Many plants are adapted to an eroded landscape with a large proportion of virgin soil. Open and disturbed soils are today almost only restricted to agricultural fields with high loads of fertilizers. We conducted a pot experiment in order to investigate growth and nutritional constraints of one calcicole species, Anisantha (syn. Bromus) tectorum, and one calcifuge species, Rumex acetosella, in decalcified topsoil and recently exposed calcareous subsoil from a field experiment in sandy grassland. In the pot experiment we implemented one treatment where we limed topsoil with CaCO3 to the same amount as in subsoil. The subsoil had approximately 10% CaCO3 and both species grew less in this soil compared to the topsoil, which had less than 1% CaCO3. Germination rate of A. tectorum was higher in subsoil than in topsoil or limed topsoil. P fertilization of the limed topsoil counteracted the negative liming effect for A. tectorum, but only partly so for R. acetosella. P fertilization of subsoil increased the shoot biomass of A. tectorum, but not of R. acetosella. P concentration in plants was not reduced when growing on subsoil or limed topsoil compared to topsoil. The results show that lime addition may reduce the P availability also to calcicole species such as A. tectorum and we found indications for that Ca toxicity may be a causing factor for the calcifuge behavior of R. acetosella. The significance of the results for conservation management practices in sandy grasslands is discussed. (C) 2010 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.