7 Best Plants for Sandy Soil That Thrive

Best Plants for Sandy Soil

Sandy soil presents unique challenges for gardeners and landscapers due to its coarse texture and low water and nutrient retention capabilities. Plants in sandy soil must be able to thrive in conditions that might hinder other varieties, including rapid drainage that can lead to dry roots and nutrient deficiency.

Sandy Soil Pest Resistance

Selecting plants well-adapted to sandy environments is essential because these plants are typically hardy, require less water and fertilizer, and can help prevent soil erosion. By choosing the right plants for sandy soil, gardeners can enjoy a lush, vibrant garden that is sustainable and easy to maintain, even in less-than-ideal soil conditions.

Best Plants for Sandy Soil

1. Black-eyed Susan

shrubs for sandy soil and full sun

Black-eyed Susan is an early successional species adapted to clay, loam, and sandy soils. The plants will spread depending on how dense you may have planted your seeds or transplants. Plant them close together to slow spreading or plant them farther apart to promote spreading. Within about 100 days, black-eyed Susans will spread at the base to about 12″ to 18” wide.

Give this bright bloomer a spot in full sun, although, in the hottest regions, a little afternoon shade won’t hurt. Plants survive in a partly shaded location, but flower numbers will be reduced. Black-eyed Susan isn’t picky about soil and thrives in average soil that drains well.

In some Native American herbal medicines, an infusion of the black-eyed Susan roots has been used to treat colds, dropsy, and worms in children. This mixture has also been used for sores and snake bites, while the liquid within the roots has been used as earache drops.

2. Butterfly Bush

best plants for sandy soil

Colorful Butterfly Bushes, like Black Knight, are great choices for shrubs that grow well in sandy soils. However, sandy soils are typically low in nutrients. This is because the large pore space and fast drainage wash out any available nutrients.

Moderately dry, slightly sandy, or gravelly soils with medium nutrient concentrations are ideal for the butterfly bush. In these soils, the wood matures well by winter and is less likely to break than in moister, more nutrient-rich garden soils.

It is often grown as an ornamental, valued for its flowering display and the hordes of butterflies it attracts. The plant is also said to have medicinal properties and can be used to make a variety of dyes.

3. Cucumber

what plants grow in sand

The cucumber is a widely cultivated creeping vine plant in the family Cucurbitaceae that bears cylindrical to spherical fruits, which are used as culinary vegetables.

Cucumbers grow best on well-drained, warm, sandy, or silt loam soil, but a variety of soil types can be used. Early harvest is important, and sandy soils located where there is good sun exposure and air drainage are best.

All that water in cucumbers can help keep you hydrated. Plus, the fiber boost they give you helps you stay regular and avoid constipation. Vitamin K helps blood clot and keeps your bones healthy. Vitamin A has many jobs, like helping with vision, the immune system, and reproduction.

4. Giant allium

sand plants

Giant allium (Allium giganteum), also known as the giant onion, is a flowering plant that grows well in sandy soil. Its flowers are purple and pom-pom-shaped, sprouting atop large stalks with few to no leaves.

The captivating flower towers appear from a basal rosette of star-shaped, grayish-green leaves. For the most productive display of blooms, plant alliums in full sun. They contain sulfur compounds (which give them their onion flavor), and when added to the diet on a regular basis, they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system, and also tonify the circulatory system.

5. Gazania

plants for sandy soil

Gazania is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae native to Southern Africa. Over a long period in summer, it produces large, daisy-like composite flowerheads in brilliant shades of yellow and orange. Gazania is often planted as a drought-tolerant ground cover.

Gazanias prefer sandy to average well-drained soils and are tolerant of loams and poor soils. Allow the soil to dry between waterings, plant in full sun for best blooming, and deadhead to encourage continued blooms. The genus name comes from the Latin word gaza, meaning “treasure”. Good soil gives the best growth, but the plant tolerates poor, sandy soil. Gazania requires less water than most annuals or perennials. Full sun is preferred, and the flowers do not open fully on wet or cloudy days.

Extended wet weather or poorly drained soil can promote disease, which can kill portions of the plant. Depending on the variety, gazanias offer a wide array of flower colors, including bright yellow, red, orange, and variegated (multiple colors). They make great additions to the edges of flower gardens and rock gardens and can be used as an ornamental ground cover.

6. Cosmos

plants that grow in sandy soil and full sun

Cosmos is a genus with the same common name as cosmos, consisting of flowering plants in the sunflower family. Cosmos are not particular about soil but overall prefer well-drained soils that lean more towards dry, sandy conditions.

Plant cosmos in well-drained alkaline soil. Cosmos prefer full sun conditions, except in extreme heat where they can tolerate part shade. Cosmos caudatus is an herbal plant that has beneficial effects on human health.

It is traditionally used as an antihypertensive, antidiabetic, antioxidant, antiosteoporosis, antifungal, and antibacterial agent. It has been reported to demonstrate high total antioxidant capacity. Medicinally, Cosmos has been used to treat jaundice, fever, and other disorders.

7. Beach Rose

sand plants

Beach Rose, or Rosa rugosa, is a gardener’s dream for its low-maintenance nature. This hardy shrub requires minimal fuss, thriving in a range of conditions from sandy soils to salty coastal winds. Beach Rose demands well-draining soil to avoid wet feet. Think sandy and gritty, like a beach volleyball court for roots.

It’s a sunbather, thriving in bright, direct light that would make other plants wilt. Beach rose hips, like those of other rose species, are edible and can be used to make jams, syrups, tea, or eaten raw. This species hybridizes readily with many other roses and is valued by rose breeders for its considerable resistance to the diseases rose rust and rose black spot.


Plants well-suited to sandy soil will naturally thrive, requiring less water and fewer fertilizers. This leads to healthier plant growth and reduced disease incidence. Sandy soil has quick drainage, which can be advantageous for plants that prefer drier conditions. By selecting plants that thrive in these conditions, gardeners can conserve water and reduce the need for frequent irrigation.

Plants, like blanket flower, adapted to sandy environments typically require less upkeep. This not only saves time and effort but also decreases the need for chemical interventions, such as pesticides and herbicides, promoting a more natural garden ecosystem. Certain tough plant species, especially those with deep or extensive root systems, can help stabilize sandy soil, preventing erosion caused by wind and water.

This is particularly beneficial in coastal and arid areas where soil erosion can be a significant problem. Choosing a variety of plants suitable for sandy soil can increase biodiversity in the sandy garden. This diversity supports local wildlife, including pollinators and beneficial insects, enhancing ecological balance. Sandy soil supports a unique range of plants, including many with drought-tolerant and heat-resistant properties.

A sandy soil garden offers a unique opportunity to cultivate a range of tough plants that thrive in this soil type, known for having the largest soil particles and low moisture retention. Select plants like the vibrant blanket flowers and butterfly weed, both of which attract pollinators with their brightly colored flowers from early to mid-summer. Perennial plants such as sedum spp and the lavender plant, celebrated for their purple flowers, are ideal for sandy gardens, adapting well by integrating organic matter to enhance growth. Early spring to late spring is perfect for planting, ensuring your garden is a tapestry of color and life, thanks to these resilient and beautiful choices.

Johan Perez
Johan Perez is an experienced agriculturalist with over twenty years in the field. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences and has contributed extensively to research on sustainable farming practices. Johan has also written for numerous agricultural periodicals, offering expert advice on farming technologies and methods. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor adventures, which often inform his professional insights into ecological agriculture.

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