Sandy soil, which plants are best?

A few plants thrive on sandy soil but most don't.

Sandy soil is both poor in nutrients and cannot retain moisture.
But sand does have major advantages when it comes to growing certain vegetables and heath plants.

But growing from soil that is almost exclusively sand can be a real hindrance for plant development.

Here are the precautions that can be taken to turn dry, poor sandy soil into a rich and fertile growing plot.

Sandy soil – key advantages and facts

It is light and easy to work. No heavy, back-breaking clods of soil to break up.

Most of the time sandy soil stays very dry: in winter, rains drain away quickly through the sand. In summer, sand may dry out and reach record low moisture (arid) if not watered.

This makes it excellent for plants that can’t tolerate wet roots.

What plants can grow in sandy soil?

There are a few categories of plants that really do love growing in nearly 100% sandy soil, though extra organic matter usually helps.

Acid-loving plants

Sandy soil tends to be acidic and suits certain plants perfectly, such as camellia, rhododendron, azalea, hydrangea and also gorse.

Other plants will also settle in perfectly such as the beautiful Lily of the Nile or grape vines that are used to growing in light and sandy soil.

Plants that love high drainage

Some soft-stemmed plants hate wet soil. They thrive in soil where water drains away fast.

Plants that store water themselves

sandy soil best plantsIn places where it rains more frequently, plants that have tubers and starchy stems will do good in sandy soil. They’ll soak water up during rains and store it for when the soil gets dryer.

  • All succulents and cactus are part of this group.
  • Dracaena plants cope well with this as long as they’re watered weekly.
  • Zamioculcas has tubers that store water up during rain.

Vegetables in sandy soil

Of course, carrots grow very well in sandy soil, even if there is nothing but sand.

Other vegetables can tolerate high sand ratios, as long as there is some other organic material.

Whatever you’re trying to grow, remember to add liquid fertilizer to your water when watering. This will guarantee beautiful harvests even in poor sand.

How to amend sandy soil

Sandy soilUsually, soil where most of the matter is sand is very poor. It’s too poor for most plants to grow in at all.

There are several ways to make it richer:

  • Regularly add organic matter. Do this on a seasonal basis (4 times a year).
    Favor natural sources such as compost, manure, seaweed or soil mix.
  • Ramial wood chips are reputed to be the best possible natural amendment.
  • Add garden soil to make your soil denser, and more welcoming to other plants.
  • Water regularly as soon as the soil is dry.
    It is important to water in the evening in reduced amounts to avoid evaporation.

In addition to mixing these soil amendments into the sand, lather the top with thick layers of plant mulch. In time, this breaks down and turns into soil deeper down.

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Images: Pixabay: Santa, Stocksnap, Gabriele Lässer