Cucumbers grow well in the warm season. But as the days pass, in the mid-season, they tend to gradually lose their lush green color, they start looking pale and slowly start getting weathered. But remember! You need not worry about your cucumber yield at this stage.
A little application of Epsom salt in this stage to the cucumbers gives a nutrient boost to them. Epsom salt gives cucumber a lush green color and also helps the plant produce good quality and quantity yield. So, in this article let’s read more about how, why and when the epsom salt can be used for cucumbers and cucumber plants.
Why Use Epsom Salt for Cucumbers?
Epsom salt is commonly known as magnesium sulfate which is a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen.
Why is Magnesium required in plants?
Magnesium(Mg) is required for plants to be able to absorb valuable nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen from the soil.
Magnesium is also required by plants for capturing the solar energy for the growth of the plant through a process called photosynthesis. The process of photosynthesis as we all know, takes place in the green pigment called the chlorophyll in the plants.
Surprisingly Magnesium forms the central atom of a chlorophyll molecule.
That is why adding Epsom salt to magnesium deficient plants helps the plants recover and retain their green color. (1)
Why is Sulfur required by plants?
Sulfur is one of the major requirements for the plants which helps in the formation of chlorophyll which in turn enables the process of photosynthesis.
Sulfur helps plants in producing essential amino acids, proteins, vitamins, starch, oils, sugars, fats and other compounds that help the growth of a plant and produce good quality yield.
Sulfur also helps plants fight against its diseases and it most importantly helps in seed formation.
Absence of these 2 major ingredients in the soil makes the plant weaker day by day affecting its growth, yield and harvest. As a result, the plant may start producing not fully matured and fewer cucumbers. Also, the leaves of the cucumber plants may start turning yellow rather than retaining their green color.
These are some signs of nutrient deficiency in the soil your cucumber plant is growing. This needs to be treated to help the plant grow well and produce good quality cucumbers as desired.
Now, adding some epsom salt to the soil rejuvenates the plant growth, boosts its nutrients and helps the plants produce good quality cucumbers to savor.
Also Read: Are Banana Peels Good for Cucumbers?
Why Use Epsom Salt for Cucumbers?
To reduce the yellowing of Cucumber leaves : In summer, cucumber plants produce the best results. They produce very good quality cucumbers in large numbers.
As the days pass by, the plants tend to lose their efficiency in producing high quality cucumbers in large numbers.
Deficiency of Magnesium(Mg) in the soil leads to this yellowing of the leaves and less yield.
Adding a bit of Epsom salt to the cucumber plant helps the plant boost its growth and helps the plant produce good quality cucumbers again.
Epsom Salt also helps the leaves gain back and retain the lush green color.
For better absorption of nitrogen from the soil :
For plants to grow better, they need to be able to absorb all the given nutrients optimally. In order to absorb nutrients such as Nitrogen and phosphorus from their soil, they need Magnesium in their soil.
Lower levels of Magnesium in the soil leads to poor absorption of other necessary nutrients from the soil. The poor absorption of nutrients leads to poor quality yields.
So, gardeners add some amount of epsom salt to improve the Magnesium content in the soil to help plants absorb all the necessary nutrients from the soil to produce good yields thereafter.
Enables fast growth of the cucumber plant:
When there is deficiency in the organic matter of the soil, the cucumber plant growth slows down. The plants at this stage will not be able to produce more yield as expected.
When we add a bit of epsom salt to the soil, Magnesium and Sulfur content in the soil gets enriched so that the plant starts absorbing all the essential nutrients from the soil and it starts producing good quality yield again.
Prevents transplant shock and acts as a root stimulator :
Plants sometimes become weak after changing their location which is also called a transplant shock or a root shock.
In order to help plants not to suffer from a root shock, add a small cup of epsom salt to the hole where you are going to place the root of the plant and then water it well after tamping down the soil.
Enables good seed germination :
Before sowing a new seed in the soil, we can add a little amount of epsom salt to the hole in which we are going to place the seed. This helps the seeds to sprout faster thereby enabling a good growth of the plant for proper yields and fruits.
Cucumber Fertilizer Requirements
A Cucumber plant has several nutrient requirements like many other plants have. Let’s see which are the major nutrients required by a cucumber plant to grow and thrive.
List of nutrients required by a cucumber plant :
- Manganese Molybdenum
Now let’s see how important some of these nutrients are for a cucumber plant to grow well and produce a good harvest. We will also see how some of these nutrient deficiencies affect the cucumber plants and what are the symptoms shown.
Nitrogen Deficiency in cucumber plants causes stunted growth in the plant and in the cucumber produced. The foliage turns to yellowish green from lush green.
The cucumber flowers start appearing much bigger than other parts of the plant.
If the deficiency is more severe, the whole plant turns into an almost white color from yellow.
With phosphorus deficiency, the plant growth is stunted but no significant symptoms are seen.
In case of severe deficiencies, the plant stops growing further, younger leaves look small, they become stiff and they appear in dark green color.
Watery spots can be seen on and in-between veins on the cotyledons and on the older leaves in the plant.
Plants that are potassium deficient, experience stunted growth. Leaves are seen getting bronzed and the margins of the leaf turn yellowish green. The main veins no more look prominent, they look sunken.
If there is severe potassium deficiency, the chlorosis(leaves turning yellowish green) spreads to the center of the leaves.
Magnesium deficient plants in its initial stages show some chlorosis starting from the edge of the older leaves progressing inwards. As the magnesium levels further decrease and if the plant is facing more deficiency, the chlorosis also starts spreading to the younger leaves.
As the severity of magnesium deficiency increases in the plant, the whole plant starts turning yellow.
Initially with calcium deficiency in cucumber plants, there are transparent white dots seen on the edges of the leaves.
As the severity of deficiency increases, the growth of the plant is stunted remarkably. The younger leaves are short, incised and they start shriveling up.
With progressive deficiency, the petioles get brittle and the leaves start falling off from the plant and the plant dies eventually.
In initial stages, growth is stunted. Leaves will be smaller. Younger leaves are most affected. They tend to bend down and turn into a yellowish green color.
Unlike the case with nitrogen deficiency, the yellowing is seen more in the younger leaves than in the older leaves.
How Much Epsom salt to Use for Cucumbers? (How to use it?)
When the cucumber plants show signs or symptoms of deficiencies, epsom salt can be used to rejuvenate the plant growth by providing the major nutrients to the plants they need to grow and produce high quality yields.
But before using epsom salt, the signs of deficiencies have to be carefully studied to find out which nutrient deficiency the plant is actually suffering from.
Note : Epsom salts can only be used to treat deficiencies occasionally. It is strongly recommended not to use Epsom salt weekly as a fertilizer.
Well, there are 4 different ways in which Epsom Salts can be used for plants to treat their deficiencies.
#1 In a water solution :
One of the ways to add Epsom salt to a nutrient deficient plant is to mix it with water and to replace regular watering of the plant with this water.
You can add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt for approximately 3.7 liters(1 gallon) of water, mix it thoroughly and give it to the plants.
Make sure the salt is thoroughly mixed in the water before watering the plants to make sure the plants are getting the best benefits from the solution.
This process can be repeated in 3-4 weeks. By doing this, we will be giving the plants their time to absorb the replaced nutrients and grow into a healthy and a happy plant.
#2 As a Foliar spray:
You can also add Epsom salt to your plants as a foliar spray along with water. This is another form of giving all the required nutrients to the plants as nutrients can be absorbed by leaves as well rather than just from the roots of the plant.
In this method, you can add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt to 3.5 liters(1 gallon) of water. Mix the solution well and pour it into a spraying can and spray to the plants which exhibit the symptoms of nutrient deficiencies. This method also can be used with a gap of 3-4 weeks.
Note : This spraying method cannot be used as a substitute for regular watering of the plants. If regular watering of the cucumber plants is skipped, the plants may start producing bitter cucumbers.
#3 As a side dressing for cucumber plants:
In this method, 2 tablespoons of epsom salt can be spread in the bottom of the cucumber plant once in the mid-season to give the plant a boost for its growth. This is just to make sure the soil is nutrient rich to help the plant produce good yield.
#4 While planting the cucumber plants:
In this method, epsom salt is introduced to the plant while it is being planted in the soil. This can be done in 2 ways.
You can add 1 tablespoon of epsom salt in the hole where the root of the plant is placed or you can also mix 2 tablespoons of epsom salt with the fertilizer and soil in which the plant is kept for growing and producing good quality cucumbers.
Also Read: Is Bone Meal Good for Growing Potatoes?
How Often to Apply Epsom Salt for Plants?
Epsom salts are given to the plants when they are not seen as happy with the nutrients given to them and when they start showing signs of different nutrient deficiencies.
It is always good to make sure that only if there is a deficiency epsom salts are introduced to the plant.
In the side-dressing method, it is advised to use the epsom salt at the bottom of the plants once in a mid-season and not more than that.
If our plants are placed in containers, it is good to administer epsom salts once in 4-5 weeks and not more than that.
If our plants are growing on the ground, the epsom salt can be added only once in 4-6 weeks.
Epsom salt is a chemical compound made of magnesium and sulfur as we have discussed earlier. If we give too much of Epsom salt, that is if we start using Epsom salt as a fertilizer every week, it does more harm to the plant than doing any help in making the plants happy.
Plants may even die with excess use of Epsom salts. So, it is advised to keep in mind that Epsom salt is to be used only to make up the nutrient deficiencies in the plant. Only if the plant shows any signs of nutrient deficiencies Epsom salts are to be used.
Excessive use of Epsom salt increases the magnesium and the sulfur content in the soil. Too much magnesium in the soil inhibits the plant in absorbing calcium from the soil.
Excessive sulfur in the soil lowers the pH of the soil and makes the soil more and more acidic. If the soil becomes acidic, it results in an imbalance of essential nutrients in the soil. This gradually slows down the growth of the plant and the plant may even die if it is not treated on time.
Also Read: Do Potatoes Like Wood Ash?
Is Epsom Salt Good for Cucumbers? Myth or Miracle?
Well, off late, there are many articles on the internet that show Epsom salt as a miracle product for plants. Are you planting a new plant? Add Epsom salt to the hole where you place the root. It will do wonders. If you do this for tomato plants, tomatoes will grow bigger. Do you have bug problems on your plant? Add Epsom salt, bugs will vanish!
It is to be remembered that Epsom salt is not a miracle product. It is just a chemical compound made of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen.
If your soil consists of organic matter there is no need to use Epsom salt as organic soil is known to be well balanced with all the nutrients.
Only if the soil turns sandy or acidic, the soil may have some nutrient deficiencies.
And only if our plant starts showing different signs of nutrient deficiencies, we are advised to use Epsom salt to give the deficient nutrients back to the plant. Read this article: Epsom Salt Gardening Myth
Does Epsom salt help in killing insects on plant?
There is no clear evidence so far that Epsom salt kills insects or grubs when sprayed on the plant.
Does Epsom salt help in controlling diseases in plant?
There is no proven research that says epsom salt has the ability to control diseases in a plant.
Does Epsom salt make plants look green?
Epsom salt contains magnesium. Magnesium is the basic nutrient that helps the formation of chlorophyll in the plant. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in the plant that helps the plant produce its food . That is the reason plants look green after administered with Epsom salt.
Also Read: How to: Growing Lettuce from Scraps?
Important Tips to Grow Cucumber Plant
- Cucumber plants grow well in warm weather, so keep the plant in a warm place. It should neither be too hot.
- Cucumber plants should not be placed in the areas which receive heavy rainfall. If the plant gets drenched in too much water, the plants may not grow well and may not produce good cucumbers.
- It is good to have some nice space to grow cucumbers as their vines grow outwards and occupy a lot of space. If it is not given space the plant becomes crowded in one place making ways for diseases in the plant.
- It is a good idea to have trellis to grow cucumber plants. Trellis is nothing but a framework of bars to help the cucumber plant grow vertically spreading on the bars. This saves a lot of space in the garden and also protects the plant from many diseases by giving the plant a breathing space.
- It is good to keep trimming the cucumber plant to avoid overcrowding of the plant as it grows bigger and bigger day by day. We can cut off the vines from the secondary shoots of the plant or we can even trim the parts of the plant which have turned yellow.
Epsom salt is good for cucumbers and cucumber plants only if the soil in which they are growing has a deficiency of magnesium and sulfur which are key nutrients for the plants to grow.
If the soil in which they are growing is already organic in nature, epsom salt will not be necessary.
Gradually if the soil turns sandy or acidic, there will be an imbalance in the nutrients in the soil which inhibits the growth of the plant.
At this stage, we will need to study the signs of nutrient deficiencies if at all the plant is exhibiting. If the nutrient deficient symptoms shown match with the deficiency symptoms of magnesium and sulfur, only then epsom salts have to be used.
If the soil already has sufficient magnesium and sulfur, adding more of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) will do more harm to the crop than helping it grow better.