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Friday, May 1, 2020

Use of Epsom Salt on Hostas

Hostas continue to be one of the most popular perennials in shady and party shady gardens. It's no wonder. Hostas are easy to grow and care for, they don't require a lot of special attention and they come in a vast array of sizes, shapes and great leaf colors.

Since the real beauty of hostas lies in those gorgeous colorful leaves, it is only natural to seek out an organic soil amendment that will enhance leaf color and help the plant grow bushier and healthier. That's where Epsom Salt comes in.

The idea of using Epsom Salt in the garden is not a new concept.  It's been around for generations because it works.

So what are the advantages of using Epsom Salt in your hosta garden?

Well, the main ingredient in Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate which is an important soil additive for healthy plant life. It allows plants to take in nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen and assists in the creation of chlorophyll which is used by the plant to convert sunlight into food.

The benefits of Epsom Salt on plants are many including that it’s organic, it’s gentle on plants and it’s inexpensive! 


Here are some specific ways Epsom Salt helps with plants in general.

  • Improves flower blooming.
  • Enhances a plant’s green color.
  • Helps plants grow bushier.
  • Greatly improves a plant’s ability to produce fruit and flowers.
  • It’s safe, and there is little danger of problems from overuse.
  • It doesn’t build up in the soil and it won't have buildup that will clog the root cells of your plants. In fact, Epsom salt can be used for potted plants that have developed a salt accumulation.

Another big advantage of Epsom Salt is its versatility in the way it can be used. You can sprinkle Epsom Salt over a large garden area, you can use it to circle around plants or you can add a solution of Epsom Salt to a garden sprayer.  Click on "garden sprayer" right above.  This is the one I use.  It's a half gallon, it's easy to hold and sprays beautifully.

How to Use Epsom Salt on Hostas

  • For potted hostas, mix two tablespoons of Epsom Salt in one gallon of water.  Water the potted hostas once a month with this mixture.
  • With the same solution, you can use a sprayer to spray the mixture directly on the leaves to keep them lush and healthy,
  • A few tablespoons of Epsom Salt around your ground hostas in the spring will give them a great early boost.

On a New Hosta Garden Area

If you're starting a brand new hosta bed, sprinkle up to one cup per 100 square feet and work it into the soil.

gardener planting a seedling

To Help with Transplant Shock

Did you know that using Epsom Salt can reduce transplant shock? Plants can become weak and wither right after transplanting, and Epsom Salt can help reduce that transplant shock to the plant roots. The solution to use for this is one cup of Epsom Salt per 100 square feet. 

Slug Control

Hostas are known for their ease of care, but they do face one problem: Slugs! Damage from slugs appears as multiple holes chewed through the hosta leaves. The most damage will be done to varieties with thinner leaves or hostas that are variegated.

To fight this problem, apply a narrow band of Epsom Salt in a circle around the hosta. Since Epsom Salt is a scratchy substance, it will pierce the skin of any slimy creature when it crosses over it.

Epsom Salt is also effective for combating beetles and other garden pests. A solution of one cup of Epsom Salt per five gallons of water is a great deterrent to them.


Add the use of Epsom Salt to your hosta care regiment this season. Your hostas will thank you with their continued beauty and health!

Want to try using Epsom Salt?  Click here.


Where to go next!


This post may contain Amazon affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases without costing you anything extra.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Growing Chives

Part of the Culinary Herb Series

Chives are a tender herb with soft stems and leaves.  It’s one of the easiest perennial herbs to grow in Zones 3 – 9 and one of the earliest plants to appear in the spring. They produce lovely fuzzy flowers in pink and purple.   They are a special treat for those first-of-the-year salads.  Chives add a flavor similar to onions without the bite.  Chives grow as a grass-like plant and grow easily indoors or outdoors.  Many gardeners even grow chives on a window sill for fresh chives all year long.

Types of Chives

Fine Leaf – A thinner, smaller, good choice for fresh use.
Purly – Thicker leaves, more productive.
Staro – Large thick leaves better for freezing or drying.
Garlic – Larger than common chives.  The flat, tender leaves have a flavor in between garlic and onion.

Starting Chives from Seed

Chives started from seed can take a year before they're large enough to harvest.  In about 2-3 years you will then be able to divide the clumps for more plants.  So if you have the time, it's worth doing.

Seed Longevity:                                            One to two years.  
Seed Depth:                                                  Surface or just barely cover.
Best Soil Temp for Germination:                   60 – 85 degrees.
Days to Germination:                                    7-14.
Spring Sowing:                                     
Sow in a windowsill pot any time.
Direct sow in outdoors spring after danger of frost has passed.

Winter Sowing

If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of milk jugs in the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in the Spring.

For our article containing detailed information about Winter Sowing, click here.

Growing Chive Plants

Plant Size:                                                     Height  12-15” May spread a foot across.
Growing Soil Temperature:                            55 – 70 degrees.
Spacing:                                                         6-8” apart.
Container Size:                                              Any width  12” deep.
Soil:                                                               Thrives in nearly any soil.  Prefers high organic matter.          
Watering:                                                      Moderate, consistent.
Light/Sun:                                                     Full sun to part shade.
Fertilizer:                                                      If grown in soil amended with compost, no further fertilizer.
Good Companions:                                     Carrot and tomatoes.
Bad Companions:                                        Beans and peas.

Other Chive Information:
Dies back to the ground in winter in cooler climates.
It can remain evergreen in warmer climates.

Dividing Chives

Chive clumps can be divided in early spring or mid-fall anytime three years after sowing from seed.  Thin the clumps to 6 to 10 shoots per clump and replant at 8” apart.  Allow divided plants to grow for several weeks before harvesting the leaves.

Harvesting Chive Seeds

Harvest chive seeds when the seed head has dried and you can see the black round seeds.  Use quickly as Chive seeds, like Onion seeds, are only viable for one to two years.

Harvesting Chive Leaves

Harvest early in the morning whenever the leaves are large enough.  The best time to harvest is when the leaves are young and before the seeds develop.  Snip off leaves or snip off the entire clump leaving 2”.

Storing Chives

Bouquet Storage

This method works well for tender herbs with soft stems and leaves.
Clean and thoroughly dry the Chives.  Trim the end of the stems and remove any wilted or browned leaves.  Place the Chives in a Mason jar or clear glass with 1" of water like a bouquet of flowers.  Loosely cover with a plastic bag or cling wrap.  Label and store in the fridge.

Chives will stay fresh in the fridge with this method for up to one week. 

Herb Scissors

Herb Mincer


Chives are one of the best herbs to freeze.  For best results, use frozen Chives within 1-2 years.

Here are a few freezing methods to consider:

Tray Freeze

Spread Chives onto a cookie sheet on a single layer. Freeze in the freezer, then transfer the frozen Chive pieces into a labeled freezer bag to store.  Since the leaves are frozen separately, later you can easily remove the amount you need.

Ice Cube Trays

Clean and thoroughly dry the Chives.  Mince and firmly pack the Chives into ice cube trays 3/4 full.  Add water to fill and freeze.  Transfer frozen cubes into a labeled freezer bag to store.

These silicone ice cube trays are perfect for herbs.

Flat Freezer Bag

Clean and thoroughly dry the chives.  Chop the chives into 1/2" pieces, place in a labeled freezer bag. Squeeze out the air, lay flat and freeze.


Hang to Dry

Pick your herbs in bunches right before you intend to store them.  Tie the bottom of the bunch together with twine and hang upside down to dry in a dry, low humidity area. For added protection against dust, you can put the bundles inside paper bags with plenty of holes for ventilation.  When the herbs are dry, the leaves will crumble easily between your fingers.  Store in an airtight container. 
For best use, use dried Chives within 1-2 years

Using Chives

  • Use Chives at the very end of the cooking process as their mild flavor is destroyed by heat.
  • Use Chives with sour cream, butter or cottage cheese for dips and spreads. 
  • Flowers are edible and have a more pungent, onion-like flavor.
  • Chives blend well with parsley and tarragon.
  • Looks great as a garnish.
  • Great used for companion planting next to carrots.

Growing your own herbs is fun, easy, more healthy than the herbs shipped to grocery stores, and what's best, saves you tons of money! Try it today.

To view other herb articles in our culinary herb series, click on the herb name below.




This post may contain Amazon affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases without costing you anything extra.

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