What Do Plants Need to Grow?

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Plants can survive only a short time when deprived of the four basic elements needed for growth.

Growing trees, flowers, vines or other types of plants requires knowledge of a plants' needs. While different species and types of plants require different growing conditions and treatments, all plants need four basic elements for growth.



Soil contains nutrients produced by dead and decaying insects, rodents and other plant life.

To produce roots from seeds, bulbs or tubers, plants require soil. Soil provides nutrients while giving the plant a strong foundation to withstand high winds. As a home for the plant's root system, soil also provides plants a source from which to gather water.



Plants consume water from the soil through root systems but also gather water through dew and raindrops deposited on leaves and stems. Water combines with sunlight to produce sugars in the leaves, which feed the plant and produce growth.


Through a process known as photosynthesis, leaves and stems of plants absorb sunlight and convert the sun's energy into food. Different plant species have varying average requirements for sunlight exposure.



Another ingredient necessary to perform photosynthesis is air. Plants specifically pull carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, while humans and animals work the opposite, producing carbon dioxide and pulling in oxygen.


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