Microscopic silt particles feel like a fine powder and have a similar structure and mineral make-up as sand. Silt is one of three types soil particles, the others being clay and sand. Few soils are purely silt, sand or clay, but one can be dominate. Soils that are dominant in silt will most likely be rich in nutrients and have good water-retaining capabilities. Plants that like wet feet will thrive in silty soils. Silty soils can become even more versatile when you add organic matter to it.
Trees for Silty Soil
Weeping willow "Salix babylonica," bald cypress "Taxodium distichum" and river birch "Betula nigra" are all attractive trees that grow natively near water sources and thrive in moist soils. Peve minaret is the bald cypress' dwarf cousin that looks like an evergreen conifer, but its leaves turn yellow-orange in the fall. Another attention-grabbing, moisture-loving tree is the red twig dogwood, "Cornus sericea," which blooms beautiful white blossoms along its deep red branches in the spring, and fruits bright red berries in the fall.
Shrubs for Silty Soil
Red chokeberry "Aronia arbutifolia" is an upright shrub that produces clusters of white flowers in the spring and red berries in the fall. It also produces beautiful shades of red and purple foliage in the fall. The summersweet clethra "Clethra alnifolia" has an interesting appeal with spiked leaves that grow dense clusters of small white flowers. It adapts easily and tolerates full sun or partial shade. American elder "Sambucus canadensis" is a suckering shrub that produces elderberries, which are popular in jellies, jams, wine and other culinary delights.
Flowers for Silty Soil
Yellow iris "Iris pseudacorus" is a flourishing flower that produces an abundance of large, yellow blooms when grown in wet areas. Yellow iris are found in the wild growing in the shallow areas of ponds and lakes, and can grow in the home landscape in rich, moist soils. Another variety of iris, the Japanese iris "Iris ensata" also thrives in silty soil and the beautiful blue blooms will add some more colour to your garden. Swamp milkweed "Asclepias incarnata L." is another option that flourishes in fine, moist, silty soil. Its showy clusters of pink to red flowers bloom in the spring and summer, and it's a favourite host and food plant for monarch butterflies. Hummingbirds are also attracted to swamp milkweed's nectar.
Vegetables for Silty Soil
Rich, mucky soils are a favourite of farmers for growing various fruit and vegetable crops. However, problems with pests and diseases arise as a result of silty soil's strong water-retaining capabilities. Silty soils contain the same nutrient density of muck soils that fruit and vegetable crops love, but measures have to be taken to improve its water-drainage. Mixing composted organic matter into the silty soil will alter its drainage capabilities and allow for a successful vegetable garden.
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