Calcium is an important nutrient for plants. It helps water penetrate the soil better. Calcium also helps to keep the chemicals in potting soil balanced and lowers the salinity levels in the soil. It also aids in neutralizing cell acids that can be detrimental to the plant’s growth when massed in large quantities.
So How to add calcium to soil? The short answer is there are several ways but the three simplest ways are by adding either eggshells, soil additives, or epsom salts to the soil.
I will go deeper into these different methods of adding calcium in the article below and I will also explain how you can create your own calcium spray to help you add calcium to your soil.
Why Do Plants Need Calcium In The First Place?
Although most potting soils contain a fair amount of calcium, it may be necessary to add calcium to your soil.
Some plants may need more calcium than others.
Others may have less than optimal growing conditions, or may not have access to enough calcium to help them grow and thrive.
All plants need calcium, but some of them are more responsive to it than others.
The following is a list of the more common plants that tend to do well with enough calcium added to their nutritional regimen:
- brussels sprouts
- conifer trees
Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in nature.
It can be found in over 75 different chemical compounds. Some of the most common compounds are calcium gluconate (used in vitamins), calcium phosphate (used in fertilizers), calcium carbonate (used in lime) and calcium chloride (used in ice removal in winter).
Some calcium compounds are insoluble, which means they do not break down easily in water.
This makes it more difficult for plants to access calcium in soil, but on the other hand, it also tends to stay in the soil, making it more pH alkaline balanced.
There are several ways in which plants receive calcium in soil.
Because soil microbes also need calcium, they consume calcium compounds and break them down into a form that plants can use for nutrition.
This process can take some time, depending on the type of calcium compound and the nutrients needed by the soil.
Here Are 4 Simple Ways To Add Calcium To Your Soil
1. With Egg Shells
Add some eggshells to your soil.
Eggshells contain enough calcium to be beneficial for many kinds of plants.
Save the empty eggshells that you use in your meals. Put them in an empty container for a couple of days before adding them to the soil.
They need to be as dry as possible. Storing them in a coffee tin or storage container should work well.
After the eggshells have dried out, place them in a blender or food processor.
Because they are dry, the eggshells should grind up rather easily. The end result should be a fine powder.
This powder should have roughly the same consistency as flour or coffee grounds. The finer the eggshells are ground, the better the soil can absorb their calcium.
Use your hands or a tilling machine to mix the eggshell powder into your planting soil.
This should be done at least a few weeks before you start planting your crops so that the soil is in peak growing condition. If you’ve already started your planting, carefully spread the eggshell powder around your plants.
If you don’t have a tiller, you can also add a little water to your eggshell powder.
Take an empty plastic bottle and add a couple of tablespoons of eggshell powder for every gallon of water that you use. Stir this mixture thoroughly, and pour it over your plants when ready.
Monitor your plants’ growth and feel free to add more eggshell powder periodically as needed.
If they’re having a tough time growing, you can add more powder every several weeks or so, depending on their progress.
It can take a good six to twelve months for certain plants to fully absorb the calcium contained in eggshells. If your plants are already growing nicely, then you probably don’t need to add any more eggshell powder.
2. With Soil Additives
Use soil additives to enhance its calcium content.
The first thing you should do in this situation is to test your soil’s pH level.
This will help you determine what kind of soil additive to use. Gypsum and lime are the two most popular soil additives used.
They can be purchased at most lawn and garden or home improvement stores or right here on Amazon.
If you need to keep your pH levels the same as they are now, you can add some gypsum.
If you need to increase the soil’s pH levels, then you can add some lime.
If you only need to add a little bit of soil additive, you can spread this compound around your plants with your hands.
Just make sure that you wash your hands before applying any additive to the soil. If you have a larger area to canvas, then you can buy or rent a soil spreader to get the job done efficiently.
How much additive to use will depend on your own individual needs.
If you decide to use gypsum, pour the bag of gypsum into the soil spreader and spread it carefully over your soil surface. You can then water the soil so that it is more easier for the soil to absorb it.
If you opt for lime, you may want to use a tiller to add it to the soil surface evenly.
Pay attention to your plants’ progress. You may need to add extra gypsum or lime once a year.
If you have a larger crop, you may need to increase these amounts accordingly. You’ll also need to be aware of possible signs of calcium deficiency in your plants.
3. With Epsom Salts
Add epsom salts to your plants.
Epsom salts have many health benefits for people, animals, and plants.
Also referred to as magnesium sulfate, they can help plants better absorb nitrogen and phosphorous.
Epsom salts can also help plants make more chlorophyll, produce more flowers and allow seeds to germinate.
Once again, you’ll need to evaluate your soil condition to decide whether or not you need to add epsom salts.
They can be beneficial in the fight against rot and other hazards to their growth. Epsom salts are usually added when plants rot before they are ripe enough to be picked and eaten.
Measure the amount of epsom salt that you need carefully. The amount to add depends on the type of plants that you’re growing.
You can mix a tablespoon of epsom salts to a gallon of water to apply to peppers. Add this mixture to your soil when your peppers start to bloom.
You can add more of this combination after another 10 to 14 days or so.
If you are growing tomatoes, you can mix a tablespoon of epsom salts to a gallon of water. Apply the mixture to your tomato plants every couple of weeks. You can add another tablespoon for every foot of your plants’ height.
To avoid rot, you can add a cup of epsom salts per plant container or a pound of epsom salts per tomato plant bed.
You can also supplement their regular watering cycle by adding a mixure of a half-cup of epsom salts per gallon of water. Spray this mixture on your tomato plants while they are growing, and feel free to repeat this as necessary.
Epsom salts can be used to fertilize house plants every couple of weeks or so.
For shrubs, you can add a tablespoon for every 10 feet. Houseplants can also thrive with epsom salts. Adding a couple of tablespoons of epsom salts to a gallon of water should suffice.
Spray your houseplants with this mixture every two weeks. Roses and other larger plants can be fertilized using a combination of one tablespoon of epsom salts and a gallon of water once a month.
Spray this mixture weekly to avoid insect infestation and any damage they may cause.
For regular maintenance, use a sprayer. Pour in a tablespoon of water per gallon of water and apply this mix to your plants. This approach works well for roses, tomatoes, and other blooming plants.
You may want to sprinkle epsom salts in your planting soil by hand. Just make sure to avoid actually touching the plant if adding epsom salts manually. This allows the soil to absorb the salts better. Watch your plants’ progress. One application should do the trick, but you can add more for plants that aren’t progressing like they should.
4. Create Your Own Calcium Spray
Create your own calcium spray.
Farmers often use slow-release calcium for their crops. This helps soil absorb calcium just when it’s needed the most. You can also create this type of calcium foliar spray at home. They can be made out of chamomile or seaweed.
Chamomile calcium fertilizer can be created by adding a quarter cup of chamomile blossoms to a couple cups of boiling water.
Chamomile tea can also be used as a substitute for the blossoms. Let the mixture cool, and then pour it into a plastic spray bottle.
The solution will last for up to a week.
Seaweed calcium fertilizer can be made by placing chopped seaweed in a bucket and adding a couple of gallons of water.
Cover the bucket loosely, and let it sit for two weeks. You can make a spray by diluting this mixture with a gallon of water for every 2/3 cups of mixture used.
How Do You Know If Your Plant Needs Calcium?
You may not notice calcium deficiency in older plants, but new plants will typically show more symptoms.
Distorted leaves, yellow patches, and stunted growth are all common signs of calcium deficiency.
You may also see premature bud and blossom dropping, weaker stems, and root tips and stems may look like they’re dying.
Blossom end rot is another symptom of calcium deficiency.
This commonly occurs in tomatoes, but other plants can be affected as well. It’s first seen as a watery spot on one end of the plant.
This spot expands outward and darkens as the plant grows. The spot will eventually harden and the affected surface becomes firm or hard to the touch.
Unfortunately, blossom end rot can also affect plants that have enough calcium.
This is because they’re lacking other important minerals such as ammonium, magnesium or potassium. If these or other essential minerals are deficient, the required calcium that they need for growth may be less available.
The quality of nutrients can also be affected by the soil’s water content. That’s why it’s essential to pay attention to your plants’ growing and soil conditions and make adjustments when needed to ensure their overall health.
The key is consistency. Making the time to monitor your plants’ progress on a regular basis can be all the difference between a poor crop and a great crop.
Also, be mindful of the fact that some plants may prosper while others may underperform.
It really depends on the type of plant and growing conditions. Weather, insects and other factors can also come into play.
Are There More Ways To Add Calcium To Plants?
Yes, there are a lot of different soil and calcium additives that you can buy, in addition to the ones mentioned above.
They all have their own advantages and disadvantages, according to their content and the types of plants that you are growing.
Pay close attention to their ingredient labels, and make sure that you understand just how much of each product can be applied.
While they may provide important nutrients, adding too much can be detrimental. Excess fertilizer or other compounds can cause a larger than usual salt concentration.
It can also lead to rapid plant growth. This growth can cause inefficient root systems in your plants. They won’t be able to properly provide water and other nutrients to the plant so that it can grow properly.
Having enough calcium in your plants’ soil leads to better root growth. It also helps plants to grow at a more uniform rate.
Calcium is a major component of plant cell walls. It is important for cell division, cell membrane permeability and a plant’s ability to properly use nitrogen to further its growth.
Just like humans and animals need calcium, plants also need calcium to survive.
There’s usually some calcium content in soil, but that alone may not be enough. Fortunately, there are ways that you can add enough calcium to your plants.
Adding just the right amounts is a way of ensuring a successful growing season.