9 Surprising Borax Uses in the Garden

When it comes to household chores, Borax is a favorite among many housekeepers. Borax uses in the Garden include using it as a cleaning agent or even as a repellent to chase away those pesky annoying ants.

Uses of borax do not just end here. It can be effectively used in your garden because of various beneficial effects it has on crop output as well as plants.

Borox or Sodium tetraborate is actually a white acidic salt. It was first mined by Persians approximately 4,000 years ago.

It consists of substances such as sodium, oxygen, water, and boron. Since boron was popularly used in washing detergents during the 1950s; it was believed to be toxic and this belief still lingers.

However, this is far from the truth. Boron is not toxic and neither is it harmful to the human body. In fact, boron is a fundamental trace mineral that plays an effective role in the rebuilding of teeth and bones.

It also acts as a hormone regulator and helps in the absorption and metabolization of phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium.

Boron is naturally present in soil and water and helps plant growth. A healthy and balanced diet with a proper intake of fruits and vegetables will provide you with 2 to 5 mg of boron per day.

Borax is not just a natural cleaner and laundry booster; it is also used as a preservative in makeup products. While it may be harmful in large quantities, handling it with precision and care in your garden can lead to weed-free, bug-free, and fungus-free plants and crops.

Do Not Confuse Borax with Boric Acid

Borax and boric acid are two very different things with two very different chemical formulae. A little amount of borax is used in making boric acid, however; boric acid is in no way used in borax.

Boric acid is harmful and toxic for human as well as animal consumption. Most studies conducted on borax revealed that the researchers were ambiguous about which was used.

Our choice for top quality Borax would be MILLIARD’s Multipurpose Borax Powder

Where will you find Borax?

You can easily find Borax at local grocery stores as well as garden centers. It is an organic way to kill pests, fungus, and bugs.

Various Uses of Borax

Here is a list of various uses of Borax for gardening purposes:

Strengthen Your Soil with Borax

Soil mismanagement, overuse of synthetic fertilizers and chemical sprays, all lead to a soil that is deficient in natural minerals and nutrients.

In such cases, nutrients, such as boron easily become deficient as they are present in the soil in trace amounts.

Dead leaves, stunted root growth and poor pollen vitality are some of the signs that the soil is deficient in boron.

Vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower require boron to grow healthily. Brown cauliflower heads and hollow broccoli stems are also a sign of boron deficiency.

Most gardeners provide nutrients to the plants through fertilizers. Among other nutrients, boron is also present in the fertilizer as a micronutrient. Adding Borax to your soil can cure boron deficiency.

For more information on how to take care of your soil properly, Wayne Lewis’ Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition is a good read.

Another helpful way to learn especially for beginners is to check out this article, Free Vegetable Garden Layout, Plans, and Planting Guides

As a Dry Fertilizer

You need to be careful while using borax as a dry fertilizer. Overuse of borax can have toxic effects on your garden soil.

If you have a large garden space, about 6 tablespoons of Borax sprinkled evenly throughout the garden is enough.

Cultivate your land with very small amounts of borax to reap full benefits once the product is ready.

A good choice would be Superbat’s 2 lbs Dry Budswell fertilizer

As a Liquid Fertilizer

If you are not comfortable using Borax as a dry fertilizer, you can always opt for liquid borax fertilizer.

Mix one part of boron with ten parts of water to get a wholesome liquid fertilizer mixture. Spray this mixture on your plants to get desirable results.

To make a more diluted solution, you can also mix a tablespoon of boron with three gallons of water.

If you are unsure of boron use in your garden, I would recommend that you start off with a little area in your garden.

Select a small corner and spray with boron.
Once you are confident regarding your boron-use decision and see the improvement in your crop quality and plants, you can move ahead with the rest of the garden.

One of the best bang for your buck liquid fertilizers would be Miracle-Gro’s Liquid All Purpose Plant Food Concentrate, available in different sizes.

As a Foliar Spray

Plants have the ability to absorb essential nutrients through leaves as well. You can use a much-diluted borax solution as a foliar spray.

To do this, take five gallons of water and add two ounces of borax in it.

Remember that you do not need to drench your plant leaves with this solution. Just spray sparingly and evenly. Bear in mind that a single boron application can last as long as three years.

Therefore, save the date of your application and wait for at least three years between applications.

An ideal sprayer would be Zep’s HDPRO36 Professional Sprayer Bottle, available in 32-ounce size.

Exterminate Ants

Once the ants realize that your garden is a free food territory, there is no stopping them! They get everywhere and in turn, destroy the crops that you painstakingly grew.

Borax is a good way to do away with those pesky ants. You can use any of the following ways to set up ant traps using boraxClick To Tweet

Mix borax powder with confectioner sugar. Add a little bit of water to make a paste. Strategically place this sticky paste away from your crops and the ants would follow the lead. They will carry away this paste as food and leave you garden unharmed.

You can also use a mixture of maple syrup and borax in the ratio of 3:1 and place this liquid bait near the point from where ants crawl into your garden.

Another way is to mix honey with borax in the same ratio as above, i.e. 3:1. Just make sure to drop some liquid at the point on ant trail. You will have ant free garden in no time.

For more information on how to get rid of garden pests, Fern Marshall Bradley’s The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control is a very good book to read.

Weed Control

Weed is every gardener’s nightmare. Perennial weeds such as creeping Charlie or ground ivy not only choke grass but can also find their way towards the garden plants.

You can effectively succumb weed problem by spraying your garden with borax weed killer solution.

To do this, add 10 ounces to borax to 4 ounces of warm water. Once borax completely dissolves in water, add this mixture to 2.5 gallons of normal tap water.

Transfer this liquid solution into a spray bottle and sprinkle evenly on the weed. This mixture is enough for about 1000 square feet of garden.

Avoid spraying on the leaves of plants you want to keep. Do not overuse as overdosage can cause borax poisoning and your soil can become toxic.

Also, avoid direct contact with skin. For best results apply when rain is not in the forecast.

You can also sprinkle the dry borax powder over the weeds. It will work as a natural herbicide and kill them.

Be careful not to sprinkle it over your vegetable plants as it is not discriminatory and will kill any plant that it is applied to.

For a good reference book, check out Principles of Weed Control: 4th edition by Steven Fennimore 

Lynch-Green Fly over Roses

If you like growing roses and other flowers in your garden to enhance natural beauty then you must have noticed green flies. They come on fragrant plants especially roses and can be quite annoying.

To get rid of these green flies, simply dissolve 25gms of borax to a little bit of warm water. Once borax is dissolved, add cold water to make a 600ml solution. Apply this solution to roses and other plants.

You can also apply it to the stem of fruit plants and other trees. This will help you in getting rid of insects in and around the bark.

If you’re not familiar of the insects that go around in your garden, check out Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs – Second Edition


Borax is one of the best cleaning agents on the market shelves. It does not only clean your laundry, you can also use it to clean your gardening tool.

Removing Rust from Gardening Tools:

One of the most common issues that many gardeners face over the course of their gardening years is that their gardening tools gather rust.

Whenever you see rust build-up on your gardening tools, all you need to have at hand is Borax and lemon juice.

Mix Borax with lemon juice to form a fine paste. Apply this paste to your rusting gardening tools and let them rest for approximately 30 minutes. Scrub your tools with a brush and repeat the process.

You will soon have rust-free shiny tools that are as good as new!

Clean & Disinfect Gardening Tools:

Once you have messed around in your garden and finished your gardening chores, you may want to disinfect and clean your gardening tools especially if you’re growing vegetable and fruit gardens. Borax will come in handy here.

Mix half a cup of Borax into a gallon of water. Let your tools soak in this liquid for a while. After some time, take them out of the solution, scrub and rinse thoroughly with water.

Once clean, leave them out to dry in open air and sun.
You can also disinfect and clean pots with this solution.

For a quick seed starting guide, check out Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully

Wash Dirty Gardening Gloves

Gardening gloves get the toughest stains and are probably one of the hardest gardening essential to clean.

Just soak dirty gloves in a solution made with ¼ cup Borax and a gallon of water. Let them soak for a while.

Borax is an excellent stain remover and will remove any stains present on your gloves. Take them out rinse and hang out to air dry. You gloves will be as good as new.

If you’re not sure about your garden gloves, be sure to check out Vremi Heavy Duty Gardening Gloves

Borax as a Natural Deodorizer

Use of mulch, fertilizers, and pesticides can often leave an unwanted odor in and around our garden. Boron is a natural deodorizer, so use it to remove unwanted odors.

Augment Mineral Deficient Sandy Soil

Sandy soil is especially deficient in mineral nutrients. If you have a large vegetable garden, about 1000 square feet, about 6 to 7 tablespoons of Borax dissolved in water is your answer.

Use this solution during cultivation to reap most benefits. It is very beneficial for fruit trees such as apples. It not only provides nutrients but also helps in fighting off fruit-pitting and rotting.

The top choice for soil would be Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix for all your organic gardening needs.

Do Away with Mice

Mice and rodents not only destroy vegetables and fruits but also bring in several pathogens that are harmful to human health.

Sprinkle borax along the wall, as mice like to run along the wall but do not like to get borax on their feet. Thus, they will eventually leave your garden alone.

Preserve Flowers from your Garden

You can use borax to preserve flowers cut from your garden. Borax prevents wilting of flowers and leaves by removing moisture.

Add one part borax and two parts cornmeal in a box and preserve flowers in them.

Test your soil before applying the borax solution

If your plant displays signs such as stunted growth, dying growing tips or low productivity, then you should get your soil tested. These are the very signs that the soil is deficient in boron.

Some other signs include hollow stalks, black spots, and roots with dead areas.
Vegetables and fruits such as strawberries, apples, cabbages, celery, broccoli, cauliflower etc. require high amounts of boron for optimum productivity.

Therefore, the borax application will boost their production and maintain required levels of boron.

One of the easiest ways to test your soil is by getting Soil Savvy’s Soil Test Kit

A Word of Warning

Although advantages of Borax far outweigh its disadvantages, I would still recommend that you use it wisely and with care.

Borax is a natural product but consuming large amounts of borax can be poisonous and even life-threatening.

It kills weeds, fungus and eliminates unwanted bugs, thus making it an excellent gardening tool. However, always try to wear gloves and other safety gears while using Borax and keep it out of reach of children.

P.S: If you want tips on successful gardening, be sure to check out 27 Tips for Beginner Vegetable Gardeners

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