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What are the Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency in Plants?

Like human beings, plants also require certain nutrients for their proper growth and development. However, when they do not acquire these nutrients, they start to exhibit signs of distress. Let’s take a look at the symptoms of nutrient deficiency in plants and how to fix them.

Aarushi Chadha
Nutrient Deficiency
Nutrient Deficiency in plants

Several primary and secondary nutrients that are vital for the growth and development of plants. Some of these essential nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, sulfur, zinc, boron, and copper. Usually, plants receive these nutrients from chemical fertilizers, organic compost, or manure that is mixed into the soil.

Most nutrient deficiencies in plants are caused by a lack of nutrient content in the growing medium, using a non-suitable fertilizer, or environmental factors such as waterlogging, dry soil, extremely acidic or alkaline soil, pest infestation, or diseases. In any case, when a plant is not treated for its nutrient deficiency, then its natural lifecycle can be impacted.

Nutrient Deficiencies and their Symptoms

  • Nitrogen deficiency- When your plant isn’t able to absorb the necessary amount of nitrogen that it needs to grow, then its more mature leaves start turning yellow and eventually turn brown and die. The plant will have either slow or stunted growth and it will mature early. This deficiency can be treated by mixing manure, urea, and fertilizers rich in ammonium and nitrate into the soil.

  • Phosphorous deficiency- When a plant is deficient in phosphorous, then its growth will be slow and stunted. And the older leaves will develop purple discolouration on the underside. This deficiency is treated by adding fertilizers that are rich in phosphates or bone meals.

  • Potassium Deficiency- Signs of potassium deficiency in your plant includes- burnt edges in older leaves, bad quality of fruit and seeds produced, and proneness to diseases. This deficiency is treated by spraying potassium foliar fertilizer on the leaves or by adding potash fertilizer to the soil.

  • Calcium- Just like with potassium deficiency, when a plant isn’t receiving proper quantities of calcium, then the tips of its leaves along with the tips of its roots will turn brown and die. New emerging leaves have ragged edges as they come out stuck to each other. Plus, the quality of the fruit is affected because the fruit becomes prone to rotting as it nears the blossoming stage. If you make compost, then you can treat calcium deficiency by mixing egg shells into the soil. Otherwise, you can apply calcium nitrate fertilizer to the soil.

  • Manganese- In the earlier stages of manganese deficiency, emerging leaves will show signs of interveinal chlorosis, some leaves also develop yellow spots that develop into dead spots and patches. When left untreated, the growth and the development of the plant becomes stunted. Manganese deficiency is very common in soils that are alkaline in nature and have an extremely high organic matter. It is treated by mixing manganese fertilizer into the soil.

  • Copper- Copper is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in the proper absorption of other nutrients. Copper deficiency is very common in soils with very high organic matter and soil that is basic in nature. Crops and plants suffering from copper deficiency will have malformed and dark leaves. The growth of the plant is also stunted. In a severe case, the plant will die. Early detection is a must in the case of copper deficiency in plants as it can be treated by applying copper sulphate or copper oxychloride fertiliser on the plant.

Usually, nutrient deficiencies in plants occur when there are insufficient nutrients in the soil. However, sometimes saturation of nutrients in the soil can also hinder a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients properly. Plants absorb nutrients from the soil. Therefore, poor drainage of the soil, damaged or underdeveloped roots, over or underwatering, or improper pH rates can impair a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients.

In order to avoid nutrient deficiencies, make sure that you are using the right type of soil to grow that particular plant, do not over or underwater the plant, do not damage the roots while using tools, use the recommended quantity of fertilizer on the field, and use the right type of fertilizer.

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