Indulge yourself in the realm of horticulture as we explore the world of chalky soils. In this article we will give you some tips on how to maintain your chalky garden and as well as give you the best plants you can grow in chalky soil.

Chalky soil

Generally chalky soils are mostly deep. Known as alkaline or lime-rich soils it is a product of Mother Nature’s geological craftmanship. The nature of these chalky soils is an excellent feature for drainage preventing waterlogged conditions, which as we know can be detrimental to many plants.

The Advantages of Chalky Soil

As it is a natural alkaline it can benefit a wide range of plants that thrive in these environments such as Lavender, rock roses and sea holly. It also contains a high concentration of minerals such as Calcium Carbonate which can promote healthy growth and development.

Adequate circulation is a result of the loose structure in the soil, this promotes root respiration which ultimately helps with root growth and development.

The Disadvantages of Chalky Soil

There are some challenges that you can face having chalky soil in your garden, the nutrient imbalance can be a test for many plants and they may struggle to thrive in the chalky soil. The alkaline nature of the chalky soil can also cause nutrients, like iron and phosphorus to become less available to plants, this is called a ‘nutrient lock-up.’

There is a chance that chalky soil will be susceptible to drought because of the excellent drainage system it has and the soil particle size. There is a need of organic matter to the chalky soil, as there is inadequate root development.

Best Plants to Choose

There are many plants that are known to thrive in chalky soil, here are 10 of our favourites which will transform your chalky garden into a flourishing oasis.

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Maillette’ (English lavender) – height and width: 60cm x 60cm
A classic and popular choice, English Lavender thrives in chalky soil. It offers that traditional English fragrance along with the beautiful purple blossoms, and has a multitude of uses in the garden from borders to herb beds. This will flower in Summer.

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Maillette’ (English lavender)

Achillea ‘Desert Eve Red’ (yarrow) – height and width: 50cm x 50cm
With its feathery foliage and tiny flowers this hardy perennial will thrive magnificently in chalky soil. It will add an element of timeless elegance to any landscape. This flowers in the Summer months.

Achillea ‘Desert Eve Red’ (yarrow)

Valeriana ‘Coccinea’ (red valerian)–  height and width: 1m x 50cm
Known for its vibrant clusters of pink, red or white flowers this will add a splash of colour to chalky gardens. It attracts pollinators and will thrive in dry conditions. This will bloom all through Spring, Summer and Autumn.

Valeriana 'Coccinea' (red valerian)

Nepeta x faassenii ‘Purrsian Blue’ (catmint) – height and width: 50cm x 1m
With its lavender-blue coloured blooms and aromatic foliage, catmint adds a touch of refinement to chalky gardens. It is well known for attracting bees and butterflies. Once cut back after it’s flowered it will be then ready to flower again the following year.

Nepeta x faassenii 'Purrsian Blue' (catmint)

Dianthus ‘Flutterby’–  height and width: 40cm x 40cm
These delicate pink blooms and slender stems, imparts an elegant touch to chalky rock gardens. It is a resilient perennial that thrives in alkaline conditions. Flowering in the Summer months.

Dianthus ‘Flutterby’

Geranium sanguineum ‘bloody cranesbill’ –  height and width: 30cm x 30cm
This hardy perennial showcases vibrant crimson petals and will thrive in an alkaline environment. Which is a great choice for borders with chalky soil and rockeries. This flowers during Summer.

Geranium sanguineum ‘bloody cranesbill’

Knautia macedonica ‘Thunder and Lightning’ – height and width: 40cm x 40cm
This wildflower boasts elegant and delicate mauve flowers and will add a touch of natural splendour to chalky meadows and borders. Flowers during the Summer months.

Helianthemum ‘The Bride’ (rock rose) – height and width: 25cm x 25cm
This evergreen shrub with silvery-grey leaves and cream and yellow flowers will bring an irresistible allure to rocky areas and low growing settings in chalky soil. Flowers from Spring to Summer.

Helianthemum 'The Bride' rock rose

Hylotelephium spectabile (ice plant) – height and width 1m x 50cm
The fleshy leaves and clusters of star-shaped flowers on this shrub grows effortlessly in chalky soil. This will add a timeless allure and is known for attracting pollinators. This flowers in Autumn.

Eryngium planum ‘Blue Glitter’ (sea holly) – Sporting silvery-blue globes upon spiky stems, this Sea Holly is a standout plant for chalky soil. It adds a touch of exotic charm and thrives in dry, well drained environments. This will flower during the Summer.

When combined with the proper maintenance of soil preparation and paying attention to the specific needs of your chosen plants, you can prepare chalky soil effectively and create an environment where your plants can thrive.