Plants use fertilizer to get the needed minerals to grow. The air supplies the plants with oxygen, carbon and carbon. The other nutrients are mineral elements that are absorbed from the soil. The 3 more important nutrients that plants need are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium because that is what they need the most of to grow. The other main nutrients that the plants need are magnesium, calcium, and sulfur. These 6 are the nutrients the plants need relatively more of. While the next 8 elements I’m about to name, they need relatively less of. These 8 elements are iron, manganese, cobalt, zinc, boron, molybdenum, chlorine, and copper.
Let’s talk about nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the 3 main nutrients that usually are the limiting elements that stunt plant growth.
Nitrogen is probably the most important nutrient out of all of them as it has the biggest influence in enhancing plant growth. As the saying goes, everything in moderation or it ends up having some kind of side effect. The lack of nitrogen can result in decreased plant growth, smaller sized leafs, shorter branches, discoloring, early autumn coloration, leaves dropping early, and higher susceptibility to diseases. While on the other hand, the surplus of nitrogen results in overgrowth of the shoot and foliage, decreased growth of the roots, lower amounts of food reserves for the plant, and also higher vulnerability diseases and ecological demands. Nitrogen is a moving nutrient that is always moving about whether being taken up by plants, sweep away from the surface of the soil, gone up as a gas into the air, or seeped through the earth. Nitrogen can be lost when there is a intense rain after applying fertilizer on the soil surface. If you spread fertilizer into the soil or add a bit of water (about ¼ to ½ inches) it will decrease the loss.
The other nutrient, Phosphorus is involved in photosynthesis, respiration, storage and transfer of energy, cell division, and increased cell size. It helps enhance the initial development and growth of roots, and the development of seeds, flowers, and fruits. Phosphorus is typically deficient in soils located in urban areas. Fertilizers can help increase the amount of Phosphorus for plants. Once Phosphorus reaches a certain level it stops being beneficial to the plants and can end up harming the environment. Plants generally are not able to use Phosphorus unless it is added into the soil or watered in as they are a stationary nutrient that barely moves more than an inch.
The 3rd of the main nutrients is Potassium, which helps in lots of the processes for plant growth such as photosynthesis and water regulation. It also plays an important role in disease and illness prevention by being able to handle drought stress and increased hardiness in the winter time. Although Potassium also percolates through the soil like nitrogen, it does so at a much slower pace.