Loyce McKenzie, Mississippi

Epsom salts?

October 20, 2010

Categories: Growing Daffodils, Planting, Soil

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Have any of you had any experience using Epsom salts on your daffodils? (or really on anything in
your garden.)
I know it’s supposed to have trace elements, and vaguely remember recommendations for using it to
promote deeper red or pink coloring, but wondered if anyone on Daffnet had actually used it.
And, how and when do you apply it? When planting, dry, or in liquid form, in winter? (this means I am also asking,at what point in the life cycle of a bulb does the color set?)
All this having been said, I’ve always thought color had to do with local climate. But there are those who swear by a handful of rusty nails in the soil around red cups?
This is what Ted Snazelle would call anecdotal science, of course.
Why it came up—my local pharmacy has a big display of nice-sized packages of Epsom Salts, for all sorts of medicinal uses, and “for gardening, too,” with details about its use as a fertilizer.

Loyce McKenzie

One response to “Epsom salts?”

  1. Michael Larmer says:

    Dear Loyce:

    Almost all the serious rose people in this area that I
    know use epsom salts at least occasionally on their
    rose plants.  The best explanation of a practical feeding
    schedule (for roses) that I’ve found that includes the use
     of epsom salts is in Rayford Reddell’s book “A Year in
    the Life of a Rose”.
    The main advantage of Epsom Salts over other forms
    of Magnesium is that you can buy it in small quantities
    and it’s pretty soluble, thus making it easier to apply
    mixed with water and probably (I have no scientific
    research to back this up) more rapidly available to the
    roots after application.  This would, of course, vary with
    the kind of soils you have on location.
    I have only used it on roses, and following my basic
    gardening rule of  ”if a little is good, maybe a little is
    all you ought to use ” have applied it mixed in water
    at a rate of four or five tablespoons per 5 gallon bucket
    of water, applied about monthly during the growing season.
    I have quite a bit of winter rainfall here that probably
    (again no science) leaches out the majority of it over the winter,
    unless there is some chemical binding process to soil
    particles of which I am unaware.  It really does produce
    darker, healthier looking foliage in roses.  One suspects
    this alone could be responsible for better flowers.
    Sadly, I have never used it on daffodils, and can offer
    nothing in that regard.
    Michael Larmer