Nowadays there are so many home remedies circulating the internet regarding ways to water and encourage orchids to thrive, one in particular is to use Epsom salt. Many argue that Epsom salt is an inexpensive and easy way to supplement an orchid’s health and nutrition. Melissa Strauss, houseplant and gardening expert at All About Gardening, has weighed in on her thoughts of using this bath staple for houseplants.
First of all, it’s important to note that Epsom salt for orchid fertiliser is completely different from the salt used in cooking.
She said: “Yes, incorporating Epsom salt into your orchid care routine is a great way to increase the size of your blooms.
“It will also help the vigour of your foliage. Epsom salt also helps to cleanse the roots of salt buildup, among other benefits.”
This is scientifically backed up as Epsom salt is successfully used to fertilise the crops of hundreds of farms every year. It’s also highly favoured by commercial orchid growers.
The expert continued: “Epsom salt bridges a very important gap that most standard fertilisers don’t fill.
“When added to your orchid care routine, they can make a significant difference in the size and vigour of your plants. It can help add size and brightness to their precious blooms.”
Orchid expert, Amanda Matthews of Orchideria, agreed with its benefits. She said: “Epsom salt is extremely beneficial for your orchid’s maintenance and nutrition.
“Not only does it help with the production of chlorophyll, Epsom salt aids in cell construction, proper hydration, and flushes out the orchid from salt residue.
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“Epsom Salt will make the blooms larger and the leaves more vivid, causing no harm to your orchid.”
Why does Epsom salt benefit orchids?
As most commercial fertilisers offer the nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus an orchid needs, there are however a number of other nutrients that would benefit them.
Amongst the three nutrients are magnesium and sulphur. According to Melissa, this is sadly lacking from most of these orchid fertilisers. She said: “This is where Epsom salt flexes its well-toned and highly functioning muscles.
“Epsom Salt is a mineral composite of sulphur, magnesium, and oxygen. While important for humans, oxygen is also very important to a plant’s cellular health.”
She explained that for plants, more oxygen translates to larger, healthier root systems. Due to how delicate their roots are, this is certainly a benefit to their overall health.
The function of sodium in plants is to act as “a vehicle for moving symbiotic bacteria and fungi”. These are important for the overall health of the plant. They would otherwise not be available to the plant without the presence of that sulphur.
Finally, magnesium is what makes plants green. Without it, a plant’s growth will be stunted. The expert added: “In addition to all of these benefits, Epsom salt helps to flush their roots clean of any salt buildup left behind by conventional fertilisers.”
This common bath product also acts as a deterrent for slugs and other garden and household pests.
In summary, an occasional use of Epsom salt will provide the plant with important nutrients that it needs to “grow bigger, greener leaves, and produce larger, more colourful flowers”.
How to use Epsom salt to fertilise orchids
To use Epsom salt on orchids, mix one tablespoon in four litres of water, according to Amanda.
She recommended using this mixture to water orchids three to four times a year.
Households can use it as a mist, but incorporating Epsom salt into your watering regime is easier than using it at a different time.
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