, delicate light purple flowers bloom amidst vibrant green leaves. The contrast between the soft lavender blossoms and the verdant foliage creates a soothing and picturesque landscape.

Ornamental Gardens

How to Grow a Creeping Thyme Lawn

Replace your thirsty, high-maintenance turf grass with an herbaceous, low-growing lawn that offers a range of ecological benefits. In this article, horticulturist and former organic farmer Logan Hailey explains how to quickly establish a creeping thyme lawn in 6 simple steps.

This breathtaking landscape features a vibrant, green vista adorned with a diverse array of shrubs. These shrubs vary in size and shape, creating a captivating tapestry of textures and shades that harmoniously come together to paint a beautiful natural scene.


27 Evergreen Shrubs That Look Good Year-Round

Planning your garden around an evergreen foundation is a great way to maintain year-round interest in the landscape. Here are some of our favorite evergreen shrubs that make a stunning backdrop for showier plants during the warmer months while still looking nice in the colder ones.

A cluster of pale lavender pincushion flowers grow in a lush garden.

Ornamental Gardens

37 Hardy Perennials For Difficult Climates

Are you searching for plants that can handle drought, heat, or cold? Depending on your climate, you can choose from quite a few plants. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago gives insight and ideas on 37 hardy perennials that thrive in challenging climates.