Houseplants are big business these days. According to the Flowers & Plants Association, the UK’s flower and indoor plant market is worth a staggering £2.2bn, and you can barely glance at an Instagram feed without seeing an array greenery sunning itself on a carefully curated shelf or windowsill. The hashtag #plantsofinstagram already has 2.6 million posts (and counting).
As ever, the squares of the internet do not always represent the reality, with many plant parents finding their houseplants drooping – or heaven forbid, dying – despite their dedicated care. But if you count yourself amongst this camp, there is a tip that could help to restore your collection of plants to their former glory – and it’s surprisingly simple and affordable to execute.
The trick comes courtesy of a now-viral Facebook post from an anonymous Australian woman, who suggests giving houseplants an Epsom salt bath when they’re in need of a little extra TLC.
‘A few inches of water in the bath with Epsom salts and I give the leaves a shower to get dust etc off and keep it happy,’ she wrote alongside a snap of her rather sad-looking plant before the treatment, and its much perkier ‘after’ shot. ‘I have to use them (the salts) myself and it was always sold out because gardeners would use it on their plants, that’s what gave me the idea.’
The theory is that Epsom salts, a naturally occurring compound, could provide plants with much needed minerals that help them to bloom. ‘Studies show that magnesium and sulfur, two naturally occurring minerals that are major components of Epsom salt, may help plants grow greener with higher yields and more blooms,’ the Epsom Salt Council explains.
‘Magnesium creates an environment conducive to growth by helping seeds to germinate, increasing chlorophyll production and improving phosphorus and nitrogen uptake. Sulfur is also a key element in plant growth, helping produce vitamins.’
The woman said that she would add a ‘handful’ of Epsom salts to a few inches of bath water to carry out the treatment, and would leave particularly thirsty-looking plants to soak overnight to give them time to absorb the benefits. The Epsom Salt Council advises that you feed house plants monthly by adding two tablespoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water.
However, before you go running a bath and sprinkling salts-aplenty, look for yellowing between the leaf veins or rusty brown spots; symptoms that indicate that it’s definitely mineral deficiency that’s affecting your plants.
Helen, a plant doctor at Crocus, warned Metro that there are numerous reasons that they could be looking worse for wear. ‘Plants can look droopy for a number of reasons, but it’s usually a result of a disease, which won’t be helped by magnesium, or weather damage (snow, ice, drought or heavy rain),’ she noted.
‘Indoor plants can wilt from both too much or too little water, so if a plant is suffering from drought, then sitting it in a few inches of water for a couple of hours will help perk it up (even without the Epsom salts), but if it’s wilting because it is waterlogged, and the majority of house plants are killed by too much water, then you could be doing more harm than good.’