Epsom Salts

Warrenton, VA

Hello, when I received my toothpick-sized Heirloom roses (no joke but you should see them only a year later), I got copious planting instructions/care advice. Phew! What was I in for?
One WEIRD addition to the normal planting procedure was to use a tiny amount of Epsom Salts! Yikes! I could swear that any kind of salts is a sure killer! And for a sensitive Heirloom rose? But here was the company that created the little buggers, advising that I trek out and find some salts...so of course I was curious enough to go on the mission. Anything (cheap that is) for my little tykes!

But, you know, I am now a believer. Just something about adding them (and you can add them to many plants), I can just tell that the plants are thriving because of the trace minerals that they now have access to. Interesting, but there you have it.
So, do YOU have it? Epsom Salts, that is? What is your experience? I am using the Espoma Brand.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Gracye-- A story for you---

Several years ago, on WCBM (680 AM) Radio in Baltimore, there was an early Saturday (7-9AM)_call in show
called "The Garden Club" hosted by Allan Summers.
Allan Summers owned the, now defunct, Carroll Gardens Nursery in Westminster, MD.
It was a horribly junky place. Most of his business was through Mail Order....

He was a rather pudgy, elfin-like man, but he was our Gardening Guru on all things back then.
I met him twice-taking the 40 minute trek from my house to Westminster...AAAGGHHH!
What a junk heap his shop was!!!! Disgusting!!! And his greenhouses....Barf!

Many of the things I know about gardening now--I owe it to him. He was relentless in educating people
on gardening. I used to get up early enough on Saturdays so I could listen to his Radio show.
I listened to it long enough that I already knew the answer he would give when people called in.

Of course--he had his sponsors and he, also endlessly, promoted their products. That is just reality!
Many of these products were NOT available in any ordinary garden Centers back hen. Just his.

One of them--"SUPERthrive", which has been around since 1940, is now being carried by HD
for the first time this year. HA!!!! A few drops to the gallon of water--and your plants will thrive!
Look for it in the Garden Dept. at your local HD. Google it for more information.
It is NOT cheap! About $12 for a small bottle with a pipette attached to the lid for measuring drops....

However----the show was 2hrs. long--and having people call in with questions for 2 hrs. is no small task.
In time--I could have answered all those questions myself--as I had been listening to him for over 2 yrs.
That is how I learned many, many things about gardening.
Knowledge is an accumulation of acquired information one's brain chooses to retain. Simple enough?

OK! Why do I bring all this up?
He always advocated using Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate) as a first feeding of the season for Roses in the spring.
He said it caused the Roses to shoot up new canes from the bottom--and it really did!
I always sprinkle a couple of hand-fulls of Epsom Salts around all my roses in early spring.
And--BAM! There come the new canes.

You can also use Epsom Salts on other plants--but I do not know which ones to advise you.
Basically--I would imagine they make new growth--or enhance the current growth on blooming plants.
I have used them on my Brugmansias.

I will let others add to this advice--as I am not all that sure just WHAT it does....

BTW--Epsom Salts is sold at all the big Pharmacies--so no need to order them form $$$$ on-line places.
It is really cheap. People have been using this forever to soak their aching feet in and all that stuff....


Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Epsom Salts is really cheap at the big boxes, like Walmart. It's usually in the pharmacy section. I've heard it's good on newly planted tomatoes. Ric

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

and supposed to keep critters away when you throw some in when your planting bulbs and helps with Clematis wilt

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Do you add it in the planting hole or sprinkle on top of the dirt around the base of the plant, or does it matter either way? Never heard of it before, but like Gita said, all these tidbits get added to my knowledge base and over the accumulated years should make me a better gardener (the operative word being "should" LOL).

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

Thank you all for the information. I have always heard about it but never tried it, and definitely didn't know it was sold in the pharmacy section. Let's keep this secrete to ourselves. Once the manufacturers find out, they will put it in fancy bags and boxes with flowers printed on them and sell them for $$$ at nurseries ;-).

This message was edited Jun 7, 2012 9:28 AM

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

LOL - get mine (as Ric mentioned) at my local Wally World - good for aches and pains and equally good for the gardenias. I scratch a bit in the soil around their base in spring and whaa laaa....she likes it!!

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Wallgreens also carries it in cartons that look like 1/2gal milk containers.

Very inexpensive....

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Put some in the hole with the bulbs
and then for the clem wilt 2 tablespoons to 1 gallon of water and pour on roots

Crozet, VA

Very interesting information. Gita, it is funny that you mentioned Super Thrive. Early on when I first became a member here, I read a discussion on the benefits of Super Thrive and have used it ever since. I now order it online and get a pint plus size bottle which will last a long time.

I have a sprayer that I use for watering the house plants and I mix a dropper of Super Thrive along with a big gulp of Peroxide and my house plants all seem very happy with the mix. I have heard past discussioins on epsom salts but haven't used it in my garden as of yet. The only rose we have is a Knock Out.

This is an interesting topic and I want to do some research and see what other plants might benefit from its use. Thanks for the topic Grayce. Thanks for other info all. Jen, very interesting about the Clematis.


Warrenton, VA

And thank ALL OF YOU for the interesting comments! Looks like I'm on the right track. Will continue to use ES, and now can attribute that HUGE rose cane to the ES! I used to use them all the time for my horses - kills hoof fungus and is mild.
Gita - really neat! You're description of that horrid shop was priceless!

Ric - I threw some around my tomatoes this Spring, and they look GRAND!

FlowAgen - Maybe that Wilt thing is what happened to my clematis two years in a row? Came out bushy, thriving, huge blooms and all of a sudden, black, wilted, dessicated looking. Horrible. HHHmmmm, now I'll try the ES on 'em. Hoof rot, Clematis rot, it's probably all the same...thanks again!
I would just NEVER think of putting ANY salt on plants. But, I am changing my mind.

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

This thread caught my eye as I just purchased some Epsom Salts in order to soak my hand. After reading everyones comments I did a bit of searching and found a very well written article in Dave's Garden about this very topic!

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2350/#b , Magnesium: Essential for a plantís health, and ours, By Darius Van d'Rhys (darius)
March 18, 2009

Mount Bethel, PA(Zone 6a)

Is it too late to put down the epsom salt?

Warrenton, VA

Hello UprightK - You are right! Very informative and interesting article - makes me more committed to using Epsom Salts. ROSES_R_RED - I don't know, but am going by the "once a year" thought for Epsom Salts, so probably it is fine. But I suggest that you go to some web site that specializes in your favorite type of rose, and look there. All I really know is that my heritage rose care information got me on this path...best of luck!

Mount Bethel, PA(Zone 6a)

Thanks Gracye, I'll do that.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


And, as I mentioned somewhere above--make that "once a year" the first, early feeding of your Roses
so the ES can do its work and stimulate new canes to grow from below.

It is amazing! No matter what kind of roses you have, you will see at least one new cane coming up.

Now I have to remember to, soon, give my brugs a shot of E.S.. They are all in bud..so this may
be a good time.

Everyone that I gave a brug to--PLEASE share its progress with me--especially if it blooms!
That is always soooo exciting....

Warrenton, VA

There is another thing about Epsom Salts. Did you know that some tomato growers use them when they plant their tomatoes? I think that tomatoes are related to the Rose family, right? I put some Epsom Salts into the ground when I planted my tomatoes this Spring, and they DO seem especially vigorous, but then, we've had pretty good growing weather this Spring, methinks.

Jeese, seems that EVERYTHING is related to roses. Even my prize Ornamental Plum is related! Makes it easy, dont'cha think? I am really paring down the chemicals that I buy...and they are organic, so I am feeling pretty successful with my gardening program these days (not saying this very loudly of course).

And, the final, great thing about Epsom Salts - no expiration date!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Hi, UprightK, Thanks for adding the link toDarius' article. She knows her stuff.

Gracye, tomatos are not related to roses, especially. But yes, many fruits are- you can see the similarity in the flowers.

Crozet, VA

Sally, interesting you mentioned Darius' article. The said Darius is my house guest as we speak. She has been visiting here for many years when she has visits at the University of Virginia Medical Center. She is off for her appointment this morning and may end up staying another night if they can work in some more tests tomorrow. She is a brilliant woman, that is for sure.

John planted our tomatoes on Sunday. Is it too late for him to sprinkle ES around them now? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thanks all.


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Yay, lovely, hope the tests go well.

I think Magnesium is fairly soluble, if you have it it would not hurt.

Crozet, VA

Off topic I suppose, but earlier today I was looking at the very deep blue color of my Hydrangeasthis year. I know in the past that we have treated with I believe it was Aluminum Sulfate.....will check later and make sure I am not ing folks erroneously, but that is something I found in an article some years ago that it is supposed to help deepen the blue color of the Hydrangea. Anyway.....they are especially lovely this year and I am enjoying seeing them out of my kitchen window.


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Al Sulfate would make the soil more acid, so that sounds right!

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

OK - clean out the medicine cabinet. A bit ago there was a recall on Mylanta which is mostly aluminium hydroxide. I read "When the aluminum sulfate comes into contact with water, it forms aluminum hydroxide and a much diluted sulfuric acid solution, which alters the soil acidity." (http://www.aluminumsulfate.net/Uses-of-Aluminum-Sulfate.html) So, can we pour the recalled Mylanta around the hydrangea? A chemist I am NOT!

Also, mylanta has Magnesium Hydroxide and Simethicone.
Second thought, I just read the inactive ingredients in Mylanta. It is has two kinds of parabens in it. If you don't use it in the garden, throw it out!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Hm, I assumed paraben was kinda like parrafin, but that was pretty dumb to think now wasn't it?
Our police department now has some kind of drop off for expired drugs. Of course they do NOW because I finally threw out a bag of moms old meds that I kept to try and dispose of safely.

Crozet, VA

Couldn't find the bag, but if you say it is that...then so be it. Will research the topic again if I ever feel the need to have bluer Hydrangeas in the future. Just read both the links here and learned a bit. If I had pink Hydrangeas, the AS would work to make them pinker. I do acutally have a purplish color Hydrangea and will have to make sure it gets a dip of the stuff if I can find it.

John had questions on the use of ESalts, so I just re-read this thread and learned a lot. Thanks for the education folks.


Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Sally: Some local hospitals may be authorized for disposal of old meds, sharps, etc. Holy Cross in Silver Spring is.

Warrenton, VA

So, I had a moment to actually read a bit this week, and naturally went to my Farmer's Almanac. One of the big "hints" was that tomatoes suffering from Blight (or trying to) need sulfur sprinkled around them. I asked my dear husband to get some at our local nursery, while on the "Mulch Mission," and he said that the staffer pointed him to some kind of "tomato grow" (he read the label-no sulfur to be had).

So, he came home with a load of mulch, and no Sulfur. As I helped him with the mulch, I was cleaning up our shed. And, for some reason, I looked at the label of my Espoma Epsom Salts.

There, listed with the other minerals, was SULFUR.

Now, how about that?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Wow, go figure.

Well, one of my roses, which I may have tossed some epsom salts around, and for sure got a dose of Bayer combo treatment (anti bug anti fungus) has two really nice looking new canes coming up.

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

I keep an index card file of information I accumulate from all over. Concerning Epsom Salts here are a few tips I found on my card:

Epsom salts contain magnesium and sulfur and generally deepens color, thickens petals, and increases root structure.
For peppers it increases fruit size and sweetness.
The magnesium competes with potassium and calcium in the soil. Too much potassium will inhibit the uptake of magnesium in a plant. Adding nitrogen will supposedly help that situation.

It seems that foliar feeding is a good way to add it to plants. If foliar feeding tomato plants use 1 tbs. per gallon at transplanting, flowering, and again at fruit set. I do this with eggplants and peppers as well.
If adding to the soil for tomatoes, eggplants and peppers use 2 tbs per gallon of water and apply 1 pint (2 cups) to each plant.
Another tip says to add 1 tbs around each plant - doesn't say when - I assume at transplanting.

Planting mix - use 2tbs. per quart of mix.

I also notated to use 1 cup of Epsom salts around your Japanese Maple per season. I used to do that but then the trees started dying after a couple of bad winters. Must have forgotten the Epsom salts that year! LOL
Somewhere I also read that one should feed all clematis at the beginning of the season with 1 tbs of Epsom salts in a gallon of water. Adding ES will help with the yellowing of clematis leaves as that is a sign of magnesium deficiency. The ES can be added at any time when that happens.

All on all it seems that ES are helpful to a variety of plants!

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

gardadore, thanks for mentioning use of epsom salts on Japanese maples and clematis...two of my plant types I worry over. The addition of epsom salts may be just the thing for me. er, I mean them. When you applied ES to your Japanese maples, did you just sprinkle it on the soil, or did you first put it in water?

I also liked the site you posted on the organic gardening forum that gives this recipe

Alfalfa - Epsom Salts Tea:
Add to a 20 gal. garbage can filled with water: 16 cups of Alfalfa pellets and 2 cups of Epsom salts. (This is a basic 8:1 ratio.) Stir well and let brew for one week. Stir and pour by the cupful on roses, shrubs, veggies and flowers of all kinds. Add sludge from bottom to next brew or to compost pile or just add more water and use slurry on plants. Use Weekly through growing season

Thinking I might be able to brew this in my rain barrels as soon as we get some rain lol

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)


I think I added 1-2 tbs. per gallon for the maples and fed them each a little over a qt each. I like the sound of the alfalfa tea as well. I believe it stinks, though, so I will be careful what kind of a container I use - one just for the tea and nothing else!

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Has anyone actually done this tea? How nasty is it?

Can you just sprinkle epsom salt around each rose? How much?

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

Here are some sites that might answer questions as to how much for what plant. Can't vouch for the reliability of any of these sites but it will give you an idea. I don't have many roses so had to look that up:




annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)


" And the Epsom Salt Industry Council says, don't worry, it can't be overused. You can apply it wet or dry, it makes no difference.

They recommend:

* House plants: 2 tablespoons per gallon of water, once a month.
* Tomatoes and peppers: 1 tablespoon dry per foot of plant height, every two weeks.
* Roses: 1 tablespoon dry per foot of plant height, every two weeks. And scratch 1/2 cup into the soil per plant at the beginning of the bloom season. Also use as a foliar spray of 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts with water weekly to discourage pests.
* Lawns: Apply 3 pounds per 1,250 square feet (applied dry).

Sage is the only plant that does not respond kindly to magnesium sulfate, the Epsom Salt Industry Council says."

For Japanese maples:
"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 our soil."

http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/ has wonderful info on many uses.


* Soak unplanted bushes in 1/2 cup of Epsom salt per gallon of water to help roots recover. Then add a tablespoon of Epsom salt to each hole at planting time.
* To encourage flowering canes and healthy new basal cane growth, scratch 1/2 cup of Epsom salt into soil at the plant base. Add 1 tablespoon diluted in a gallon of water per foot of plant height every two weeks.
* Spray roses with Epsom salt solution weekly (1 tablespoon per gallon of water) to help discourage pests."*

*As with any foliar application, care should be taken to not apply on hot sunny days to avoid leaf scorch.

And, again as Gardadore said above, this is just info and not my personal experience (yet) or recommendations on usage.

This message was edited Jun 22, 2012 11:07 AM

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

My one recommendation is when using it as a foliar spray is to dilute it in very warm water so it dissolves better. When I've tried to make large batches I find it sits in the bottom of the bucket if not dissolved in really warm water.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Jessica - are you referring to the tea or the just the epsom salt?

Who cares about stench for a bit when you have the benefit of such great fragrance?!? Sheesh between the fish emulsion and sea kelp I've been using...LOL. Can the tea be used as a foliar spray?

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

I was referring to diluting the Epsom Salts in water to make a foliar spray!! And yes, the fish emulsion can be pretty strong but I understand the alfalfa is really pungent! Haven't experienced it myself so can't compare the two!!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

You want pungent, do some comfrey leaf garden tea.

Those fertile teas are now supposed to be used fresh so to speak instead of sitting for days anw weeks, so I'd use the alfalfa tea after one day, and I don't think it'll be bad.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I am so glad we don't have pigs any more. Ric would make pig manure tea I had just beautiful boxes but it took a few days for the smell to dissipate. I am finding this thread very interesting. Ric knew all about using Epsom Salts but I didn't.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Ah the origin of the phrase "P Yeeeuw," I think.

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