Essential nutrients for plant growth

Gardening Basics
// May 6, 2016
nutrients, nutrition in plants

Overall plants need 15 nutrients to grow properly. Out of these 15, the nutrient elements obtained from atmosphere i.e. through photosynthesis are:

  • Hydrogen
  • Carbon
  • Oxygen

plant nutrition, plant nutrients

While the nutrient elements obtained from the soil are:

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sulphur
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Boron
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Molybdenum
  • Copper

micronutrients for plants, plant nutrients

The 12 nutrients obtained from soil ‘mineral nutrients’ and are further divided mineral into three groups: Primary, Intermediate, and Micronutrients.

Primary Nutrients:

Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are known as the Primary Nutrients. These three form the basis of the N-P-K label on commercial fertilizers packaging. Thus, management of these nutrients is very crucial.

micronutrients in plants, essential nutrients

Nitrogen fosters green growth and gives dark green color to the leaves.

Phosphorous encourages cell division in plants. Flowers and seeds cannot form without phosphorous. It also triggers root growth and increases the plant’s immunity.

Like phosphorous, potassium protects the plants from various diseases and encourages root growth. Potassium is of pivotal importance for making of chlorophyll.

Intermediate Nutrients:

The Intermediate Nutrients can be classified as sulphur, magnesium, and calcium. Both the Primary and Intermediate nutrients are together referred as macronutrients. Macronutrients form a certain percentage of the total plant uptake. Though sulphur, magnesium, and calcium are known as intermediate, these elements are not necessarily needed in smaller quantities by plants. In fact, phosphorus and intermediate nutrients are required in the same amount, despite being a primary nutrient. Phosphorus falls under the category of primary nutrient mainly because of the soils that are deficient of this nutrient, rather than the quantity of phosphorus that plants use for growth.

soil nutrients, nutrition in plant


These are required in minuscule quantities. The uptake of these nutrients is expressed in parts per million (ppm), rather than the percentage basis. This does not mean that micronutrients are of lesser importance. By the Law of the Minimum, if any micronutrient is deficient, the growth of the entire plant will not reach its maximum yield.

macronutrients in plants, essential nutrients



Gardening Basics