Using Epsom Salts for Gardening: 7 Common Myths

Should you use Epsom salt in your garden? Let’s take a look at some common myths about using Epsom salts for gardening…

There is a lot of confusion out there about using Epsom salts for gardening. Epsom salt is often used as a soil amendment in gardens because it is cheap, easy to find and rumored to be effective. Epsom salt is said to be helpful in softening soil, removing heavy metals, and treating horticultural disorders.

But is this true? Let’s take a look at some of the facts and myths about Epsom salts…

Using Epsom Salts for Gardening: What You Should Know

Epsom salt is made up of approximately 56% magnesium and 44% magnesium sulfate. As plants need magnesium for growth and photosynthesis, it seems natural that Epsom salts may be used as a garden fertilizer to increase plant growth and production. Other gardeners swear by using Epsom salts to combat pests and garden diseases.

However, there is plenty of conflicting information that indicates the benefits of using Epsom salts in the garden may not live up to the hype.

So what is the truth? Should you use Epsom salts in the garden? Is it just a waste of time, energy, and money, or even worse, could it actually harm your garden?

As the video below explains, here are a few common myths about using Epsom salts for gardening:

Myth #1 – Epsom Salts Prevent Blossom End Rot

This is one of the most pervasive myths about using Epsom salt in gardening. Blossom End Rot is a fungal infection that can cause rot at the bottom (or blossom end) of fruit, and although it can affect a variety of different fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are most commonly afflicted. The myth goes that Epsom salt can help to halt the spread of the fungus, but scientific evidence does not support this claim.

And when you think about it, it doesn’t really even make sense, because blossom end rot is typically caused by a calcium deficiency. What is Epsom salt again? Magnesium sulfate – which doesn’t correct a calcium problem. (Note: Blossom end rot doesn’t necessarily mean that your soil is deficient in calcium; often it simply means the plant is not absorbing calcium well, which could be caused by a number of factors, most commonly improper watering – either too much or too little.)

In fact, some evidence suggests that Epsom salt can actually promote Blossom End Rot. This is because Epsom salt is a high magnesium salt, and if you add too much magnesium specifically, you can actually throw off the nutrient absorption of other nutrients – including calcium.

Myth #2 – Epsom Salt Prevents Pests & Diseases

There are many Epsom salt myths out there, but Epsom salt isn’t the solution to all of your pest problems. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that Epsom salts work in controlling garden diseases or pests. In fact, in some cases, Epsom salt can actually make things worse, and if improperly used as a foliar spray, it can burn the leaves of your plants and actually make them more susceptible to problems.

Myth #3 – Epsom Salt Fertilizer Improves Plant Health

This common myth says that when used as a soil amendment, Epsom salt can help to increase the uptake of other nutrients and minerals by the plants, leading to increased growth and productivity.

However, Epsom salt is not a fertilizer – it is actually a mineral and its main purpose is to help with the absorption of other nutrients. While in some very specific cases it may provide a small benefit when combined with other natural fertilizers, it’s not really effective at making plants grow larger or produce more crops on its own.

Myth #4 – Epsom Salts Boost Blooms & Fruit Production

While Epsom salt is often touted by rose gardeners, in fact, studies have found that it doesn’t actually improve bloom or fruit production. In fact, Epsom salt can actually be detrimental to the health of roses if not used correctly, so it is not a “magic bullet” for gardeners looking to improve rose flower production.

Myth #5 – Epsom Salt Improves Germination

Another common myth is that Epsom salt improves or speeds up germination by providing extra nutrients during the germination process.

However, the fact is that a single seed already contains everything that the plant needs at the start of its life. There’s enough nutrition in the seed to get the plant through the first week or two of life, and then you’ll need to provide it with some healthy and nutritious soil to encourage healthy growth. Adding Epsom salt really doesn’t help at all.

Myth #6 – Epsom Salts Kill Weeds

Some people will also say that Epsom salt helps with preventing and killing weeds. However, there is no evidence of this, unless you mix it with vinegar, and in that case, it’s really the vinegar that’s killing the weeds. The magnesium sulfate is just along for the ride – it doesn’t really do much.

Myth #7 – You Can’t Overuse Epsom Salt in the Garden

This is a dangerous myth. Too much Epsom salt in the garden can cause problems such as erosion and an imbalance in the soil’s mineral content. And while it’s true that in most cases (unless you’re just applying WAY too much) a little Epsom salt isn’t usually going to hurt anything, the problem is that Epsom salt is extremely water-soluble. So if your plants don’t actually need extra magnesium or sulfur, your added Epsom salt is simply running through the soil and into the groundwater, and you’re basically polluting the groundwater system with these extra salts.

The Real Answer? Healthy Soil

Rather than relying on Epsom salt as a “magic pill,” which as we have just explored, it’s not at all, why not focus on doing the one thing that can really improve your garden results? By that I mean building healthy soil.

Soil is THE most important factor in growing healthy plants. Not only does it provide the roots and plants with the nutrients they need, but it also plays a key role in the promotion of plant growth and protection against pests and diseases. In order to produce healthy plants, it is essential to have good soil. There are a number of things you can do to keep your soil healthy.

First, make sure your soil has plenty of organic matter. This will help to improve the structure and fertility of the soil.

Second, maintain a proper pH level. Soil that is too acidic or too alkaline can damage plants.

Finally, make sure to water your plants properly. Underwatering can cause plant stress, leading to disease and attracting pests. Over-watering can cause soil to become waterlogged, which can lead to a number of problems, including root rot and mold.

Watch the video here:


Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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