Plants that grow on sand – without fertilizer, without watering

A Swedish gardener has developed a revolutionary system in which the plants are put in sand – without fertilizer and without watering. Peter Korn is the star among Swedish perennial gardeners. His show garden a few kilometers outside of Gothenburg is an example of how revolutionary discoveries are always made in horticulture. He has created a rock garden here on several thousand square meters, in which the plants are planted exclusively in sand. The system seems to work perfectly, because the garden is magnificent and the plants are so healthy and strong in the beds that you can be envious. And: there is no water here and there are no major problems with weeds.

Here are the seven tricks of the Swedish “sand gardener”:

  • Remove humus
    The principle of this gardener is that the plants seek water and nutrients. Therefore, the top layer of humus is removed over a large area (not just for a planting hole, otherwise there is the flower vase effect). Loosen the soil underneath.
  • Apply 30 cm of sand
    Not just any sand can be used, but one with a grain size of 0 to 0.8 mm. But the most important thing: the fine parts must not stick together. So you mustn’t be able to make a cake with it.
  • Wash out the plant roots
    For traditional gardeners, this is the biggest surprise: the plants that are placed in the sand bed are taken out of the pot, the soil is shaken out and then the roots are washed out. So the roots connect quickly with the substrate.
  • Share sticks
    The smaller the parts of the plant, the faster they grow. A sage (e.g. Salvia nemorosa) that is in full bloom is divided into six to eight parts. Even individual branches with only a few roots will grow. Peter Korn: “They hang their heads for a few weeks, but then they grow!”
  • Pour once
    It is only poured at the beginning, so the roots are slurried and now the plant is left to itself for the next time. Peter Korn’s garden is located in an area with around 1400 mm of annual precipitation. The sand holds moisture for weeks. The top layer dries out quickly, so there are practically no weeds.
  • Remove all plant remains in autumn
    The most important measure for grain is to remove any parts of the plant and any leaves so that no humus layer forms. He uses a leaf blower for this. If this were not done, these humus parts would act like a wick and let the bed dry out quickly.
  • Remove the top layer after 7 years
    Moss and lichen, but also dust and pollen, form a two to three centimeter thick layer over the years. It acts like humus and sucks the water out of the ground. Therefore, this dirty sand is removed and reapplied. In this way, the top layer dries off again and weed seeds that have flown in have no chance of germinating in the dry sand.

Interview with Peter Korn

Which plants can be “put on sand”?

Peter Korn: “When you think of this system, everyone thinks of rock garden plants and alpine perennials. They grow particularly well in the sand. “

But you can also see peonies – also planted in sand?

Peter Korn: Yes – they thrive without a problem and they are particularly compact and healthy in the bed, just like lupins, bluebells or the particularly powerful growing mullein.

But you can’t plant trees like that?

Peter Korn: Yes! I also planted magnolias here, which also grow fantastic and bloom wonderfully!

Are there any experiences with vegetables?

Peter Korn: Yes – All root vegetables (carrots, celery, parsnips, etc.) grow very well, but salads that form a lot of green mass have to be provided with fertilizer.

Did you like this article? Let me know your opinion in the comments. Or do you also have a bed of sand and can you give other good tips?

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