Epsom Salt

Facts about the Epsom Salt on your Lawn

Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, is a chemical compound made of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. Despite its name, it is not related to table salt but is called so because of its chemical composition and since it originated from an English town called Epsom in Surrey. There are many myths and facts about using Epsom salt in landscaping.

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Epsom salt is used to increase seed germination, absorbing nutrients, and general health of lawns and plants. In this article, Eden discusses four key facts about the use of Epsom salt on your lawn. 

1. Contains magnesium, which is an important component of chlorophyll

Magnesium is one of the major components of Epsom salt, and it is also a mineral that promotes the production of chlorophyll. Magnesium deficiency in the soil will affect the production of chlorophyll which in turn will impact photosynthesis. The result of this is the leaves of plants turning yellow and wilting. If you see mature plants exhibit these signs, then you should correct the magnesium deficiency. 

You can provide magnesium to the plants by mixing a foliar spray of one tablespoon Epsom salt and 4 cups of water, and then spraying it onto the leaves of the plant. This solution should be applied per foot of plant height, and plant leaves absorb magnesium well if it is applied to them directly. For magnesium deficiency in lawns, you should sprinkle 3 pounds of Epsom salt per 1250 square feet of lawn and then water it in for better absorption. Fixing magnesium deficiency will ensure rich green plants and lush green lawns. 

If you provide additional magnesium to your plants when they already have an adequate amount, you will cause magnesium stress on the plants. Excessive magnesium leads to deficiency in calcium and potassium, which causes poor root production and disturbs the leaf system, restricting the movement of water and nutrients in the plant.

Epsom salt

2. Used to increase seed germination

Another benefit of the magnesium present in Epsom salt is that it helps to boost seed germination by providing more energy for growing and activating the enzymes that break down the in-built food source present in the seed. This helps the seeds to germinate faster and establish more quickly. The correct rate of Epsom salt application for garden beds to increase seed germination is mixing one tablespoon of Epsom salt with one gallon of water. Apply this solution to the planted area after seeding. The appropriate rate of Epsom salt application for wildflowers and grass seeds is sprinkling one cup of Epsom salt on every 100 square feet of lawn and then watering the area to blend it into the soil.

Adding Epsom salt while seeding is especially effective when you plant the seeds too late in the growing season. Germination takes time, and therefore delay in planting means the seedlings will have to battle with harsh oncoming weather conditions, causing many of them to die. To avoid this, you can apply an Epsom salt solution to the area after seeding to boost the germination rate.

The risk with using Epsom salt to increase seed germination is the same as that mentioned in the previous point – magnesium overdose. If your soil already contains adequate magnesium, then supplying more in the form of Epsom salt is not recommended by Eden as this will stop the intake of other minerals like calcium and potassium and thus affect the healthy growth of the seeds.

3. Absorbing Nutrients

The magnesium in Epsom salt performs another function of improving the nutrient uptake in plants. A study published by the National Gardening Association tested this theory by adding Epsom salt to peppers and roses in five states of the U.S. – Iowa, California, Colorado, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. There were six testers in each state, and they applied one tablespoon of Epsom salt mixed with one gallon of water to peppers every ten days and every six weeks to roses. 

Four out of these six testers in each state reported larger pepper plants and peppers after application. The rose plants were reported to have bushier shrubs, greener foliage and more roses. The Epsom salt was reported to be effective in helping plants absorb key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur more efficiently.

Epsom salt is most effective in certain conditions like magnesium deficient soil, soils with pH higher than 7, weathered soil with low pH or soils with an excessive amount of calcium and phosphorus. You can apply the recommended solution of Epsom salt and water in moderation to avoid the risk of providing your plants with excessive amounts of secondary minerals, magnesium and sulfur.

4. Maintains general health of lawns and plants

When we combine the information we have gathered from the above facts, we can state that Epsom salt maintains the general health of lawns and plants by supporting the production of chlorophyll which in turn aids in photosynthesis and by increasing the nutrient uptake. This fact is especially true for acidic and sandy soils as Epsom salt neutralizes salt and improves the mineral content of poor-quality soil. Magnesium sulfate can be added to soils with high potassium and calcium content to bring down their proportion to adequate levels.

When soils lack magnesium, the plant also becomes magnesium deficient, and this affects the intake of nutrients and production of chlorophyll. The products required for photosynthesis are sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. Chlorophyll can be added to this list as it is essential for the absorption of sunlight. Therefore, lack of chlorophyll will affect photosynthesis and thus weaken the plant and hence, this deficiency needs to be corrected.

Certain things to consider when applying Epsom salt are the magnesium content of the soil and whether magnesium deficiency is present in the soil or the plants. It is important to note that magnesium deficiency in plants is not a direct indication of magnesium deficiency in the soil. Plants can suffer from a magnesium deficiency due to high levels of phosphorus in the soil, which prevents the plants from absorbing magnesium, leading to a deficiency. 

When should we put Epsom salt on the lawn?

There are certain factors that determine when Epsom salt should be applied to the lawn, and they are given below.

  • Magnesium content of soil: The magnesium content of the soil is the first thing you should consider before applying Epsom salt to your lawn. Do a soil test to determine whether your lawn is deficient in magnesium, and then decide to apply Epsom salt. 
  • Temperature: Once you have determined that the application of Epsom salt will benefit your lawn, you need to consider the timing of the application. The best time to add Epsom salt when you are using it as a form of fertilizer is during the cooler months of fall and spring. Avoid applying Epsom salt during the extreme winter months as it will make the grass grow when it just wants to sleep. Also, Epsom salt should not be applied during the summer months as it encourages weed growth.
  • Lawn moisture: Epsom salt needs moisture to be absorbed well. Therefore, you should dampen your grass lightly before sprinkling the salt and then water your lawn to blend the salt into the soil after sprinkling.
  • Seed germination time: A solution of Epsom salt can be applied to a newly seeded area to provide the seeds with an additional boost to germinate. This is effective, especially in sandy and acidic soils.
  • When you have over-fertilized your lawn with potassium: Fertilizers contain different NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratios, and you need to choose them according to the needs of your soil. If you have had a minor oversight and added fertilizer with too much potassium to your soil, you can correct it using Epsom salt.

Epsom salt

What kind of plants benefit the most when putting Epsom salt on the lawn?

There are certain plants that particularly benefit from the use of Epsom salt, and they are pepper plants, tomato plants, and roses. Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate is beneficial to these plants because they require more sulfur and magnesium compared to other plants. The magnesium present in Epsom salt is used to give an extra boost for a healthy start to tomato and pepper plants. Once tomato plants begin to flower, 

Epsom salt can be applied as a foliar spray to make the fruits more flavorful. When Epsom salt is added to rose bushes, it leads to thicker bushes, lush leaves, and brighter roses. However, you need to be careful when applying Epsom salt to these plants as excessive Epsom salt to tomato plants will lead to blossom end rot in them and cause the leaves of rose bushes to burn in the heat of the sun.

How long should it take to see the benefits of Epsom salt in the lawn?

The time it takes to see the benefits of Epsom salt application on the lawn depends on the growing period of the plant you are applying to. If you are applying Epsom salt as a fertilizer to your grass/grass seeds during spring, you will see the benefits when the grass starts growing in the form of a higher seed germination rate and dense lawn. 

If you apply Epsom salt to plants like tomato, pepper, and rose bushes, you will see benefits when they start flowering and fruiting. Tomato plants generally take anywhere from 60 to sometimes more than 100 days to bear fruit, depending on their variety, while pepper plants begin to bear fruit within 60 to 90 days of planting. Hot peppers can take about 150 days to fruit.

If you have any questions about the application of Epsom salt to your lawn or any other landscaping query, you can contact Eden. Our expert landscapers would be happy to help you.

Lawn care is all in the details, and we take care of every single one to give you the lawn of your dreams. Contact us today!