Epsom Salts are an incredible natural and safe product to have at home for MANY uses. In fact, every household should have epsom salts on hand to receive the frugal and natural benefits of this wonder mineral.
But today, we want to focus on just the uses for the garden because those are incredible enough! It is like your own natural Miracle Gro and will produce amazing, beautiful and tasty results with your plants and food growing in your home and garden.
It is also safe, easy and cheap to use, so you can’t really go wrong with epsom salt for your gardens.
What is Epsom Salt specifically?
It is a mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate in crystal form. It comes from the bitter saline spring of Epsom in Surrey, England. Interestingly, it is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of the magnesium and sulfate, but because it has the appearance of salt, it is named Epsom Salt. Classic table salt is sodium chloride. Epsom salts do not have sodium chloride.
Let us share with you 17 incredible ways to use epsom salts in your garden and why you should use epsom salts in your garden.
1. Deter Raccoons – Somehow it was discovered that Racoons do not like the smell of Epsom Salts. It was an interesting, but very useful discovery! Just simply sprinkle Epsom salts around your trash cans and the masked critters will avoid your trash. However, you will need to reapply every time it rains or after a couple of weeks with no rain.
2. Deter Slugs – Sprinkle Epsom salt where the slugs are found and you will not have a slug problem anymore! Regular salt also works for this purpose, but since we are talking about Epsom salt – you can use that too!
3. Natural Insecticide Spray for creepy crawlies and animals in gardens – Use Epson salts on your lawn and in your garden to safely and naturally get rid of plant pests from the creepy crawly kind to the animals like groundhogs, rabbits and deer that like to munch on the green leaves and food. There are a few different ways to do this. For one example, mix Epsom salt with bran and molasses to keep away crawling bugs and even grasshoppers. Second, to deter the animals, sprinkle Epsom salt on the leaves of the greens as these discourages them from chewing on the leaves. It may be best to dilute with 2 TBSPS of Epsom salt in 1 gallon of water and spray as direct epsom salt may be too harsh for some plants – causing a burning to the plant (on hot, bright days).
Grass and Plants
1. Make and Keep Grass Greener – Epsom salt provides needed magnesium and iron to your soil. When you add to the soil, you are naturally providing vital nutrients. These vital nutrients help prevent yellowing leaves and prevents/minimizes the loss of green color (magnesium is an essential element in the chlorophyll molecule) in plants. So this may be the natural, frugal answer to a greener lawn. Just add 2 tablespoons to 1 gallon to water. Spread on your lawn with a garden sprayer and make sure it soaks into the grass.
2. Fertilize Houseplants – Plants need nutrients to stay healthy. Epsom salt supplies the beneficial nutrients of magnesium and sulfur which aide in healthy plan growth! Epsom salt makes the main nutrients in most plant foods (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) more effective too. Sprinkle a little Epsom salt once weekly to help nourish your houseplants, flowers and vegetables. You can also mix with in your watering can before you water for the same benefits (pouring at the base of the plant).
3. Prettier Roses – A tried and true method for more vibrant, fuller blooms, rich color and gorgeous dark green foliage are due to feeding your roses Epsom salts. Not only will it make them look more beautiful, but it actually improves the strength of the plants too. This is because the magnesium levels will increase, which in turn increase the chlorophyll production and seed germination. It also provides extra strength to the cell walls of the rose while improving extra absorption of sulfur, nitrogen and phosphorus.
The process of feeding roses Epsom salts are a little different then the applications mentioned for the other benefits. For the most benefit, what you will want to do is soak the unplanted rose bushes in 1/2 cup of Epsom salts per gallon of water before you plant the roses. This will strengthen the roots before planting.
Next, when you go to plant the rose bush, just simply add 1 TBSP of Epsom salt to each hole.
Finally, for already planted roses and after planing, for maintenance – dilute 1/2 cup of Epsom salts per gallon of water for watering the roses at the beginning of the season, and again each month – 6 weeks during the growing season. You can also till into the soil around the base of the roses the 1 TBSP of Epsom salts just like when planting.
4. Fuller flowers – Similar to the roses, the magnesium sulfate will help any garden flowers and shrubs to be fuller, richer in color and hardier. You can apply the Epsom salts the same way as the roses.
For Growing Foods
1. Bigger, better, and more produce – Several studies and tests have shown Epsom salt helps to increase production of peppers, tomatoes and their blooms. For a general rule, simple add 1 teaspoon per a gallon of water sprayed on your plants every 1-2 weeks. Be careful not to use a lot of undiluted, direct epsom salts to the leaves (the soil is fine) as the leaves can burn in the sun. See suggestions below for specific garden foods!
2. Sweeter Tomatoes – Epsom salts will helps to create sweeter tasting tomatoes. Since tomatoes are one of the most commonly home grown foods, we wanted to share how to make yours the best on the block! Tomatoes can easily become magnesium deficient and will need more Epsom salts (or rather more frequent or more concentrated application) than other home grown foods. All you need to do is add 2 TBSP of Epsom salts per gallon of water every 1-2 weeks.
3. Stronger peppers – Like tomatoes, peppers also have a tendency to run on the low side of magnesium normally. But by simply adding 1 TBSP to the soil at the base of the plants, you can help deliver more magnesium to these plants which will allow them to become stronger, grow bigger and more peppers per plant. In addition, if you are growing hot peppers, Epsom salts tend to also allow your hot peppers to have more heat!
4. Fruit Trees – We have been growing “fruit trees” for the past 3 years. This year, we “might” have a little fruit. Growing fruit trees with the purpose of having fruit is a long process. Because of how long it takes, the magnesium levels in the soil drop to below ideal and so even though they are not necessariy needing as much and continuous Epsom salt applications like tomatoes and peppers, they will greatly benefit from Epsom salt application. Applying Epsom salt to your fruits trees will have many benefits including stronger plants and better growth, tastier fruit, prettier blooms and fruit. Plus, your fruits trees will naturally be hardier to withstand weather and diseases a little easier.
The recommended application for fruit trees are 2 TBSP per 9 square feet over the root area 3 times per year.
General Plant Care
1. Reduce Transplant Shock – When transplanting plants from one location to another or planting in the ground from pots, roots can be damaged and transplant shock can occur. This is where Epsom salts can be of huge benefit. By applying Epsom salts, the chlorophyll production will increase and allow for better nutrient absorption to the plants that also allows them to adapt to their new location a little easier. To apply, after you have transplanted the plant, water them with 1 TBSP of Epsom salt to 1 gallon of water.
2. Prevent Leaf Curling – One key clue that you have a plant that is lacking magnesium is when the leaves begin to curl. You can easily diagnose the problem and solve it just as easily by apply Epsom salt to the plant. Just like the other applications, use 1 TBSP of Epsom salt to 1 gallon of water and water your plants with curling leaves until the problem is solved (once a week until the problem is solved).
3. Yellow Leaves – Yellowing leaves are another clue that magnesium or sulfur nutrients are needed. Since Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, you can just simply apply this one product to provide both nutrients. Again, just apply by using 1 TBSP of Epsom salts to 1 gallon of water and water your plants, applying once a week until the leaves are greener and brighter!
4. Tree Stump Removal –Get rid of tree stumps by drilling holes in the stump and filling them with 100% Epsom salt. Drill holes in the top and then angled holes in the sides to meet up with the top holes. Follow with water, and wait. Live stumps may take as long as a month to decay, and start to decompose all by themselves. Please note, you may need to reapply about every 3-4 weeks until the stump dies to be removed easily. It is a process, but much cheaper than hiring a tree stump removal company! You can see more information on Pinterest.
5. Improve Seed Germination – Magnesium is a vital nutrient for seed germination. Magnesium helps to strengthen cell walls which make for hardier seedlings, which in turn makes for stronger, healthier plants and ultimately fuller, brighter blooms or tastier food! It is an important building block for your seeds. The general rule is 1 cup of Epsom salts per 100 square feet or simply add 1 – 2 tablespoons into the soil at the bottom of each hole before dropping in seeds (this is the preferred method).
6. Increase Nutrient Absorption – If you were to purchase a commercial fertilizer, one key nutrient is magnesium. This is because magnesium help the roots of plants to absorb important plant nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. So, you can just use Epsom salts since they are Magnesium Sulfate for this purpose and save money, along with not needing to use the chemical fertilizers for a truly “organic” garden. Again, for application, just use 1 cup of Epsom salts per 100 square feet or simply add 1 – 2 tablespoons into the soil at the bottom of each hole before dropping in seeds (this is the preferred method).
What about salt to kill weeds?
As an extra hint…if you want to kill weeds and make your own DIY Weed Killer like Round-up or Weed-B-Gone, you will use regular table salt, which is sodium chloride, not Epsom salts which is magnesium sulfate. We have a recipe to use just plain ol’ salt to make your own weed killer.
Where to Get Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is cheap no matter where you get it and really has no shelf life. That’s why it is such a great product to have on hand at all times. You can buy it at most grocery stores in their medicine section. You can get it at all drug stores (since it has many medicinal uses). You can also get it online on Amazon and delivered straight to your door.
Also, don’t miss our previous post on Why You Should Use Vinegar in your gardens too!