What Are the Elements Found in Fertilizers?


Fertilizers supply plants nutrients in the form of elements. Macronutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, central to plant growth. Micronutrients are needed in tiny amounts. Other elements exist as mixed compounds.


  • Nitrogen (N) is essential for formation and growth of stems, roots and leaves in all plants.


  • Phosphorus (P) is essential for the food-making process, photosynthesis, or occur. Phosphorus also promotes healthy flowering.


  • Potassium (K) is essential in plant cell metabolism including forming enzymes and using food carbohydrates for growth. It also helps plants become more tolerant to cold.


  • Although not found in as large amounts in most fertilizers, micronutrients are usually included to ensure healthy plant growth. Micronutrients include: manganese (Mn), magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo) and chlorine (Cl).

Other Elements

  • For the three primary elements and micronutrients to be formulated into usable fertilizers, many other elements are present in molecules, all of which are important for plant life. Sulfur (S), calcium (Ca) and carbon (C) are found in compounds alongside hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) molecules. They are found in components called -ates or -ides, such as ammonium nitrate, oxide or sulfate.

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  • "Your Florida Landscape"; Edited by Robert J. Black and Kathleen C. Ruppert; 1998
  • Elements and Oxides
  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Ethan Hein
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