Epsom salt may seem useful to gardeners on social media; however, there have been no proven applications of its use.
Magnesium sulfate does contain some micronutrients, but this alone cannot improve plant growth. To optimize garden performance, ensure your soil has enough essential nutrition.
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt (also known as magnesium sulfate) is an all-natural mineral originating in Epsom, England where it was first discovered.
Salt is a naturally-occurring mineral powder made up of clear white crystals with no discernable smell, formed when mineral-rich water evaporates underground and condenses out as saltwater seeps back up through cracks in rocks and soil layers. Saltwater has long been used as an inexpensive bath soak and in household cleaning products as an odorless ingredient.
Magnesium fertilizers are essential in gardening and can help replenish magnesium-depleted soils with essential elements, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Magnesium also assists plants with absorption of essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus for plant health.
A soil test from your county extension service agent or DIY soil testing kits from retailers are great ways to determine whether additional magnesium is needed in your soil. Or send your sample directly to a college or department of conservation in your area.
Some gardeners claim that adding one tablespoon of Epsom salts per gallon of water improves germination and seedling growth. Unfortunately, however, there are certain plants that don’t like having their soil treated with Epsom salts.
Is Epsom Salt A Fertilizer?
Epsom salt is an organic mineral compound composed of magnesium and sulfur that has many applications for gardening, from deterring pests to stimulating seed germination.
Also a soil amendment, compost has an important place in gardening; before applying any amendments it should first be tested to see whether its presence is necessary. While not an end-all solution to any deficiencies in your soil, compost may help boost levels of some essential micronutrients needed by plants.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for plant life. It allows photosynthesis and assimilation of other essential elements.
Sulfur is another essential nutrient for plant life, providing them with essential elements like vitamins and proteins they require for development. While sulfur levels usually do not drop below what is necessary for proper functioning in garden soils, too much use could result in excess amounts being present.
People often mistake Epsom salt as being a fertilizer, however this is simply not the case. Applying more Epsom salt will not assist your plant with photosynthesizing more efficiently or improve its ability to absorb other micronutrients from its soil environment.
Preventing Magnesium Deficiency in Plants
Magnesium and sulfur are key elements for producing chlorophyll, an essential molecule plants use to absorb nutrients from soil. If magnesium and sulfur levels don’t meet requirements, plants could begin yellowing or even show chlorosis symptoms.
Some believe that adding Epsom salt to their garden will prevent magnesium deficiency in plants, but this should only be used temporarily if you test for magnesium deficiency in the soil.
As is often the case, most soils contain plenty of magnesium already; adding more Epsom salt won’t improve its quality or make it any more productive in any way.
Epsom salt may cause leaf scorch in your garden, which could damage or kill leaves and even entire branches, so it’s wise to avoid its use for this purpose. Furthermore, tropical palms or insect-eating plants should not use it due to potential issues.
Does Epsom Salt Control Pests?
Many gardeners believe Epsom salt can be used to control pests in their garden. Magnesium sulfate crystals have long been believed to deter beetles and other pests that come into contact with it, making Epsom an effective deterrent against beetle pests and other problems in the garden.
However, this claim lacks scientific support. Furthermore, too much Epsom salt may increase mineral contamination of groundwater supplies through soil infiltration.
Plants need a steady diet of essential nutrients in order to thrive and survive. Magnesium and sulfur are two essential ones, helping the plant absorb other essential minerals and produce chlorophyll.
Some believe that adding Epsom salt to vegetable seedbeds at planting time will increase levels of magnesium and sulfur nutrients and promote blooming, though in most soils there are already enough resources available for these needs to be met.
Does Epsom Salt Make Plants Grow Better?
Epsom salt can provide your plants with essential nutrition. Intentional or not, Epsom salt has several useful applications to make gardening more lush or to give your existing gardener additional strength in cultivating lush terrain.
First and foremost, Gardening Boost is a fertilizer designed to boost magnesium levels in soil, giving plants all of the essential nutrients for photosynthesis and overall plant health. According to Rodger St. Hilaire from Gardening Boost (opens in new tab), magnesium plays an integral role.
Before using this on any plants, such as peppers or roses, soil tests must be conducted first to assess any deficiencies in nutrients that could exist in their soil.
If your garden soil lacks magnesium, adding soil conditioner can effectively address this problem and help your garden’s soil recover from any nutrient deficiencies. You could even add organic matter, such as compost, for additional benefit.
Preventing Blossom End Rot BER in your garden?
Blossom End Rot (BER) affects many garden vegetables, most commonly tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and watermelons. The problem typically appears as a water-soaked spot at the blossom end of fruit that ultimately turns brown or even black over time.
BER is caused when the plant’s demand for calcium exceeds the supply, leading to tissues lacking this essential mineral disintegrating and causing dark-rotting spots on fruit.
Solution #1: Ensure your soil contains adequate calcium. This can be accomplished by adding crushed eggshells before planting, or gradually working some into the top few inches each year.
Consistent and uniform watering should also be prioritized to help your plants avoid being susceptible to BER. Tomatoes need about an inch of moisture each week; otherwise, they could become more vulnerable.
If you detect blossom end rot on your tomatoes, the best course of action is to remove affected fruits from your garden and focus on growing healthy, ripe ones instead. By doing this, you’ll help prevent future outbreaks of the disease in your garden.
Should You Use Epsom Salts in your garden?
Epsom salts are an organic mixture of magnesium and sulfate minerals that have numerous health benefits for us humans, such as helping regulate heart and blood pressure, increasing energy, improving our sleep quality, decreasing stress levels, and strengthening joint and brain tissue.
Some gardeners suggest Epsom salt as an aid for improving plant growth and absorption of nutrients, as well as helping avoid root shock when moving plants from one bed or pot to the next.
Though many advice sources in the gardening community offer advice based on anecdotal observations and without proper documentation or testing if you want to make the best use of your garden stick with established practices that have been documented and extensively evaluated.
Epsom salts are rarely necessary in an average home garden and their use should only be done when specifically needed to address magnesium deficiency in soil (which you can test). Otherwise, there’s no reason to add them as part of a solution in any case.
tips for using Epsom salt in the garden
Epsom salt can be an invaluable aid in the garden for preventing magnesium deficiency, increasing nutrient absorption, and encouraging plant growth; however, improper use could pose serious health risks that work against our efforts at producing healthy plants.
Epsom salt should not be sprinkled or sprayed directly on plants as this can distort the critical calcium-to-magnesium ratio in soil, creating an imbalance which can negatively impact plant health while making it harder for your crops to absorb all necessary nutrients for survival.
This is especially applicable to plants like tomatoes, peppers, and roses which require high amounts of nutrition to thrive.
If your garden needs help, visit the extension office and request a soil test to determine if any supplements or amendments are necessary. Once completed, use those results when choosing fertilizers and amendments for use in your garden.
Organic solutions sourced from naturally-occurring materials in your soil tend to offer more balanced solutions and deliver maximum nutrient benefits without disrupting its balance between calcium and magnesium. Compost, manure, and other natural sources will give your gardens the boost they need while still maintaining that critical calcium-magnesium ratio in your soil.