MadSci Network: Botany

Re: What is the effect of epsom salt on a plant?

Date: Tue Apr 24 21:20:58 2001
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 988144249.Bt

Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate, which contains two essential mineral 
nutrients for plant growth, magnesium and sulfur. Thus, in the proper 
concentration, it may be beneficial to plant growth. However, at too high a 
concentration, it can harm plant growth due to a salinity effect by making 
water more difficult for the plant to absorb. A hydroponic nutrient solution 
often used by scientists, Hoagland solution, contains 0.5 grams of epsom salts 
per liter.

Plants also require 12 other mineral nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, 
potassium, calcium, iron, boron, manganese, copper, zinc, molybdenum, chlorine, 
and nickel. All but chlorine and nickel are often included in fertilizers. 
Chlorine and nickel have never found deficient under natural conditions because 
they are required in such small amounts relative to normal soil concentrations. 
Therefore, if you just provide magnesium sulfate, it may not do the plant too 
much good, because it will be deficient in some other essential mineral 

When a plant is deficient in a single mineral nutrient, it will develop 
distinctive deficiency symptoms such as leaf yellowing (chlorosis) or shoot tip 
death. To find deficiency symptom info, search or other search 
engine for plant magnesium deficiency or plant sulfur deficiency.


Hershey, D.R. 1994. Solution culture hydroponics: History and inexpensive 
equipment. American Biology Teacher 56:11-118.

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