When vegetables and other plants lack essential nutrients or elements they will not look themselves; they will look unhealthy and they may even die. The symptom of a nutrient deficiency can range from yellowing and poor growth to flower and fruit failure.
Nutrient deficiency symptoms in plants can be confusing. Many plant nutrient deficiencies share the same or very similar symptoms. Whatismore, symptoms of nutrient deficiency can be similar to symptoms of many plant diseases.
A certain way to know if a plant or crop is suffering from a nutrient deficiency is to have a soil test. Ask the tester to recommend the nutrients and amount necessary to rectify the deficiency.
Here are important mineral plant nutrients, their function, symptoms of deficiency, and fertilizers to help correct deficiencies:
• Function: Necessary for rapid green, leafy growth; part of chlorophyll necessary for photosynthesis; part of protein.
• Sign of deficiency: Lower leaves pale green or bluish then turn yellow (chlorosis); leaves drop, the oldest leaves fall first; leaves are small; stems thin; plant lacks vigor; growth is spindly or stunted.
• Sign of excess: Leaves dark green; plant has excessive leaf growth at the expense of buds and fruits.
• Source: Manure, bonemeal, blood meal (dried blood), fish meal, fish emulsion (also contain phosphorus and potassium, in small amounts), conttonseed meal (also contains small amount of phosphorus and even smaller amount of potassium), coffee grounds (also contains very small amounts of phosphorus and potassium), soybean meal (also contains small amount of potassium and even smaller amount of phosphorus), composted legumes (peas, beans, peanuts), ammonium sulfate or nitrate.
• Function: Essential to photosynthesis; enables strong growth; encourages blooming and root development, cell wall structure development; moisture conservation; necessary for photosynthesis.
• Sign of deficiency: Lower leaves and stem look reddish or purplish; young leaves look pale; shoots are thin; plants don't flower or form fruits; premature fruit drop; roots are stunted; cell division is slowed.
• Sign of excess: Essential elements may be tied up.
• Sources: Bonemeal, colloidal phosphate, rock phosphate (contains slightly more phosphorus than colloidal phosphate, breaks down more slowly), New Jersey greensand, superphosphate.