Plants require a composition of over 16 nutrients so as to grow in a suitable environment. In fact, it is the combination of these nutrients along with water, air, light, temperature, and sun that makes them healthy and free from unwanted diseases too.
Water is known for offering basic nutrients such as oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, and the soil makes up for the rest thirteen nutrients. A lack of any one nutrient in the plant can make it unhealthy and prone to diseases.
If you own a garden, an orchard, or are cultivating any kind of crop, you need to ensure all these nutrients are present in ample amounts in order to get an ideal yield with good quality produce. Each nutrient type has a unique role to play in the development of a plant.
These nutrients are basically divided into two different categories, and these are macronutrients and micronutrients. The macronutrients are those plant nutrients that are required in a large portion for the development of the plants, while a limited amount of micronutrients are enough for the growth.
Excess of either micro or macronutrients can be harmful to the plants, thus, understanding the right proportion is of utmost importance.
For this, you need to examine both the water and the soil before adding any nutrients. Both are a powerhouse of nutrients and come with natural minerals that in some cases are enough for the growth of plants.
If there is an overdose of nutrients in the soil, the plant may wither. Hence, it is always advised to analyze the composition and only then decide which nutrients will be suitable for a plant.
The Key Nutrients That Support Growth of Plants
Out of the sixteen basic nutrients, there are six crucial ones without which plants won’t be able to survive and these are:
- Nitrogen: The versatile N2 forms the building block of life and thus is essential for the growth of plants. The plants that usually grow on soil get nitrogen through the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen gas in the soil. While in the case of hydroponics, you can consider adding them into the water so as to increase the percentage of the nutrient.
- Phosphorous: This nutrient is quite important, especially when the seeds are germinating. It basically aids in the development of the plant through the initial stages and thereafter. In those plants where phosphorous is deficient, the leaves would fall off due to the presence of bronze or purplish color at the end of the leaves.
- Potassium: This nutrient forms the final core ingredient of the quintessential NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) that are regarded to the core of plant nutrients. The growth of the plants becomes stunted in the absence of potassium, hence, these minerals are equally important for the development of various parts of the plants, and at the same time they play an important role in preventing diseases.
- Magnesium: This is vital for the formation of chloroplast, a green pigment present in the chlorophyll that gives the plant its green color. It allows the plants to make their own food through the process of photosynthesis with the help of light and thus is critical for enzymatic reactions. Most of the plants would wither all of a sudden due to the deficiency of this nutrient.
- Manganese: This falls in the category of micro plant nutrients and works together with magnesium for the growth of the plant. Just a little amount of the nutrient is enough to keep the plants healthy as too much can deplete the soil by reducing the amount of iron present in them.
- Copper: Having copper can make the difference between a healthy and not-so-good plant, as this stimulates the production of proteins which is essential for their reproduction. If the plants do not receive an adequate amount of Cu, then their leaves would turn to a bluish-green color.
- Calcium: Calcium is an essential element for plant roots. Also, it is responsible for giving the needed strength to the whole plant along with boosting up the nitrogen metabolism rate and aiding in the translocation of photosynthesis from leaves to fruiting organs. In short, it forms a base for all microbial activity and thereby increasing fruit set and development on the plant.
- Sulfur: Sulphur is a constituent of the amino acids in the plant proteins and is responsible for all energy-producing processes in plants. With this, it adds flavor and odor compounds giving the plants their specific aroma. Sulfur deficiency is sometimes a huge problem for plants. It also has a significant role in the formation of chlorophyll in plants.
- Boron: Boron helps in the formation of cell walls in growing tissues. It facilitates in the uptake of calcium. It is essential for the germination of pollen grains and pollen tubes and promoting maturity. It is more than necessary for sugar translocation and affects nitrogen and carbohydrate intake levels. Above all, boron is the basic element that is responsible for sugar translocation.
- Chlorine: Chlorine usually acts as a catalyst in various biochemical reactions that take place inside the plant. It limits phosphorous uptake and helps break down complex compounds into smaller ones. The significant role of this nutrient is not that obvious, but it acts from the backend for speeding up various processes.
- Iron: Iron is a significant nutrient as it acts as a carrier of oxygen in the plant. It is one of the most significantly needed nutrients as it also promotes the formation of chlorophyll and boosts up reactions involving cell division and growth. Iron is an element that needs to be in an exact amount. Excess of iron can damage the plant and so can the lack of it.
If you aspire to provide your plants with the best of plant nutrients, then never forget to make the aforementioned nutrients a part of your list. There are several other important nutrients like molybdenum and zinc. These tend to play an invaluable role in the overall growth, development, and survival of any plant.