10 Ways You Can Use Epsom Salt in the Garden

Epsom salt, a simple and affordable mineral compound, has surprisingly diverse uses in the garden. Beyond its well-known benefits for relaxing baths, Epsom salt can boost your plants’ health and productivity.

Learn how to harness its power to improve seed germination, enhance soil, deter pests, and more.

1. Boost Seed Germination

  • Method: Create a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salt per gallon of water. Soak seeds for 12-24 hours before planting.
  • Why it works: Epsom salt softens the hard outer coating of some seeds, making it easier for the seedling to emerge. This is especially helpful for seeds with notoriously tough shells.

2. Enhance Nutrient Absorption

  • Method: Sprinkle up to 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt around the base of plants (adjust amount based on plant size) and water in thoroughly. Repeat every 4-6 weeks.
  • Why it works: Epsom salt provides magnesium, a key component of chlorophyll production. It also aids in the uptake of other vital nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Particularly beneficial for heavy feeders like tomatoes, peppers, and roses.

3. Green Up Foliage

  • Method: Mix 1 tablespoon Epsom salt per gallon of water. Spray directly onto yellowing leaves once a week until the color improves.
  • Why it works: Magnesium deficiency is a common cause of yellowing leaves (chlorosis). The Epsom salt spray provides a quick, absorbable dose of magnesium to address the problem.

4. Improve Flower Blooming

  • Method: Add 1 tablespoon Epsom salt per gallon of water to your regular watering can. Apply to flowering plants every 2-4 weeks for an extra boost.
  • Why it works: Magnesium and sulfate in Epsom salt aid in healthy flower development, particularly in flowering plants like roses and rhododendrons.

5. Deter Garden Pests

  • Method: Sprinkle a ring of dry Epsom salt around the base of vulnerable plants. Reapply if rain washes it away.
  • Why it works: The sharp, gritty texture of Epsom salt crystals creates a physical barrier that slugs, snails, and some insects dislike crossing. It’s most effective as a deterrent, not a direct elimination method.

6. Promote Tomato and Pepper Production

  • Method: Dissolve 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt per gallon of water. Water your tomato and pepper plants with this mixture every 2 weeks.
  • Why it works: Tomatoes and peppers are particularly magnesium-hungry, and a boost can promote stronger growth, higher yields, and sweeter-tasting fruits.

7. Cure Yellowing Leaves

  • Method: Mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt per gallon of water. Spray the yellowing leaves thoroughly as needed until they regain their vibrant green color.
  • Why it works: Similar to “Green Up Foliage”, this foliar application targets magnesium deficiency, a primary cause of yellowing leaves.

8. Remove Tree Stumps

  • Method: Drill several holes into the tree stump. Fill the holes with Epsom salt and moisten. Cover the stump with a tarp to keep the area moist.
  • Why it works: Epsom salt helps accelerate the natural rotting process, leading to faster decomposition, making removal easier.

9. Enhance Soil Health

  • Method: Before planting, till 1 cup of Epsom salt per 100 square feet of soil, working it well into the ground.
  • Why it works: Provides a boost of magnesium and sulfur, which can improve soil structure, water retention, and nutrient availability for plants.

10. Lawn Fertilizer

  • Method: Dissolve 3 pounds of Epsom salt for every 1,250 square feet of lawn in a sprinkling can or sprayer attached to a hose. Apply evenly to the lawn.
  • Why it works: Provides beneficial nutrients that help your lawn stay thicker, lusher, and greener.

Important Reminders:

  • Overuse: Excessive Epsom salt can lead to problems like nutrient imbalances – start small and observe plant response.
  • Soil Test: A soil test reveals if a magnesium deficiency is actually present before supplementing.
  • Dilution: Always follow dilution ratios in instructions for best results.