Gardening can be quite therapeutic. Whether you’re doing it to find your connect with Mother Nature or as a profession, there’s something fulfilling about watching the various stages of growth of a seed or sapling that you planted and cared for on your own. It’s quite akin to having children, so it’s only obvious that you want to give your plants the best care, so that they can grow wonderfully to their full potential! And it can be quite devastating walking out into your garden and see your plants drooping or dying. Well, turns out, there may be a secret ingredient that could prevent such sad scenarios in your garden – Epsom salt!
You’ve probably already heard of Epsom salt because of its many health benefits and the wonders that are Epsom salt baths! However, with an increasing focus on organic farming/gardening and “green living”, Epsom salt has increased in popularity as an organic gardening supplement. Earlier obscured due to the dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, Epsom salt is today the best friend to many gardeners.
What Really are Epsom Salts?
Contrary to what the name suggests, Epsom salt is not really a salt. Named after a spring in Epsom, England, where it was first found, Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate.
What are the Uses of Epsom Salt?
Long used as a natural remedy for many ailments, Epsom salts are used for a wide variety of reasons, today. Whether it’s a soothing Epsom salt bath or household chores or to experience numerous health benefits, Epsom salts have seen it all! Some of the uses of Epsom salt are:
Magnesium and sulfur play an important role in maintaining human health. The former helps regulate over 325 enzymes, reduce inflammation, help muscle and nerve function, and help prevent hardening of your arteries, while the latter helps in the absorption of nutrients and the flushing out of toxins. Many studies state that magnesium and sulfate can be easily absorbed through the human skin, due to which Epsom salt baths have long been used to enjoy the health benefits of magnesium and sulfate. Due to their soothing properties, Epsom salt baths are also used to relieve pain, inflammation and swelling, especially in the case of sprains, gout and bruises. Epsom salt has also been used to treat the symptoms of athlete’s foot and remove toenail fungus. Soaking your feet in an Epsom salt bath can also help draw out any splinters that might have pierced your feet.
If you’ve ever prayed for “effortless beauty”, Epsom salts may very well be the answer to your prayers. Epsom salt is well known for its exfoliating and cleansing abilities, two reasons why it should be your skin’s best friend! Also, as it is a completely pure, natural mineral, you don’t have to worry about any negative after-effects like you may with other over-the-counter treatments. Epsom salt is also great for your hair, keeping it voluminous and shiny!
Epsom salt makes a great cleaning agent, whether it’s for cleaning bathroom tiles or to clean detergent build-up in your washing machine. It also makes a great handwash.
Epsom Salt Uses in Gardening
Now that we’ve understood just how beneficial Epsom salt can be in a variety of fields, let’s focus on the point of the article – Epsom salt in gardening! Just like humans, plants also need their supply of magnesium and sulfur for healthy growth. One of the two key components of Epsom salt is magnesium, an element that has great nutrient absorption abilities that help plants grow more quickly. It is also a great pest repellent and unlike chemical repellents and fertilizers, doesn’t accumulate in the soil. Sulfur, the second key element, is essential for the production of amino acids, vitamins and enzymes in plants, and is also responsible for the flavor in vegetables such as onions and broccoli.
Improve Seed Germination
The magnesium found in Epsom salts help in seed germination by strengthening the cellular walls of the seed. This makes the seed stronger, leading to healthier growth and blooms. Simply add 30 g of Epsom salt per 100 square feet of tilled soil as a soil amendment to give your seeds a growth boost.
Helps Prevent Transplant Shock
Not all seedlings can survive the shift from a pot to the soil or vice versa. Some plants also don’t survive when shifted from the indoors to the outdoors. This happens due to something known as “transplant shock” or the inability of the plant to adapt to changing conditions. Epsom salt helps prevent transplant shock by providing the plant with nutrients and encouraging its growth till the plant adapts to its new environment. Sprinkling a little Epsom salt and covering it with a layer of soil can help your plants counter and survive transplant shocks.
Increases Nutrient Absorption
Plants need vital nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur, which they may not be getting enough of (depending on the nutrient level of the soil). For this reason, chemical fertilizers are magnesium-enriched, as magnesium is a great nutrient absorber. The natural magnesium in Epsom salt increases the plants’ nutrient uptake, helping injured plants or moved plants. This is especially great for potted plants, which are more prone to nutrient deficiency than plants grown on the ground.
Natural Pest Repellents
The worry of pests is a constant companion to all gardeners. These unwelcome visitors make a meal out of your precious plants and you’d do anything to keep them away! Well, Epsom salt can help deter pests as the sharp, crystalline edges cause irritation to stray animals, just like diatomaceous earth. Epsom salt is also a great way to get rid of slugs and an Epsom salt spray acts as a natural insecticide due to its dehydrating abilities (though not to the extent of table salt). However, as Epsom salts are highly dissolvable, ensure you replenish your garden’s stock of Epsom salt after rain or after you’ve watered your plants.
Prevent Leaf Curling
Magnesium deficiency is a condition that doesn’t only affect humans. Plants also need their supply of magnesium and deficiency can occur due to wet, cold environments and acidic soil. Magnesium deficiency can cause the leaves of your plants to curl up, which can be cured by sprinkling Epsom salt around the plant’s base. You could also use a foliar spray (a mixture of Epsom salt and water) directly on the leaves as opposed to putting Epsom salt in the soil, which furthers your plants’ growth.
Prevent Yellowing of Leaves
Though it is inevitable that leaves will yellow and fall off at some point, Epsom salt helps prevent premature yellowing of leaves, helping them stay green longer. This is because magnesium aids in chlorophyll production, thus making it a great element for shrubs, trees and lawns. A tablespoon of Epsom salt once a month could go a long way in keeping your plants healthy and green!
Sweeter and Tastier Fruit
The “fruit phase” of plants is a crucial time in their life cycle. Most fruits don’t grow to their full potential, withering away or falling off prematurely due to vitamin deficiency. Plants such as tomatoes and peppers require substantial amounts of magnesium for healthy growth. Tomatoes, especially, bear fruit that is heavier than the plant, meaning it needs two times more magnesium than other plants to hold up its fruits. They are also more prone to calcium deficiency, leading to quicker rotting and decay (blossom end rot). Applying Epsom salt to these plants helps boost chlorophyll production and increase nutrient absorption, which leads to increased energy and strength for the fruit and the plant. This, in turn, leads to more sugar production in the fruit, making it sweeter and tastier.
Water your tomatoes with two tablespoons of Epsom salt mixed in a gallon of water every two weeks, or use a foliar spray to keep them healthy. Foliar sprays are also a great option for the healthy growth of peppers.
Epsom salt is especially helpful in the growth of rose shrubs. Epsom salts help increase the vibrancy of the flowers and also make them richer and stronger. Use Epsom salt at the time of planting and at the sign of first growth, and a regular foliar spray to keep your roses beautiful and vibrant.
Epsom salt is great as a natural herbicide. A mixture of Epsom salt, dish soap and vinegar are great weed-killers. Epsom salts are also great for removing tree stumps. By drilling holes in the stump and filling it with Epsom salt and water, you can get the tree stump to decompose in a few weeks, enabling easier removal of the stump.
Epsom Salts: Your Plants’ Best Friend!
Epsom salts have long been known to have beneficial properties for human health. However, with the advent of organic, environment-friendly gardening techniques, Epsom salt has become a gardening staple for its organic efficiency. The nutrient is literally an all-rounder, almost single-handedly ensuring the beautiful and healthy growth of your plants. They’re particularly great as they’re almost impossible to overuse. However, don’t go overboard with the Epsom salt and only give your plant as much as it needs. Start adding Epsom salt to your garden today and watch your blooms grow strong and healthy!