How Can I Tell If My Plants Need Nutrients?

Nutrient deficiencies and nutrient excesses are both undesirable. Your plants are looking for balance. Starting out with an appropriate amended soil using either organic or synthetic nutrients will give you a good foundation. If your plants have a deficiency or excess they’ll let you know. You can pick up on subtle signs early with careful observation and address the issue. Here are some hints that can help you out along the way!

Micronutrient Deficiencies

  • Iron (Fe)
    Deficiencies of iron lead to yellowing leaves and browning dead areas on leaves.
  • Boron (B)
    Deficiencies of boron lead to stunted fruiting and flowering and short, thick roots.
  • Manganese (Mn)
    Deficiencies of manganese lead to discolored leaves (lighter green).
  • Zinc (Zn)
    Deficiencies of zinc lead to stunted leaf growth.
  • Copper (Cu)
    Deficiencies of copper lead to yellowing leaves.
  • Molybdenum (Mb)
    Deficiencies of molybdenum lead to reduced nitrogen uptake.
  • Nickel (Ni)
    Deficiencies of nickel lead to browning dead areas on leaves.

Macronutrient Deficiencies

  • Nitrogen
    If a plant is deficient in nitrogen it may have a purple color to its stem and stunted overall growth. Deficient plants may also exhibit slowed growth and yellowing leaves. 
  • Phosphorus
    Phosphorus deficient plants may exhibit intensely green or reddish leaves, in some instances, leaves may have a purple tone. Symptoms often become apparent in older leaves first. In some cases, deficient plants may not show any symptoms at all until the deficiency becomes severe.
  • Potassium
    Deficient plants can exhibit a variety of symptoms such as wilting, yellowing leaves, brown spotting, and browning around the edges of the leaf.
  • Sulfur
    Deficiencies of sulfur can be noticed in younger leaves first. The leaves may exhibit stunted growth or yellowing.
  • Calcium
    Calcium deficiency can cause bloom rot, leaves may curl in or appear blackened. Deficient plants also may exhibit poor root development.
  • Magnesium
    Magnesium deficient plants show yellowing, starting in older leaves.
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