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Perennials for Sandy soil

Posted by minnesotabackyard Zone 3 NW Wisconsin (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 25, 12 at 14:02

I am new to this forum, but I hope you can help me. Our cabin in northwest Wisconsin has sandy soil so I'd like to find perennials that will survive in our yard. Deer resistance would also be helpful. We also have a hill that desperately needs plants that will help stop erosion.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

Hi, welcome! I've been gardening in silty-sandy soil for a few years and I've found that dianthus of all types like it very much. Hostas and sedums also do well. I'll try to think of some others. As for your erosion, Virginia Creeper likes my soil and would stabilize a bank. I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for. In very sandy soils it seems it can run amok. You might check with your local Ag Extension for what they recommend in your area.


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

Thanks so much for your reply. My bank is very sunny. I'd like whatever I plant to take over, so if Virginia Creeper is a good ground cover, that would be perfect. I'll try that this spring.

I have lots of hosta varieties at home in Minnesota and have transplanted several at the cabin. I love them, but so do the deer. I'll try the sedum and dianthus.

Again, thanks!


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

Sorry I forgot about deer and hostas, I don't get deer. Other recommendations would be poppies (oriental, Icelandic, or annual), columbines, monkshood, delphiniums and peonies. They all do well in light soil and aren't bothered by deer.

I know I already recommended it but I'd be cautious using Virginia Creeper in a natural habitat. Birds eat the berries and spread them around. There is a long-developed cabin/resort area near here with pure sand soils and the trees and everything have become smothered with escaped Virginia Creeper. I have never witnessed this anywhere else but it's worth keeping in mind.


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

Thanks again. This is really helpful!


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 25, 12 at 22:53

Lavender would thrive in sunny, sandy soil and I'm pretty sure deer would not find it appetizing. The Munstead variety has proven most hardy for me.

For a sunny bank, Veronica spicata incana (silver speedwell, wooly speedwell) is a low growing gray leaved plant with blue flower spikes that is drought tolerant and really knits itself to the soil, at least it did for me. I had a heck of a time digging up a large mass planting of it. Tough stuff but not otherwise invasive.

Another silver leaved plant that I can't imagine deer would like is Artemesia stellerana Silver Brocade would also be great for stabilizing a bank. It looks like dusty miller but each plant grows to about 4' and is perennial - it was very reliably hardy for me.


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

More great ideas. Thanks!


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

Sandy soil? I'd start with blue berries and if there was the space I'd set up a wind break of chestnut trees. Run the second row with korean pine for the pinyon seed. You'll have to monitor your ph level with the blueberries but as long as it is sandy you'll be ok. If it was my space I'd plant the pine between the blueberry and the chestnut.


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

... Chestnut trees? Is there a variety in NA that survives blight yet?


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

Also look into Lathyrus japonicus ssp. maritimus (beach pea). Some of the sandy shores of Lake Winnipeg have a lot of beach pea that holds the sand together. It stabilizes sand, looks good, and is hardy. You can get seeds at Gardens North.


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

I'm certainly not aware of blight-resistant American Chestnut cultivars, but they'll keep sending up new shoots after the main stems are girdled. They're pretty hardy, too: mine's holding its own here in northern Alberta.

I'd recommend a clump of Staghorn sumach for the hill. They're lovely bushes/trees, and much underrated for landscaping.


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RE: Perennials for Sandy soil

Give the fellows at Oikos a call. You may be surprised as to what is possible. I know there has been more research at Rhora's but that isn't very close to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oikos Tree Crops


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