Epsom salts are a type of salt that are rich in magnesium.
Since magnesium plays an important role in plant metabolism, Epsom salts can be applied to plants on the soil or the leaves, and they help with deficiencies caused by poor soil, drought stress, heavy rainfalls, and other environmental factors.
In this article, you will learn about using Epsom salts on plants and how to get the best results. Keep reading to learn more.
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What Are Epsom Salts And What Do They Do For Plants?
Epsom salts are made from magnesium sulfate.
They can be used on plants both in the soil and on the leaves, but should never be turned into a liquid solution because solubility can cause plant burns.
Gardeners often use Epsom salt to correct nutrient deficiencies due to poor soil conditions or other environmental factors. Epsom salt is usually applied as a drench around the base of the plant, which helps it soak through the ground and reach deep roots.
If you do apply Epsom salt on top of the foliage, avoid touching any part of the plant with your bare hands until after they have been washed thoroughly so that you do not transmit oil-based residues onto their surface.
How To Use Epsom Salts On Plants
If you suspect magnesium deficiency, use 5 cups of Epsom salt for every 100 square feet of garden soil and water well. The salts will dissolve and be absorbed quickly. If possible, apply this treatment before a heavy rainfall or application of irrigation water so it can be carried deep into the ground easily, reaching plant roots more efficiently. Plants with yellow leaves might benefit from an application of Epsom salts because it supplies sulfur as well as magnesium to the plant's system, which is frequently deficient in many soils around the world (although not all soils). This method also helps reduce chlorosis, especially when used after nitrogen-heavy applications such as seaweed and manure.
Epsom salt is a safe and inexpensive approach to providing nutrients for your garden plants. It's considered organic, so it won't harm soil or plant growth; nor will Epsom salt affect the pH level of the soil, making it ideal even for acid-loving plants such as azaleas.
These are the steps to follow.
- Sprinkle dry granules around the base of the targeted area
- Water deeply right after application
- Repeat every few weeks until symptoms are gone
- Repeat every few weeks until symptoms are gone.
Leaf Application: For an immediate nutrient boost, use Epsom salts to create a liquid spray solution by mixing one tablespoon per gallon of water in a pump sprayer or watering can. Water the plant well just before application, and then mist all leaves to be treated.
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Is Epsom Salt Safe For Plants?
Epsom salt is a highly concentrated source of magnesium that contains no added chemical compounds or pesticides.
It won't cause damage once it's been watered into the soil, making it unlikely to burn leaf tissue as long as you apply sparingly and water well afterward. Topically applied Epson salts will help reduce chlorosis in leaves as well as replenish magnesium stores quickly.
If you want to clean your leaves of salt residue immediately, simply water the plant while it is still wet.
Other factors to keep in mind:
- Although Epson salts are quite safe for plants, plants will dehydrate and eventually die if you add too much, so only apply as needed.
- Avoid using Epsom salts on heavy clay soils because these soils frequently don't need magnesium supplementation, and excess magnesium can cause certain types of clay to bind together into a cement-like substance (which also won't break down naturally).
- On some plants such as azalea and rhododendron, an application of Epson salts can affect flower color and make them more pink or purple than before.
- Some plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers may acquire a yellowish cast to their leaves if you apply too much Epsom salts, but the effect is temporary and you can quickly remedy it with a water application until symptoms resolve themselves.
Soil Tests You Can Perform
Understanding how your soil is doing is a very important step in gardening. Knowing a soil's pH level and nutrient content will help you better understand your garden space, and allow you to have a more efficient growing area
Before getting into any DIY Epsom salt fertilizer recipe, it's important to first determine what type of salts are already present in your soil. There are several different types of test kits on the market that will give you an accurate reading for this, but if you don't want to shell out extra cash on equipment, there is another way. Gather some leaves from around your garden and crush them up in a plastic bag or between two sheets of waxed paper with a rolling pin or another heavy object. Mix 1/4 cup of powdered leaves with 1 cup of hot tap water in a small bowl, and stir well to mix the powder into the water. Allow it to sit for about an hour so that any salt content can dissolve into the solution. Then, use something like a turkey baster or pipette to suck up some of the liquid from your mixture and transfer it to another sample cup. Add one tablespoon of plain white vinegar – if you see tiny bubbles form right away, then your soil likely has excess magnesium. If there are no bubbles, then you have excess nitrogen instead.
With many types of easy do-it-yourself soil tests available, you can speed up the process and see what changes might need to be made in your garden so you can quickly get started with planting and harvesting.
Final Thoughts On Epson Salts And Plants
In conclusion, Epson salts and plants have a symbiotic relationship. Epsom salt is helpful to succulents because of its magnesium content, which helps the plant by preventing yellowing of leaves and developing inferior quality fruit. In turn, the plants help Epsom salts, being an excellent source of carbon dioxide needed in its production.
It's important to note that if calcium levels are high enough, it can cause a negative reaction with the magnesium causing poor nutrient uptake. If this is a concern, try using calcite or dolomitic lime as your source of magnesium sulfate rather than Epsom salts.