Can Plants Grow in the Sand?

Can plants grow in the sand? Does sand have the nutrients to grow plants?

Yes, plants can grow in sand. It is a common assumption that in order for plants to grow, they need soil. And while having rich soil definitely helps, there are some ground plants that grow just as well in sand. A very common example is Cacti. However, growing plants in the sand take a bit more effort from you.

For instance, unlike clay soil and some other earth types, the sand does not contain any nutrients. So, if you want that your plants grow in the sand, you will have to provide their nutrients separately. To know more about whether plants grow in the sand or not, keep reading the article.

Can the Plants Grow in the Sand?

Yes, you can. The plants that grow in the sand are quite a few in quantity, but they do exist. The reason that this question is often asked is that sandy soil does not provide the minerals and nutrients as simple clay soil does.

This may come as a surprise, but sandy soil is often the preference of many plants, and some gardeners say that sandy soil is easy to work on. However, this is also a fact that clay soil is way better than sand in most of the factors.

Sandy soil or the sand does allow plants to grow in it, but it is relatively difficult to maintain plants in sandy soil compared to clay. There are many different types of soil. The sand will need more water, more fertilizers, and more dampness.

The reason is that the sand is comprised of larger particles. Its tiny particles are not tightly packed, and the sand is not potent. Moreover, the sandy soil does not keep the moisture intact for too long and requires water after some time continuously.

What is the Best Type of Sand for Plants?

The best type of sand for healthy plant growth is Horticultural sand. Why? Because the horticultural sand is pretty suitable for drainage compared to other sands. You may or may not know that if there is not a passage for waste and unnecessary water in the soil. It has negative impacts on your plants.

It is the same thing as if you don’t use the toilet for a long time, what will happen? So, the Horticultural soil takes care of all those problems, as it provides the best drainage system among the sandy soils. This sand is comprised of granite or sandstones.

But what makes it unique from others? You know that sandy soils are comprised of larger particles which makes it harder for plants to survive in them, but Horticultural soil is comprised of larger particles than clay but smaller and finer particles than regular ones like beach sands.

Can Garden Plants Grow in the Sand?

Yes, the garden plants grow in the sand. But even after all of its benefits, it still has some drawbacks. Like you cannot just plant rose or jasmine flowers in the sand. I’m saying this because most gardens have hundreds of flowers for beautification, and that can’t be done in sandy soils.

But if you are gardening for vegetation and are planning to grow some vegetables in your garden, you can plant potatoes, cucumbers, beans, and some other vegetables in the sand. They do well there. You would also like to consider one that it will take a whole another level effort working on sandy soils.

What are the Effects of Using Sand to Grow Plants?

This is the most important part of this article. Sandy soils do have drawbacks which makes them less appealing compared to clay soil when it comes to gardening. Like it has fewer nutrients and minerals, less water and moisture. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

1. Less Support:

One of the biggest disadvantages of sandy soils is that they don’t support most types of plants due to their composition. The particles in the sand are not tightly stuck together, which makes it infertile. Most of the desert plants grow in the sand because they don’t need that much water.

However, those little spaces between the sand particles let these plants expand their roots, and because plants like Cacti do not require much water or moisture, Cacti plants grow in the sand.

2. Lack of Nutrients:

No matter how many times someone says that sandy soil is good, they cannot deny the fact that sandy soils have way fewer nutrients than clay soils. That is also a negative point. But what nutrients in particular?

Because the sand has less support, it cannot keep or hold nitrogen in it. That’s why nitrogen can easily slip away from the sand, causing denitrification. Sandy soils also have lack of sulfur, potassium, and some other essential minerals.

3. Lack of Water:

Yet another con of the sand is its inability to retain water. Again the relatively larger spaces between the sand particles are the culprits here. Water quickly slips off the sand because of its composition, once again. Sand is mainly comprised of crystal particles.

In general, no particle of the sandy soils supports the retention of water; thus, it becomes less beneficial for hydrophilic plants. Because of that, someone using sand for gardening will have water it more often than clay soils. Lack of water in sandy soils dry them rapidly in the summer seasons.

4. Insect Infestation in the Sand:

Many insects live in the sand, like sand mites, beach hoppers, blood worms, horse flies, and some others. These insects’ bites are pretty harmful, even for humans. It has been concluded that sand flies feed on plants, which makes it difficult for plants to grow in sandy soils.

The pests are not only found in sandy soils, however, but we are talking about the sand here. Pests eat the stems, leaves, and other parts of plants to survive. If you are planning on planting in sandy soils, be ready to deal with these sand mites.

Can Plants Grow in the Beach Sand?

The reason that the beach sand is being separately discussed is that plants grow in the sand, but that sand is mostly the desert one. The beach sand has a higher quantity of salt because of the ocean; that is why only a handful of plants grow in the beach sand.

Beach sand is not considered to be an ideal place for plants to grow due to its lack of basic minerals, and it does not support water retention.

But Yes, plants like American Beachgrass, Beach Bur, Beach Saltbush, Pampas Grass, and some others grow in beach sands. Because they are designed to endure a lack of basic necessities. Otherwise, it is better to use desert sand for planting and vegetation of some certain plants.

Can Sandy Soil Sustain Plant Growth?

Only those plants that need relatively less water or, in other words, are hydrophobic grow pretty well in the sand and are sustained in sandy soil. The roots of the hydrophobic plant find a suitable place between the spaces of the sand.

Because of poor water retention ability, plants’ growth is affected by the soil’s rapid drying. The thing about plants is that they need a lot of water to maintain their healthy growth, and when they are deprived of it, then the plants start to die.

If you are using sandy soil, then you will have to plant only those plants that are hydrophobic and don’t need much water. Keep in mind that the sand-specific plants do not provide any beautification to your garden; you can pretty much guess that.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sandy Soils:

We can move on to categorically tell the pros and cons of using sandy soil. Let’s see.


You may have heard that over-watering the plants is as dangerous as under-watering them. That’s because regular clay soils have high water retention capability, and water stays in clay soil for long, comparatively. There is always a doubt of over-watering in clay-soiled plants.

Things are different in sandy soils, as they have pretty poor retention capability, and water doesn’t stay in the sand for long. So, you can easily water them for as long as you want, without the fear of over-watering.

You can easily add needed fertilizers or chemicals in the sand because sands can be easily dug up compared to clay soils due to the sand being lighter and relatively less dense.

Because the sand has large spaces between its particles, it becomes easier for plant roots to expand further into the ground. The sand takes the point here.


The widely known disadvantage of sandy soils is that they don’t possess a lot of minerals and essential nutrients. Moreover, the sand does not retain water, making them unnecessary for many plant species.

You can add all the fertilizing chemicals you want, but not all of them would properly work in the sand, due to its composition. The large spaces among the particles let the nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, and H2O slip away, causing several deficiencies.

It is pretty easy to warm the sandy soils, especially in the summer and spring seasons, due to the lack of moisture. These sudden and unbalanced changes in the soil temperature negatively affect the plants and their healthy growth.


Concluding the whole article in some paragraphs. Yes, many species of plants grow in the sand. They are generally hydrophobic and need fewer essential nutrients. But one thing to consider is that sandy soils need a lot more care than clay soils.

They will need more water, more often, more fertilizers, and extra care. So, you must have basic knowledge regarding sand-specific plants and how you can plant them in your gardens. That’s it for today, folks. Thank you.

Leave a Comment