13 Beautiful Plants That Thrive in Sandy Soil

From trees to ground cover, you've got tons of options when it comes to plants that grow in sand.

Updated April 3, 2024
lavender in sandy soil

Sandy soil has its advantages. It drains well, is easy to dig in, and warms up faster in spring than clay soils. Choosing the right plants for sandy soil is important, though, since it doesn't hold on to either water or nutrients for long compared to other soil types. These are a few of our faves for this unique planting environment.

Our Favorite Plants That Grow in Sand

There are a few species perfectly adapted to a sandy environment.  Sandy soil is relatively uncommon in nature, compared to other soil types, but it has an added bonus. Because it warms up more quickly, plants start growing earlier. Try one of these sandy soil plants in your yard.

  • Artemesia
  • Black locust
  • Butterfly bush
  • Eucalyptus
  • Giant allium
  • Lavender
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Rosemary
  • Salvia
  • Sedum
  • Siberian pea shrub
  • Silk tree
  • Sweet alyssum
Quick Tip

One of the best ways to choose the right plant for your yard is to think about it by type. Ground covers, annuals, bulbs, shrubs, and trees all have their place, and you can layer your plantings for visual interest all year round.

Groundcovers and Perennials for Sandy Soil

Plant a groundcover or perennial to make maintenance easy. We love how these beauties anchor sandy soil, which can be prone to erosion.


Lavender flower close up in a field in Provence France against a blue sky background.

Lavender is hard not to love. Originating in the dry, rocky hills of the Mediterranean basin, it's not only tolerant of sandy soil, but it actually requires the excellent drainage provided by sandy soils. Plant it in full sun and water it only enough to get the roots established. Lavender is especially effective in long rows that can be used as a low garden border.


Artemisia leaves

These low-growing perennials have the grey foliage that characterizes many of the most drought-tolerant plants. The leaves are finely cut and incredibly soft to the touch; when you brush up against them, a delicious fragrance is released. Artemisias are primarily a foliage plant, as the flowers of most varieties are inconspicuous. Even so, they add a unique texture and color to perennial borders or can be used en masse as a ground cover.


Rosemary bush

Rosemary is another familiar herb that thrives in dry, sandy soil. Once established, it never needs water and blooms in late winter when most other plants are still waking up from dormancy. Try one of the prostrate varieties, like Lockwood de Forest or Irene, for use as a large-scale groundcover in sandy soil.



There is an incredible diversity of sedums available in nurseries these days. They are succulents, so by nature, they're adapted to dry, sandy soil. Most are tiny groundcovers that make great rock garden plants. A taller variety called Autumn Joy is a good choice for its extremely late bloom.

Related: How to Water Succulents Properly (Without Overdoing It)

Sandy Soil Annuals and Bulbs

Living in a sandy region doesn't mean you have to sacrifice colorful plants in your yard. We love these varieties that are perfect for sand.


Azure blue sage flowers blooming in a small garden

Annual salvias add a strong shot of color to summer flower beds — crimson red, deep purple, and electric blue shades are all available. Depending on the variety, they grow quickly to one or two feet in height. The blooms last for weeks, but once they fade, cut them back, and they will bloom again until the first frost of fall. They're relatively drought-tolerant for an annual bedding plant, and hummingbirds adore them.

Giant Allium

allium flowers

This is an unusual specimen for flower borders — it's closely related to onions but is grown for its enormous purple pom-pom flowers that rise on a single stalk three to four feet above the sparse foliage. Giant alliums will bloom year after year in sandy soil with little care, making them a good choice for a semi-naturalized meadow planting.

Sweet Alyssum

White Sweet Alyssum

Butterflies adore this bedding plant that smells like honey. It grows in sandy soil and is likely to seed itself in cracks in the driveway, bringing color to the harsh, hot concrete. Sweet alyssum forms a low mat four to six inches tall and spreads up to two feet across. Pink, purple, and white varieties are available.

Shrubs for Sandy Soil

Shrubs are excellent choices for privacy, and flowering varieties make beautiful additions to any garden in sandy soil. We love these beautiful options.

Butterfly Bush

Selective focus of violet blue flower Summer lilac (Vlinderstruik) Buddleja davidii, Butterfly-bush or Orange eye

Butterflies flock to the elongated purple flower cones of this upright deciduous shrub. Butterfly bush adapts to most soil types, including sandy ones. White- and pink-flowered varieties are also available.

Siberian Pea Shrub

Caragana arborescens, the Siberian pea-tree

This is probably one of the hardiest plants in the world. As you might guess from the name, it is extremely cold-tolerant, but it's also tolerant of light, sandy soils. Siberian pea shrub grows 10 to 20 feet tall and five to 10 feet wide, depending on the variety. It's deciduous and makes a dazzling display in mid-summer with its bright yellow flowers.

Rose of Sharon

The beautiful rose of sharon

A trouble-free plant for tough conditions, rose of Sharon produces two- to three-inch hibiscus-like blooms in late summer. Rose, purple, and white are the most common colors. In sandy soil, be sure to give it plenty of water to support luxuriant growth and stimulate profuse flowering.


Trees are a focal point for many homeowners, regardless of soil type. Certain trees are just especially well-suited to this type of soil.

Silk Tree

Albizia julibrissin, the Persian silk tree or pink silk tree

Also known as mimosa, this fast-growing deciduous tree is one of the best for sandy soils. It typically grows to about 30 feet, not quite what's normally considered a shade tree, but it does provide some shade. Bonus: it doesn't take decades to do it — five to seven years to maturity is typical.

Black Locust

Beautiful white flowers of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

This is a tall, upright hardwood tree that also grows at an unusually fast rate, even in sandy soil. Fragrant white flower clusters emerge from the bare branches in early spring, followed by finely cut foliage and then decorative seed pods in fall. Purple Robe is a popular variety that sports magenta blossoms, instead of the typical white.


eucalyptus leaves

All species of eucalyptus hail from Australia, a continent with a disproportionate amount of sandy soil. There are numerous varieties, but most are enormous, fast-growing shade trees, some reaching up to 150 feet in height. They are evergreen and emit a pleasing wintergreen-like fragrance from the leaves.

Sandy Soil Growing Regions

A plant adapted to sandy soil is one that's used in drought and infertile soils. Coastal regions and deserts often have sandy soil, and there are pockets scattered throughout the country where ancient marine deposits form the underlying geology, resulting in sandy conditions on the surface. Mountainous areas often have poor, rocky soil with similar characteristics, so sandy soil plants often grow in these areas, too (as long as they're adapted to the cold temperatures that are typical of mountain environments).

Quick Tip

Remember, there's more to choosing your plantings than picking a plant that grows in sand. You also need to consider the climate. Check your gardening zone and consider the amount of light and water your plantings will receive.

Right Plant, Right Place

The key to gardening success is matching the characteristics of your property to the plants that want to grow there. Although the options are slightly limited in sandy environments, there are still plenty of plants for sandy soil to choose from. Because they share certain physiological traits that make them adapted to sand, these plants also tend to look good together in the landscape.

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13 Beautiful Plants That Thrive in Sandy Soil