The Best 10 Plants for Sandy Soil

Kate Mitchell

September 14, 2023

Soil Types

The type of soil you have in your yard, as we've mentioned on the blog before, can have a huge impact on which plants will do well there. If you want a healthy, thriving yard with gorgeous plants, it's a great idea to check your soil type and make sure that what you're growing is suited to your conditions.

The Challenges of Sandy Soil

Here in Florida, many of us have yards with sandy soil, or a sandy combination. Because sand particles are relatively large, with big gaps between them, it's hard for sandy soil to keep the moisture and nutrients needed by plants.

Fertilizer can wash away easily from sandy soil. This soil type is often acidic, which does not create the best environment for many plants.

You can improve your sandy soil by adding organic material and covering it with mulch. A landscaping expert such as LawnMore will be able to test your soil and help you to improve it.

Watering Plants in Sandy Soil

Consistent watering is important for plants growing in sandy soil. Frequent watering may not be what these plants need - instead, watering deeply and less frequently is recommended for sandy soil. This will wet the soil right down to the root system whilst giving plants the right amounts of water.

Watering early in the morning is best as this allows time for leaves to dry out in the sun, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. If you're using an irrigation system, calibrate it for half to three quarters of an inch of water each day.

Choosing Plants for Sandy Soil

Of course, if you're working with sandy soil, one of the best things you can do is to select plants that naturally do well under sandy conditions. Our list of ten plants that thrive in sandy soil can help you get started!


Orange-yellow flowers with large black eyes in the middle

Black-eyed susan, or rudbeckia, is a cheerful shrub with bright yellow flowers that have a distinctive dark 'eye' in the center. Large green leaves form a pleasing backdrop for the bright flower heads. A relative of the sunflower, this plant is much loved by butterflies. It naturally grows in slightly acidic, well-drained soil, so if you have sandy soil in your yard this plant is a great choice.

In South and Central Florida, rudbeckia tends to act as a perennial. It grows 2-4 feet tall and, as well as liking a sandy soil garden, rudbeckia does well in full sun and hot temperatures. It really is an ideal plant for your Florida yard.


Bees buzzing around purple lavender flowers

Lavender will provide a beautiful contrast, with dark green stems and purple flowers. It helps beneficial pollinators, as well as attracting butterflies to your yard. The lovely scent is another reason to plant lavender; some people like to harvest the stems and dry them to make lavender sachets.

Lavender will tolerate most well-drained soil conditions, so dry soil types such as sandy soil will provide an ideal environment for lavender. As with rudbeckia, it likes full sun. A Mediterranean plant, lavender can cope well with average temperatures in Florida. The stems, which can grow 2-3 feet in height, need watering regularly at first, but as soon as it is established lavender is drought-tolerant.


large pink and orange flowers against a background of dark green foliage

Zinnia, which has a wide range of color varieties, is another striking plant that will add a gorgeous splash of color to your yard. There are taller and shorter varieties, and they can adapt to most soil conditions, although they may do better if you use organic matter to improve your soil.

You can grow zinnias from seed right in the bed. Spreading out the sewing over a few weeks will result in a longer flowering season. The speedy growth rate of zinnia means you can expect to see vibrant flowers within 60 days of planting.

Because they are annuals, the original plant will not flower again the following year. However, you can help them reseed by allowing the later flowers to mature to seedheads and then scattering the seeds.


A close-up of tiny white flower clusters

Yarrow, with its tightly-packed flowerheads in an array of colors from yellow to pink, is an easy-care sandy soil plant. It is drought and pest resistant and its pleasant aroma helps to attract butterflies. Most varieties grow two to four feet tall.

Yarrow is a perennial, so it will bloom each year. Full sun will help the flowers to grow in compact clusters. It will benefit from the addition of compost to improve poor soils. Yarrow looks great in borders and, whichever shade you go for, will add a splash of color from spring through midsummer. If you deadhead at this point your yarrow may even produce another round of beautiful blooms.


Close-up of a single pink flower on a blurred garden background

Cosmos, with its large, daisy-like flowers that come in a rainbow of colors, is a popular annual that can reach up to six feet in height! As well as beautifying your yard, cosmos attracts bees and butterflies and is a popular cut flower.

It can take a few weeks for flowering to begin but, once established, your cosmos will usually continue to bloom throughout the summer until the first frost of fall. Deadheading will encourage further blossoming. Cosmos is one of many annual plants that can self-sow for the following year; to encourage this, let the last flowers mature fully and leave the seedheads to blow away.


Clusters of buddleia blooms, pictured from below, with blue sky behind

Buddleia, or butterfly bush, is a large flowering shrub that can grow 6 to 12 feet tall and 4 to 15 feet wide. Its beautiful, fragrant cones of tiny purple flowers stand out against its dark green foliage.

The blooms can appear all year round in warm climates and, as the name suggests, are very attractive to butterflies, as well as to hummingbirds. Regular deadheading, or even trimming, will suit buddleia and will lengthen the bloom season.


Spherical clusters of tiny, bright purple flowers

Giant alliums will make a statement in your yard with their striking spherical clusters of tiny flowers. Whether you choose a blue, purple or white variety, the bold burst of color will add appeal to borders.

Alliums love full sun and well-drained soil, so they should do well in a sandy garden in Florida's hot climate. They need to be planted in fall and watered sparingly in spring, and then will bloom once in summer. If you harvest them after blooming, the spheres of flowers make excellent dried flower ornaments.

Purpletop Vervain

Sturdy green stems with little clusters of purple flowers

Purpletop vervain, or verbena bonariensis, is a tall plant that likes full sun and is a perennial in Florida. It also needs less water than many plants, making it a great choice for that sunny spot in your sandy soil garden.

The spikes of small purple flowers, which are very attractive to butterflies, are spread out on the stem. This makes it a wonderful plant for wildlife spotting because the foliage is not dense so you can see through the stems to any interesting birds or bugs that are hiding behind it.


Someone uses scissors to cut stems covered in small, pointed, green rosemary leaves

Rosemary, a culinary herb with a pleasant aroma, is not a tough plant to grow in Florida. It originates from the Mediterranean and prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Color varieties can range from pink to white to blue, but even out of season the evergreen leaves are pleasing to the eye.

It's best to harvest rosemary during flowering as the oils are at their peak before and during bloom time. The flowers are edible too, and taste similar to the aromatic foliage!


Flower clusters in a rainbow of red to pink, with a garden scene in the background

Lantana is a very popular easy-care plant with attractive foliage and a range of beautiful color varieties that can give a rainbow of colors within a single sphere of blooms.

You can grow lantana as a climber, or, if planted flat, it makes beautiful, drought-tolerant ground cover. Lantana is pollinator-friendly and enjoys full sun. It will flower more when watered regularly.

Whatever your color and style preference, you're sure to find something in this list that you'd like to grow in your Central Florida yard! Make sure to get in touch with a local landscaping expert such as LawnMore if you'd like some help with your landscaping and maintenance.

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