Epsom salts and roses

marlingardenerAugust 20, 2007

Does anyone have an opinion about the efficacy of using epsom salts to fertilize roses? I have used well rotted manure for years, but after seeing the claims about epsom salts, I am tempted to try it. Please let me know your experiences and opinions.

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denisew(z8 TX)

I have used epsom salts on my entire garden and lawn in the past. I mixed a box of it with my regular fertilizer then spread it as usual. It has magnesium in it and really does help give the plants' leaves a nice dark green color. The plants were all very healthy. Try it - you'll like it! ;-) Or, at least your roses will like it.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 11:53AM
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What size box of epsom salts for what size lawn and garden? What is your usual fertilizer? I wouldn't like to overdo the salts, nor put it on so thinly that the epsom salts wouldn't help, or use a fertilizer that was not compatible. Thank you for your help!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 12:54PM
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The mix that has worked amazing results for me comes courtesy of another very talented gardener,Jeanne, also in Texas, called her "alfalfa tea":
Take a 5 gallon bucket and put in either 4 cups or 1/3 full of Alfalfa Pellets..these can be bought at your local Feed Store sold as cattle food or rabbit fool..just ask for alfalfa pellets and they'll know what you need..then fill up with water..stir it daily..I put my bucket in the sun for faster fermintation..once you notice it starting to stink which is generally from 5-7 days then add 4 cups of Epsom Salts...stir well and apply..remember to always stir prior to using because the alfalfa "gunk" settles at the bottom..when it starts getting low..add more water,alfalfa and stir and start over..

This really does make a difference in encouraging new shoots on roses, I've seen it double the output on mine...you can use the alfalfa meal that some nurseries carry in their organics section if a feed store is not nearby.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 2:55PM
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This is a new one for me! I'll get some alfalfa pellets at our local Bean & Feed, and give it a try. Between the advice you and Denise have given me, Falls County may have to change its name to Rose County! Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 4:40PM
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Unless you have a soil analysis indicating you need to add magnesium or sulfur, epsom salts is a waste of time and money with roses or with anything else.

In your case, cow or steer manure has all the magnesium and sulfur your plants might need, even if your Falls County soil didn't already contain enough. (And, BTW, epsom salts doesn't reduce the pH of the soil as some would have you believe.)

On the other hand, alfalfa tea (or just a dusting or sprinkle of dry alfalfa on the soil) will tickle the heck out of your roses. Alfalfa contains a growth hormone (tricontanol) and can work wonders in the garden.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 5:35PM
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I grew 125 roses in Jasper County and Epsom Salts and Alfalfa pellets was a once a year thing for us as soon as the roses showed bud break.

I used 1 cup of alfalfa pellets and 1 very small handfull of epsom salts for each rose. They promoted basal break of new canes. A 5# sack of Epsom Salts did all the roses.

One of these pictures is somewhat pixilated. i am sorry they are so large.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 9:21AM
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We have a soil test in process, haven't gotten the results yet. It seems that the alfalfa thing may be the way to go. Our roses are doing quite well now, but we want them to continue to be happy. Thank you for the tip, and the explanation of why alfalfa works.

Gail Gardener,
Wow! What pictures and what a beautiful garden! And thank you for telling the "recipe" per rose. I think I'll try your method in the spring on half the roses, and do some alfalfa tea on the rest. Non-scientific experiment, but the roses will benefit.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 10:13AM
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denisew(z8 TX)

Gail - Your rose garden is beautiful!

Marlingardener - Field is a rose expert and has some good advice.

I have used the epsom salts with good results in my lawn and garden. I mixed one box (I think it was sold in a milk carton type of container at the time, but now it is sold in the ziplock bag packaging.) of epsom salts with a 25 pound bag of fertilizer. Look at how nice Gail's garden looks in the post above.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 10:18AM
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