What Kinds of Vitamins Do Plants Need?

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Vitamins are organic compounds made by combining basic elements found on any periodic table, such as iron and magnesium. Most necessary vitamins cannot be naturally produced by an organism and need to be added to its diet. Before giving your plants any supplements, you should be aware of the required elements and what purpose they serve.

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The Nutrients

Thirteen nutrients are known to be essential for healthy plant growth. The macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur) will be harder to maintain since plants use them in greater quantities. These six primarily promote early root growth, aid in seed production, increase resistance to disease, and, potassium and nitrogen specifically, produce high quality fruit. Micronutrients, or trace elements (boron, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, chlorine), are most often used in chlorophyll formation and nitrogen processes for photosynthesis and seed germination.

Your Soil

Not every soil type will have all 13 elements. If you live in an area with consistent rainfall and heavy vegetation, your soil will contain higher concentrations of macronutrients because of decomposition. If you contend with arid dirt or heavy clay, you will need to add more vitamins to bolster your plants.

Considerations

All plants need these elements to thrive, but they do not all need the same amount. Flowers need less potassium than fruit-bearing trees. Annuals generally need less sulfur and calcium than perennials. Garden supply stores and manufacturers, like Miracle-Gro, sell prepared soils with different mixtures for your needs. Manures are also a popular choice for gardeners and farmers. However, manure goes through a series of stages that leave a large amount of two or three nutrients and little else, while retaining excess sodium that can actually take moisture out of the roots.

Availability

Knowing what you want for your plants is the first step to choosing the right vitamins for your needs. For convenience, your local hardware store's garden section is a good start, but the selections will be geared toward generally use: potting soil, tree and shrub or flower soil. You won't find all 13 nutrients packaged in their optimum ratios. Dr. Jacob Mittleider, an international agricultural consultant specializing in organic growing, developed a fairly inexpensive mixture that can be ordered through the Food For Everyone Foundation's website, as well as instructions on how to use it and various ways to improve your garden.

Benefits

Vitamins will help your plants flourish, as long as you know what you are giving them and why. Pay attention to what soils you use and which minerals they contain so that proper nourishment ensures strong trees, abundant produce and eye-catching blossoms.

References

  • The Mittleider Gardening Course; Jacob R. Mittleider; 1999
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