17 Beautiful Flowers That Thrive in Sandy Soils

Do you have sandy soil in your garden? If so, you may have had a hard time picking the perfect flowers to plant. But fear not, as there are actually quite a few flowers that grow quite well in even less than ideal soil conditions. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares her favorite flowers that can actually thrive in sandy soil.

flowers for sandy soil


If you are a coastal gardener, you know all too well the difficulties of maintaining flowering plants in hot, sandy soil. Sand is not particularly rich in organic materials, the kind that provide nutrients to plants. It also drains very quickly, making it a tough spot for any flowers that need a lot of water. Another downfall of sandy soil is that it erodes quickly, which can be hard on a plant’s root system.

Container or raised bed gardening are good alternatives, but these too can be expensive and limiting in terms of location and space. Amending the soil is an effective way to temporarily support flowering plants. Ultimately though, choosing plants that are drought, heat, and humidity tolerant is the best way to keep your sandy garden beds looking good.

Let’s take a quick minute to discuss amending sandy soil, and then take a look at 17 different types of flowering plants that thrive in sandy soil.

African Daisy

Close-up of blooming African daisies in a sunny garden. The flowers are large, consist of disc inflorescences with ray petals. Flowers of different colors of pink, white and purple. The leaves are lance-shaped and green.
These flowers are both colorful and fast growing.
botanical-name botanical name Osteospernum spp.
plant-type plant type Annual and Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

African Daisies are a striking and varied group of flowering plants in the aster family. They resemble the common daisy, but they are typically much brighter colors, some even look as though they have been painted with metallic paint. These fast growers bloom as soon as 2 months after sprouting.

These daisies prefer full sun and good drainage to support their blooms which open during the day and close at night.

They are hardy perennials in warmer climates and are treated as annual flowers elsewhere. They can be propagated by cutting though, and with their super-fast growth rate, and stunning flower display, they are worth planting in any zone.


Close-up of a blooming Allium in a sunny garden. The plant has tall thin stems at the tops of which spherical loose inflorescences are formed from many tiny star-shaped purple flowers.
Alliums are bulbous herbs with onion-like scent that produce spherical blooms in spring and summer.
botanical-name botanical name Allium
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Part Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Alliums are commonly referred to as ornamental onions. They are flowering bulbous herbs that have a scent like onions or garlic and sprout lovely spherical blooms in spring and summer.

Pollinators love these flowers, but they are mildly toxic to humans depending on the part of the plant ingested, so these onions should be left out of the salad bowl.

Native to North America and Europe, alliums are versatile and sturdy plants that can grow in poor soil. They need good drainage, or they run the risk of root rot, and sandy soil is just the thing for that. They bloom best in full sun, but they are tolerant of part shade conditions.


Close-up of a blooming Alyssum in a sunny garden. The plant produces mound-shaped inflorescences consisting of many tiny white 4-petalled flowers with greenish-yellow centers.
This popular plant will grow well in sandy soil and flowers in the early spring through summer.
botanical-name botanical name Lobularia maritime
plant-type plant type Annual and Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Part Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Alyssum, often called Sweet Alyssum, is one of the easiest plants to grow in sandy soil. This fast-growing plant flowers in spring and early summer, gradually blooming less as the temperature rises. As members of the brassica family, they like a lot of nitrogen, so they will need to be fertilized.

As a low-growing, ground cover plant, Alyssum is sometimes referred to as Carpet Flower. Pollinators love alyssum.

In terms of hardiness, this plant can survive a light frost but should be treated like an annual in cold climates. It does reseed itself, but the seedlings aren’t usually as floriferous as the parent plants.

Bearded Iris

Close-up of a blooming Bearded Iris in a sunny garden. The plant has tall stems covered with long, narrow, sword-shaped leaves. The flowers are large and showy, with three pale blue upright petals known as standards and three drooping petals of intense purple with orange hues known as waterfalls. The waterfalls are adorned with fluffy patches of hair known as "beards".
Irises are hardy plants of Mediterranean origin, that grow well in well-drained soil and full sun.
botanical-name botanical name Iris germanica
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Irises are native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, where they are perfectly happy growing in full sun and well-drained soil. They are not picky about heat and humidity and will come in an array of stunning different colors and color combinations.

These plants are quite tough and tolerant of different weather conditions. They do not like mulch, as mulch locks in moisture which tends to cause rot in their rhizomes.

Bearded Irises are perennial plants that need a good amount of space, as they reproduce and will need to be thinned out from time to time. Giving them space will decrease this need.

Black Eyed Susan

Black Eyed Susan Close-up of blooming Black Eyed Susan flowers against a blurred background of a green garden. The flowers are large, daisy-like, with black button-shaped centers surrounded by long, narrow, bright yellow-orange petals.
Black Eyed Susan is a summer-blooming pollinator favorite that thrives in full sun and can handle neglect.
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia
plant-type plant type Annual, Biennial, and Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

These summer bloomers are pollinator favorites with their brilliant yellow petals and striking black center. These are heavy nectar flowers, so they are perfect for a butterfly garden. Black Eyed Susan is a sturdy plant that thrives in full sun and doesn’t mind a bit of neglect.

Rudbeckias are members of the aster family and are native to eastern North America. Some varieties are annual, some biennial, and some perennial.

They are self-seeding and spread in this way as well as by underground rhizomes. Give these pretty pops of sunshine plenty of space, and they will take it!


Close-up of flowering Milkweed plants in a sunny garden. The plant has tall stems covered with large, green, ovate leaves with a pointed tip and a slightly wavy edge. The flowers are small, five-petalled, cup-shaped, bright orange, collected in large and showy clusters.
This easy-to-grow, flowering perennial serves as larval food for monarch butterflies and doesn’t require fertilizing.
botanical-name botanical name Asclepias
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-10

Milkweed is so easy to grow, it’s typically thought of as a weed, but this flowering perennial brings a lot to the table. Namely, it is the larval food for monarch butterflies. These migrating marvels will stop just about any place they can find this plant and before you know it, you will be seeing them daily.

In my experience, milkweed will grow just about anywhere. It grows exceptionally well on the Gulf Coast of Florida, so much so that the butterflies stop here to fuel up and reproduce before their big trek to Mexico for the winter. Milkweed comes in many different colors and sizes and doesn’t require fertilizing.

Globe Thistle

Close-up of a garden bed with Globe Thistle flowering plant. The plant has unique flower heads and spiny foliage. Thistle flowers are spherical, consisting of many small, densely packed blue inflorescences surrounded by spiky, silvery-blue bracts. The leaves of the Globe Thistle have deep lobes and a characteristic spiky texture.
Globe Thistle is a low-maintenance plant that thrives in full sun and dry weather.
botanical-name botanical name Echinnops
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

This fun, flowering plant is an incredibly low-maintenance plant that needs little to no supplemental water to thrive. In fact, it will spread quickly, so place this one in a large space, or simply deadhead to prevent reseeding. You can only go wrong with this plant if you have clay-heavy or very wet soil.

Globe thistle needs full sun, at least 6 hours per day, and will get leggy if it gets too much shade. Its long tap root is great at seeking out water and shouldn’t be watered unless it is showing signs of stress like wilting foliage.

While it prefers hot, dry weather, globe thistle will do fine in humid climates as long as it is thinned out periodically to allow for proper airflow.

Joe Pye Weed

Close-up of a flowering Joe Pye Weed plant in the garden. This herbaceous perennial has large lush clusters of small, tubular, mauve flowers. The leaves of Joe Pye Weed are large, lanceolate, with a rough texture and serrated edges. They are opposite along the stem.
This is a tall, late-blooming native to North America that thrives in a variety of soil types.
botanical-name botanical name Eutrochium
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Part Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Joe Pye weed is a pretty, late-blooming native to eastern and central North America. If you’re looking for a flowering plant with some impressive height, this one fits the bill. Reaching up to 7” tall, Joe Pye Weed is topped with clusters of pretty, pink flowers that are very attractive to pollinators.

This summer bloomer is not picky at all about soil. It can tolerate a wide range as long as it has good drainage. Joe Pye is a fast grower and blooms in the summer. Flower colors are predominantly pinks and purples.


Close-up of a blooming lavender field. Lavender is a popular and versatile herb with small, tubular flowers arranged in spikes at the ends of long stems. The flowers are bright purple and very fragrant. Lavender leaves are narrow, lanceolate, silvery gray in color.
This low-maintenance plant can be used in a variety of ways, and are often grown for their purple blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Lavandula
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-9

Lavender is such a delightfully versatile plant. Native to Europe, Africa, and Asia, this amazing plant has found its way into all kinds of daily uses. It’s most commonly grown for its amazing scent in the garden.

Lavender is also very low maintenance and has low nutrient needs. Lavender needs plenty of sun and drainage, and while some say it is a challenge to grow, if you find the right spot, it virtually takes care of itself, and is cold-hardy as well!


Close-up of a flowering Liatris plant against a blurred garden background. Liatris flowers are long and narrow, bright purple, collected in a dense spike on top of a tall thin stem. The individual flowers are a deep shade of purple and have a distinctive racemose appearance. Liatris leaves are narrow, grassy, slightly blue-green in color.
This flower has unique tall spikes with small star-shaped blooms in purple, pink, and white.
botanical-name botanical name Liatris spicata
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Liatris is a member of the aster family, with a very unique look. Rather than the usual daisy-like form, liatris have tall flower spikes with lots of small star-shaped blooms on all sides. The pure species is bright purple, but there are variations available in pinks and whites as well.

Liatris has few needs, plenty of sunlight is a must, but in terms of soil, the main requirement is good drainage.

They have low nutrient demands, which makes them great for sandy soils. They are perennials but can take two years to bloom for the first time. Liatris also needs more water in their first year, but after this, they will have very good drought tolerance.


Close-up of a flowering Phlox plant. Phlox is a herbaceous perennial that produces dense clusters of small, star-shaped, pale purple flowers. Flower petals have shallow lobes along the edges. The centers of the flowers are indicated by deep purple markings in the form of a ring.
This low growing ground cover can thrive in poor soil conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Phlox
plant-type plant type Annual and Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-9

Phlox is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated cut flowers around. These pretty plants come in many shapes, sizes, and colors.

Most are pleasingly fragrant, and they are incredibly long-lasting if cut before the blooms open fully. These are a definite yes if you’re in a coastal climate but would like to start a cut flower garden.

There are a variety of different types of phlox, and sun requirements vary amongst them. Tall phlox typically need a lot of sunlight, whereas low-growing phlox are accustomed to partial shade. These will grow well in sandy soil, but I recommend amending the soil for these flowers, for best results.

Russian Sage

Close-up of a flowering Russian Sage plant in a sunny garden. The plant has small, tubular pale purple flowers, collected in dense inflorescences at the top of the stem. The leaves of Russian sage are narrow and finely divided, silvery gray in color and slightly hairy or velvety in texture.
Russian sage is a large perennial with purple flower spikes, that need lots of sun and is drought-tolerant after the first year.
botanical-name botanical name Petrovska atriplicifolia
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

While not a true sage, Russian sage is a striking perennial plant that grows quite large, with impressive displays of heather purple flower spikes. This plant needs some extra TLC when it comes to water, but only for the first year. Once it is established, Russian sage is very drought tolerant.

Russian sage is not a shade plant. There is no negotiating on the sun exposure here, this plant needs to get lots of light or it will look droopy and sad.

Some varieties can grow to 5’ tall, making these a great foundation plant for a garden bed. It can grow quite large, so keep a lookout for offshoots and give them a tug if you want to keep Russian sage more manageable.


Close-up of blooming Salvia in the garden. Sage flowers are tubular in shape with two purple-blue lips. The flowers are arranged in whorls along the stem. The leaves are simple, oblong, wide with narrowed and pointed tips. The leaves have a slightly fluffy or hairy texture.
This and diverse genus will bloom in purple and red, attracting hummingbirds.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Salvia is a widespread and much-varied genus. The flower colors are typically in the purple and red families making them very appealing to hummingbirds. Salvia will take a year of pampering to get it established and then you won’t be able to get rid of it, so make sure you have ample space that you want to fill.

Salvia is commonly called sage, although it is not a true sage. It can flower from spring through fall and flowers prolifically once established. It is very sturdy and drought-tolerant once established.


Close-up of a flowering Sedum plant in the garden. The plant is a succulent plant with small, pink, star-shaped flowers in large, flat, terminal inflorescences. Stonecrop leaves are thick and fleshy, round, oblong with slightly serrated edges.
Sedum is a low-maintenance, flowering succulent that thrives in sandy soil with little moisture.
botanical-name botanical name Sedum
plant-type plant type Perennial Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

This flowering succulent is perfect for sandy soil. Also called Stonecrop, Sedum is a low-maintenance plant that grows very happily in sandy soil.

Succulents, like cacti, thrive in very low moisture environments. If these plants get a thorough watering every week or so, they will be absolutely content growing in sandy and rocky soil.

There are low-growing and tall varieties of sedum. The taller varieties tend to bloom more, with large heads of small red or pink flowers. Some varieties have yellow flowers as well. Sedum is exceptionally easy to propagate. Cuttings can be taken and placed directly into moist soil, and roots will grow in a matter of weeks.


Top view, close-up of a flowering Speedwell plant in the garden. This herbaceous perennial plant produces small, tubular flowers with four blue petals and white eyes. The leaves of Speedwell are green, small, oval in shape with serrated edges.
Veronicas or Speedwells are drought tolerant and can thrive in poor soil conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Veronica
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Part Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

These European natives go by the name Speedwells or Veronicas. With over 500 species, this is a far-reaching genus of plants, and they are exceptionally tolerant of poor soil conditions, as well as being quite drought tolerant.

Low-growing species make lovely ground covers and borders, while taller species make wonderful cut flowers. The taller the plant, the later in the season it will bloom. Pollinators love the tall flower spikes that Veronica produces, and these plants are long-lived, so they don’t have to be planted regularly.


Close-up of a flowering Tickseed plant against a blurred green background. This perennial produces beautiful daisy-like flowers with a central disc surrounded by brightly colored yellow petals.
Coreopsis is a low-maintenance plant that blooms for long periods.
botanical-name botanical name Coreopsis
plant-type plant type Annual and Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

Tickseed packs a punch, with very little work by the gardener. These pretty plants produce a ton of flowers, and have a long blooming season, with flowers showing up in early summer and lasting through the fall. Deadheading will make Coreopsis produce more flowers, but there are so many that it can be a chore to do!

Coreopsis will draw butterflies and bees with its plentiful nectar, and birds love the seeds they produce. Most varieties flower in red, orange, and yellow, with some being bicolor.

There is one pink species as well. Some species are annual, and some are perennial. Some species are also native to the United States.


Close-up of a flowering Yarrow plant in a garden, against a blurred green background. The plant consists of tall stems with alternate, finely divided leaves resembling the shape of a fern. Tiny white flowers are collected in flattened racemes on the tops of tall, erect stems.
Yarrow comes in a variety of colors and is low-maintenance and attractive to pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Achillea millefolium
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Part Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

As a child, I was only familiar with the golden yarrow that grew on the hill behind my family home. My mother would take us for walks when the yarrow was in bloom to gather and dry it. Later in life, I discovered red yarrow and grew a new appreciation for these prolific blooming beauties.

Yarrow comes in pink, yellow, white, red, and fuchsia, in addition to a handful of bicolor varieties. It is native to North America and basically raises itself.

If you decide to grow yarrow, expect to have 3 new yarrow plants next seasons as these plants love to reproduce. Pollinators will love them, and they need next to no care to perform.

Final Thoughts

It is perfectly possible to have a thriving and colorful flower garden in a coastal region or any other environment with sandy soil. There are so many choices, each of these genera of plants has numerous species and even more varieties to choose from.

The possibilities are virtually endless. Don’t despair if you have struggled to find the right combination of plants for your sandy soil, just carry this list with you to the nursery and all will be blooming soon!

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