Roses Rock with Epsom Salts

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Posted by @Joannabanana on
Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, MgSO4, and should not be confused with common salt, sodium chloride NaCl. Magnesium and sulfur are both natural minerals that many plants need to thrive. I have used Epsom salts in my garden for years and am very pleased with the obvious results of increased plant vigor, more blooms, larger blooms, greener foliage, and overall better plant health. This is especially true of my roses.

2014-01-26/Joannabanana/94a369Healthy plants are less prone to suffer from disease and pests.  There are many varieties that are "resistant" to problems; the key word being resistant.  Often, a plant that appears to be struggling tends to go downhill quickly when any sign of a disease or pest is present.  Stressed plants are prone to problems, so keep them healthy and you will have gorgeous blooms with fewer issues. 

2014-01-27/Joannabanana/c7adec Epsom salt amendments have proved to be as important as regular feeding, a watering schedule, and sun exposure.  Epsom salt has saved me time and money trying to fix a rose problem after the fact.  Prevention is key when dealing with plant disease and pests.

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Marie-Victorin with Epsom salts Marie-Victorin without Epsom salts

Stronger Color

One of the first things that I noticed when I started using Epsom salts on my roses is that the bloom color was much stronger.  The petals seem thicker and tend to hold on a lot longer, producing a longer bloom time.

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Folklore Hybrid Tea No ID

Larger Bloom Size

The rose blooms are much larger.  During the years that I have been proactive and have applied the Epsom salts early, the bloom size has nearly doubled. One of the most common questions I am asked about my roses is: "What do you feed your roses?" I use a slow-release rose fertilizer, but the difference is the Epsom salts.

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Hardy Climber John Davis Hybrid Tea Hardy Shrub Linda Campbell

More Blooms

2014-01-26/Joannabanana/b8b58dThe most rewarding display is a rose loaded with buds and blooms.  The most buds and blooms that I once counted on one Ingrid Bergman hybrid tea was 21.  I was amazed.  Many floribundas bloom prolifically, and with the Epsom salts this Hot Cocoa has a profusion of buds & blooms.

Greener Foliage & Increased Plant Vigor

Whether the rose is in a container or in the ground, Epsom salt makes a difference.  Container plants lose nutrients fairly quickly because there is limited space and it may be difficult to control moisture levels.  The heathier your rose is, the less vulnerable to disease and pests it will be.

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Roses in Ground Container Rose

Encourages Basal Breaks (New Canes)

2014-01-27/Joannabanana/6acbbcSeveral of my hardy roses have been in my garden for more than 7 years, and the years the Epsom salts were applied, the plants had a much higher number of new canes, resulting in bigger and bushier plants. Applications of Epsom salts in early spring encourage new canes to grow.

Buying Epsom Salts

You will find Epsom salts at most department stores and drugstores.  I use Epsom salts on tomatoes, peppers, and about 100 roses, so a bulk buy at a horticultural wholesale source is a better option for me.  Either way, the cost of Epsom salts is quite reasonable.

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Bulk Retail

Benefits for the Plants

Magnesium and sulfur are considered to be micronutrients critical to plant development and growth. Magnesium sulfate is completely soluble and can be applied dry or mixed with water. Chlorophyll production requires magnesium, which is essential for photosynthesis. Magnesium also strengthens the plant cell walls.  The stronger plant is more able to "uptake" nutrients, including phosphorus and nitrogen. 

Magnesium deficiency can be detected when older leaves are yellow with green veins. Applying Epsom salts will help the plant recover from the deficiency fairly quickly. Overall, the magnesium will help your plant grow.

2014-01-26/Joannabanana/8cd819Sulfur helps activate the plant proteins and enzymes needed for growth.  The other key player in this scenerio is temperature, including water temperature.  In Calgary, our tap water is frigid, even in summer. Cold water and soil temperatures will affect certain plants' ability to uptake nutrients.  Epsom salts seem to make a difference within a few days.

How & When to Apply

2014-01-26/Joannabanana/cd0ae3In our area, the roses start budding with new growth in early May. I usually trim off any signs of damage or winter-kill and apply the recommended amount of slow release fertilizer with about 1/2 cup of Epsom salts per rose around the base of the rose bush. I don't cover the Epsom salt with soil and prefer to let the rain saturate and dissolve it over time.  Additional applications of Epsom salts are applied monthly until fall. I do the same for my container roses, with the exception of minis: 1/4 cup is sufficient for the small miniature roses.  Epsom salts are said not to change the pH of the soil.  It is advisable to test your soil for pH and nutritional levels to know what you are dealing with.

The lump of Epsom salts slowly disappears when it rains or when you water, so the rose bush essentially will have these minerals available over a few weeks.  Starting applications early in the season will encourage strong healthy growth right from the start.

Another option is to use Epsom salts as a foliar feeding.  When you are spraying the foliage with water-soluble fertilizer and Epsom salts, do it early in the morning or on cool cloudy days to avoid scorching the leaves.  A couple of tablespoons added to a fertilizer sprayer will be sufficient.

Add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts per 1 gallon of tepid water to soak bare-root roses before planting. This will give them a quick boost and healthy start.


Whether you grow roses in the ground or in containers, your roses will rock with Epsom salts.

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Epsom salt by corneliusv Apr 30, 2020 12:39 PM 0
Epsom Salts by Sryan6 Nov 3, 2019 5:10 PM 0
Untitled by rosiebaby3 Feb 23, 2016 4:38 PM 0
thanks! by TBGDN Feb 8, 2014 6:06 PM 27

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