Nutrient Deficiencies in Plants

Sometimes plants look unhealthy and we assume they have been attacked by pests. This could however be early signs of nutrient deficiency.

If plants do not receive adequate proportion of essential minerals or they fail to thrive despite of proper growing conditions it signifies they are suffering from malnutrition. There are various minerals required for proper growth and health of a plant. Excess of these nutrients can be harmful as well and may show toxicity symptoms. This implies you need to be very careful while feeding plants with essential minerals and nutrients, as both excess and lack of them can be a cause of adverse effects.

Plant Nutrient Deficiency

Nutrients are divided in 2 categories – micronutrients and macronutrients. Minerals required in small traces are called micronutrients, while those required in large amounts are termed as macronutrients. Following tables give information about various nutrients, their deficiency & toxicity symptoms, and treatment for respective nutrient deficiency:

FOR MICRONUTRIENTS:

NUTRIENT and FUNCTION DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS TOXICITY SYMPTOMS TREATMENT FOR DEFICIENCY
BORON: stimulates cell wall and flower formation, cell division and pollination; enables sugar transportation. Rotting of roots; death of growing points; uneven ripening; young leaves turn red, brown or scorched; death of buds. Margins and leaf tips will turn brown and die. Apply household borax. This should be done at a rate of 1 tablespoon of borax to 12 quarts of water.
IRON: necessary for legume nitrogen fixation; regulates respiration of plant cells; helps in chlorophyll formation; used for enzymatic activity. Necrotic spots; discoloring of leaves; young leaves develop chlorosis; yellowing of veins in young leaves; poor colored fruits. Bronzing of leaves with brown spots. Add chelated iron, bone meal, iron sulfate or inorganic amendments.
COPPER: regulates cell wall construction, cell growth and division; stimulate enzymatic activity required for nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism. Brown area near tips of a leaf; small leaves with necrotic spots; root growth stops; leaves are dark green with stunted plants. Root growth stops; an iron deficiency may be induced. Apply calcium rich fertilizers like calcium sulfate, foliar application of copper; treatment of seeds with copper compounds.
MANGANESE: stimulate enzymatic activity; promote energy cycle; helps in chloroplast production; enhances root growth and fruit development. Leaves show scorching and have reduced width; total yellowing of young leaves or between leaf veins. Shows iron deficiency symptoms; brown spots on older leaves; blotchy leaf tissue. Add manganese sulfate inorganic amendments.
MOLYBDENUM: helps in nitrogen fixation and in reducing absorbed nitrates into ammonia; required for protein synthesis and enhances photosynthesis. Problem in brassica family like cauliflower showing elongated twisted leaves; head can fail to form; restricted flower formation Not so common. Excess intake will appear as copper/iron deficiency. Add lime before sowing seeds.
ZINC: used in synthesis of chlorophyll; stimulates enzymatic activity; essential for hormone balance especially auxin. New leaves are small and yellow; shoots may show resetting followed by dieback; short internodes; missing leaf blades; terminal leaves may be rosetted. Very rare. Shows signs of iron deficiency. Use aged organic manure, acidity generating fertilizers and organic compounds like zinc chelate etc.

FOR MACRONUTRIENTS:

NUTRIENT and FUNCTION DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS TOXICITY SYMPTOMS TREATMENT FOR DEFICIENCY
NITROGEN: responsible for production of nucleic acids and proteins to carry out reproduction and cell division. Major part of chlorophyll. Yellowing of older leaves; new leaves are smaller in size; branching is reduced; plants mature early and get stunted Plants become dark green in color and are susceptible to lodging; plants are prone to drought stress; lack of fruit set; poor secondary shoot development. Short term: spray with fish emulsion; apply high nitrogen fertilizers.

Long term: mulching with organic matter; apply aged compost; use soybean meal and manure once in spring.

PHOSPHOROUS: required for cell division, sugar and starch formation, and energy transfer. Strengthen stems; responsible for flowering and fruiting; helps plants to act as resistant to diseases and pests. Plant growth slows down; old leaves turn dark green or reddish – purple; leaf tips look burnt; thin stems Shows visual deficiency of nutrients like zinc, iron and manganese. Short term: spray with fish emulsion; apply aged compost and apply phosphorous rich fertilizers like super phosphate or bone meal.

Long term: mix rock phosphate in soil.

CALCIUM: responsible for cell wall construction, cell growth, leaf and root development. New leaves are irregularly shaped or distorted; blossom-end rot in tomatoes; brown color of growing leaves and roots; tip burn in some plants like cabbage; premature shedding of fruits; leaves may stick together High calcium will cause precipitation of many micro-nutrients as a result they remain unavailable to plant; plant may show magnesium deficiency symptoms. Add organic matter, agricultural lime to acidic soils.
POTASSIUM: responsible for activation of enzymes, stomata opening, root development, formation of sugar, electrolyte balance and transpiration. Also increases resistance of plants to diseases. Sick looking plants; curling of leaves; old leaves turn yellow and look scorched; undersized fruits; leaves may turn brown; weak branches and stems; poor fruiting and flowering Cause nitrogen deficiency in plants; plants exhibit magnesium and calcium deficiency symptoms. Short term: spray with fish emulsion; use fertilizers like sulphate of potash, tomato feed.

Long term: apply seawmeed, granite dust, manure or greensand.Hardwood ashes can be applied anytime.

MAGNESIUM: helps in production of ATP and synthesis of chlorophyll. Responsible for enzymatic actions. Older leaves turn yellow while leaf veins remain green; slow growth; leaf tip gets twisted. Shows sign of calcium or potassium deficiency; necrotic spots in old leaves; veins in older leaves may turn brown Apply foliar magnesium.
SULFUR: acts as enzyme activator and coenzyme; responsible for root growth. Shoots are stunted; new leaves are yellow in color; roots and stems appear small. Premature ageing. Add sulfur or potassium sulfate.

Above given treatments will help you to maintain a healthy, blooming garden, bringing you pride and peace. You can even make use of Olivia’s products like Olivia’s pH Adjuster down and up, plant growing solution and Olivia’s plant cloning gel to see fast results. These products are exclusively made to stimulate plant production without any hindrance. Choose the right product now and get free shipping on every order, for limited time. Hurry…!! Have a Happy gardening!

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