Too Much Epsom Salt

lindasewandsew(So Cal 9)September 10, 2010

I used epsom salt with MG on my succulents a couple of days ago and added about 1 tablespoon per gallon of water, OOPS! The next day I found the correct amount here, 1/8 tsp. per gallon, and flushed them out pretty well. They're in something very close to Al's mixes, so drain very well. The plants don't look any different than before they were salted yet. Will this kill them? Does the soil need replaced or flushed more?

I've been dumping out old soil and started building these totems using the free draining soils recently, so the plants were planted in the last month, and just a few days ago in the face pots. Thanks for any help. Linda

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Epsom Salt is not a salt like we think of table salt killing plants. Epson Salt has no salty taste, but is very bitter. It is a very soluble Magnesium Sulfate, so flushing the potting mix with mater will have removed lots of it. Too much of it can cause problems similar to what you can experience if you water container plants with small amounts of water frequently and never give them a through drenching to remove other mineral salts that build up over times.

If you foliar feed with Epson salts, having too much in the spray solution will burn the plants leafs fairly quickly when the sun comes out. I've made this mistake with tomato vines in the past, but it didn't kill the vine. Give your plants a really good drenching the next few times you water, and they should be fine. If you have a pH meter, you might want to check the pH of the potting mix. Sometimes Epson salt can lower the pH from neutral to about 6. This is not a constant, because I've had some bags that lowered the soil pH, and other batches that were nearly neutral in pH.

I love your pots. When I was a kid (many centuries ago it seems since the 70's), I had a couple of plant poles in my bedroom where I grew different kinds of small cacti. I started with a spider cactus growing in a hanging pot that I had propagated from my grandmother's plant. Eventually my collection expanded so that I had a planting pole with several different holiday cacti in one corner, while another plant pole sat in the opposite corner of the room with the original spider cactus and several small pin cushion cacti.

When I moved away from home, my younger brother wanted them, so I let him have them all. For some reason I've never gotten back into cacti even though I've continued growing many other plants.

I may help your plants if they had tired and achy roots. ;-)


    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 5:53AM
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Oh my God..BEAUTIFUL..How did you do that? And where did you get those cute pots? Superb...What a way to save space and beautify..

They should be fine..


    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 7:53AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, Linda. Epsom salts, even sugar, affects plants in the same way that table salt or any other solute affects a plant's ability to absorb water through cell walls. A tablespoon of Epsom salts would have exactly the same affect on water movement as a tablespoon of fertilizer, assuming they weighed the same. A tablespoon of Epsom salts alone probably isn't enough to do any damage, unless you used it in your fertilizer solution, or there was already a high level of solubles in the soil solution. Being forward-looking enough that you thought to flush the soil thoroughly was probably a good move. It's not likely that it would have killed the plants outright - more likely you would have seen some burned tips/margins.

I wouldn't worry about any change in soil pH, and the immediate effects on soil solution pH would be temporal and diminished after the flushing. Because it's unlikely that the end pH of the solution you applied was lower than neutral (I'm assuming you're using a municipal water supply which usually comes in at a pH raise the pH of the soil solution. Even so, the pH issue is nothing to be concerned about. The primary reason we use Epsom salts with the gritty mix is because it has no practical influence on media or soil solution pH.

Great job on the planters. Everything looks extremely happy. Strong work! ;o)


    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 9:06AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Sorry, Linda - I made a typo. Municipal water supplies are usually >8.0 (greater than 8.0).


    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 11:51AM
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lindasewandsew(So Cal 9)

Thanks Greg, Mike and Al. The plants are still looking ok today. I use city water and watered well before the salt and fertilizer (Miracle Grow-1 tsp. per gallon). The plants in the face pots may not have roots yet because they were planted so recently. I'll flush again today and a few more times soon. It's great to have such experts to help right away. Linda

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 12:07PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's better to do all your flushing at once, then revert to your regular fertilizer supplementation program, though I would probably skip the next 2 Epsom salts applications.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 2:11PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi Linda, I also love your Beautiful pots and plants! Its really cool! Best of luck with your Succulents but I think they will be just fine. You have some great guys here helping you!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 8:35PM
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I love your pots!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 12:30PM
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