Why Do Plants Need Air to Live?

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A healthy plant leaf.
A healthy plant leaf. (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Randy)

Plants are living creatures that benefit humans by providing oxygen and a source of food. In order for any plant to live, it needs a few basic things, otherwise it cannot grow.

What Plants Need

According to the Maryland branch of the Department of Natural Resources, plants need air, soil, water, light and space to grow. Although plants can be grown in a hydroponic (water only) environment, the water needs to have all of the nutrients that soil does in order for the plant to grow.

Why Do Plants Need Air

According to the Argonne National Laboratory, Division of Educational Programs, plants need oxygen for respiration just like animals. Unlike animals, plants do not need as much oxygen in order to live because they are stationary and have different metabolic needs.

Plant Respiration

Although the common myth is that plants breathe in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Department of Physics, plants actually take in air (which contains a mixture of gases like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide) and then use the oxygen and stored sugars to make carbon dioxide.

Photosynthesis

According to the Center for Bioenergy & Photosynthesis at Arizona State University, it's only in photosynthesis that a plant converts carbon dioxide and water into oxygen. Photosynthesis happens when a plant's leaves absorb sunlight. It is similar to a human digesting food.

Tips To Care For A Plant

Whether you have a garden or a few pots of flowers, make sure to feed your plants enough water, fertilize them with well-rotted mulch, manure or peat moss, and periodically trim the plant to help it get rid of old growth.

If A Plant Is Dying

If a plant is dying, it might be because it was under- or overwatered. A good way to test this is to poke your finger about an inch into the soil. The soil should be damp (not soaking wet). Otherwise, plant insects and diseases are often responsible for killing plants, so check your plants' leaves and stems carefully for signs of infestation.

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