What Kind of Sand to Use for Carnivorous Plants?

Carnivorous plant soil can be made up of different ingredients. A common ingredient is sand, but not any sand. You must choose the right kind to avoid killing your plants.

Silica sand or pool filter sand is commonly used in carnivorous plant soil. The sand helps with aeration and drainage by breaking up the soil. The type of sand employed must be pure and free of minerals and fertilizers.

Once you have the ingredients, making carnivorous plant soil is very easy. In this article, I will guide you through the process of selecting the sand and associated ingredients to make carnivorous plant soil.

What Sand to Use for Carnivorous Plants?

Carnivorous plants grow in very particular conditions. In the natural habitat, they grow in very poor solution with little to no nutrients. As a result, carnivorous plants have developed an intolerance to minerals and fertilizers.

When selecting sand for carnivorous plants, make sure the sand does not contain minerals, and it has not been enriched. Silica sand and pool filter sand are appropriate choices. Do not use play sand and beach sand.

You can buy silica sand for gardening in most nurseries. Just make sure to double-check the sand is pure and it hasn’t been enriched.

In terms of sizing, select medium-coarse to coarse sand for carnivorous plant soil. Avoid fine sand, as it is less effective at providing drainage and aeration benefits. Also, it can lead to soil compression.

Online shops also sell sand for carnivorous plant soil. I have bought ingredients to make the soil in Amazon and online carnivorous plant nurseries like these:

How Much Sand Is Needed for Carnivorous Plant Soil

The amount of sand you need will be related to how much soil you plant to prepare.

The ratio between the peat moss or long-fibered sphagnum moss and sand is not critical. Most carnivorous plant soil contains more moss than sand.

It is recommended that at least 20% of the carnivorous plant soil is made up of sand, and the rest is moss. You can go as far as mixing the ingredients at a 1:1 ratio, 50% of the soil will be sand, and the other 50% is moss.

The extra sand percentage can benefit the plant by providing added drainage and aeration. A mixture of 20% sand is enough to provide the same benefits at a similar rate.

If you need to make 4 cups of soil at a 1:1 ratio, you will need 2 cups of sand. Assess how much soil you need to prepare and then buy the ingredients. Also, remember that the ratios are not critical; you do not need to measure the ingredients perfectly. An estimate is completely acceptable.

How to Make Carnivorous Plant Soil With Sand

Making carnivorous plant soil is not difficult. Most of the ingredients can be found in plant nurseries, and the prep is straightforward.

Carnivorous plant soil is composed of a mixture of moss such as long-fibered sphagnum moss or peat moss with sand or perlite. To be suitable for carnivorous plants, all of the soil’s ingredients must be free of minerals and fertilizer.

To make carnivorous plant soil, you will need at least 2 ingredients. It is possible to grow carnivorous plants in pure moss, but a mixture is recommended. Pure moss potting media retain water and provide a suitable humid environment for the plants. But, pure moss does not provide enough drainage.

Silica sand, as well as perlite, act as a draining agent. Personally, I have not noticed much of a difference between employing sand or perlite. Both get the job done; none is superior to the other. As long as you employ one of them, the soil will be top-notch. If you do employ perlite, make sure the perlite is pure and not enriched.

The previous section guided you through the process of selecting the appropriate sand for carnivorous plants. So, here are the instructions to prepare the soil with sand and moss:

  1. Some people recommend rinsing the sand and the moss before mixing. You can rinse it with distilled water, rainwater, or reverse osmosis water.
  2. Remove any impurities from the moss. Peat moss tends to come with twigs and debris.
  3. Add the rinsed sand and moss to a large mixing container.
  4. Combine both ingredients until the moisture is uniform.
  5. Moisten the mixture until the soil is humid all around but not soaked. Only employ pure water sources: distilled water, rainwater, or reverse osmosis water.
  6. The soil is ready for potting carnivorous plants.

In this article, I have not covered the details of how to pot or repot carnivorous plants. If you want to learn about the process. This article contains all you need to know about the potting process for Venus flytraps. The information is also applicable to other carnivorous plants but tailored to Venus flytraps.

Carnivorous Plant Soil Mix Recipes

If you browse online for carnivorous plant soil, you will find a wide variety of options. Each vendor offers similar options, but each usually features a specific ratio and combination.

The most important step in making carnivorous plant soil is buying the right ingredients. After, mixing the ingredients is not as critical, but having recipes can come in handy. Here are some recipes you can use:

  • 4:1 or 3:1 or 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of peat moss and silica sand
  • 4:1 or 3:1 or 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of sphagnum moss and silica sand
  • 4:1 or 3:1 or 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of sphagnum moss and perlite
  • 4:1 or 3:1 or 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of peat moss and perlite

The first two recipes include silica sand, and the others include perlite. You might have noticed the wide range of ratios for each. Any of those ratios are appropriate.

If you want to make a 4:1 peat moss and silica sand mixture, then combine 4 parts of peat with 1 part of sand. When making a few cups of soil, you can count 4 cups of peat, 1 cup of sand.

Why Is Sand Important in Carnivorous Plant Soil?

Not everyone employs sand to make carnivorous plant soil. Some employ perlite, and others opt to skip on the sand and perlite altogether.

Growing carnivorous plants in pure moss is an acceptable practice, but it can be a challenge. Due to the lack of drainage and aeration, this practice can cause many related issues such as:

  • Mold
  • Root rot
  • Algae

White fuzzy mold and algae are not usually harmful; your plant can coexist with those elements. Root rot, on the other hand, can be life-threatening for your plant. If you suspect your plant might be sick, this article will guide you through the process of saving a plant suffering from root rot.

Sand (or perlite) are crucial elements in carnivorous plant soil. They provide many benefits:

  • Prevent soil compression: The sand breaks up the soil and prevents extreme compression. You can repot once the soil is compressed, but it is best to avoid changing your plant’s environment. The sand will preserve the ground for longer periods.
  • Avoid standing water: Carnivorous plants need humid environments to thrive, but they do not like to sit in standing water for long periods of time. Sand helps water flow and never stand at the root level.
  • High aeration levels: Carnivorous plants benefit greatly from aeration in the ground.
  • Promote growth: Since sand helps loosen up the soil, the ground can promote growth. Without sand, the soil gets compressed easily and prevents the roots of the plants from growing.

You can choose between many options when making carnivorous plant soil; it is your decision, after all. To beginners, I always recommend employing moss and a drainage element, either sand or perlite. Adding that extra element help increase the chances of success at growing carnivorous plants.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article helped you clear any doubts about choosing sand and other soil elements for your carnivorous plant. If you can keep carnivorous plants healthy, growing them is a gratifying and fun experience. But, since carnivorous plants have precise requirements, caring for them is a challenge.

This article can guide you through the process of growing carnivorous plants: Carnivorous Plant Care Guide (From Beginners to Advanced). It contains very beginner information for someone just getting started, and it gets into the details for more advanced growers.


My name is Nelly, and I am the owner of Venus Flytrap World. Growing carnivorous plants is a unique and rewarding experience. A few years ago, I started growing Venus flytraps and experimenting with other carnivorous plant species. I have done tons of research to perfect my setup and care practices. In this site, I share everything I have learned.

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