Epsom Salt and Garden Pests – How To Use Epsom Salt For Pest Control

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Epsom salt (or in other words, hydrated magnesium sulfate crystals) is a naturally occurring mineral with virtually hundreds of uses around the home and garden. Many gardeners swear by this inexpensive, readily available product, but opinions are mixed. Read on to learn more about using Epsom salt as pesticide and how to use Epsom salt for pest control in gardens.

Epsom Salt and Garden Pests

You may be familiar with using Epsom as fertilizer for your garden plants or even your lawn, but what about Epsom salt insect control? Here are a few ideas for using Epsom salt as pesticide:

Epsom Salt Solution Insect Control– A mixture of 1 cup (240 ml.) Epsom salt and 5 gallons (19 L.) of water may act as a deterrent to beetles and other garden pests. Mix the solution in a large bucket or other container and then apply the well-dissolved mixture to foliage with a pump sprayer. Many gardeners believe that the solution not only deters pests, but may kill many on contact.

Dry Epsom Salt– Sprinkling Epsom salt in a narrow band around plants may be an effective means of slug control, as the scratchy substance abrades the “skin” of the slimy pests. Once the skin is effectively roughed up, the slug dries up and dies.

Epsom Salt for Vegetable Bugs– Some popular gardening websites claim that you can safely sprinkle a thin line of dry Epsom salt directly in, or alongside, the row when you plant vegetable seeds. Reapply every couple of weeks to keep pests away from your tender seedlings. As an added bonus, plants may benefit from the boost of magnesium and sulfur.

Tomatoes and Epsom Salt Insect Control– Sprinkle Epsom salt around tomato plants every couple of weeks, recommends one gardening site. Apply the substance at a rate of about 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) for every foot (31 cm.) of tomato plant height to keep pests at bay.

What Experts Say about Epsom Salt Pest Control

Master Gardeners at Washington State University Extension cite studies claiming that Epsom salt is of little use against slugs and other garden pests, and that reports of miraculous results are largely myth. WSU gardeners also note that gardeners can overuse Epsom salt, as applying more than the soil can use means that the excess often ends up as a soil and water pollutant.

However, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension claims that a shallow bowl of Epsom salt will kill roaches without adding toxic chemicals to the indoor environment.

The takeaway is that using Epsom salt as pest control is relatively safe, as long as you use the substance judiciously. Also remember, as with anything in gardening, what works for one person may not necessarily fare well for another, so keep that in mind. While using Epsom salt for vegetable bugs is worth trying, results will vary.

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Ground to Ground

Well known as an exfoliating scrub and body bath for aching muscles, Epsom salt is also beneficial in gardens. Epsom salt is just another name for magnesium sulfate – considered an affordable and natural remedy for gardens as it can deter an array of pests and help in growing beautiful and healthy plants.

When plants grow healthy they suffer less damage as pests and diseases attack them. Pests are a common enemy in gardens and they can damage plants by feeding on them from root to foliage. Epsom salt is a handy pest control remedy anyone can use, but in severe cases of pest infestations in gardens, it is best that a pest control professional applies suitable treatments to get rid of pests without harming your plants.


Create an Epsom salt solution and spray it on your plants, vegetable crop or lawn to deter pests. Add 1 cup of Epsom salt to 5 gallons of water and dissolve thoroughly pour the solution into a pump sprayer and apply it to plant foliage. The solution helps keep slugs, which are burned by the salt, out of your garden and banish pests like beetles from your rose bushes. You can also handpick bugs and drown them in a bucket of the Epsom salt and water mixture.

  • Epsom salt, the same product that helps to exfoliate your skin and soothe sore muscles, may also provide benefits for your plants.
  • The solution helps keep slugs, which are burned by the salt, out of your garden and banish pests like beetles from your rose bushes.

Best Environmentally Safe Ways to Keep Pests out of your Garden

Garlic Spray

Mix the cloves from about five bulbs of garlic with 17 ounces of water, be sure to crush the cloves up before mixing them in the water. Leave the cloves in water to infuse for at least six hours. Once the garlic and water have infused, you’ll need to add a bit of dish soap before straining the mixture and placing in a spray bottle. Spray this around your garden, being careful not to get the spray on your vegetables or other edible garden plants as it may cause a flavor change if spray close to harvest time.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Epsom Salt

Mixing one cup of Epsom salt in five gallons of water. Transfer the mixture gradually into a spray bottle. You may spray this mixture in and around your garden to keep pests out of your garden. This mixture has been known to burn slugs and beetles to the point that they slowly stop coming around your garden plants. If you want to skip the water with Epsom salt mixture, you can simply sprinkle Epsom salt around your plants to give them nutrients while keeping pests away.

Vegetable Oil

This vegetable oil mixture is another environmentally safe way to keep pests out of your garden. Mix a quarter cup of dish liquid into one cup of vegetable oil and shake together until the mixture turns white. Seal this mixture in an airtight container and only take about one tablespoon of the mixture with one cup of water before spraying on your plants every five to seven days.

Lemon Pesticide

Creating this lemon pesticide mixture will help keep bugs away, but it has to actually touch the pest’s body in order to keep pests out of your garden. To make this lemon pesticide you’ll have to bring a pint of water to a boil, add lemon rind to the boiling water that you’ve taken off the stove. Allow the rind to steep overnight and then use a mesh cloth to strain the lemon pesticide into a spray bottle.

Essential Oils

Lastly, there are many essential oil blends that work as an environmentally safe way to keep pests out of your garden. Peppermint essential oil is a great option to spray on the garden plants. Clove essential oil will help with flying pests that get into your garden. You can also use rosemary essential oil to repel any flying insects as well as insect larvae.

Keep Pests Away

There you have it, a small list of environmentally safe options to keep your pests out of the garden. Each of these options will help to ensure that you keep pests away from your crop while enjoying a chemical-free harvest when your garden starts to grow delicious vegetables.

Epsom Salt – The Best Natural Fertilizer For Your Garden

Epsom salt has long been used as a fertilizer by some gardeners, even though its effect in the garden has not been scientifically proven. Is Epsom salt a fertilizer useful for your plants? Let’s see some of the reasons of why the Epsom salt is the best natural fertilizer for your garden. The minerals in this salt have great effects on plant development and help them breed more, support gardeners using minerals as fertilizer. The effects are, however, easier to observe in some plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, and roses.

What does Epsom salt contain?

The minerals first discovered in Epsom, UK, are used today for muscle relaxation, exfoliation, but also for the treatment of constipation.

The main ingredient is magnesium sulfate heptahydrate, a chemical compound called “epsomite” or “bitter salt”. This salt of the sulfuric acid is rich in magnesium and sulfur.

Magnesium consists of 10% of the Epsom salt composition but is not a necessary element for many plants to grow. The role of magnesium is to strengthen cell walls to consume the necessary nutrients. Green salad and spinach do not need magnesium, but the deficiency of this element affects tomatoes, giving them a bitter taste.

Sulfur, in 13 percent, is an absolute necessity for the plant to function properly. Few areas have poor soil in sulfur, reaching the ground either by chemical fertilizers or by the fall of acid rain.

Even if it can have a beneficial effect on plants in your garden, the salt can not be used to compensate for a major magnesium deficiency in the soil.

Epsom salt in the vegetable garden

Vegetables that most appreciate the Epsom salt are tomatoes and peppers. Magnesium deficiency can be observed late in the summer when the leaves begin to become yellowish and production decreases.

When planting tomatoes and peppers, mix a teaspoon of the salt at the bottom of the hole made for planting. Use a spray to spray the plants with a solution obtained from a teaspoon of Epsom salt when developing the bobs and when the fruit begins to produce the best results.

The solution can also be used for watering every two weeks of the plant throughout the season. To find out if Epsom salt has the desired effects in your garden, use it only as part of your plant. If you notice a difference in the first year, you can turn it into a regularly used fertilizer.

Epsom Salt, a fertilizer for roses

Rose growers praise the effects of this salt on plants. The fertilizer would help roses develop more leaves and more stems with flowers.

You can use Epsom salt for roses in two ways. Half a cup of salt can be spread around the plant, which must then be watered generously. Epsom salt can also be dissolved in the water you will then use for watering the roses.

Gardeners recommend treating roses with this salt in the spring, just before the buds are opened. You can also use salt as a permanent treatment, dissolving a teaspoon of Epsom salt in four liters of water, then spraying on the foliage of the plant.

The Facts About Using Epsom Salt On Plants

To start, it is important to establish what ingredients make up Epsom Salt in order to know it’s potential benefit to plants.

And those ingredients are 3 simple ones: magnesium, water and sulfate.

Espsom Salt is made up of magnesium, sulfate and water. And knowing those ingredients help determine what it can, and can’t do.

Now that we know the ingredients, lets take a look at how they correlate to some of the claimed benefits.

Epsom Salt As A Fertilizer

We have all heard that putting Epsom Salt around the base of plants will make them grow huge! And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

When it comes to big growth from fertilizing, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous are the big players.

For healthier plants and a bigger harvest, using compost is a far better bet than Epsom Salt

And of course, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are all absent from Epsom Salt.

The only thing that adding Epsom Salt will do to your soil is increase the level of magnesium. And although it is indeed a tiny nutrient need for plants, it is not one that increases yields or massive growth.

In this case, skip the Epsom Salt and reach for the compost instead! See : How To Create The Perfect Compost Pile

Pest Control

So what about helping control or repel pests?

When it comes to controlling worms, aphids and insects on vegetable plants, Epsom salt has no known ingredients that work to kill or repel pests.

Again, it all boils down to more legend than facts.

When it comes to pest prevention, there is simply no known component of magnesium, sulfate, or water for that matter that helps in the defense of pests.

Other than that a healthy spray of water is great for knocking off aphids. But it doesn’t need any of those ingredients to help it accomplish that!

But Can’t Epsom Salt Help Cure Blossom End Rot?

This common thought is one of the most widely passed along benefits of using Epsom Salt on plants.

And unfortunately, again, it is completely unfounded!

Unfortunately, Epsom Salt is not the miracle cure for blossom end rot. It is caused by a deficiency of calcium in the soil, not magnesium.

In fact, using Epsom Salt on tomato plants is actually more likely to cause blossom end rot than cure it. How so? Blossom end rot is caused by a deficiency in calcium, not magnesium.

And, by adding Epsom Salt, you can create an over-abundance of magnesium in the soil. An abundance that the plant will take up in place of the calcium it needs for protection from end blossom rot.

It all adds up to just one more reason to reach for that compost instead. Not only is it all-natural, it gives plants everything needed to thrive and survive! Affiliate Link : Charlies Compost 10lb Bag

This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, publishing two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. This article may contain affiliate links.

As spring draws near, some of the country’s top gardeners recommend using Epsom salt as an inexpensive way to start or improve your garden.

Epsom salt – actually magnesium sulfate – helps seeds germinate, makes plants grow bushier, produces more flowers, increases chlorophyll production and deters pests, such as slugs and voles. It also provides vital nutrients to supplement your regular fertilizer.

Cornell University Assistant Professor Neil Mattson says plants will show visual cues if they are starved for a particular nutrient. If a plant’s leaves turn yellow all over the plant, it can be a sign they need more sulfate. If lower leaves turn yellow between the veins (that is the veins stay green), they may need more magnesium. Some nutrient disorders can look alike so growers can contact their county extension agents either before they plant to test a soil sample or, if they notice a problem, they can bring in a plant for diagnosis.

“Plants need those building blocks”” says Mattson. “Magnesium and sulfur are essential nutrients.”

Although magnesium and sulfur occur naturally in soil, they can be depleted by various conditions, including heavy agricultural use. But unlike most commercial fertilizers, which build up in the soil over time, Epsom Salt is not persistent so you can’t overuse it.

Mattson – who adds Epsom salt to his fertilizer for plants such as roses, pansies, petunias and impatiens – says gardeners can proactively mix Epsom salt with fertilizer and add it to their soil monthly, or they can mix one tablespoon with a gallon of water and spray leaves directly every two weeks.

Epsom Salt is recommended by Master Gardeners and used regularly by commercial growers around the world. Tests by the National Gardening Association confirm that roses fertilized with Epsom Salt grow bushier and produce more flowers, and it also makes pepper plants grow larger than those treated only with commercial fertilizer.

Watch the video: Benefits of Epsom Salt for PlantsAmazing use of magnesium sulfate in Gardening

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