How to Fix Magnesium Deficiency in Plants and Soil: Causes, Symptoms, Adding Naturally, and Chemically

Magnesium is essential for healthy roots, chlorophyll production, and more. Also, Magnesium plays an important role in photosynthesis, ensuring that plants get the necessary nutrients. The cause of this deficiency is not entirely clear, but it may be due to several things, including changing weather patterns and increasing levels of urbanization. In this article, we explain how to fix magnesium deficiency in plants and soil and the various symptoms and causes. 

How to Fix Magnesium Deficiency in Plants and Soil
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How to fix Magnesium deficiency in plants and soil

Magnesium importance in plant growth

Magnesium helps plants to absorb water, nutrients, and sunlight. Magnesium also helps the plant produce chlorophyll and other nutrients. It also plays a role in root growth, cell division, and other processes in the plant. In many cases, Magnesium can be replaced with other minerals without causing major problems. However, if magnesium levels are too low, the plant may struggle to grow and reproduce correctly.

This is particularly common in plants grown in soil, as bacteria and other microorganisms quickly deplete Magnesium. Magnesium also helps to make protein, DNA, and other important molecules in plants. Without enough Magnesium, plants may exhibit weak leaves and shorter roots. However, too much Magnesium can also be harmful to plants. For example, excess Magnesium can cause leaves to turn green and red, making them look like they are burning; this is called chloroma formation.

In extreme cases, excess Magnesium can even cause stems to snap off beneath the weight of the leaves. More Magnesium is needed in plants that grow under low soil fertility conditions or are subject to water stress. There are several ways that Magnesium can be added to crop soils: through fertilizers, irrigation water additives, or composting material. Adding Magnesium improves crop yield and quality by improving plant growth and function.

There are several benefits to adding Magnesium to crops: increased crop productivity (due to better growth and function), decreased need for fertilizer applications (due to improved uptake of nutrients), reduced environmental impact (less run-off due to excess nutrients), Reduced need for water during drought conditions (due to better root growth).

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What is Magnesium deficiency in soil and plants?

Magnesium is an essential mineral for plants, as it helps them create chlorophyll and other plant proteins. Without enough Magnesium, plants cannot photosynthesize or perform other necessary functions. Magnesium deficiency can occur when not enough of this element is present in the soil or plant tissue.

In many cases, Magnesium can be replaced with other minerals without causing major problems. However, if magnesium levels are too low, the plant may struggle to grow and reproduce properly. This is particularly common in plants grown in soil, as bacteria and other microorganisms quickly deplete Magnesium.

Symptoms of Magnesium deficiency in plants

There are three primary deficiency symptoms of Magnesium in soil – stunted growth, yellowing foliage, and decreased yields. Magnesium is a plant nutrient that helps to promote healthy root growth and chlorophyll production. Check for signs such as yellowing leaves or stunted growth, and make any necessary adjustments to your gardening routine accordingly. Suppose you’re looking for ways to naturally add more Magnesium to your soil.

In that case, several options are available, including applying compost or manure amendments, installing a green manure system, or using natural sources like Epsom salts or kelp extracts. Lastly, if you notice signs of a magnesium deficiency becoming severe, consider using a chemical solution such as chelated magnesium oxide supplements or elemental sulfur treatments.

  1. Deficiency symptoms may vary depending on the plants or soil, but can generally include yellowing leaves and flowers, reduced growth, stunted plants, chlorosis (a blue-green coloration of the leaves), increased water usage, and abnormal leaf blade forms.
  2. Magnesium is often lost from soil due to heavy metal contamination (such as pesticides or fertilizer), poor drainage, and salinity.
  3. Adding magnesium-rich amendments (e.g., lime, and Epsom salts) can help improve plant health and encourage a healthy balance in the soil’s mineral content.
  4. Chelated magnesium treatment can effectively promote plant growth and overall health if the deficiency is severe.
  5. Always consult a professional if you’re having trouble managing your garden’s magnesium levels.

Key points to remember when discussing magnesium deficiency in plants

  1. Magnesium is an essential nutrient for plant growth and function. Deficiency can lead to several symptoms, including reduced yield, weakened stems and leaves, and chlorosis (yellowing).
  2. Magnesium deficiency can be caused by several factors, including low soil fertility, damaged plants due to pests or disease, and phosphorus-containing fertilizers that deplete Magnesium.
  3. Adding magnesium sulfate or other natural sources of Magnesium to the soil can help remediate magnesium deficiency. Additionally, chemical treatments such as seaweed extract or chelated Magnesium can be used in cases of severe deficiency.

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What causes Magnesium deficiency in plants?

Several factors can contribute to magnesium deficiency in soil and plants. Magnesium deficiencies can be caused by several factors, including a lack of Magnesium in the soil or water, increased magnesium demand from growing plants, or problems with absorption. One common cause of magnesium deficiency in plants is the over-application of fertilizers that are high in nitrogen.

This can cause the magnesium levels in the soil to decline as it becomes overwhelmed by competing nutrients. Waterlogging can also lead to an accumulation of excess water on top of the soil, restricting the availability of vital minerals like Magnesium. Finally, intensive cultivation or harvesting may also deplete Magnesium from the soil.

Poorly managed soils

Over-cultivation, heavy use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, compaction, etc., can all lead to depleted levels of Magnesium in the soil. Poorly drained soils are also a common source of magnesium depletion.

Excess water uptake

Too much water uptake by plants can pull away oxygen from the soil, which depletes magnesium levels. On the other hand, green leafy vegetables need ample water to stay healthy, so irrigation with slightly more than usual but not too much will be fine. 

Irrigation with water containing high calcium levels

Calcium can bind with Magnesium and prevent it from being absorbed by the plant. This can happen when rainwater run-off has high calcium levels or artificial irrigation systems contain high calcium salts.

Fertilizing with synthetic fertilizers

Many synthetic fertilizers are made without any magnesium additivity and may therefore be deficient in this nutrient. Additionally, over-fertilization can cause too much phosphorus and nitrogen to be added to the soil, leading to a build-up of these elements in the soil profile and a subsequent magnesium deficiency.

Providing Magnesium for plants

Magnesium is an essential mineral for plants. It helps plants grow, makes their cells function properly, and helps create chlorophyll. Magnesium deficiencies can cause various problems, including stunted growth, increased stress reactions, and yellowing leaves.

There are many ways to get your plants the Magnesium they need, but adding naturally-occurring sources like Epsom salts or seaweed is the easiest way. If you have a soil deficiency, add magnesium sulfate or elemental Magnesium to your soil. Adding chemicals like methylene blue or zinc sulfide will help fix magnesium deficiencies in plants and soil.

How does magnesium deficiency affect plants?

Magnesium is essential for plants, as it is involved in many vital cellular processes. Therefore, a magnesium deficiency can cause several problems for plants, including increased susceptibility to pests and diseases, stunted growth, and poor performance in the garden. One of the primary ways magnesium deficiency affects plants is through the disruption of cellular function.

For example, Magnesium is necessary for producing chlorophyll and other plant pigments so a deficiency can decrease plant color and size. Additionally, Magnesium plays a role in enzyme activity and DNA synthesis, which are essential for plant growth and development. A deficiency can also affect photosynthesis by impairing energy transfer from light to chemical reactions within the plant cells.

How do you solve Magnesium deficiency in soil?

There are a few ways to solve magnesium deficiency in the soil. The most common way is to add magnesium sulfate, which is the most affordable and reliable. Another way is to use chelated Magnesium, which is more effective than adding magnesium sulfate. Many organic methods can help, such as applying compost or manure, using cover crops or green manures, and watering with magnesium-rich water sources.

Some chemicals used to fix magnesium deficiency in soil include elemental sulfur, Epsom salts, and Kelp Meal. Add more organic matter to your garden soil: Add compost, aged animal manures, or leaf mold to your garden soil mix. These sources of organic matter will help increase the number of good bacteria in your soil, which will help break down nutrients like Magnesium.

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Tips to solve Magnesium deficiency in soil

  1. Use a soil test to determine if your soil is Magnesium deficient. If so, add Magnesium as a fertilizer.
  2. Remove debris and overgrowth from the soil.
  3. Amend the soil with compost, aged manure, or seaweed extract.
  4. Plant Magnesium-rich plants in the garden, such as tomatoes, lilies, and geraniums.
  5. Add Epsom salt to the water to increase Magnesium availability to plants and soil organisms
  6. Sprinkle magnesium pellets around plants for uptake into the root zone
  7. Bake goods such as bread and cakes made with yeast contain Magnesium which can be lost during baking
  8. Make a tea from chamomile, lavender, or other herbs that naturally contain Magnesium
  9. Place a layer of sandpaper on top of potting mix before planting seeds or growing plants to help hold moisture and improve drainage

How to prevent Magnesium deficiency in plants?

There are many ways to prevent magnesium deficiency in plants, but the most effective way is to add magnesium sulfate or Epsom salts directly to the soil. These minerals dissolve quickly and help ensure that plants have enough Magnesium. You may need to supplement your plants with this mineral if you have a severe magnesium deficiency. Another way to prevent magnesium deficiency in plants is to water them thoroughly and avoid over-watering.

Magnesium can become locked up in wet soils, preventing it from reaching plant roots. Finally, ensure to fertilize your plants only with composted manure or a balanced fertilizer that includes Magnesium. There are a few ways to prevent magnesium deficiency in plants: grow plants in soil that is rich in Magnesium, add magnesium supplements to the soil or water, or grow plants that are naturally high in Magnesium.

However, suppose your plant does not seem to respond well to adding magnesium supplements or growing high-magnesium plants. In that case, you may need to take steps to correct the underlying cause of the deficiency. In general, deficiencies of other minerals can often be corrected with organic methods such as composting or balancing the pH of the soil. For magnesium deficiency, however, it may be necessary to use chemical methods such as chelating agents or Epsom salt.

Keep your soil moist

A dry soil will not allow plants to uptake magnesium as easily, so make sure to water your plants regularly and keep the soil evenly moist

Choose high-magnesium plants

Some plants are naturally high in Magnesium, such as dandelions and chickweed, so selecting these plants may help you maintain a healthier magnesium balance in your garden.

Avoid fertilizer with nitrogen

Magnesium is often lost when nitrogen is added to the soil, which can lead to a magnesium deficiency in plants. Therefore, avoid fertilizing with nitrogen altogether or use a low-nitrogen option instead.

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Seaweed Fertilizer
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Mulch your plants

A layer of mulch around plants will help retain moisture and add nutrients like Magnesium to the soil.

Use an Epsom salt remedy

If you notice signs of magnesium deficiency in your garden, try using Epsom salts mixed with water. Epsom salts help draw calcium and other minerals out of the soil, helping to restore balance in the plant’s environment and allowing them to uptake more Magnesium.

Check for flower deficiencies

One common sign of magnesium deficiency is misshapen or deformed flowers. Check surrounding foliage for signs of deficiency – stunted growth or yellowing leaves may signal that there’s something wrong with the Magnesium levels in the soil itself.

Cure of Magnesium deficiency in plants

Magnesium is an essential mineral for plants that helps to synthesize chlorophyll and other plant pigments, regulates water uptake and storage, aids in the production of enzymes, supports photosynthesis, and contributes to the growth and development of roots, flowers, and fruit. Most crops require magnesium levels between 1.5-2 mM. Too little Magnesium can cause deficiencies in key plant processes such as chlorophyll synthesis and root growth.

Magnesium deficiency can also lead to yellowing leaves, stunted growth, decreased yields, and even death in plants. Magnesium deficiency is often caused by poor drainage or a lack of available soil resources. Poor land management practices—such as over-grazing or deforestation—can also deplete Magnesium from the soil. Additionally, chemical fertilizers containing Magnesium can be toxic to plants if applied too frequently or in high doses.

To prevent magnesium deficiency in plants, it is essential to identify the source of the problem and address any contributing factors. Corrective measures may include adding organic matter (such as decaying leaves), improving soil texture and drainage, increasing irrigation water supplies when necessary, or using low-magnesium fertilizers when appropriate. When magnesium deficiency is severe or caused by environmental factors like drought or heavy rainfalls, supplemental treatments with elemental magnesium chloride or chelating agents may be necessary.

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How to Fix Magnesium Deficiency in Plants and Soil 6
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Fix Magnesium Deficiency in plants naturally and chemically

Add magnesium sulfate to the soil

These minerals are available as chelated forms that plants absorb more easily. Adding 2-4 ounces per acre will help improve magnesium levels in the soil. In addition, magnesium sulfate can be added to the soil to increase its magnesium levels. This is a successful method for fixing magnesium deficiency in plants and soil.

Plant magnesium-rich crops

Some of the best magnesium sources include leafy green vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and fruits. It can help increase your plant’s intake of this important mineral.

Use seaweed extract

Seaweed extract is another natural way of adding Magnesium to the soil. This can help to fix magnesium deficiency in plants and soil.

Use Epsom salts

Epsom salts can also fix magnesium deficiency in plants and soil. Again, this is because they are high in Magnesium.

Plant magnesium-rich plants

One way of fixing magnesium deficiency in plants and soil is by planting them with magnesium-rich plants. These include vegetables, flowers, and fruit trees.

Mulch gardens with organic matter

Another way of fixing magnesium deficiency in plants and soil is by mulching gardens with organic matter such as leaves or straws. This will help to trap moisture and provide nutrients for the plants below it.

Add lime

Lime can also fix magnesium deficiency in plants and soil. This is because it helps to increase the soil’s pH level, leading to increased nutrient availability for the plant roots.


Magnesium is an essential mineral for many organisms, including plants. It helps to form chlorophyll, help crops grow, and keep cells functioning properly. Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is becoming more common in plants and soil. When there is a magnesium deficiency in plants, the uptake of other nutrients may be impaired, leading to negative consequences such as reduced yields and poor-quality fruit.


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