Plants, like all living organisms, have basic needs: a source of nutrition (food),water, space in which to live, air, and optimal temperatures in order to grow. To relate directly to plants, these are summarized as light, potting medium, humidity, water and nutrients. Of course, in each and every element, requirements widely differs from one species to another.
Understanding your plants nutritional needs is essential for ensuring you achieve a healthy harvest. Plants typically obtain nutrition in two ways:
Autotrophic plants refer to a group of plants that process their own food from water and carbon dioxide through the photosynthetic process.
Heterotrophic plants, plants are unable to synthesize raw materials or draw nutrients from host plants. They can also absorb water and nutrient solutions through their root zone, and carbon dioxide from the air.
Green fingers across the globe utilize a wide variety of fertilizers, boosters and supplements to create the ideal condition for their plants growing in soil, or hydroponic systems.
We feel it’s important that you choose the right nutrients for your plants so we’ve compiled some useful information below to cover the basics and importance of supplements and boosters for vigorous growth.
All plants have different requirements of nutrient elements so as to perform there purpose efficiently. eg, fruit bearing plant may require high potassium, leafy greens on calcium/magnesium and foliage plants on high nitrogen. To break it down, essential nutritional elements are divided into two categories – macronutrients and micronutrients.
Plants require higher concentrations of macronutrients than micronutrients. Macronutrients include elements such as Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Phosphorous, Nitrogen, Magnesium, Sulfur and Calcium. They can be further divided into two groups – primary and secondary. Primary macronutrients include Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous. Secondary nutrients include Magnesium, Calcium and Sulfur.
To optimize plant growth, it’s important to take into consideration micronutrients. These only need to be applied in trace amounts when compared with Macronutrients. The seven micronutrients that will help stimulate strong development include Zinc, Boron, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Molybdenum and Chlorine.
A deficiency in any of the above micronutrients or macronutrients can cause damage to your plants. Depending on the nutrient, low availability can slow down growth, cause chlorosis or stunt development. Extreme deficiencies of any of the above can cause your plants’ cells to die.
Oxygen(O), Hydrogen(H) and Carbon(C) - they form the very basis of the sub group of organic compound that is readily available in the atmosphere, and often not mention in details as it is pretty much a given.
Nitrogen(N): Achieves similar benefits as protein in animals (in fact, protein releases nitrogen for use in humans). Vital for good stalk growth, though excess decreases immunity and ability to fruit.
Phosphorus(P): Strengthens root systems, capacity for seed creation, disease resistance, and pest prevention. Improves flowers and blooming. Also strengthens tissues and flavors in edibles and veggies.
Potassium(K): Also important for roots and seed production. Sometimes called potash, this further supports the ability to tolerate extreme temperatures. Excess prevents absorption of other minerals, particularly magnesium and calcium.
Calcium(Ca): Strengthens and fortifies overall tissues everywhere. Also helps neutralize acidity, both within the plant and in its surrounding soil, for optimal health.
Magnesium(Mg): Helps increase intake of phosphorus and boosts production of chlorophyll, giving a healthy green color and encouraging absorption of CO2. A lack of magnesium can contribute to poor coloring and an anemic appearance.
Sulfur(S): Constituent of amino acids in plant proteins and is involved in energy-producing processes in plants. it is responsible for many flavor and odor compounds in plants.
Iron(Fe): Regulate and promote growth. Involved with chlorophyll synthesis and in enzymes for electron transfer.
Manganese(Mn): Controls several oxidation-reduction systems and photosynthesis.
Copper(Cu): Constituent of enzymes in plants .Overuse of another trace element, molybdenum, can cause copper deficiency. Important in sugar translocation and carbohydrate metabolism.
Zinc(Zn): Helps in the production of a plant hormone responsible for stem elongation and leaf expansion.
Boron(B): Helps with the formation of cell walls in rapidly growing tissue. Deficiency reduces the uptake of calcium and inhibits the plant's ability to use it.
Molybdenum(Mo): Helps bacteria and soil organisms convert nitrogen in the air to soluble nitrogen compounds in the soil, so is particularly needed by legumes. It is also essential in the formation of proteins from soluble nitrogen compounds.
Ever wonder how liquid fertilizers are made? Have a look at the process with this video! It ain't so easy when multiple factors such as solubility, chemical reaction between different nutrient elements as well most importantly, the right amount to avoid nutrient antagonism or precipitation!