Readers get confused when they hear about Epsom salts.

“Isn’t that what you take a bath in?”

“Is it good for my garden?”

“Won’t it burn my plants?”

“Is it really a salt?”

The answers, in order, are: yes, yes, no, and no.

Epsom salt is nothing like the salt we use at the dinner table. In fact, Epsom salts’ scientific makeup is that of magnesium sulfate, a form of magnesium and sulfur crystal that is easily dissolved in water and readily used by plants. However, due to its depleting nature, oftentimes your average plant is lacking in a healthy amount of magnesium sulfate. Typically, western soils, especially, known for their high alkalinity, are low in magnesium.

This is where Epsom salts save the day. Magnesium sulfate helps your plants utilize two other nutrients that you apply frequently, nitrogen and phosphorus. Mixed with water, they are a sure pick-me-up for your foliage, taking almost immediate effect. You will witness your magnesium-starved plants perk up quickly, set new buds, break out of their winter doldrums, and start to flower; you will even notice an increased rate of germination in your seeds. Epsom salts are also a nifty tonic to use if you are “pushing” plants to bloom, say, before a big event.

The Epsom Salt Industry Council says, “Don’t worry, it can’t be overused.”

They recommend:

  • house plants: 2 tbsp./gal. water, once a month

  • tomatoes and peppers: 1 tbsp. dry/ft. of plant height, every 2 weeks

  • roses: 1 tbsp. dry/ft. of plant height, every 2 weeks, and scratch ½ cup into soil of each plant at beginning of bloom season

  • lawns: apply 3 lb. dry/1,250 sq. ft.

  • general: use as foliar spray of 1 tsp. w/ water on weekly basis to discourage pests

Sage lovers, beware: sage is the only plant that does not respond kindly to magnesium sulfate, as stated by the Epsom Salt Industry Council.

In addition, Epsom salts also appear to help Japanese maples struggling through the summer season. Some experts believe that it is not the heat that hinders these plants, but months of watering with salty municipal water. A few tablespoons of Epsom salts to a gallon of water used as a drench helps reduce lime buildup and lowers alkalinity and the salt levels of soil.

With all these uses for Epsom salts, it is a welcome relief that you can invest in Epsom salts without a strain on your wallet. You can often find Epsom salts in grocery and pharmacy stores starting at around $2.

So, what are you waiting for? Invest in the health and happiness of your yard and buy Epsom salts today!

Read all about Epsom salts at www.epsomsaltcouncil.org.

Source: Cindy McNatt, O.C. Register.