Epsom Salts – for More than Aches, Pains, and Detox!
Most commonly thought of as a healing remedy for soaking tired feet or a hot restorative bath, Epsom salt does far more than that. More than therapeutic benefits for people, Epsom salt for plants can be a wonderful supplement in your garden.
Life style hacker, self-experimenter and author, Tim Ferris, enjoys daily Epsom salt baths for therapeutic benefit. And as the author of the acclaimed 4 Hour Workweek, The Four Hour Body and The Four Hour Chef—books with loads of survival-hacking how-to’s, Tim knows a few things about health and wellness.
Author, Tim Ferriss says, “I take hot baths every night when at home. Nearly always, I add epsom salt (typically 4-8 cups), which facilitates muscular relaxation and recovery. Rather than buy small boxes at CVS or Safeway, I buy [Epsoak] in bulk and store it in rolling dog-food containers. This is a good use of Amazon Prime.”
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is actually mineral deposits found in the water in Epsom, England. The chemical composition is hydrated magnesium sulfate. Like people, plants need magnesium. Magnesium helps plants use nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus.
Plants need magnesium and sulfate, so yes, Epsom salt for plants provides magnesium that can help plants grow and thrive.
What Is Epsom Salt?
First, Epsom salt isn’t salt!
Rather, Epsom is hydrated magnesium sulfate.
Epsom salt is good for people
and good for some plants,
such as tomatoes, peppers and roses.
Epsom Salt for Plants
Epsom Salt is a Magnesium Sulfate Fertilizer
Plants use sulfur to produce amino acids and vitamins. Sulfur is also the compound that gives many vegetables, including broccoli and onions, their distinctive flavor.
Most garden soils have sufficient levels of sulfur, but magnesium deficiencies are common, especially in old, acidic soils as well as the highly alkaline soils found in the western states. So…
Severe magnesium deficiencies can cause stunted growth and yellowing of the leaves between the veins. However, the only symptom you might see is slow growth and fewer blossoms or fruit.
Epsom salt is basically a magnesium sulfate fertilizer good for some plants.
Magnesium Deficiency in Plants
How can you tell if your plants are deficient in magnesium?
Soil tests can detect severe magnesium deficiencies. However, a soil test might reveal that your soil has adequate magnesium, yet plants are unable to access it due to high levels of potassium and calcium.
High levels of potassium and calcium can cause magnesium deficiency in plants.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency in Plants
Your plant may have a magnesium deficiency if you see:
- Yellowing leaves (inter-veinal chlorosis)
- Slow growth
- Fewer blossoms or fruit
Which Plants Need Epsom Salt for Magnesium?
Tests conducted by the National Gardening Association revealed that Epsom salt made the biggest difference for the growth of these plants:
The best way for the plants to absorb the magnesium sulfate nutrients if through foliar application, by spraying the epsom on the plant leaves. It’s interesting to note that this is similar for humans. E.g., external application to the skin is the best way for us to absorb magnesium, and leaves are like the skin of the plant.
Where Epsom was applied, the tomato, pepper and rose plants were healthier in foliage flower and fruits than the test plants that did not receive the Epsom magnesium sulfate.
How Much Epsom to Apply?
Epsom Salt for Roses
If you’ve tested your soil and determined it needs more magnesium, here’s how to make and apply Epsom salt fertilizer.
Epsom for Roses in Spring
½ cup Epsom granules sprinkled around the base of roses in spring
Epsom for Roses in Summer
- 1 Tablespoon Epsom to 1 gallon water
- spray roses after leaves emerge
- spray rosebush again while flowering
Epsom for Roses in Fall
- ½ cup Epsom around the base of rose bush in the fall before the leaves drop
If you’re not sure if you have a magnesium deficiency, skip the soil applications and stick to foliar applications instead.
Epsom Salt for Tomatoes and Pepper Plants
Recipe and Treatment
- 1 tablespoon Epsom salts
- 1 gallon of water
- spray the plants after transplanting
- when they first flower
- and again when they begin producing fruit
Epsom added to tomatoes may:
- Increase fruits
- Reduce problems with blossom-end rot*
Blossom end rot is believed to be caused partially by a magnesium deficiency. In plants, as in humans, nutrient deficiencies can cause susceptibility to disease and attacks by bugs, so fortify your soil with the nutrients your plants need.
When to Test Soil
The best time to test your soil is in spring before planting. However, if you’ve already gotten started, you can still test it. In fact, if any plants are ailing and you’ve ruled out pests, amending and treating the soil, may help. Often, your county extension service will test your soil for free. Call them to see.
It’s far better to test your soil early and amend as needed than to lament over poor crop yield. Prevention is always best.
You may also enjoy these articles on soil testing methods and on tomatoes.https://www.gardensall.com/best-soil-testing-methods/ https://gardensall.com/how-to-grow-the-best-tomatoes/
Epsom Salt for Plants and People
So yes! Epsom salt is beneficial for your garden… and for you! Next time you come in tired and sore from working out in the garden, be as kind to yourself as you are to your plants and enjoy an Epsom salt bath! Oh… and remember to share it with your tomatoes, peppers and roses!
You might even save some of your epsom bath water and share it with your plants as prescribed. You and your plants will both feel better and be healthier!
After a day of gardening, treat yourself to an Epsom bath!
For gardening, you may prefer a 50 pound bulk size Epsom Salt which you can get from your local home store, or from Amazon, and delivered to your door for free is you have Amazon Prime: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
For a long list of benefits of Epsom salt for people… and why you’ll be wanting that soak, you may enjoy this article.
Magnesium Deficiency Weaken Plants
The bottom line is that—in plants, as with humans—absence of vital nutrients can result in disease and leaves plants vulnerable to attacks by garden pests and scavengers as well.
More studies are needed to definitively identify more specifics in magnesium deficiency as well as the benefits of Epsom salt for plants.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4844269/
Magnesium Deficiency Can Impact a Plant from Root to Shoot
- Drought stress – weakens the entire plant immune system.https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-28899-4_1
- Inhibits photosynthates – the distribution and assimilation of growth catalyzed by the sun.
- Accumulation of metals – plants may become congested with heavy metals when deficient.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3113373/
- Hypothetic signaling – signaling between plants cells regulating the different systems is impairedhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26895/
- Photosynthesis – foundational to the entire health of a plant
- Oxidation stress – an imbalance of resiliency from radical damagehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4091114/
- Chlorophyll deficiency – deprives plants of necessary foodhttps://extension.illinois.edu/focus/index.cfm?problem=chlorosis
Studies show that Epsom salt for plants is especially beneficial for soils deficient in magnesium and sulfur, but inconclusive as yet, on benefits as a general supplemental fertilizer.
Wisdom from the Community
Add 1/4 cup epsom salt at the base of rose bushes keeps mildew at bay.
A light mixture of water and Epsom salt in a spray bottle. And spray the plant. Early morning before the sun reaches its peak. I’m always afraid of burning. It doesn’t take much of the Epsom salt either. I forget ratio. But I err on the side of caution because I’m always tending and fussing over the plants. Perhaps one teaspoon to a gallon.
Okay! There you have it! Epsom salt can help plants and people feel better!
Let’s keep on growing!
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