There’s an old wives tale that says using Epsom salts for plants in the garden can help roses grow bigger, Tomato more bountiful and plants will be bushier with more flowers and produce more fruit. But is it just a myth? Will using Epsom salts for plants really give you the garden of your dreams?
Table of contents
- Epsom Salts for Plants
- What’s the difference between Epsom salt and table salt?
- How to Use Epsom Salt as Fertilizer
- Will Epsom Salt Hurt Your Plants?
- Is Epsom Salt Good for Garden Pests?
- What plants can you put Epsom salt on?
- How to Make Foliar Spray with Epsom Salts for Plants
Epsom Salts for Plants
The benefits for using Epsom salts for plants in the garden are numerous. Epsom salt is cheap, easily procured and simple to use. Using Epsom salt in the garden can help seeds germinate, make plants grow bushier, produce more flowers, increases chlorophyll production and deters pests, such as slugs and voles.
What’s the difference between Epsom salt and table salt?
Epsom Salt is different from table salt. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate while regular table salt is sodium chloride.
Epsom salt is named for the English town in which it was discovered, where it bubbled up in water from an underground spring in the early 17th century and has been used ever since for everything from spa treatments for sore muscles to laxatives.
Table salt is not good to use in the garden. In fact, it can kill your plants, but Epsom salt, has an entirely different reputation in the gardening community.
Learn how to kill weeds permanently with vinegar, salt and dawn dish soap here.
How to Use Epsom Salt as Fertilizer
Gardeners can proactively mix Epsom salt with fertilizer and add it to their soil monthly, or they can mix one tablespoon with a gallon of water and spray their plants with it every weeks.
Plants need their vitamin and minerals just like humans do. They require nutrients to grow and flourish. Magnesium and sulfur are two trace minerals required by plants to survive and thrive.
Magnesium allows plants to better take in valuable nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus.
The idea is that since plants need these nutrients to live, using Epsom salts for plants is a way to help your garden flourish.
How do you know if your plants need magnesium and sulfate?
Plants will show visual cues if they are starved for a particular nutrient. If a plant’s leaves turn yellow all over the plant, it can be a sign they need more sulfate.
If lower leaves turn yellow between the veins (that is the veins stay green), they may need more magnesium.
Some nutrient disorders can look alike so you may want to have your soil tested to find out if it is lacking any nutrients.
If you really want to test things out, try growing two identical plants: one with Epsom salt fertilizer and one without and see if there is any improvement.
Will Epsom Salt Hurt Your Plants?
In general Epsom salt is good for the garden and most plants. However, do not prepare soil where you grow sage. This herb is one of the few plants that doesn’t like Epsom salt.
Beans, peas, lettuce, and spinach produce good yields in soil with a low magnesium level so don't supplement these veggies with Epsom salt either.
Can too much Epsom salt hurt plants?
Although magnesium and sulfur occur naturally in soil, they can be depleted by various conditions, including heavy agricultural use. But unlike most commercial fertilizers, which build up in the soil over time, Epsom Salt is not persistent so you can’t overuse it.
Will scented epsom salt hurt plants?
Scented or colored Epsom salt crystals mixed fully into soil can burn the plant's roots and cause damage to the plant. Check the label to ensure that the Epsom salt crystals you purchase are not scented and do not contain any extra ingredients. For ingredients, only Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate, should be listed.
Is Epsom Salt Good for Garden Pests?
While Epsom salt won't dehydrate slugs and snails like table salt, it can still be used to deter pests. Hydrated magnesium sulfate crystals are sharp and when sprinkled around plants, they can scratch and irritate the bodies and feet of unwanted critters in much the same way as diatomaceous earth.
Learn how to use diatomaceous Earth to deter pests here
What plants can you put Epsom salt on?
Can you use Epsom Salts for house plants?
Yes! Feed house plants monthly by adding 2 tablespoons Epsom salt per gallon of water.
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How do you use Epsom salts for citrus trees?
Dissolve 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts in 2 gallons of water, or use 1.5 teaspoons in 1 gallon of water. Pour on the soil around the tree and out to the dripline, or all over the soil of container-grown trees.
How much Epsom salt do you put on tomato plants?
Tomatoes can benefit from Epsom salt every two weeks.
- Apply 1 tablespoon diluted in one gallon of water per foot of plant height per plant.
- Use one tablespoon per gallon of water if you apply Epsom salt spray more often than once a month.
- Begin foliar spraying when blooms first appear. Side dressing during season. Work one tablespoon of Epsom salt per foot of plant height around the base of each plant
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Is Epsom salt good for roses
Epsom salts are great for roses and will help give them big, colorful, healthy blooms.
- Soak un-planted bushes in ½ cup of Epsom salt per gallon of water to help roots recover. Then add a tablespoon of Epsom salt to each hole at planting time.
- To encourage flowering canes and healthy new basal cane growth, work a ½ cup of Epsom salt into soil at the plant base. Add 1 tablespoon diluted in a gallon of water per foot of plant height every two weeks.
- Spray roses with Epsom salt solution weekly (1 tablespoon per gallon of water) to help discourage pests (see also 'Silverfish In Bathroom').
Epsom Salts for Lawns, Trees & Shrubs
- For lawns, use 3 pounds of Epsom salt for every 1,250 square feet. Apply with a spreader or dilute the Epsom salt in water and use a sprayer.
- Trees absorb Epsom Salt best over the root zone. Use 2 tablespoons per 9 square feet by diluting in water. Apply 3 times each year (spring, summer and fall).
- For shrubs like evergreens, azaleas, or rhododendrons, apply 1 tablespoon per 9 square feet over the root zone by diluting in water. Apply every 2 to 4 weeks.
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How to Make Foliar Spray with Epsom Salts for Plants
In addition to watering plants at the roots with Epsom salts dissolved into the water, Epsom salts can also be applied to the plants flowers, leaves and fruits via a spray bottle. Plants absorb the nutrients readily when they are applied topically to to foliage as a spray. Check out the tutorial below to make your own Epsom salt plant spray.
How to make Epsom salt Foliar Spray
Make Epsom salt spray to apply to the leaves and flowers of your plants.
- 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts
- 1 Gallon of water
- Spray bottle
- Mix 1 teaspoon of Epsom Salts with 1 gallon of water
- Spray on to leaves, flowers and growing fruits and veggies once every week.
Have you noticed a difference when using Epsom salts for plants in your garden? Let me know about it in the comments.