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Plant Nutrients: What They Need and When They Need It

Plant Nutrients: What They Need and When They Need It


We all think about the nutrition we need in our own diets, time and time again. Are you getting enough iron? How about protein? Vitamins and other minerals? Well, these very same questions can be posed to your plants. After all, your backyard and garden companions are living things like you and me, needing nutrition and sustenance to survive.


Plants Need Nutrition, Too

Some of nutrients are the same ones that animals need. Let’s take a look


Nitrogen (N)

Achieves similar benefits as protein in animals. 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.


Strengthens and fortifies overall tissues everywhere. Also helps neutralize acidity, both within the plant and in its surrounding soil, for optimal health.


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.

While plants need all of these nutrients (and a handful more through other trace minerals) for optimal health, higher numbers of some are more necessary at some times than others.

Why would that be?

Just like there are many foods you should include in your diet, an array of fertilizers and amendments may be needed in varying amounts to give your veggies, shrubs, and trees their own good “diet” – and a balance of these nutrients is crucial.


The majority of fertilizers you buy have a set, healthy balance of these nutrients built right in – particularly nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, labeled as an “N-P-K” ratio on packaging, and made up of three numbers. These three minerals make up the most important micronutrients that most species and varieties in your garden need. When considering feeding, ratio numbers on the packaging may vary, depending on their specific blends.


Plant Growth Stages

Besides studying abnormal appearances, you can learn whether or not to give specific nutrients to a plant depending on what stage of growth it is in, and even what variety or species of plant it is.

Young Growth

Nitrogen is especially helpful to give, though adequate levels of all nutrients are critical at this phase.

Newly Transplanted

Will benefit especially from higher amounts of root-supporting nutrients, like phosphorus and potassium.


Benefits from phosphorus, potassium, and calcium in particular.


It’s important to include decent amounts of phosphorus and potassium, while not overdoing it with nitrogen.


Every good gardener knows to fertilize their garden denizens with well-balanced applications and plant food and compost when they need it. However, experienced gardeners – and farmers – learn the exact nutrients needed at any stage of growth, for health, beauty, and even tastiness.


Source: https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/composting/plant-nutrients



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