Considered Epsom salt for tomato plants? Growing healthy productive tomato plants is a time consuming obsession. When it comes down to producing flavor filled tomatoes every keen grower will have their own preferred methods and techniques. While some favor regular doses of a potash and nitrogen rich liquid fertilizer others spend their time working organic matter such as banana peels or eggshells into the soil. Or there’s the hands off approach, where you take a back seat and allow the sun and plenty of water to do all the work. For some however, nothing can beat the effect that Epsom salt has on their tomato plants.
In this article we will firstly look at exactly what Epsom salt is before going on to discussing how it can be used for the benefit of your tomato plants. We will also highlight any other flowers and fruiting vines that may benefit from a few doses of an Epsom salt solution as well as explaining any potential downsides that you need to be aware of.
If you want to know how to use Epsom salt for the benefit of your tomato plants, then this article is for you.
Magnesium sulfate has a number of benefits for growing tomato plants.
What is Epsom Salt?
Before we discuss how to use Epsom salt for better tomato plants, we will explore exactly what it is.
Unlike the salt that you put on your food, Epsom salt is a naturally occurring chemical compound, magnesium sulfate. It is made up of magnesium, oxygen and sulfur. The compound is named after the town of Epsom in Surrey, England where it was originally discovered.
Magnesium sulfate is a traditional remedy used to treat a number of different conditions such as muscle soreness, stress and insomnia. The product can be used in a number of ways, including dissolving the granules into warm bath water before bathing. You can also dissolve a teaspoon into a glass of fresh water and drink it. Or, if you have green fingers, you can use magnesium sulfate for the benefit of your tomato plants.
A naturally occurring chemical compound magnesium sulfate is different from the salt you use on your food.
How Does Epsom Salt Benefit Tomato Plants?
Magnesium sulfate can be used for the benefit of tomato plants in different ways throughout its growth cycle.
The benefits begin early on. The magnesium contained in the magnesium sulfate compound helps to encourage seed germination.
As the plants develop, magnesium also encourages chlorophyll production. Chlorophyll is the green pigment present in the plant’s foliage. It is vital for not only photosynthesis but also fruit development. Yellowing foliage, often a sign of poor chlorophyll production and a magnesium deficiency in the soil, can be cured by a dose of magnesium sulfate. A balanced organic fertilizer can also be used to treat the issue.
A regular application of magnesium sulfate can help to keep foliage green and healthy.
As fruit develops, a regular application of magnesium sulfate can have a number of benefits. It can, for example, encourage tomatoes to produce fruit that is both juicer and sweeter. This is because sweet fruit relies in part on soil that is rich in micronutrients, such as magnesium.
If your soil is lacking in micronutrients the fruit wont taste as sweet as fruit produced by vines growing in rich soil. A regular dose of magnesium sulfate can help to address this imbalance. Again, an application of a balanced organic fertilizer can have the same effect. A soil test kit is an easy to use way to find out how balanced your soil is. Alkaline soils, those with a pH level of 7 or higher, are often lacking in magnesium.
Magnesium sulfate can also help to increase the size of the fruit your plant produces and may even stimulate the ripening process.
Additionally magnesium helps fruit developments and improves the uptake of vital nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen.
Finally, the magnesium contained in the compound helps to strengthen cell walls. This helps to make specimens healthier and more robust, meaning that they are less likely to succumb to common diseases.
The sulfur in the Epsom salt compound also has a number of benefits. For example, it helps to encourage the production of proteins, vitamins, enzymes and amino acids. All of these are vital if you want to grow healthy, productive flowers and vines.
In short, using magnesium sulfate on fruiting vines such as tomatoes has a number of benefits. As well as helping to create healthy, robust specimens it can also make the vines more productive. Many gardeners believe that a regular dose of magnesium sulfate leads to larger, sweeter fruit being produced over an extended period.
If used correctly, magnesium sulfate can help to create healthy and productive tomato vines.
Is There Anything That Epsom Salt Can’t Do?
While it can help to create healthier tomatoes, there are some things that Epsom salt can’t do. Firstly, it can’t be used to control pests or prevent infestations.
Despite the myth magnesium sulfate does not cure blossom end rot. This disorder is caused by stress, not a nutrient deficiency. In fact adding too much magnesium can make it difficult for the root system to harvest calcium. This can cause the plant to develop blossom end rot. For this reason you should always be careful when applying magnesium sulfate or any other product. Over fertilizing flowers and vines can often cause more problems than it cures.
Magnesium sulfate has a number of benefits for your tomatoes. It is a great, quick fix solution for some problems. However, it should never replace your regular balanced fertilizer. This is because as well as the magnesium and sulfur micronutrients that Epsom salt provides, growing plants also need other nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen.
Think of magnesium sulfate as a compliment to a balanced fertilizing routine not a substitute. You should also continue to amend and improve the condition of your soil by regularly working in compost or mulching with organic matter. For vegetable growers implementing even a basic crop rotation system can have enormous benefits.
How and When to Apply Epsom Salt
There are a number of different ways you can use Epsom salt for your tomato plants. One of the easiest ways is to add a tablespoon of granules to the bottom of the hole when planting.
Enriching the Soil Before Transplanting
Before transplanting your seedlings into their final growing position sprinkle Epsom salt granules over the soil. 1 cup of granules covers about 100 ft of soil. When sprinkling, try to cover the plot as evenly as possible. Work the granules into the soil.
Enriching the soil in this way makes it easier for the seedlings to harvest beneficial micronutrients. Spreading the granules over a wide area encourages the roots to spread and develop and helps to create a robust root system.
Enriching the soil before planting helps seedlings and transplants to grow and develop.
Using Magnesium Sulfate on Growing Plants
Plants growing in containers often require more frequent watering and fertilizing than those growing in the ground or raised beds.
To give container and indoor tomato plants a boost, dissolve roughly 2 tablespoons of magnesium sulfate per gallon or water in a watering can and water the soil well. Soak the pots with this solution once a month during the growing season.
You can enrich specimens growing in the ground and raised beds in the same way. Balanced, organic fertilizers, such as liquid seaweed, act as a nice compliment to regular doses of magnesium sulfate.
Counteracting Magnesium Deficiency in a Plant
As fruit matures the foliage can yellow. This is often a sign of a magnesium deficiency. A diluted Epsom salt solution provides a quick cure. Add 1 tablespoon of granules per foot of plant. So, for example, a 2 ft plant requires 2 tablespoons of magnesium sulfate granules. This can be applied twice a month by dissolving into water and soaking the soil.
Applying Magnesium Sulfate as a Sidedressing
You can also apply the magnesium sulfate granules as a sidedressing. This method can be used to fertilize growing specimens or treat magnesium deficiencies.
Dig the granules into the soil around the base of the plant. Be careful not to damage the root system as you work the soil. Work in roughly 1 tablespoon of granules per foot of plant. This can be applied once every 6 weeks.
Begin sidedressing once the plants are established and the true foliage has started to emerge. You can continue working the granules into the soil until the fruit harvest ends.
Applying Epsom Salt as a Foliar Spray
Foliar sprays are a quick way to treat nutrient deficiencies. By spraying the fertilizer directly onto the foliage it helps to speed up the time it takes the plant to absorb the nutrients.
To create a magnesium sulfate foliar spray dilute 2 tablespoons of granules in a gallon of warm water. Decant the solution into a spray bottle, such as a MAYEV Plastic Bottle and spray onto the foliage. Try to cover the leaves as evenly as possible. This treatment can be repeated once every 2 to 4 weeks, beginning when the flowers first emerge.
Other Uses for Epsom Salt in the Garden
As we have seen, thanks to the presence of sulfur and magnesium micronutrients a regular dose of magnesium sulfate can help to boost photosynthesis, healthy growth and tomato production. Magnesium sulfate can be used for the benefit of a number of other specimens, including cucumbers, rose bushes and peppers. It can also be used to enrich the wider vegetable garden.
Because it is rich in magnesium, this naturally occurring chemical compound is a popular ingredient if you enjoy making your own plant food. It can also be used to treat magnesium deficiency in other specimens. This can be done by side dressing or watering plants with a diluted Epsom salt solution. Apply 1 tablespoon of granules per foot of plant once every 6 weeks. Be careful not to apply magnesium sulfate too often.
Interestingly, Epsom salt can also be used to kill off old or diseased tree stumps.
Magnesium sulfate has a number of benefits for tomato plants.
A great natural fertilizer Epsom salts have a number of benefits not only for tomato plants but also the wider garden. A versatile solution, if used correctly magnesium sulfate can help to make your tomato plants healthier and more productive than ever before.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.