Epsom Salts In The Garden: 10 Proven Uses

Did you know using Epsom salt for plants can help with overall garden health?

Epsom salts can go a long way toward helping plants make better use of the nutrients in the soil to:

  • Germinate seeds faster
  • Grow larger
  • Produce more flowers and fruit
  • Create more chlorophyll
  • Generally, help plants thrive 

Additionally, it can act as a deterrent to ground-dwelling pests such as voles, slugs, and snails. 

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Some people swear by it as in addition to homemade weed killers. 

In this article, we discuss the many excellent uses of Epsom salts in the garden. Read on to learn more.

How Can You Tell If Your Plants Need Epsom Salts?

If your plants are lacking in magnesium sulfate, you will probably be able to see it. 

For example, yellowing leaves overall can mean a need for Epsom salts. 

Lower leaves turning yellow in between their veins should be given more magnesium.

Help All of Your Plants Make the Most of Nutrients

Magnesium sulfate is not a nutrient in itself, but it does help your plants uptake key minerals such as phosphorus and nitrogen most efficiently and effectively. 

seedling grows better with epsom salts

More on How Epsom Salts Can Help Increase Plant Nutrient Uptake

Treating your plants with Epsom salt at a rate of 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 gallon of water two times monthly can help them attain optimum performance as manifested in greater blooms, bigger veggies and thicker, greener leaves.

Sickly plants may need a larger dose. 

Plants exhibiting symptoms of magnesium deficiency (as described above) may benefit from a drenching of a gallon of water, and two tablespoons of Epsom salts followed up with regular biweekly or monthly watering with a regular strength (one tablespoonful of salts per 1 gallon of water) throughout the growing season.

Will Epsom Salt Cure Blossom End Rot?

It’s important to understand although Epsom salt will not cure blossom end rot, keeping your plants well supplied with magnesium sulfate will help prevent the development of this dread condition.

tomatoes on the vine with blossom rot

Answer to the question: Does Epsom salt STOP Blossom End Rot?

Epsom Salts Help Prevent Many Plant Ailments

Many plant maladies are addressed with a dose of Epsom salt because sulfur and magnesium are essential nutrients for all plants. 

Even so, diagnosing your plants’ problems is confusing because many nutrient disorders manifest in similar manners. 

If you are unsure, you should contact your County agent about having your soil tested.

Generally speaking, adding Epsom salts are very beneficial for soils:

  • Very acidic due to extreme weathering
  • Slightly lacking in magnesium content
  • Very high in potassium and calcium
  • Very alkaline with high pH levels

If you live in the Western United States, your soil is likely to have high pH levels and may also be very high in potassium and calcium. 

If you live in the Pacific Northwest or the southeastern United States, your soil may be suffering from low pH levels.

Soil Lacking In Magnesium and Sulfur Cannot Nourish Plants

Magnesium and sulfur are naturally occurring elements in healthy soil, but several different conditions can cause them to become depleted. 

For example, very heavy agricultural use will consume the sulfur and magnesium (along with other valuable elements) in the soil over time.

While you might think you could simply remedy this problem by using a commercial fertilizer, you would be wrong. 

For one thing, soil low in magnesium and sulfur may not allow plants to uptake the nutrients in the fertilizers you use. 

Another problem with commercial fertilizers is they tend to build up in your soil over time. 

Epsom salt does not do this, so use less fertilizer, or preferably natural compost, along with Epsom salts for a very bioavailable soil treatment, which does not cause damage and build up year after year.

How To Apply Epsom Salts

The method of application depends upon the situation and the results you want. 

Many gardeners mix Epsom salt with their regular fertilizer treatments for monthly applications. 

Alternately, deliver it as a foliar spray by adding a mere tablespoon of Epsom salts for every gallon of water and spraying your plants twice a month.

Here are some more specific instructions for individual circumstances.

Address Plant Maladies

Lackluster plants of all sorts failing to thrive benefit from a tonic of Epsom salt. 

These plants may be suffering from a mineral deficiency that can interfere with all of the plants’ functions, including photosynthesis, which is essential for healthy plants.

A plant suffering from mineral deficiency may have faded, yellowing, limp, or curling leaves. 

To counter these symptoms, try delivering Epsom salt in the form of a foliar spray made up of a tablespoonful of salt to a quart of water.

When treating existing maladies with Epsom salts, bear in mind, you must be patient. 

It takes time for plants to begin absorbing nutrients properly and to recover from damage. 

This may involve simply losing the damaged flowers and leaves and growing new foliage and blossoms.

To prevent leaf curling, be sure to apply Epsom salt regularly in a proactive manner. 

Water with a mixture of a tablespoon of epsom salt per 1 gallon of water every month. 

Alternately, work a tablespoon of Epsom salts into the surface of the soil monthly and then water it in thoroughly.

Prevent yellowing leaves by routinely mixing it with your plants’ regular monthly fertilizer treatment or by watering or applying a foliar spray as described above.

Treat Your Houseplants

Because Epsom salts is a pH neutral product, it is quite gentle as a houseplant tonic. 

Adding Epsom salt to your houseplants one of two ways:

  1. Add a couple of tablespoons of Epsom salts to a gallon of water and use this as a foliar spray once a month.
  2. Work Epsom salt directly into the surface of the soil once a month. 

Use a teaspoonful for each foot of the plants’ height.

Enhance the Leaf Color of Elephant Ear Plants and Ferns

These types of plants often tend to have a faded look, and the use of Epsom salt can help counter this problem and support them in producing rich, dark green leaves. 

To benefit ferns and Elephant Ears, provide a monthly drenching consisting of a tablespoonful of salt in a gallon of water.

epsom salts help green up vegetables like this letuce

More on How To Make Plants Green Again

Give Your Roses a Treat

Rose enthusiasts will tell you regular use of Epsom salts will help your rose bushes grow stronger, develop lush, dark green foliage and produce abundant, vibrant blossoms in deep, rich colors.

Applying magnesium sulfate to your rose bushes regularly helps boost the magnesium levels in the leaves and increases the production of chlorophyll.

If you are germinating rose bushes from seed, Epsom salts help boost your success rate.

When cells do germinate, the seedlings’ cell walls are strengthened, and the little plants are better able to take up important nutrients such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and sulfur.

The use of Epsom salts is beneficial to seedlings, newly planted rose bushes, and established bushes because it helps supplement high quality, slow-release rose fertilizers containing phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen.

bright red rose with the help of Epsom salt

Details on Epsom Salt for Roses

Work Epsom salts directly into the soil surrounding your rose bushes at a rate of one tablespoonful for every foot of the plant’s height, once every two weeks.

Before planting new rose bushes, soak the roots in a gallon of water in which a cup of Epsom salt has been dissolved. 

Allow them to sit for about an hour to hydrate the roots and take in the benefits of the salts.

Work a tablespoonful of Epsom salts into the bottom of the planting hole when you plant a new rosebush.

Established rose bushes also benefit from monthly foliar spraying of a tablespoonful of Epsom salt per 1 gallon of water.

Encourage Flowering & Vibrant Growth in Shrubs

Shrubs such as rhododendrons, azaleas, and evergreens will benefit from a tablespoonful of Epsom salts per every nine square feet of growing area applied once or twice a month.

The addition of Epsom salts to these types of shrubs encourages more and bigger flowers while discouraging yellowing of leaves caused by sulfate deficiency.

Help Gardenias and Bougainvillea Stay Bright

Plants such as gardenia and bougainvillea, which tend to have very heavy flowering, also tend to suffer from low magnesium levels. 

This can result in yellowing foliage (chlorosis ) and a scarcity of blossoms.

To combat these problems, dose generously with Epsom salts. 

Sprinkle approximately a half cup of salts around the base of each plant and also provide foliar spraying consisting of a tablespoonful of salt for each gallon of water. 

Drench the plants thoroughly and water the salts at the base of the plants into the ground.

Keep Trees Healthy and Strong

For trees, apply two tablespoons of Epsom salt for every nine square feet of growing area. 

Repeat this application three times a year.

Do Away with Palm Tree Frizzle Top

One common problem for palm trees in the landscape is they often suffer from magnesium deficiency. 

This creates a condition called frizzle top in which the leaves fade to pale green or even yellow and look especially frazzled.

To counter this problem, sprinkle Epsom salts very generously around the base of the tree. 

Follow this up with foliar spraying of a tablespoonful of salt per gallon of water. 

Drench the tree and its leaves thoroughly and also water in the salts around the base of the tree.

Treat Yellowing Leaves on Cycads

Slow-growing Cycads often suffer from yellowing leaves. 

The best way to treat this with Epsom salts is to make up a light mixture consisting of a teaspoonful of salt to a gallon of water to use whenever you water the plant.

Keep Your Lawn Lush and Green

Spread 3 pounds of Epsom salts over every 1250 square feet of lawn surface using a spreader. 

Immediately after applying the salts, give your lawn a very thorough watering.

Alternately, dilute the salts in water and apply them using a sprayer. 

This application is helpful with both germination of new grass seed and also with the ongoing health and wellness of your lawn. 

The use of Epsom salts helps boost a strong, healthy network of roots. 

A good, deep root system helps your lawn defend itself against environmental challenges, such as drought.

Give Your Garden a Jumpstart

At the beginning of the growing season, when you initially turn the soil before starting your garden, work a cup of Epsom salt into every 100 square feet. 

Water thoroughly after application.

Give Seeds a Head Start

Treating your entire garden as described above at the time of planting will help growing seedlings by strengthening cell walls and increasing energy for growing.

Epsom salt helps seedling get off to a good start

Learn more about Epsom Salt for Seed Germination

Another way to deliver magnesium sulfate to seeds and seedlings is to water with a mixture of one tablespoon of Epsom salts per gallon of water immediately after planting seeds.

Another alternative is to work a tablespoonful of Epsom salt into the soil at the bottom of the planting hole before planting larger seeds and seedlings. 

Dose seedlings with Epsom salt once a month throughout the growing season.

For wildflower seeds, grass seeds, and others directly sown onto the surface of the soil, simultaneously sow a cup full of Epsom salts for every one hundred square feet of growing area. 

Follow up with a very thorough watering.

Get Great Tasting Tomatoes and Peppers

Tomatoes and peppers need a great deal of magnesium to do their best. 

To get more blooms, plumper, sweeter peppers and tomatoes and less risk of blossom end rot, give your pepper and tomato seeds and seedlings a good start, and keep your plants healthy, with generous doses of Epsom salt from start to finish.

Epsom salt for tomatoes help the make sweeter fruit

Must read article –> Epsom Salt For Tomatoes

Use the general soil-enriching technique described above, or when you plant your pepper and tomato seedlings, follow these four steps:

  1. Dig your hole.
  2. Drop in a tablespoonful of Epsom salts.
  3. Cover the salts with a little dirt.
  4. Plant your seedlings on top.

Throughout the growing season, give your tomato and pepper plants a dose of Epsom salts every month. 

Combine a tablespoon of salts with a gallon of water and give each plant a liberal drenching monthly.

Every couple of weeks, mix a tablespoonful of Epsom salt with a gallon of water and provide your pepper and tomato plants with good foliar spraying early in the morning on a clear, warm day.

Boost Flavor and Fruit on All Fruiting Plants

Just as with tomatoes, increase the amount and delectability of fruit from all sorts of plants including:

  • Berry Bushes
  • Grapevines
  • Fruit Trees
  • Nut Trees
  • and more.

Give these plants a good drench of a gallon of water with a tablespoon full of Epsom salts mixed in every month throughout the growing season.

Alternately, use the same technique you would use with other sorts of trees and bushes by applying a couple of tablespoons of dry Epsom salt for every nine square feet of growing area three times annually; however, your fruit, nut and berry bushes will really get the most benefit from the use of Epsom salts during the long, fruiting season.

Remember, Epsom salt helps improve photosynthesis, which is all-important for all plants. 

A generous application of Epsom salts during the fruiting season will result in better tasting (and better looking) fruit, which will deliver more nutrition to you. 

Furthermore, stronger fruit trees and fruits are more disease and weather resistant.

Prevent Shock in Transplanted Plants

When you move a plant from one place to another or one pot to another, the roots get damaged, and the plant can succumb to transplant shock. 

Epsom salts aids seedlings like these  overcome shock when transplanting

Details on Using Epsom Salt for Transplant Shock

Using Epsom salts can help boost the plant’s chlorophyll production and improve its ability to uptake nutrients from fertilizer. 

This is a big help in supporting plants as they transition from one environment to the next.

To apply Epsom salts to transplanted plants, mix a tablespoon of salt into a gallon of water. 

Soak the plants in this mixture to saturate them thoroughly, and then water the plants with this mixture once the transition has been made.

When transplanting outdoors, use the dry salts method by dropping two teaspoons of Epsom salts into the planting hole just before transplanting your bush, tree, or flowers. 

Work the salts into the soil a little bit or sprinkle a bit of soil over the salts before adding the plant, backfilling the soil and tamping it down to secure the plant in place. 

Whenever you apply dry salts, remember to water the plant thoroughly with fresh water (no salt).

Use Epsom Salts to Remove Unwanted Tree Stumps

Like all salts, Epsom salt are quite absorbent, so if you need to get rid of a tree stump, simply drill some substantial holes in it and fill them with salts to help dry up the stump’s moisture and kill it off.

Drill good-sized holes about 3″ or 4″ inches apart, using a ½” inch drill bit. 

The holes should be deep (approximately half the depth of the height of the stump).

Fill each hole with Epsom salt and add just a little water to moisten the salts. 

Don’t saturate them or cause them to wash away.

Secure a tarp in place over the stump to prevent rain from getting in and washing the salts away. 

Over the next few weeks, the stump will become dehydrated, and the wood will become dry and crumbly. 

When this happens, you should find it fairly easy to use an ax to chip away at the part of the stump remaining above the ground.

With this done, you should easily be able to dig up the root system and get rid of it.

stump drilled holes to add epsom salt

Tips on How to Remove a Tree Stump with Epsom Salt

Keep Ground Dwelling Pests At Bay

Give your plants a tonic and keep slugs, snails, and voles away by sprinkling Epsom salts over the ground instead of table salt. 

Table salt dehydrates gastropods, but it is also very detrimental to the health of your soil. 

Sprinkle Epsom salt in a line around the plants you wish to protect. 

Slugs, snails, and voles will find crossing this line very uncomfortable.

Furthermore, providing overall foliar spraying of a cup of Epsom salts mixed into 5 gallons of water can help deter leaf-eating pests.

Kill Weeds with Epsom Salt

One of many homemade weed killer recipes calls for:

  • A tablespoonful of liquid dish soap
  • 2 cups of Epsom salts
  • 1 gallon of vinegar

Dissolve the Epsom salts in the vinegar and add the dish soap as a surfactant. 

The resulting liquid is a defoliant that should be sprayed directly onto the leaves of the plants you want to kill. 

You must also be very careful to protect the plants you want to keep from overspray. 

This mixture acts like Roundup and kills anything it touches. 

Unlike Roundup, you must use it multiple times for lasting results. 

It is worth noting the Epsom salts may not be necessary for this recipe as white vinegar alone has the same results.

Epsom salts mixed in water increases the osmotic pressure of the water. 

This is why it’s a well-known home remedy for aching muscles, bruises, and so forth. 

A couple of cups of Epsom salts in your bath after gardening will help relieve your gardening related aches and pains.

Likewise, if you happen to catch a splinter or thorn as you garden, and you find it difficult to remove the offending object, try soaking the punctured area in a cup of warm water with a couple of tablespoons of Epsom salts mixed in. 

This will help soften the skin and press the thorn or splinter out.

You must realize agricultural/technical grade Epsom salts are not the same as the Epsom salt, which have been approved by the FDA and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) for human use. 

While it is safe to use USP Epsom salt in your garden, it may not be safe to use garden Epsom salts on your person. 

Keep a bag of USP Epsom salts in your bathroom for your use and keep your garden Epsom salt in your garden shed.

For more on Epsom salts, see this handy resource from Washington State University.