How does epsom salt affect plant growth?


How does epsom salt affect plant growth?

Hardiness Zone: 1

Young City from Augusta, GA


Young City,

This is a great question, because although Epsom salt can be beneficial to plants, it isn't always in the way that gardeners think. Usually Epsom salts are sold as a fertilizer component or used as a tool to change soil pH.


Here's how it really affects plants:

Epsom salts contain two elements important for plant growth-magnesium and sulfur. Magnesium helps form chlorophyll in plants and is essential for photosynthesis. Magnesium is present naturally in the soil and is also found in organic fertilizers. Sulfur helps activate many plant proteins and enzymes needed for growth. It helps plants resist the cold, assists in root production and seed growth. Sulfur is often delivered to plants in the form of rainwater.

The claim is often made (at least by the folks selling it) that plants are usually deficient in these two elements. Not so. Some plants, like chrysanthemums and gardenias for example, do sometimes carry high levels of magnesium in their leaves, and can benefit from having high levels of magnesium in their soil. In the case of most plants, however, soil usually contains enough of these elements that adding Epsom salt is unnecessary.


Soils that lack magnesium tend to be acidic. Epsom salt is actually considered a neutral salt, meaning it has very little effect on a soil's pH. In cases where a soil is acidic, it's better to add dolomitic lime if you want to increase the pH. IF it turns out that the soil is deficient in magnesium but the pH is fine, THEN it's better to add Epsom salt to increase the magnesium levels because adding it will not alter the pH.

Epsom salts are a good way to deliver sulfur and magnesium to plants. If your plant is low in either of these nutrients, adding Epsom salt can be beneficial. In most cases, however, low magnesium goes hand in hand with soil acidity. In these cases dolomitic lime is more appropriate than Epsom salts as a way to add magnesium, while raising soil pH.


It's best to test your soil before adding Epsom salts or you may end up wasting your time, or even making things worse.


About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

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By carla bledsoe (Guest Post)
October 6, 20060 found this helpful

it is a combination of magnesium and sulpher. it will sweeten tomatoes if you put it around the base of the plant or i just broadcast it throughout the garden to add the magnesium to the soil. not a whole lot. the bag the salts come in usually has instructions. if not, google it. good luck

October 7, 20060 found this helpful

Check with Jerry Baker's site that will possibly share the info. I've seen it before and I believe it was there. I've tried it on something, but can't remember just which plant, nor why, since it was too long ago.


Good luck. : )

By Wendy Hervey Bay, Australia (Guest Post)
October 11, 20060 found this helpful

Can you please tell me what 'Gerry Baker's site' is?


Editor's Note: Hi Wendy,

Jerry Baker is a master gardener with a bunch of tonics for lawns and gardens.

By boris goli (Guest Post)
October 1, 20070 found this helpful

can i get the answer today?

Editor's Note: Deicer salt will affect the growth of plants. Put it on sidewalks only, it will kill lawn, weeds, etc. It can take a long time for the salts to be washed out of the soil.

By (Guest Post)
April 10, 20080 found this helpful

Can anybody give me any good advice on how to do this experiment on how What affect do Epsom salts have on plant growth? Please?

September 23, 20160 found this helpful

helps magnesium defiency and does not effect ph of soil one tspn per gallon is what I use I like 3 percent hydrogen peroxide tbls per gallon stimmalates roots for more nutriute intake prevents root rot and leaf modld makes plants vibrant use caution it kills good bacteria along with bad

By Delta (Guest Post)
April 10, 20080 found this helpful


By jayla (Guest Post)
September 16, 20080 found this helpful

You rock because that is my science fair project. How do you do it because I don't know how much Epsom salt to put put in the measuring cup?


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