Sandy soil challenges flowering plants with its poor water and nutrient retention, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Coarse sand particles don't hold their shape under pressure, so there is nothing to prevent moisture and nutrients from draining through them. One solution is to amend your sandy soil with sphagnum peat so that it holds water. Another is to take advantage of some of the flowering plants that thrive in sand.
Eastern Red Columbine
Eastern red columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis), a sand- and shade-loving perennial, grows wild throughout the United States east of the Rockies. Found primarily in shady woods, it stands up to 2 feet high with spreading branches and airy, lobed blue-green foliage. Between February and July, delicate stems rise above its mounding foliage. Each produces a single, upwardly curving, spurred red and yellow blossom. Yellow stamens extending from petals add to the flower's beauty. Hummingbirds flock to this plant.
Give eastern red columbine a partly shady to shady location with alkaline (pH above 7.2), well-drained sandy soil. In proper conditions, it will survive for years. Plants are evergreen, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where temperatures remain between minus 10 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Elsewhere, they go dormant. Leaves disappear and return when the temperatures moderate.
Shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) is a primrose family perennial native to open woods and prairies from New York south to Florida and west to Texas. It has flowers atop 6- to 20-inch stems rising above its green clumps of basal leaves. The white to dark pink blooms appear during May and June in flat clusters, with petals curving upward to create a star-like appearance. Plant shooting star, advises the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, in partial shade. It prefers moist, light sandy soil with a pH below 6.8.
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a night-blooming, upright 2- to 6-foot biennial (blooms the second year after planting). For mid-summer to early fall, its branching stems rise above a basal rosette of green leaves. They have 2-inch, bright yellow flowers that open at night and close by the following midday. The hummingbird-attracting blooms have a lemony fragrance, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The plants' seeds are a food source for several other bird species. Small mammals eat its roots. Evening primrose grows wild in open woods, disturbed soils and on dry plains and lake shores across much of the United States. Plant it in full sun to shade and dry, sandy or rocky soil.