Is it a wives tale or is it true? That using Epsom salts can green up your holly? Your magnolia? Your camellia? I myself, haven’t experimented at all with Epsom salts for gardening purposes. But I do always have a bag from the drugstore, ready-to-toss by the fistful, into a hot tub of water to soak in for 20 minutes. It absolutely helps my achy, sore muscles feel better; it’s like going to a spa. Is there science and data behind this? There might be with regards to using Epsom salts as a soaking aid. Epsom salt uses for gardening, there isn’t that much. But, that doesn’t stop the countless gardeners who claim to see tangible results from using Epsom salt on a variety of plants and for a variety of reasons… Are you one of them?
What is Epsom Salt and How Does it Relate to Plants?
Epsom salt is nothing more than Magnesium sulfate – MgSO4. Both elements, magnesium and sulfur are essential to plant growth and life; and are considered macronutrients (macro – major), which means that these minerals are needed (along with 7 others) in large quantity by plants. How these elements relate to plants:
- Sulfur is a key element in plant growth, is critical to production of vitamins, amino acids (therefore protein), and enzymes.
- Magnesium is critical for seed germination and the production of chlorophyll, fruit, and nuts. Magnesium helps strengthen cell walls and improves plants’ uptake of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.
To learn more about micro and macro nutrients, read this short article: Basic Concepts of Plant Nutrition, from Cornell University.
Epsom Salt Aids: Roses, Tomatoes, Peppers, Seedlings, and More
Like I said, there are many passionate gardeners (no pun here) using Epsom salts to help improve the growth of their plants. I suggest watching this short video in which P. Allen Smith recommends using Magnesium sulfate at the beginning of the growing season to boost the vigor of your plants. He does the same in his greenhouse, (as a seed starter) where he mixes in 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt into a gallon of water, and waters his baby tomato starts just germinating. He recommends doing the same thing, once a month, with houseplants. Check out his video below:
Though I said at the beginning of this post that little scientific research has been done re: Epsom salt and gardening, The National Gardening Association had testers test roses and peppers and also has some information from testing done by a horticulturist and a plant pathologist. The results are interesting. Albeit you may feel more confused, unless you have a degree in plant sciences, perhaps. Either way, there is lots of practical information for roses, tomatoes and peppers. Take a look at the article here.