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Environmental Horticulture (Gardening)

Plant Nutrition

Plants need 17 elements for normal growth.

Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are found in air and water. Nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and sulfur are found in the soil. These six elements are used in relatively large amounts by the plant and are called macronutrients. Table 1 provides more detailed information on each of these six macronutrients.

Table 1

Six Macronutrients Needed For Plant Growth

Table 1 - Six Macronutrients Needed For Plant Growth

There are eight other elements that are used in much smaller amounts and are called micronutrients, or trace elements. The micronutrients, which are found in the soil, are iron, zinc, molybdenum, manganese, boron, copper, cobalt, and chlorine. All 17 elements, both macronutrients and micronutrients, are essential for plant growth.

When you're providing those extra nutrients for your plants, be sure to measure fertilizers accurately and apply them safely. Fertilizer run-off ends up in nearby streams and ultimately upsets the water quality in your community.