Can succulents grow in sand? Do they need soil to grow? Can they survive in terrariums filled with just sand? Find out!
Succulents are one of the most forgiving plants when it comes to growing conditions. Their ability to store water in their leaves and stems makes them one of the best drought-tolerant plants.
Can Succulents Grow in Sand?
We see these beautiful arrangements very often. Succulents in terrariums filled with nothing but sand. The more colorful the sand, the better. And they truly are beautiful and stunning to look at.
But will they thrive? Not for long, unfortunately.
If you wish to plant succulents in sand, think of it as short-term, fun projects which are not meant to last for a very long time.
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Why Can Succulents Grow in Sand?
Succulents’ natural habitat in the wild are often environments that would often be uninhabited by other plants. Most succulents come from dry areas like deserts and semi-deserts. Some originate from mountains and others, rain forests. These plants are extremely hardy and adaptable that they are able to survive conditions that are normally too harsh for other plants, such as high temperatures and low humidity.
Due to their harsh natural habitats, succulents are made more adaptable to less-than-ideal conditions. This is why succulents are able to survive in the sand for a longer period of time compared to most plants which may not even last a couple of days.
Another determining characteristic of succulents that enable them to survive without soil is their ability to store water. Succulents typically store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. They can adapt to very dry conditions. They do not require frequent watering and can survive without a moist soil.
Besides, unlike most other houseplants, succulents can survive without a highly organic medium. This means that they do not require soil that is rich in nutrients. However, in order to thrive, they do require a certain amount of organic matter in their growing medium.
Therefore, although succulents can survive in soil-less medium such as sand, it is not an ideal condition in which they can thrive. So while succulents planted in these terrarium look stunning, they are not meant to last for a long time.
Things to Consider When Growing Succulents in Sand
Although I mentioned that succulents can survive in sand, it only holds true for coarse sand. Succulents grown in fine sand will not survive well at all. Fine sand retains too much water, making it compact and the succulents’ roots unable to breathe. As an alternative, you can also get the best soil for succulents in pots, if you plan on doing any repotting.
Succulents grown in sand will not be getting enough nutrients as succulents grown in soil. Therefore, consider fertilizing the plants by adding diluted fertilizer (about ¼ to ½ strength) into the water you will use to water the plants. This way, you are providing the succulents some nutrients they need to grow.
A Good Alternative to Growing Succulents in Sand
A good alternative to growing succulents in sand is using a soil and sand mix. The large particles of sand allows water to pass through them, providing proper drainage, while the soil provides nutrients to the plants to grow.
You can use the following soil recipe:
- 3 parts succulent soil (eg. Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix)
- 2 parts coarse sand (Buy here from Amazon)
- 1 part perlite (eg. Espoma PR8 8-Quart Organic Perlite)
Blend the mixture thoroughly and you will have the perfect soil mix ready for your succulents.
Which Succulents Do Well in Sand?
Corpuscularia lehmannii “Ice Plant”: It is a drought-tolerant succulent with blue-green leaves and daisy-like flowers. Despite its name, it is not a cold hardy succulent.
Euphorbia milii “Crown of Thorns”: It is one of the few succulents with real leaves – thick, fleshy, and tear-shaped. It can survive in sandy soil.
Agave americana “Century Plant”: This succulent has large fleshy leaves and adapts well in any type of soil.
Aloe ferox “Bitter aloe”: Also known as Cape aloe, it is one of the best aloe varieties that can grow in sandy soil.
Senecio serpens “Blue Chalksticks”: In the wild, it is typically found growing from crevices in rocky sandstone slopes.