Plant nutrients & importance

What are Plant Nutrients?

  • Like animals & humans, plants also need nutrients to grow and survive.  Plants need balanced amounts of at least 16 essential nutrients.
  • Of these 16, three nutrients Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), and Oxygen (O) are naturally available in atmosphere adequately.
  • Other 13 elements are not naturally found enough in soil or water and need to be supplemented through external sources (as fertilisers).
  • Depending on the relative quantities required by plants, these 13 nutrients are classified as Macro (Major), Secondary and Micro (Trace) elements.

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Role of major nutrients in choosing a right Fertiliser

Most Fertiliser products have been formulated around these basic 13 elements and particularly altered to a specific NPK content to suit the needs of each plant or plant groups.  NPK is a ratio of these three core elements required for plant growth.

N – Nitrogen for growth of foliage or green growth.

P – Phosphorous for root development & plant’s energy to uptake nutrients

K – Potassium for flowering, fruiting and pest & disease resistance

analysis exampleThe NPK numbers declared on a fertiliser package represents the percent of each nutrient contained in that fertiliser product. The numbers may not add up to 100% as they are expressed as pure element basis and are presented in compound form with other elements making up that product.

All the Fertiliser products available in the market are made in various combination and composition of these 13 essential nutrients, various products are manufactured to specific requirements of each plant groups. Below is an example of a product analysis with all essential nutrients declared on a retail fertiliser bag or package.

  • Based on the role of NPK plays on plant growth (as described above), it helps to select the right fertiliser product for right purpose. For example as Nitrogen (N) promotes green growth, if you are fertilising lawns or other plants with just green growth, select the product which has higher Nitrogen percentage compared to P & K.  For example for feeding lawns, select fertilisers with high nitrogen to enhance lush green growth.
  • On the contrary, to promote more flowering and fruiting, select fertilisers that contain more Potassium (K) content and apply during flowering and fruiting period.  For example Manutec Bloom Booster or Orchid Bloom Booster or Potassium Sulphate
  • For general growth and If you are not sure, go for a balanced or All Purpose general fertiliser.  For example  Manutec All purpose soluble fertiliser or Manutec Garden Complete granular fertiliser
  • However it is also important to keep in mind that you need to apply the right product at the right time, for example in the beginning of a plant growth cycle, plants need more nitrogen to put up healthy green growth and when it comes to flowering and fruiting time they need less nitrogen but more potassium to increase flowering and fruiting. For example by applying a Manutec Nitrogen rich fertiliser at the time of flowering, will result in the plant to put its energy into growing more foliage rather than to form flowers and fruits.