Nutrients are chemical elements and compounds that are necessary for the survival of plants. They are absorbed from the environment in different ways and each plant species has different nutritional needs. The availability of nutrients varies depending on the location. Micronutrients, also known as trace elements, are important for healthy growth and all vital functions of plants, but they only have to be consumed in small amounts.
Copper is required as an important component of enzymes for photosynthesis. It is also necessary for the lignification of plant parts and for the formation of buds and seeds as well as the stabilization of cell walls. If plants get too little copper, this can lead to dwarfism and inhibited iron absorption. Too much copper inhibits lignification, bud and flower development and leads to premature budding of side shoots and light yellow leaves.
Zinc is essential for the development of proteins and the activation of enzymes. Zinc is necessary for the development of leaves, pollen and seeds. It also affects the growth of plants. If there is a zinc deficiency, the growth of the plants is inhibited and the leaves are not fully formed. Too much zinc in the soil can inhibit root growth and disrupt photosynthesis. Furthermore, too much zinc in the soil can cause an iron deficiency.
Iron is involved in photosynthesis and the production of leafy greens. It is important for the formation of seeds and buds in plants. Iron deficiency leads to pale green to whitish leaves, but the veins of the leaves remain green at first. Roots and flowers remain small. An excess of iron can lead to a manganese deficiency and the leaves discolour. The tips of older leaves turn brown first.
Manganese plays a major role in oxygen production by plants, affects root growth and helps heal damaged leaves. It activates certain enzymes, influences the energy balance and is part of important metabolic functions. If the plants cannot absorb enough manganese, growth is inhibited and chlorosis occurs. If there is an excess of manganese, the leaves develop brown and purple spots and side shoots appear too early. Furthermore, the transport of calcium is disturbed if there is too much manganese.
Boron is responsible for the transport of carbohydrates and the synthesis of protein. It helps in the development and stabilization of cell membranes. Plant growth is promoted by stimulating cell division. With a lack of boron, roots die, cavities appear in the stem, young leaves remain narrow, and old leaves turn yellowish. If plants absorb too much boron, the leaves curl up, turn yellowish and eventually fall off.
Molybdenum is necessary for the activation of enzymes and the enzyme metabolism. It is also involved in phosphorus metabolism and nitrate reduction, which is why a lack of molybdenum leads to an accumulation of nitrate within the plants. Leaves warp, turning purple with orange discoloration at the edges of the leaves. Too much molybdenum can be recognized by a golden-yellow discoloration.
Chlorine is an important component for water splitting during photosynthesis. In addition, chlorine is necessary for the osmotic regulation within the plants and is therefore essential for a functioning water balance. Chlorine can help plants overcome diseases. A lack of chlorine is very rare, but it can lead to wilting plants. An oversupply of chlorine leads to chlorosis and necrosis at the tips of the leaves. The leaves curl up before eventually falling off.
Other nutrients such as sodium, silicon, aluminium, selenium and cobalt also have an effect on the growth of plants, but the exact importance of the substances has not yet been scientifically proven.
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