Epsom salt is a chemical compound that has various household applications. It is one of the indispensable ingredients in bath salts, and is also used for treating sprains and bruises. It is widely used in agriculture and gardening too. You might have heard about the use of Epsom salts as a fertilizer. As organic gardening is fast gaining momentum, commercial plant food is being replaced with other natural alternatives, like Epsom salts.
What is Epsom Salt?
It is nothing other than hydrated magnesium sulfate, and its chemical formula is MgSO4-7H2O. The name of this compound is derived from the town of Epsom in England, where it was discovered for the first time. The healing properties of Epsom salts have long been identified by humans, and it was used for treating various ailments. Even today, it has many household applications, including its use in agriculture and gardening. It is one of the popular plant foods, especially for plants, like tomatoes, peppers, and roses.
Action of Epsom Salts as Fertilizer
Very little research has been done about the action and effectiveness of Epsom salt plant fertilizer. However, most of the users vouch for its effectiveness as a plant food. It is said that, the efficacy of Epsom salts fertilizer may be due to the presence of magnesium and sulfur, that are vital for plant growth. Plants require magnesium right from the time of germination. Apart from helping the plants in preparing chlorophyll, magnesium also boosts their capacity to absorb nitrogen and phosphorous from the soil. It also strengthens the cell wall of the plants.
While some plants can withstand a deficiency of magnesium in the soil, others show symptoms, like curling of leaves and stunted growth. This affects the yield of such plants. Sulfur also aids the plants in producing chlorophyll. It is said to be beneficial for plants in repelling pests. So, Epsom salt that contains both magnesium and sulfur is found to be beneficial for the healthy growth of plants.
How to Use Epsom Salts for Plants
You may add Epsom salts directly to the soil, or dissolve it in water meant for plants. It can be added to the soil, before sowing seeds. For this purpose, one cup of Epsom salt is sufficient for a hundred square feet area. Sprinkle the salt and spread it in the soil evenly. Before planting, add a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil in which you want to grow the young plants. A solution of this salt in water (2 tablespoons per gallon of water) can be used once in a month. This solution is also said to be beneficial, if used for misting the foliage.
In case of established rose plants, you may add ½ cup of Epsom salts to the soil, every spring. During other seasons, one tablespoon per foot of plant height has to be used twice a month. Spread it around the base of the plant and water the soil well. For houseplants, make a solution of one teaspoon Epsom salt in three liters of water and use it once a week. The requirement of Epsom salts fertilizer may vary from one plant to another. So, it is advisable to have a basic idea about the proper use of Epsom salt as a fertilizer. For this purpose, you may either contact the local nursery or an expert horticulturist.
In short, there are many gardeners, who use Epsom salts, as it is found to be beneficial for certain plants like, tomatoes, peppers, and roses. But keep in mind to test the soil, before using Epsom salt.