Elements for Optimum Growth
Posted November 05, 2013
Most gardeners know that NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) is essential for the nutritional needs of plants, but many times we don't think about the other elements for optimum growth which provide healthy plants. Oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon are provided by air and water while the rest are absorbed by the plants through the soil.
Boron is essential to stimulate cell division, flower formation and pollination. Pollination? Yes! It is also important for seed production as well.
Calcium raises the pH of the soil. It's important for cell wall development and growth of the roots and shoots. Dolomite lime, and gypsum (calcium sulfate) will contain calcium, but these forms of calcium are not readily available for the plants. While good choices, they will take time. If you are looking for a "quick fix" choose a soft rock phosphate such as Calphos. Calcium and phosphorus are in a colloidal form and are readily available in Calphos.
Copper stimulates stem development and pigment formation. Using plenty of organic matter will ensure copper availability.
Iron stimulates the formation of chlorophyll and helps oxidize sugar for energy and it is necessary for legume nitrogen fixation. If soil pH is high, the iron is not as available to plants, if at all depending on pH level. Using sulfur to lower pH can help plants absorb iron that exist in the soil. Chelated Iron is the quickest source of readily available iron in deficient soils.
Magnesium aids in chlorophyll formation and energy metabolism. It helps regulate uptake of other elements as well. Acidic soils are more likely to be deficient in magnesium. Maintain ample organic matter in soil. Langbeinite is an excellent source for alkaline soils that are deficient in magnesium.
Molybdenum is needed for nitrogen fixation and nitrogen use in plants. It stimulates plant growth and vigor much like nitrogen. Sandy soils and soils with low organic matter are likely to be deficient in molybdenum. Maintain abundant organic matter to ensure availability of molybdenum.
Silicon increases number of seeds and strengthens cell walls of plants. Silicon improves the uptake of other nutrients, in return have a greater resistance to disease, drought and other plants stresses.
Sulfur aids in formation of certain oil compounds that give specific odors to some plants such as onions, garlic and mustard. Soils low in organic matter tend to be deficient in sulfur.
Manganese is necessary for the formation of chlorophyll. Alkaline soils are likely to be deficient in manganese. Maintain abundant organic matter in soil.
Zinc stimulates stem growth and flower bud formation. Alkaline, cold, compacted and sandy soils are likely to be deficient in zinc. Maintain abundant organic matter in soil.
Without these elements (and others), plants cannot produce to their optimum potential. Good sources that contain many macronutrients are Azomite, Kelp Meal and Greensand.