Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) are one of the most common vegetables grown by home gardeners although they’re plagued by several insects and problems. Blossom-end rot is just one potential challenge, and it occurs with no warning, blemishing otherwise healthy tomato fruits. Epsom salt is an economical and widely available option, but its effectiveness has not been well-established by analysis.

Blossom-End Rot Explained

Blossom-end rot causes healthful tomato fruits to come up with a brownish, leathery spot on the underside — or blossom end. Blossom-end decay does not affect the remainder of the fruit, and the spot can be cut away. The principal complaint gardeners have is it’s aesthetically unappealing. Blossom-end rot is brought on by numerous factors, such as magnesium or calcium deficiencies, irregular watering practices and over fertilizing, which can interfere with the plants’ ability to absorb calcium from the ground. Historic fruits are most likely to suffer from blossom-end rot, and later harvests may be unaffected. Blossom-end rot is not due to a disease organism.

Epsom Salt’s Benefits

Epsom salt is a natural mineral from Epsom, England. It comprises approximately 10 percent magnesium and 13 percent sulfur. Magnesium is vital for seed germination, chlorophyll production and healthy cell wall development. Plants need sulfur to create antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids. Informal garden studies completed by the National Gardening Association have proven that Epsom salt may encourage bushier growth, larger harvests and reduced risk of blossom-end rot. Other studies remain inconclusive.

Using Epsom Salts

If you’d like to try using Epsom salts to stop blossom-end rot, combine 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts with 1 gallon of water, then implies the National Gardening Association. Apply this option as a foliar spray immediately after planting, when the plant produces flowers and when young tomatoes appear. To decrease the danger of blossom-end rot, water tomato crops often so the soil stays evenly moist — not soggy or entirely dried out. A natural mulch, like untreated grass clippings or weed-free wax, might also help maintain even soil moisture.

Careful Planning

Epsom salt seems to be effective on acidic soils which might have magnesium deficiencies, notes the Colorado State University Extension. It’s best to conduct a soil test before you add any amendments to your soil. If blossom-end rot is brought on by a calcium deficiency, adding Epsom salts can really exacerbate the problem because excessive magnesium in the dirt can interfere with plants’ ability to absorb calcium. In this instance, adding limestone, which contains calcium, is a much better option, asserts the Clemson University Cooperative Extension.

See related