Epsom salts have been known for a long time as a relaxing additive to foot soaks and baths but Is Epsom salt good for plants? In fact there are many reasons to use Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) in the garden!
It contains magnesium one of what vegetable garden growers call the “major minor” elements.
Here are a few of the reasons to use Epsom salt for plants:
It helps speed up plant growth
Increase a plants nutrient uptake.
Deter pests
Increase flavour of fruit and veggies
Increase the output of vegetation
Improve overall plant health.
Read on to discover “other” ways to use Epsom salts in your garden.
Before we look at the big three plants most gardeners use Epsom Salt on with wonderful results: Tomatoes, Capsicums/chillies and Roses, let’s look at some general application practices and rates you can use with many plants.
Applying Epsom Salt
Below you’ll find basic general methods and rates to apply an Epsom salt solution to plants and soil. NOTE: It is always advisable to have a soil test done before applying any nutrients to soil.
Soil Incorporation – Broadcast 1 cup per 9 square metres, mix well into soil before planting.
At Planting Time – When planting seedlings or new plants, dig a hole and place about 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt in the bottom of hole and cover with a thin layer of dirt, place the plant in the hole and finish planting.
Pre-Planting Soak – Prior to planting, soak root balls in 1/2 cup of Epsom salt diluted in one gallon of water.1 GALLON = 3.7 LITRES
Top Dressing – During the growing season, sprinkle about a 1 tablespoon directly around the base of the plant and water it in.
Applying in Liquid Form or Drenching – Drenching plants with Epsom salt improves the overall health of the plant by providing a good dose of magnesium. If your plants are needing a boost, dissolve about one to two tablespoons of Epsom salt in a gallon of water. Pour at the base of the plant and allow the water-salt solution to soak into the ground. Repeat throughout the season as necessary.
Epsom Salt For Tomatoes
A healthy growing tomato plant uses up lots of magnesium in the growing/production process. Maintaining the magnesium at the right levels can be accomplished with regular applications of Epsom salt. The results… more blooms, less blossom-end rot, more fruit, stronger plants, deeper green colour, along with taster, sweeter tomatoes.
Sweeter Tomatoes – Plants lacking the proper levels of magnesium may also lack sweetness which makes Epsom salt a good, cheap source of magnesium for plants. It is easily and quickly absorbed into the plant. Use the liquid application below…
Planting Tomato Seedlings – When planting new plant, dig a hole and place about 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt in the bottom of hole and cover with a thin layer of dirt, then plant the tomato seedling in the hole.
Liquid Applications – Every two weeks mix 1 tablespoon in a gallon of water and water the plants with the solution. Mixing with warm water can help dissolve the Epsom salt easier.
By following the above “recipe” many gardeners report excellent results and good sized, tasty fruit. Try It!
Note: Epsom salt is not a cure for blossom end rot which some people recommend to solve the problem. Calcium is usually associated with blossom-end rot and not a magnesium shortage.
Capsicums and Chillis Love Epsom Salt!
These are much like tomatoes… they are traditionally magnesium deficient.
Applying Epson Salt to peppers is very beneficial, to their growth, aids in germination, produce greater yields, improved beauty and strength of the peppers.
Peppers need sufficient magnesium levels for robust growth. While growing, soils are depleted of magnesium, adding Epsom salt help restore these much needed minerals, helping plants take in more nutrients and build stronger cell walls.
Follow Tomato Recommendations – Follow the same application rates and recommendations for tomatoes, when planting and weekly maintenance.
Epson Salt For Roses
Rose enthusiast cheer the results Epsom salts deliver to their roses. More vibrant blooms, richer colour, darker green foliage and stronger plants.
Regular applications increases magnesium levels in leaves which is vital for chlorophyll production process and seed germination. It also helps strengthen cell walls and improves the plants’ inflow of sulphur, nitrogen, and phosphorus.
Planting Roses – When planting roses, soak the roots in 1/2 cup of Epsom salt diluted in one gallon of water. When you are ready to plant the bush in the ground or pot, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt into the hole prior to planting and cover with a thin layer of soil.
Top Dressing – Once per month during the growing season, sprinkle about a 1 tablespoon per foot of plant height Epsom salt directly around to the base of the plant and water it in.
Using Epsom Salt For Gardening & Landscape
Epsom Salt is highly recommended by expert growers to be used on your vegetables but also in the landscape.
It is fairly safe, inexpensive and the benefits of adding it to soil to improve plants is well worth the cost.
It has been used in gardens for hundreds of years as a “natural fertiliser”. When sprayed or diluted and used as a drench liquid it is much more quickly “available” for use by plants.
Better Flowering, More & Stronger Blooms – Although there is no “firm” scientific study to back the claim… many seasoned gardeners swear that the addition of Epsom salt to their flower garden greatly improves the plant health, colour and textures of the flowers they grow.
Plants are stronger and produce more blooms. Incorporate Epsom slat into the soil at time of planting and also use as a liquid when watering every 2 to 3 weeks on a regular basis.
Azaleas & Rhododendron
 Helps produce more flowers and help plants from turning “yellow” from sulphate deficiency. Apply 1.5 tablespoon per over 1 metre square of the root zone every 2-4 weeks.
Fruit Trees
Producing fruit is a long process for a tree. Magnesium levels often drop during this “long season” where applications of Epson salt can be of great benefit.
Stronger plant growth, improved photosynthesis, fruit can taste better, look more attractive, be more nutritious and more weather and disease resistant. Apply 2 tablespoons per 1 square metre over the root zone 3 times per year.
Lawn & Grass
Epsom salt can help in the germination process and aid in health growth of a seed in its early stages. The minerals within the Epsom salt can help grass with a healthier and greener look, and assist grass roots to grow stronger to withstand effects from the environment.
For every 116 square metres of grass apply 3.16kg with a spreader, or dilute in water and apply with a sprayer. This is NOT a complete fertiliser for grass.
Counter Transplant Shock
When moving plants from one location to another or planting in the ground from pots, roots can be damaged and transplant shock can occur.
Epsom salts will help with chlorophyll production and improve nutrient uptake of fertilisation, giving plants a big helping hand to make the plants adaption to it’s new environment much easier.
After planting water plants in with a solution of 1 gallon of water mixed with 1 tablespoon Epsom salt.
Prevent Leaf Curling
When plants are lacking in magnesium, they may show symptoms of deficiency with leaf curling. Add Epson salt to the soil by sprinkling and watering in or dissolve 1 tablespoon per 3.7 litres of water and thoroughly drench the soil.
Yellow Leaves – Yellow and dull looking leaves often means the plant is lacking the necessary nutrients magnesium or sulphur. Apply Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate), adding it to fertiliser placed in the soil once per month.
For more direct approach, 1 tablespoon can be mixed with 3.7 litres of water and applied directly as a foliage spray onto the leaves. Be patient as different plants respond faster than others to applications.
Tree Stump Removal – Epsom salt is known for its absorption properties. It can suck water out of wood, making it easier to remove a tree stump. To remove a tree stump using Epsom salts, drill multiple holes in the top of the stump.
These holes must be approximately three to four inches apart. When there is no more room to drill, pour salt into the holes and then add water. Pour Epsom salt onto any exposed roots to dry them out.
You may not be successful the first time and may have to repeat the process every three weeks until the stump dies and can be removed.
Plants and Epsom Salt
Palm Trees “Frizzle Top” – landscape palm trees that have a magnesium deficiency get what growers call – frizzle top. It is where the top of the leaves look like they have had a bad hair day and the top is usually yellow or light green.
Apply Epsom salts around the base and drench/spray the leaves and crown with a liquid mixture of 1 tablespoon to 3.7 litres
Cycads – Epson Salts are an ideal supplement for use on cycads with yellowing looking leaves. A soil application and drench should be used since cycads are slow growing. Mix 1 teaspoon with 3.7 litres of water and apply when watering the plant.
Ferns – Epsom salts work wonders on ferns as a liquid fertiliser helping the leaves have a rich, deep dark green colour. Elephant ear plants are another plant which benefits from the extra magnesium. Apply as a drench mixing 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt to 3.7 litres of water.
Yellowing Bougainvillea and Gardenia Leaves & Chlorosis – Bougainvillea and Gardenias are a beautiful and fairly low maintenance plants.
But heavy flowering, or the soil pH being off can drain magnesium levels down and yellow foliage can appear… Epsom Salt to the rescue. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup at the base of the plant (in the ground) and use a foliage feed spray mixing 1 tablespoon per 3.7 litres of water.
Pest Control – Epsom Salt can be used in many instances to provide a natural, pesticide free cure for crawling slimy slugs. Sprinkle where slugs glide along and say good-bye. Epsom salt is also kid friendly, being non-toxic!
Weed killer – Use Epsom Salt as a weed killer by mixing 1 cup with 1.5 litres of vinegar. Add a liquid dish soap into the mixture and put into a spray bottle.
Then just spray the weeds while avoiding your flowers and other plants. This should kill the weeds in an efficient way without damaging your plants that you want to protect.
Removing A Splinter – Working in the garden you can pick up a splinter when grabbing a tool handle or tree branches. They can be irritating, painful and very hard to remove.
Try this… soak the affected area in 2 tbsp of epsom salt in a cup of water, this will increase the osmotic pressure of the skin and help draw the splinter out on its own accord.
Epsom Salts is available in Coles, Woolworths and other supermarkets.