By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Using Epsom salt in gardening is not a new concept. This ‘best kept secret’ has been around for many generations. But does it really work and, if so, how? Let’s explore the age-old question so many of us have asked at one time or another: Why put Epsom salts on plants?
Is Epsom Salt Good for Plants?
Yes, there do seem to be good, relevant reasons for using Epsom salts for plants. Epsom salt helps improve flower blooming and enhances a plant’s green color. It can even help plants grow bushier. Epsom salt is made up of hydrated magnesium sulfate (magnesium and sulfur), which is important to healthy plant growth.
Why Put Epsom Salts on Plants?
It also helps in the creation of chlorophyll, which is vital for photosynthesis. In addition, magnesium greatly improves a plant’s ability to produce flowers and fruit.
If the soil becomes depleted of magnesium, adding Epsom salt will help; and since it poses little danger of overuse like most commercial fertilizers, you can use it safely on nearly all your garden plants.
How to Water Plants with Epsom Salts
So want to know how to water plants with Epsom salts? It’s easy. Simply substitute it for regular watering either once or twice a month. Keep in mind that there are a number of formulas out there, so go with whatever works for you.
Before applying Epsom salt, however, it’s a good idea to have your soil tested to determine whether it’s deficient of magnesium. You should also be aware that many plants, like beans and leafy vegetables, will happily grow and produce in soils with low levels of magnesium. Plants like rose, tomatoes and peppers, on the other hand, require lots of magnesium and, therefore, are more commonly watered with Epsom salt.
When diluted with water, Epsom salt is easily taken up by plants, especially when applied as a foliar spray. Most plants can be misted with a solution of 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water once a month. For more frequent watering, every other week, cut this back to one tablespoon.
With roses, you can apply a foliar spray of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water for each foot of the shrub’s height. Apply in spring as leaves appear and then again after flowering.