Lack of scientific evidence and exaggeration of the benefits of Epsom salt for plants put amateur gardeners in a dilemma: to use Epsom salt for rose plants or not?
This write-up will burst the myths associated with and bring facts surrounding this natural mineral.
A precise answer would be using Epsom salt to fertilize roses, but only when the growing soil is deficient in magnesium. Otherwise, you may end up over-fertilizing your plant.
Backed by anecdotal claims, Epsom salt has been used by gardeners to fertilize and get rid of pests.
Though no scientific evidence supports these reports, home gardeners have experienced positive results after using Epsom salt on roses.
Before applying Epsom salt to rose plants, spare a few more seconds.
Epsom salt consists of magnesium and sulfur, among the secondary macronutrients needed for plant growth.
Deficiency of these nutrients can make your plant leaves yellow and eventually affect its fruit or flower production.
Enriching your rose plants with magnesium, a crucial nutrient in Epsom salt, can enhance their overall health and promote abundant blooming.
Epsom salt isn’t a miracle mineral that can improve blooming.
Along with balanced nutrients (including magnesium and sulfur), you must provide adequate watering, ample sunlight, and ideal temperature for optimal plant growth.
You can check the detailed research report on using Epsom salt on plants here.
What is Epsom Salt?
Though it resembles table salt, Epsom salt tastes bitter and can’t be included in food.
Also called magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt has magnesium, oxygen and sulfur.
It includes nutrients that naturally occur in the garden soil. However, based on anecdotal claims, most gardeners use Epsom salt as a soil amendment, fertilizer, and pesticide.
Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to back these claims.
University of Minnesota Extension states excess use of Epsom salt can harm plant soil and helpful microorganisms that contribute to root colonization.
Is Epsom Salt Good for Roses?
You can use Epsom salt for rose plants and may also experience a quick effect on rose leaves if you use foliar spray. (Expert gardeners don’t recommend repeated use of foliar sprays)
But, excess use can deficiently harm plants.
Conduct soil tests before using any synthetic fertilizer on roses. It allows you to determine the nutritional needs of your flowering plant.
If you notice the garden soil has low levels of magnesium, then you can try adding magnesium-rich fertilizer.
In that case, adding Epsom salt dissolved in water can certainly increase magnesium levels and improve the overall appearance of your roses.
Over-fertilization occurs when you regularly fertilize rose plants with organic or inorganic fertilizers without conducting a soil test.
Nutrients in the soil differ depending on physical, chemical and biological factors.
For instance, let’s say you’re from Hawaii. According to the University of Hawaii, the soil lacks certain elements like phosphorus.
But roses need a high amount of phosphorus to thrive. Accordingly, you should fertilize plants with phosphorus-rich fertilizers so the plant gets enough nutrients for its optimal growth.
Similarly, if you notice your garden soil is deficient in magnesium, adding Epsom salt can help the rose plant thrive, as it needs magnesium and sulfur.
But this doesn’t mean you fill the garden soil with a pack of Epsom salt.
As mentioned, excess nutrients can result in over-fertilisation and stunted plant growth.
To summarize, you can use Epsom salt to enrich roses. But, to avoid over-fertilization, conducting a soil test before its application is recommended.
What are the Benefits of Epsom Salt for Roses?
Scientific studies have reported that adding Epsom salt (magnesium) to magnesium-deficient soil improved plant growth and production.
Signs of magnesium deficiency include early leaf drop, yellowing of leaves and reduced formation of blossoms.
By this, we can conclude that adding Epsom salt to rose plants is beneficial when the growing medium is magnesium deficient.
There are many benefits claimed by the internet, which have no scientific evidence to back them.
Important: Gardening experts state that high phosphorus levels can prevent plants from absorbing magnesium from the soil.
Though your potting soil has sufficient magnesium, it won’t be able to uptake by roots. In this case, you should reduce the addition of phosphorus-rich fertilizers.
Epsom Salt to Fertilize Rose Plants – Is a Myth or a Miracle?
Almost all blogs and social media pages that backed the benefits of Epsom salt for plants aren’t based on scientific evidence.
Scientific researchers stated these claims to be useless and myths.
Myth #1 Epsom salt helps in seed germination
Although adding magnesium sulfate doesn’t ensure all seeds will germinate, it may improve germination. Non-dormant seeds only need water and oxygen to germinate; adding Epsom salt won’t show significant improvement.
Myth #2 Epsom Salt makes the rose plant bushier
Adding Epsom salt to the plant soil, which has a magnesium and sulfur deficiency, may help balance nutrients and eventually make the foliage green.
But, this credit can’t be singled to this mineral.
You can add other magnesium-rich fertilizers and see similar results.
Myth #3: Adding Epsom Salt encourages rose plants to produce more flowers
While magnesium is indeed an essential nutrient for plants, it is usually present in sufficient quantities in the soil.
Adding Epsom salt to the soil may disrupt the balance of nutrients and lead to nutrient deficiencies or toxicity.
Giving roses proper care, such as regular watering, enough sunlight, and suitable fertilization, is recommended instead of relying solely on Epsom salt.
Myth #4 Increases chlorophyll production
Magnesium is an essential element in chlorophyll production. However, excess use of magnesium sulphate has not significantly benefited the plant. Instead, it can lead to stunted growth.
As mentioned above, magnesium is already available in the soil in the required quantities, so adding Epsom salt isn’t essential.
With ample amount of sunlight and water, your rose plant will be able to produce green foliage.
Myth #5 Epsom salt deters pests and slugs
Epsom salt does not effectively deter pests and slugs on plants.
Research has shown that targeted pest control methods like organic insecticides or companion planting are more effective in protecting plants from unwanted invaders.
Additionally, opting for natural solutions reduces the potential harm to beneficial insects and the environment.
Myth #6: It can be used as fertilizer
Epsom salt has magnesium and sulfur, considered secondary and essential nutrients for plant growth. But, along with these nutrients, rose plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
A well-balanced fertilizer is needed to enrich the plant soil.
Relying on Epsom salt to fertilize rose plants isn’t a good idea.
How to Use Epsom Salt for Roses?
You can use Epsom salt in landscapes where magnesium is deficient. It will show significant improvement by contributing to optimal plant growth and flowering.
However, urban gardeners need not use Epsom salt as most home garden soils are already rich in magnesium and other nutrients. They are rarely deficient in magnesium.
However, a soil test can help you determine the nutrients in the soil.
If your potting soil or growing medium has low magnesium levels, you can use Epsom salt.
3 Simple Ways to Use Epsom Salt to Enrich Rose Plants
- The easiest way is to sprinkle Epsom salt around the rose plant deficient in magnesium and sulfur. 1 teaspoon per 1 foot of rose plant’s height.
- After applying, use a rake to work the soil around the plant.
- Avoid direct contact with the stem.
Dissolve 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt with 1 gallon of water and pour it regularly into your flowering plant.
You can use the dissolved water to sprinkle on the affected leaves to make them green. But, this is not recommended by most gardeners.
Check this: How to use Epsom salt for Poinsettias?
Draws back of using Epsom salt for plants
- Salt build-up in soil can harm plants by preventing them from absorbing nutrients.
- Using too much Epsom salt can cause too much magnesium in the soil, leading to nutrient imbalances.
- Epsom salt doesn’t solve all plant problems like diseases or pests. Using too much Epsom salt can harm plants, so using the correct dosage is crucial.
- Epsom salt does not provide a complete range of essential nutrients plants need for healthy growth.
- It may not be compatible with certain plant species that are sensitive to high magnesium levels.
- Epsom salt is not a substitute for regular fertilizers that provide a balanced spectrum of necessary nutrients.
- Excessively using Epsom salt can lead to water pollution when excess salt leaches into water bodies.
- The use of Epsom salt may not be cost-effective compared to other proven fertilizers or soil amendments.
- It is important to consider the specific needs of your plants, assess their current condition, and consult with a knowledgeable gardening expert to gain insightful recommendations and insights before relying solely on Epsom salt.
Also Read: How to fertilize roses using cow manure?
Important Tips While Fertilizing Rose Plant
1. Choose the right fertilizer: Look for a balanced fertilizer for roses.
2. Apply in the spring: Start fertilizing your rose plants in the early spring when new growth begins.
3. Follow the instructions: Read the label and follow the instructions carefully regarding how much fertilizer to use per plant.
4. Before applying fertilizer to your rose plants, water them thoroughly. After applying the fertilizer, remember to water them again.5. Spread evenly: Sprinkle the fertilizer evenly around the base of the plant, avoiding direct contact with the stems or leaves.
6. Don’t over-apply: Use the recommended amount of fertilizer and avoid over-fertilizing, as this can cause damage to the plants.
7. Use organic alternatives: Consider using organic fertilizers or compost to provide nutrients to your rose plants.
8. To help plants retain moisture and release nutrients gradually, add a layer of organic mulch around their base.9. Fertilize regularly: Repeat the process every four to six weeks during the growing season to keep your rose plants healthy.
10. Monitor plant health: Observe the plants for any signs of nutrient deficiencies or excesses and adjust the fertilization schedule accordingly.
The use of Epsom salt for roses isn’t backed with scientific evidence. However, the internet is filled with many anecdotal reports claiming its benefits.
It is safe and good to use Epsom salt for rose plants when the garden soil is deficient in magnesium.
Adding Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, can increase magnesium levels in the soil and eventually improve plant growth.
However, gardening researchers claim most home garden soils already have sufficient magnesium and adding more can result in over-fertilization.
If you notice yellowing of leaves and other signs of magnesium deficiency, conduct a soil test and ensure you aren’t making any other common gardening mistakes.
Without proper guidance, most gardeners mistake one problem with another.
Did you ever use Epsom salt to fertilize rose plants? Did it increase flowering? Let me know.
Khaja Moinuddin, a computer science graduate, finds joy in gardening and homesteading. Join him on this blog as he shares his experiences in homesteading, gardening, and composting