We have a blue/white flowering bird of paradise tree and have excavated our property, and so have reached a clay based soil. What can we do to improve the drainage? We would like to plant the tree along the front of a well drained retaining wall, but think the clay is too dense and muddy for the plant. Can you please give any advice on how we can achieve the right drainage and are we better off planting tree in center of topsoil/potting mix hole or just topsoil the whole area and this will be enough?
Planting Bird of Paradise Tree in Clay Soil
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
For the start, I would say that you should backfill the hole you plant it in with topsoil and compost. Make sure that the hole is twice as deep and twice as wide as the rootball. For the surrounding clay soil, I would recommend starting a regular schedule (yearly or twice yearly) of topdressing the area with organic material (compost, leaf humus, yard clippings, etc - even mulch will work). Over time, this organic material will work its way into the clay soil below and will help improve the soil quality of the entire bed. This will help when the BOP outgrows its initial hole.