8 Plants That Improve Soil Quality, Making Your Whole Garden Thrive

Partridge Pea

The flat, maroon seed pods of the partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) follow the vivid, dazzling yellow flowers that bloom from June to September. Mary Phillips, head of native plant habitat planning and certifications at the National Wildlife Federation.

Illinois Bundleflower

The lovely, fern-like foliage of the Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis) contrasts with its rounded, fuzzy white blooms. According to Phillips, its deep taproot loosens up compacted soil and forms pathways that help other plants.

Wild Lupine

The natural lupine (Lupinus perennis), which blooms in thick vertical clusters of gorgeous blue-violet flowers from April to June, is a great way to add color to your landscape. This plant releases nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the soil through its root nodules, which benefits nearby plants.

Wild Indigo

The natural perennial wild indigo (Baptisia spp.) has blue-green foliage resembling peas. According to Justin Hancock, horticulture for Costa Farms, "it blooms with spikes of blue, purple, white, or yellow flowers" in late April. Baptisia can withstand extreme heat.

Borage

The blue, star-shaped flowers of Borage (Borago officinalis) bloom all summer long. "It’s pretty reliably drought resistant and doesn’t mind poor soil," states Hancock. "It self-seeds, so you don’t usually need to buy new plants or seeds every year."

Marigold

All summer long, clusters of yellow, orange, or red flowers emerge from the delicate, dark-green foliage of marigolds (Tagetes spp.). "Its root system actually releases certain toxins into the soil," claims Hancock. "These toxins can be effective against many species of harmful parasitic nematodes."

Big Bluestem

Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) is an ornamental grass that gives movement and dimension to your yard. According to Harvest Gold Organics co-owner Misti Mathis, the tall stems of the plant are capped with blue-green leaves that change to a gorgeous golden brown in the fall.

Comfrey

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is an attractively leafy herbaceous perennial that blooms from May to June with white to pink flowers that resemble bluebells. It can get nutrients that other plants cannot due to its deep roots. These nutrients are returned to the earth when it decays and dies.