Knowing the best plants for sandy soil is crucial when it comes to outdoor gardening, especially if you live in coastal areas. The main characteristics of such soil are dryness, being lightweight, and a tendency to become acidic. It's also important to note that sandy soil is not rich in nutrients. And as you can guess, not all plants are suitable for such conditions. But at the same time, this soil has excellent drainage and is not hard to work with.
If you want to improve the quality of the sandy substrate, you can add compost, mulch, bark, straw, and hay. These organic matters are helpful with water retention, and also they add nutrients that sandy soil lacks. So let’s discover which greenery is suitable for gardening in sandy soil!
Our List of Plants that Grow in Sandy Soil
While sandy soil is easy to work with, you still need to select suitable plants. We hope that our list of sandy soil plants will be helpful for you.
Flowers for Sandy Soil
Blooming plants are arguably the most pretty, and there are many variants to grow flowers in sandy soil. The most suitable options include:
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Despite its simple look, there is something special about the combination of yellow petals and blackish round. This black middle provided the plant with its common name.
Sunlight: Full sun is the best variant for this plant. But it also can tolerate a little shade for a brief time.
Placement: The most suitable place is where it can receive the needed amount of light, so choose the sunny spots.
Watering: This plant is drought tolerant, so water it only when the top inch of the soil feels dry.
Soil requirements: This flower is not picky at all. You can choose different soil varieties for it, from loam to clay. As for sandy substrate, just add some organic matter, and the plant will thrive.
Lavender is widely known and appreciated for its scent and medical qualities. This flowering plant has calming abilities, helps with anxiety and stress, and even reduces headaches.
Sunlight: Six hours of full sun a day will make the plant flourish. Thus, choose the full sun.
Placement: Sunny position suits this plant the most. Remember about pretty lavender fields in Provence, where these plants bathe in the sun.
Watering: Like many plants that grow in sand, lavender won't mind dryness and doesn't need regular watering. However, during the period of forming, it does need regular watering.
Soil requirements: Sandy or chalky soil are the most suitable for this plant because it thrives in potting mediums that are not rich in nutrients.
Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
The plant's name in Greek means ‘fire’ due to the intense colors of its bloom. And this beauty isn't only brilliant addition to every garden but also very undemanding.
Sunlight: Full sun is the best option for the plant. Still, some varieties are doing great in partial shade.
Placement: For such a sun-loving flower, you need to choose a place where it can receive enough light.
Watering: This plant isn't as hardy as previous ones when it comes to water. Phlox needs regular watering – once a week is the best watering schedule.
Soil requirements: Most garden soils are okay for this plant, including sandy soil.
Trees that Grow in Sandy Soil
Plenty of trees enjoy sandy soil as well; here’s the list:
Magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii)
When you think about Magnolia, your first association is probably beautiful white flowers are probably your first association. It is worth adding that magnolia is a symbol often used in art, for example, in ‘Magnolia' (1999) and ‘Steel Magnolias’ (1989) movies.
Sunlight: This tree thrives in full sun, receiving 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Morning sun exposure followed by shade during the afternoon hours would suit the best.
Placement: Choose a sunny spot in your garden for this tree. Pay special attention that it gets the most light in the morning.
Watering: It depends on the weather; water only when the roots are dry to the touch during moderate weather. Water once a week when it's hotter.
Soil requirements: This tree easily adapts to different soil types and is considered one of the best trees for sandy soil.
Japanese Cherry (Prunus serrulata)
It's no doubt that this tree has a stunning look. And it's called Japanese cherry because it's native to East Asia. Still, the Japanese were precisely those who developed a lot of cultivars.
Sunlight: As a general rule, this tree needs full sun. But it also depends on the type of variety. For example, evergreen species are okay with both full sun and partial shade. In its turn, deciduous species require full sun.
Placement: Somewhere where it can get full sun is the best option. Alternatively, it can be placed in partial shade.
Watering: In the first months of active growth, it needs a lot of water. Also, a large amount of water is needed during droughts.
Soil requirements: Slightly moist and well-drained soil is the best – it can be loamy, chalky, or sandy.
Perennials for Sandy Soil
If you want to create a stable look for your garden for many years, pay attention to the following species.
Sea Holly (Eryngium bourgatii)
This plant's foliage is of exciting shape and pale purple color. These star-shaped flowers come from the Meditteranean region and Europe.
Sunlight: This purple beauty prefers to be on the light side – it needs full sun exposure.
Placement: If it's possible, place it closer to the sunny position.
Watering: Since this plant doesn't require much care and is drought tolerant, you don't have to worry about regular watering. However, during establishing period, regular watering is needed.
Soil requirements: Light, well-drained sandy soil is required.
Yarrow (Achillea ‘Belle Epoque’)
Without exaggeration, yarrow flowers are magnetic, especially for bees and butterflies. They are of pinkish-red color but become yellowish with time.
Sunlight: Full sun is the best. It can survive in partial shade, but such a location will affect its look, not in a good way.
Placement: Place it somewhere sunny.
Watering: Probably, you have already guessed that yarrow is also drought-tolerant. So it doesn't need a lot of water. In summer you can water it only once a month.
Soil requirements: Since this plant doesn't tolerate wet soil, well-draining and preferably loamy or sandy soil is suitable.
Grass that Grows in Sandy Soil
The lawn is an essential part of any garden, so here are several best grass species for sandy substrates:
Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylon)
This type of grass is an excellent variant for the southern climate because it won't mind arid conditions.
Sunlight: Bermuda grass needs full sunlight for its optimal development.
Placement: Locate it anywhere it can receive the needed amount of light.
Watering: It's a drought-tolerant plant. However, you can water it even once a week but don't overdo it.
Soil requirements: This grass requires well-draining sandy soil.
Bahia Grass (Paspalum notatum)
If you have ever dreamed of a perfect lawn, pay attention to bahiagrass! And it is also ideal for such a purpose because it doesn't need a lot of water or fertilizer.
Sunlight: Full sunlight will do the trick.
Placement: Somewhere where it can be exposed to the full sun.
Watering: Since it tolerates dryness, lack of water won't be a problem for some time.
Soil requirements: Well-draining sandy soil will suit it best.
Lawngrass (Zoysia grass)
This type of grass is sort of a slow grower, but fertilizers can make the process of development much faster.
Sunlight: Like most plants from our list, this species needs full sun.
Placement: Give preference to the sunny locations of your garden.
Watering: It doesn't require a lot of water, so water it when the top soil layer is already dry.
Soil requirements: The plant is unpretentious, so any soil type, including sandy ones, will suit.
Can Plants Grow in Sand?
The simple answer is yes. Besides the plants mentioned above, succulents and cacti, among others, can grow in such a substrate. But at the same time, in nature, there is no pure sand: mainly it's mixed with something else, for example, mud.
Pros and Cons of Gardening in Sandy Soil
- Sand is easy to work with.
- You don't have to worry about overwatering since this potting medium drains faster than regular soil.
- It won't be compact because of its lightness.
- It’s beneficial for the root system of the plant.
- It doesn't hold nutrients and water.
- Quartz crystals in the sand also make it harder to retain needed nutrients.
- According to the points above, some fertilizers just won't work.
Rules to Grow Plants in Sand
The loose structure of sandy soil makes some processes harder, as you probably noticed in the disadvantages list. But here are some tips that might be helpful with gardening in sandy soil:
- Use slow-release fertilizer. This one won't wash away easily and will actually work in sandy substrates.
- Plants that like sandy soil need to be fertilized more often than plants growing in other soil types.
- Since this type of soil dries out faster, you can use a mulch to slow down this process.
What plants grow in sand?
Mostly plants that prefer full sun also thrive in sandy soils. But if you want the exact species list, then look above. We have already gathered some of them.
How does sand affect plant growth?
Sand can affect drainage abilities and nutrient retention of the substrate. And some plants can be more sensitive to these than others. For example, if a plant needs good water retention, sandy soil will affect its growth badly. So before choosing the plant, pay attention to its needs.
Why do plants not grow well in the sand?
Not all plants are suitable for this type of soil for a few reasons: it is not nutrient-rich, it doesn't hold water and nutrients well. So if the plant needs a lot of moisture, it's better to choose other soil. However, as you can see in the list of plants that do well in sandy soil, these plants are relatively hardy and mainly drought-tolerant.