All problems in plants are not necessarily a result of diseases and insects. Some of the unhealthy plants suffer from nutrient deficiencies or an over-supply of a particular nutrient. The common manifestations of plant nutrient deficiencies include distortion and discoloration of the stems and leaves. Most of the plant problems share the same symptoms. In some instances, a plant may be suffering from a combination of problems and the gardener has to use a try and error method to manage it.
It is wise to abandon the obvious causes of problems in sick plants before you decide to supply your crops with several nutrient supplements. The first step is to check for:
- Too much heat and cold that affects fruit and flowering set and slows down growth in plants
- Signs of disease and insects
- Salt injury as a result of an oversupply of fertilizer. The crops may wilt or appear to be scorched even when the soil is very wet.
- Stunted plants and foliage discoloration can be a result of drains, wet soil or too much compacted soil that does not support good growth of roots.
In case you are unable to remedy any of the above situation, you can take a sample of your ailing crops to the local corporation extension service for the experts to do a sure diagnosis.
The Nutrients That Your Plants Require
Plants need a mixture of nutrients for them to remain heathy. Macronutrients are those that the crops will require in relatively huge amounts. Some of the macronutrients include magnesium, sulfur, calcium, phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen. Plants also require smaller quantities of other nutrients for purposes of growth. Some of them include zinc, molybdenum, manganese, iron, copper, and boron. These nutrients that plants require in smaller amounts are referred to as micronutrients.
How Plants Receive Nutrients
Plants absorb all their nutrients through the roots. Water is used to transfer these nutrients from the soil to the roots of the crops. Therefore, plants cannot get the much-required nutrients unless there is a steady supply of water. Another requirement for sufficient plant nutrient is the appropriate soil PH for the specific crop. Each crop has a specific PH it prefers to be able to access the nutrients that are present in the soil. Some crops tend to be fusser than others but soil PH that is too alkaline or acidic will not allow the plant to absorb nutrients even if the soil has sufficient supply of nutrients.
Symptoms of Plant Nutrients Deficiency
1. Calcium (Ca)
- Symptoms: The new leaves are either hook shaped or distorted. In some instances, the growing tip may end up dying. Contributes towards tip burning of cabbages, blossom end rot in tomato crops, and black/brown heart of celery and escarole.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the word ‘calcium.’ Also, gypsum.
- Notes: It is not always a deficiency problem and an oversupply will end up inhibiting other nutrients.
2. Nitrogen (N)
- Symptoms: Yellowing of leaves that are generally at the bottom of the crop. Remaining foliage normally has a light green color. Stems may also begin to yellow and may also become spindly. This slows down the process of growth.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the words ‘urea’, ‘ammonium’ or nitrate. Manure is also a rich source of nitrogen.
- Notes: Many forms of nitrogen are wash away and water soluble.
- Symptoms: leaves turn pale yellow and there is a slow growth in plants and this may just happen on the outer edges. The new growth may turn out to be yellow and have dark sports.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the word ‘magnesium’ such as the Epson Salts.
- Symptoms: Tiny leaves that may assume a reddish-purple tint. The tips of the leaves may appear to be burnt and older leaves almost turn black. Reduced production of seeds and fruits.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the word ‘bone’ or ‘phosphate’ and greensand too.
- Notes: Vary depending on the PH range of the soil
- Symptoms: The old leaves may appear to be scorched around the edges or/and scorched. Yellowing between the veins also referred to as interveinal chlorosis begins to develop.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the words ‘potash’ or potassium.
- Symptoms: New growth turning pale yellow as the older ones remain green. Stunts growth.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the word ‘sulfate’
- Notes: Highly prevalent in dry weather conditions
- Symptoms: Poor root and stem growth. Terminal or end buds may end up dying. The stalks of the seed also bend over and become limp.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the word ‘borate’ or ‘borax’
- Symptoms: Growth that is stunted. Leaves can either drop or become carl and limp. The stalks of the seed also bend over and become limp.
- Sources: Any compounds that contains the words ‘cuprous,’ ‘cupric,’ or ‘copper.’
- Symptoms: Slowing down of growth. Younger leaves tend to turn pale yellow and this often begins between the veins. Fruits, shoots, and leaves tend to diminish in size.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the words ‘manganous’ or ‘manganese’
- Symptoms: Yellowing of older leaves and the remaining foliage turns to light green. The leaves may become distorted and narrow.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the word ‘molybdic’ or ‘molybdate’.
- Notes: In some instances, it gets confused with nitrogen deficiency
- Symptoms: Yellowing between the veins of new growths. Terminal or end leaves may tend to form a rosette.
- Sources: Any compound that contains the word ‘zinc’
- Notes: May tend to be limited in high soil PH.
Once you bring your plant back to good health, you can make sure that they maintain the same growth by using fresh organic matter to amend the soil each year. You also need to test your soil periodically so as to correct any imbalances before they get to the extreme. The state of the soil determines the health of your plants.