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Espom salt is well known for its soothing effects in a bath. But did you know that Epsom salt can be beneficial for your plants? If you love growing plants such as tomatoes and roses, then you probably would’ve heard about the benefits of using Epsom salts or the counterarguments on how it’s ineffective for the growth of plants.
If you’re thinking of trying some Epsom salts in your garden, you have come to the right place. This article discusses the benefits of Epsom salts to your garden so that you can confidently use them effectively in your garden.
About Epsom Salts?
Epsom salts were first discovered in an underground spring located in the town named Epsom in England, hence the name. It is a naturally found mineral that is composed of hydrated magnesium sulfate.
It has been used since 1600’s for treating many conditions in plants, animals, and humans. The chemical composition of Epsom salt is 13% sulfur and 10% magnesium. These two nutrients are essential for the growth of many plants.
Benefits of Epsom Salt for Plants
The benefits of Epsom salts for plants have been a long-standing debatable topic. Some believe that adding Epsom salt to the soil helps plants’ growth and development.
Others claim that Epsom salts have no benefits for the plants, on the contrary, they believe it destroys the soil quality. Let’s look at the scientific evidence on the benefits of Epsom salts and whether there is a benefit in adding it to your garden.
1. Nutrient Uptake
There is a 10% magnesium composition in Epsom salt, which is an essential nutrient for plants. Epsom salt not just supplies magnesium to the plants, but also enables them to absorb other nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, without which they would struggle to thrive.
2. Makes the Leaves Greener
The magnesium in Epsom salts is known to make plants appear greener. This is possible because magnesium is the central core of the chlorophyll molecule, which is the ingredient that performs photosynthesis, a process through which plants prepare their own food and energy. This makes the leaves lush and greener as well.
3. Useful Micronutrients
The two micronutrients, magnesium, and sulfur, which are in Epsom salts are said to play a vital role in the growth and development of plants. This depends on the type of plant.
Adding Epsom salts to many leafy vegetables and some types of beans does not affect their growth since they can do well even without magnesium. But the plants that cannot thrive without high levels of magnesium are peppers, roses, and tomatoes. So, they would benefit from the micronutrients that Epsom salt contains.
4. Balances Soil Nutrients
Epsom salts help balance the soil nutrient levels when there is a magnesium deficiency. In many agricultural and overworked soil, magnesium deficiency is a common problem. To ensure healthy growth of plants, the soil should be replaced and replenished with magnesium.
This happens if you grow tomatoes over a period in the same space of soil, then the magnesium levels get depleted. Adding Epsom salts to the soil in this case would improve future crops by balancing the nutrient level.
5. Discourage Some Pests
Epsom salts can deter some garden pests like slugs and voles. It cannot be as effective as a pesticide to get rid of pests. But by using Epsom salts, there would be a lesser number of slugs in your garden. When using Epsom salts for the rose plants, they will eventually be less infested by pests.
6. Balances the Soil pH
If the pH levels of the soil in your garden have been tested to be higher than 7.5, then adding Epsom salts could help to neutralize it. Many plants prefer neutral soils, so they decrease the alkalinity of the soil by adding Epsom salts. You should add these salts to the soil, and they would gradually lower the pH of the soil.
When Should We Avoid Using Epsom Salts?
There are times when you should avoid using Epsom salts. Remember that not all plants benefit from Epsom salts in the same way. The primary beneficiaries are peppers, tomatoes, and roses since they can take advantage of the magnesium constituent of Epsom salts. Avoid Epsom salts in the following situations:
1. Epsom Salts as an Alternative to Fertilizer
Plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for their growth, these are denoted by N-P-K. And Epsom salt has a nutrient value of 0-0-0, meaning that it contains neither of these nutrients. Even though Epsom salts contain micronutrients that benefit a plant’s growth and development, they can’t be used in place of fertilizers.
You should use a balanced fertilizer for your plants instead. Keep in mind that you can use Epsom salts as an additional secondary supplement, but they cannot offer the benefits of a primary supplement that feeds your plant.
2. Acidic Soil
Epsom salts help neutralize the soil if it is alkaline. But you should not use Epsom salts for acidic soil as it would make it more acidic and increase the problem.
3. For Magnesium Deficient Plants
If your plant is suffering from magnesium deficiency, then this doesn’t always mean that the soil doesn’t contain enough magnesium. Sometimes magnesium deficiency is caused in plants if the soil is too high in phosphorus and the plant is unable to absorb magnesium.
In these situations, adding Epsom salts to the soil to increase the magnesium levels wouldn’t help as the soil already contains enough magnesium, but what needs to be done is to lower the levels of phosphorus instead. Remember to check your soil so that you can problem-solve correctly.
How to Use Epsom Salts for Plants?
Epsom salts are great for both indoor plants as well as outdoor plants. It is important to follow the instructions on ratio and application methods correctly. This determines how effective an ingredient proves to be for the plants. Here is how you should use Epsom salts for your plants.
1. For Indoor Plants
When using Epsom salts for houseplants, add 2 tablespoons in a gallon of water and use with a regular watering schedule. Remember that excess Epsom salts can dry out your plants. A tip to follow is to water it once every month.
2. For Roses
If you are planting roses indoors, then add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt for each foot of plant height. For roses, you can give Epsom salt twice a month.
3. For New Plants When Planting
For indoor plants that are yet to be planted, add 1 cup of Epsom salt per gallon of water and soak the plants in this solution. This will prepare the roots for planting and when you are about to plant them, add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt to the potting mix in the container.
4. In the Garden
A few things that you should consider while adding Epsom salts to the garden are:
- Garden Base: Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt over a 3×3 or 9-inch patch. Apply in this manner once every couple of weeks.
- Trees: Apply double the amount of Epsom salts to the tree base and the root zone once every few months
- Yards: For quicker and more coverage, dilute Epsom salt in water and spray it over the yard. Or another way is to sprinkle 3 pounds of Epsom salt over 1,000 – 1,500 square feet of lawn.
A way to use Epsom salt before starting a garden is to mix 1 cup of salt in the soil per 10×10 or 100 square patches.
Epsom Salt FAQs
Epsom salt is typically used to relax muscles and relieve muscle pain. It can be used for pain in the shoulders, back, neck, and skull.
It’s safe to drink Epsom salt. However, people with kidney disease, pregnant women, children, or people with heart disease should not ingest it.
The ratio of Epsom salt to water for plants is two tablespoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water.
The general requirement is a drench of 1 tbsp Epsom salt for every gallon of water to the soil. Make sure to do this after seeding as it keeps the sulfur levels up.
Epsom salt is popular for both indoor and outdoor plants. However, it should only be used for plants that have magnesium and sulfur deficiencies.
Now that you know about Epsom salts and their benefits to your garden, you can determine when and where to use them. Even though Epsom salts contain micronutrients and prove beneficial for the growth of some plants like peppers, roses, and tomatoes, they cannot replace balanced fertilizer.
Remember to use Epsom salt only be used as a supplement for your regular fertilizer. Always use Epsom salts in a regulated quantity as per packet instructions so that it benefits rather than hinder the growth of your plants.