Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Idea Friday - Epsom Salt and Plants

I have spring fever, as I imagine a lot of you do. Gardening is by far my biggest hobby, so I'm always looking for quick and easy ways to get my plants and flowers to thrive. Little did I realize a huge helper was right at my feet - literally. 

You see I like to soak my feet in epsom salts and hot water in the evenings, especially in the summer, to help relax and keep my feet looking nice. Afterwards, I would take the water and just dump it over the railing of my porch onto the flower beds below, figuring the water was better recycled than just poured down the drain. To my surprise the roses I had planted there were doing remarkably better than the roses on the other side of the porch! I knew it couldn't have been just the water - it had to be the epsom salts. Sure enough, thanks to pinterest, I've learned a lot of plants, and even your lawn, love epsom salt. It doesn't take a lot to get lush full healthy plants. As little as a tablespoon to a gallon of water is enough to make everything from your grass, roses, and even tomatoes and other veggies happy and healthy. You can buy epsom salts at pretty much any grocery or drug store, though since I use so much as a soaking aid I buy mine in bulk at Costco. 

But why does this work so well? Is it safe to be putting salt of all things on your lawn?

 Well the science behind it is what makes epsom salt different from table salt. Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) vs table salt (Sodium chloride or NaCI). Epsom salt isn't salt the way we think it as - it's actually a compound of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen, where as table salt is sodium and chloride. In scientific terms, salt simply refers to ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base, so a lot of things are technically 'salts'. 

Why this works is because it's not uncommon for the soil to be low in magnesium and sulfur, which certain plants need in order to produce chlorophyll, and sulfur helps with the entire cell structure of the plant it's self, not to mention germination, and even photosynthesis, among many other workings of the plant. 

The official studies are actually mixed on if this works or not, but so far it looks like the top three plants to use it on is roses, tomatoes, and peppers - plants that need a higher magnesium content in the soil are the plants that are going to thrive with a epsom salt water.

"But isn't this salt, and you shouldn't salt the earth?" Good question.  I haven't been able to find much of anything specifically regarding epsom salts and salinization and I imagine that if it was a concern, there would be more data on it out there. If you know you live in an area with high saline content in the dirt, I would recommend using this only in potted plants just to be on the safe side. It's also important to keep the area you've added epsom salts to watered really well, as this helps prevent build up of salts at the root level of the plant, ensuring it doesn't get damaged from any high saline content in the dirt. Another method that I've seen recommended is to just spray the leaves of the plant with water and epsom salt as the salt is able to be absorbed through the leaves, which would be kinder on the soil if that's a concern for you.

  Personally I was able to see just how well it worked, since only one of my three rose bushes was receiving the salted water, that I'm a believer myself. 


  1. It definitely makes a difference with tomatoes

  2. Anonymous14/5/14

    My lawn wasn't looking as great as I would like it to look so I hired a lawn care specialist. After months of them applying fertilizers and turf builders, I really didn't see any significant improvement. My Daddy told me to apply Epsom salt to the lawn using a hand spreader, so I did. I decided to apply it right before a rain storm came. I still didn't see any improvement so I moved on to other yard projects and forgot about the grass. 3 weeks later, a delivery person made a comment that I had the greenest grass in the neighborhood. I went out back, standing on my deck and looked down at my lawn. I was shocked at how lush and green it really did look. It took 4 bags of Epsom Salt and 3 weeks to make a believer out of me. I guess Daddy really does know best ;)

  3. Very nice, congratulations for this wonderful blog. I am a plant lover and I have a small nursery in my backyard. I have used Epsom salt for plants after reading your article and I am very happy with the results. All thanks to you.