15 Plants that Do Well in Sandy Soil

Gardening in sandy soil can be challenging, but sand can actually provide a good foundation for certain plants. The key to growing beautiful plants in a sandy garden is to know what thrives and what doesn’t. We’re going to introduce you to 15 plants that do well in sandy soil. 

15 plants that do well in sandy soil

1. Artemisia (Artemisia spp.)

DEZALB | Pixabay

Artemisia is a fast-growing ground cover that does well in sandy soil. This plant does not flower but has incredibly soft, finely cut leaves. If you brush against its leaves, you will notice a soft, soothing fragrance. 

Like most drought-tolerant plants, it is characterized by gray foliage. Artemisia exhibits antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and insecticidal properties and is often used in traditional medicine. 

  • USDA hardiness zones: 3-10
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Maintenance requirements: Low
  • Blooming season: Summer through fall
  • Mature size: 1-10 feet wide, 1-5 feet tall
  • Fertilization needs: Doesn’t require fertilizer if organic matter is used consistently; overly rich soil can affect stems, causing them to become “leggy” (too long, with very few leaves or blooms)
  • Water needs: None once established; might require supplemental watering in case of prolonged drought
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun

2. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

vibrant yellow petals from black-eyed susans
robin_ottawa (I’m on a phone!) | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

A hit with pollinators, black-eyed Susans are a must in a diverse garden. Named after the dark center accompanying a yellow or orange daisy-like flower, these plants are often found adorning landscapes or borders throughout North America. With over 24 native species available, there’s a variety for everyone.

If you’re a working professional with little time, black-eyed Susan is the ideal plant to grow due to its toughness and ability to withstand neglect. Plant it in the spring or fall when soil temperatures reach 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving about 18 to 19 inches between each plant.

Some common cultivars include Indian Summer, Cherry Brandy, Goldstrum, and Denver Daisy.

  • USDA hardiness zones: 3-9
  • Type: Perennial
  • Maintenance requirements: Very low
  • Blooming season: Mid-summer to early fall 
  • Mature size: 1-3 feet wide, 1-5 feet tall
  • Fertilization needs: Not generally required, but all-purpose fertilizer can support better growth
  • Water needs: Regular watering is needed for establishment; at maturity, little hydration is required due to the plant’s impressive drought tolerance
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun

3. Blanket flower (Gaillardia x Grandiflora)

Red and Yellow Color leaves flower with brown pollens

Another daisy look-alike, blanket flower (gallardia) can cheer up anyone’s day with its yellow, orange, or red blooms and attractive, rounded green foliage. You can plant on your garden borders or directly in your garden for some much-needed color. 

Native to North America, blanket flowers take their name from their ability to grow as a dense ground cover. To tone down their brilliant color, you can mix them with grasses or other non-flowering plants with green or blue foliage. Consider purple coneflowers, sunflowers, or coreopsis as mixing options.

Cool fact: As they’re widely spread across Texas, blanket flowers inspired Texas State University’s colors.

  • USDA hardiness zones: 3-10
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Maintenance requirements: Very low
  • Blooming season: Summer to fall
  • Mature size: 12-24 inches wide, 24-36 inches tall 
  • Fertilization needs: Not generally required, but all-purpose fertilizer can support better growth
  • Water needs: Regular watering is needed for establishment; at maturity, little hydration is required due to the plant’s impressive drought tolerance
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun

4. Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)

Butterfly bush
Joshua J. Cotten | Unsplash

The butterfly bush is an attractive, flowering shrub highly adaptable to various soil types, including sandy soil. It’s the perfect plant to add some color to your garden. It grows in white, pink, or purple towering flower cones and beautifies your space. 

The butterfly bush has long, narrow leaves that are coarse to touch and grow along arching, slim stems. This upright deciduous shrub produces clusters of branches with jagged-edged leaves. Due to its fast dispersal rate, the butterfly bush is considered an invasive species in certain states, often replacing native shrubs essential as a food source in the ecosystem.

  • USDA hardiness zones: 5-10
  • Type: Perennial shrub
  • Maintenance requirements: Very low
  • Blooming season: Summer to early fall 
  • Mature size: 3-8 feet wide, 4-12 feet tall
  • Fertilization needs: None, other than some compost around the root area in spring
  • Water needs: Moderate deep watering is needed, doesn’t handle extremes well; about half an inch of water a week is ideal
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun

5. Carrots (Daucus carota)

Pezibear | Pixabay

Carrots are biennial vegetables that need sandy soil to burrow easily and grow deep into the ground. These vegetables have fern-like compound leaves with long, orange roots. The leaves are triangular in shape, delicate in texture, and held upright in a tufted cluster of tiny leaves. 

If you leave carrot plants in sandy soil for their second growing season, they will bloom in 1-foot-tall clusters of white flowers. These flowers are called an umbel. After pollination, seeds form and drop to the ground to germinate. 

  • USDA hardiness zones: 3-10 
  • Type: Biennial vegetable
  • Maintenance requirements: Moderate to low
  • Blooming season: Spring, first bloom in second season
  • Mature size: 1-2 inch diameter, 6-12 inch root, 1 foot foliage
  • Fertilization needs: Low, though feeding is needed around two weeks after the carrots emerge
  • Water needs: At least one inch every week  
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun to partial shade

6. Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus)

Artur Pawlak | Pixabay

Another vegetable that flourishes in sandy soils is cucumber. It requires fast-draining soil, but you will have to make some efforts to fulfill its nutrient and water needs to keep it happy. Cucumber can grow in a variety of soils, but the porous texture of sandy soil is perfect for its fast-growing, dense root system. 

Cucumbers grow into luscious, trailing vines that need some support to attach and grow. It has hairy leaves with five to six pointed lobes and produces a berry known as pepo. The plant may have four or five main stems with curling tendrils branching from them. 

  • USDA hardiness zones: 4-12 
  • Type: Annual
  • Maintenance requirements: High
  • Blooming season: Early summer 
  • Mature size: 3-8 feet wide, 3-12 feet tall
  • Fertilization needs: Require fertilizer or compost every few weeks
  • Water needs: Consistent watering, at least an inch per week – especially with fruits. Without enough water, the fruits will turn bitter.
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun to partial shade

7. Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.)

Frederik Tischuk | Pexels

This flowering plant grows well in moist yet well-draining soil types and requires little care. It will bloom for years and complement your sandy soil garden with its sunny, warm colors and attractive foliage. 

Daylilies bloom in late spring and look great when clustered. Their plump, dense roots can store water for drought-like conditions, making them a great choice for homeowners searching for low-maintenance plants. The blooms open in the morning and die or close by sunset. 

  • USDA hardiness zones: 3-10
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Maintenance requirements: Very low
  • Blooming season: Spring through summer
  • Mature size: 2-4 feet wide, 1-5 feet tall
  • Fertilization needs: Not needed; compost can be added every season for a growth boost and healthy soil
  • Water needs: Regular watering is needed when establishing; afterward, water only in dry conditions 
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun to partial shade

8. Giant allium (Allium giganteum)

Giant allium
Michael Richardson | Unsplash

Also known as the giant onion, giant allium 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. When the plant starts to flower, these leaves die and fall. If bruised, the scapes or leaves can smell like onions.

  • USDA hardiness zones: 4-9
  • Type: Bulbous perennial 
  • Maintenance requirements: Moderate to low
  • Blooming season: Spring and early summer
  • Mature size: 2 feet wide, 4-6 feet tall
  • Fertilization needs: Well-balanced fertilizer is needed during the growing season
  • Water needs: Low to average, generally drought-tolerant
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun to partial shade

9. Lavender (Lavendula spp.)

No-longer-here | Pixabay

The lavender plant loves sandy soil and needs good drainage to grow. Easily able to survive drought-like conditions, its beautiful color and aroma attract many butterflies and bees. 

This plant is native to Europe and can be planted in your sandy garden or can be potted indoors. Lavender also comes in pink and white flower variants apart from its namesake purple flowers. 

  • USDA hardiness zones: 5-9
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Maintenance requirements: Low
  • Blooming season: Summer 
  • Mature size: 2-5 feet wide, 2-3 feet tall
  • Fertilization needs: Feeding is only necessary in the early stages; after that, it’s not recommended if you want the plant to grow to its full potential
  • Water needs: Only in the growing season; otherwise, drought-tolerant
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun

10. Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)

Надежда Мельникова | Pixabay

Potatoes are root vegetables that require the looseness and acidity of sandy soil for healthy growth. The acidity rules out any chance of scab, a disease that can kill a whole crop of potatoes. The only issue you could face is too much drainage. 

Potatoes produce flowers at the end of their growing season. These flowers dry up and fall off the plant within about a week. 

  • USDA hardiness zones: 3-10b
  • Type: Annual vegetable
  • Maintenance requirements: High
  • Blooming season: Early summer
  • Mature size: 40 inches tall
  • Fertilization needs: Regular in the growing stage, ideally organic and slow-release
  • Water needs: High
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun

11. Radishes (Raphanus sativus)

Michaela Wenzler | Pixabay

Like carrots, radishes are ideal for loose, sandy soils because they come with tap roots that need to penetrate soil easily. This root vegetable is small, round, and red. It belongs to the Brassicaceae family and has a fast growth rate. 

The top leaves are lance-like and small, while a rosette of oblong-shaped leaves covers the area around its hairy stems. The radish plant can produce pink or purple flowers once every growing season.

  • USDA hardiness zones: 2-11
  • Type: Annual, vegetable
  • Maintenance requirements: Moderate
  • Blooming season: Summer
  • Mature size: 5-9 inches tall
  • Fertilization needs: Once a year
  • Water needs: Moderate 
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun 

12. Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)

red chokeberry
Mr.TinMD | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

This flowering shrub is a member of the prestigious rose family and can grow in any soil. It’s multi-stemmed and flourishes in sandy and boggy soils. It develops dark green foliage as it grows and turns red in the fall. You also get to see beautiful white flowers with ornamental berries when it’s fully mature. 

Red chokeberry is a dependable and tough plant that will perk up your garden with glossy redness and scarlet fall foliage. You will have to keep a close eye on your red chokeberry plants as they can clone themselves through suckers into a mass of shrubs. 

  • USDA hardiness zones: 4-9
  • Type: Perennial shrub
  • Maintenance requirements: Moderate
  • Blooming season: Spring and summer 
  • Mature size: 3-6 feet wide, 6-10 feet tall
  • Fertilization needs: Low or none
  • Water needs: Regular, needs moist soil
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun to partial shade

13. Salvia (Salvia officinalis L.)

group of purple colored flowers in a garden
kuenlin | Canva Pro | License

Another pollinator favorite, salvia is a colorful plant that flourishes from summer to fall. Its tubular flowers, which come in white, pink, purple, blue, and red, are densely packed over square stems. Also known as sage, this heat-, drought-, and deer-resistant plant can be grown in containers and your garden, though choosing the suitable variety for your climate is critical.

The salvia genus is part of the mint family and includes over 960 species of annual and perennial plants. Some popular varieties include scarlet sage, pitcher sage, hybrid sage, and pineapple sage.

  • USDA hardiness zones: 4-10
  • Type: Annual or perennial
  • Maintenance requirements: Very low
  • Blooming season: Spring to summer when rapid growth occurs
  • Mature size: 1-6 feet tall and wide
  • Fertilization needs: Fertilizer is only occasionally needed, ideally in early spring
  • Water needs: Low, the plant is quite drought-tolerant; however, it will grow better with sporadic watering
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun

14. Sedum (Sedum spp.)

Paulican | Pixabay

Sedum, or Oregon stonecrop, is a drought-resistant groundcover plant that flourishes in a wide variety of conditions. This perennial loves the sun and is hardy enough to thrive with less water, intense heat, and poor soil conditions.

It has fleshy leaves with small, star-shaped, brightly colored flowers that attract pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds. The plump leaves and thick stems help to store water for longer periods. 

  • USDA hardiness zones: 3-10
  • Type: Groundcover perennial 
  • Maintenance requirements: Very low
  • Blooming season: Mid-summer through mid-fall
  • Mature size: 12-24 inches wide, 6-25 inches tall
  • Fertilization needs: None; able to tolerate poor soil, though some compost can boost growth
  • Water needs: None once established; occasional water from rainfall is sufficient
  • Sunlight needs: Full sunlight or partial shade (for some types)

15. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

Sweet alyssum
May_hokkaido | Pixabay

Sweet alyssum is a low-growing plant that produces beautiful purple, white, or pink blooms and grows perfectly well in sandy soil. It forms a low mat 4 to 7 inches tall in your sandy garden, giving it a nice texture. This plant smells like honey and is adored by butterflies for the same reason. 

It grows quickly and has four-petal flowers and gray-green, narrow, hairy leaves surrounding each flower. Most color varieties of this plant fade in extra heat but bloom again in the fall. 

  • USDA hardiness zones: 5-9
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Maintenance requirements: Moderate
  • Blooming season: Spring through fall
  • Mature size: 2-4 inches wide, 3-10 inches tall
  • Fertilization needs: Only needs fertilizer in case of poor soil; feed container plants monthly
  • Water needs: An inch of water every week; extra during hotter days or drought periods
  • Sunlight needs: Full sun to partial shade (in dry areas) 

How to tell if you have sandy soil

When you’re planning a garden and landscaping, the first step is to determine what kind of plants will survive. The soil type plays a critical role here. It allows you to select plants that will thrive and grow happily. 

Generally, soil combines sand, clay, and silt in different percentages. Sand is the largest soil particle, clay is the smallest, and silt sits somewhere in the middle. When a soil combination leans more toward one of these components, it creates different soil types.

Sandy soil is light brown and feels grainy. If unsure, you can perform a simple soil test. Take a handful of soil from the garden, dampen it, and roll it up in a sausage-like shape. If you have sandy soil, this sausage will crumble and fall apart, leaving you with individual grains. 

Our complete guide to different soil types may also be helpful. It offers in-depth information about soil types to make things easier to decipher. 

The challenges of sandy soil

Sandy soils are characterized by a few disadvantages you should be aware of:

  • Sandy soil cannot retain moisture and nutrients for plant roots. It’s made up of large particles that leave cavernous gaps between them, allowing water and water-soluble nutrients to seep through easily.
  • Fertilizers will wash away because there are no pockets to store and hold anything.
  • Sandy soil also tends to be acidic, which creates a less-than-ideal environment for plants, especially vegetables. 

Making such soil more conducive to plant growth requires some effort, namely adding organic material to enhance moisture retention and infusing the soil with nutrients. 

You can also use biochar and apply several layers of mulch to keep sandy soil cool and healthy. Or, you can simply choose plants that have adapted to sandy soil.

FAQ about plants that do well in sandy soil

How can I make sandy soil more fertile?

The following techniques will improve your soil:

  • Add a layer of mulch: Using grass clippings or wood chips prevents water evaporation and enhances retention.
  • Spread organic matter: Peat moss, vermiculite, coconut coir, and other organic materials help sandy soil hold more water and nutrients.
  • Install a drip irrigation system: Shallow, frequent watering keeps the soil moist. 
  • Grow cover crops: This technique enhances soil health. 

Is sandy soil more prone to disease?

No, sandy soils have few aggregates due to their large particle size, creating an unfavorable environment for bacteria or fungi to stay or grow.

Is it safe to add lime to adjust the pH level of sandy soil?

Lime is an ideal natural source to adjust sandy soil’s acidity. It offers calcium and some quantities of magnesium to the soil, which helps the plants absorb nutrients better.

Get gardening help with your sandy soil

Sandy soil can be challenging to work with, but knowing what plants to choose will make building your dream garden a breeze. 

You can always count on a local gardening professional to come through if you need help revitalizing your sandy garden or building it from scratch. If you need mowing or other lawn care services, get in touch with a lawn care expert ready to tackle it all for you.

Main Image Credit: Rebekah Vos | Unsplash

Andie Ioó

In my free time, I enjoy traveling with my husband, sports, trying out new recipes, reading, and watching reruns of '90s TV shows. As a way to relax and decompress, I enjoy landscaping around my little yard and DIY home projects.