No matter what you do, sometimes the plants just don’t seem to be growing right. Either their leaves have yellow patterns or they look faded or look dry and feel crunchy to touch. There are many common nutritional deficiencies occurring in plants and are easily treatable once they are recognized. So here are a few deficiencies, the symptoms to recognize them by and what to do to treat your plants if they are affected.
Just the way iron is the central ion for hemoglobin, magnesium is the central ion for chlorophyll, a critically important molecule that helps absorb energy from sunlight or any such light source. Magnesium deficiency is seen when the soil is acidic, sandy or light, and there is an excess of potassium or aluminum. When plants don’t get enough of this nutrient it causes chlorosis, the leaves turn yellow between the veins because the plants try to move the chlorophyll to the younger leaves from the mature ones. This can be easily treated by using magnesium rich organic compost, Epsom salts or crushed limestone added to the soil.
Iron is another micronutrient that is required in the production of chlorophyll in plants. Lack of iron causes chlorosis as well, but with iron unlike magnesium the younger leaves are affected, yellowed between the veins with the veins remaining green, and the edges and tips of some leaves might become brown and dry too. Iron deficiency occurs when the pH of the soil is not between 5 and 6.5 or when the soil has too much water or is over fertilized. So check the pH of your soil and if it is alkaline then add acidifying composts, fertilizers with ammonium sulphate and elemental sulphur.
Also known as potash deficiency, this deficiency is commonly seen in sandy soils, chalky or peaty soils. Potassium ion plays a very important role in the plant’s metabolic activities, protein synthesis, for the activation of enzymes and to some extent in photosynthesis. The symptoms include purple spots, chlorosis, curling of leaf tips and growth of the plant, its roots, fruit and seed is usually reduced. There are other symptoms that are specific to the specific plant. Potassium deficiency also leaves the plants vulnerable to diseases. Potash fertilizers, rock potash and other potassium rich fertilizers can be used to treat the soil and plants. Organically, burying citrus rinds and compost rich in fruit and vegetable waste will also help fight this deficiency.
Nitrogen deficiency in plants results in their starvation with plant, leaf, fruit and seed sizes considerably thin and small. General symptoms include pale yellow color visible in the leaves due to reduced chlorophyll, with older leaves being completely yellow, and a reduction in protein causing stunted growth along with reduced flowering and fruiting. Organically nitrogen can be easily supplemented by using organic waste, organic compost and coffee if it’s just few plants. Fertilizers rich in ammonia and urea can also be used to correct the problem.
Zinc is another important micronutrient for the plants and helps in the production of chlorophyll. In plants with zinc deficiency, the leaves start to discolor from the bottom to the top, and eventually turn brown or purple before dying. If the deficiency is severe, it’s best to pull the plant out of the soil, treat the soil and then replant, unless you want to use a new plant. The symptoms sometimes also depend on the plant, and some plants may exhibit bronzing of the leaves, stunted growth with the leaves growing in clusters at the stem and unshapely leaves. Treating the soil with zinc fertilizers or spraying the plants with them will help treat the plant.
Calcium deficiency is seen as mostly necrosis of different parts in different plants. Tomatoes are affected with blossom end rot, while apples develop brown spots on the flesh or skin and celery shows stunted growth. The leaf tips, especially for the young ones, turn yellow eventually brown and necrotic or curl up resulting in death of buds and root tips. Before treating the deficiency, the soil must be tested for its pH. If the soil is alkaline then use gypsum and if it is acidic then lime should be used.
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