Macronutrients Required for Plant Growth

Macronutrients Required for Plant Growth

At Earth Smart Solutions we offer innovative and eco friendly solutions that can meet the specific needs associated with a sustainable environment.

We develop and produce Earth friendly products using naturally occurring and sustainable sources. Our line up of "all natural" products will sustain and enhance the health of eco systems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings.

We use macro and micro nutrients, enzymes, carbohydrates and amino acids in our product formulations.

Learn more about 3 of the macronutrients that we use: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.


The primary nutrients needed for plant growth are:

  • nitrogen (N)
  • phosphorus (P)
  • potassium (K)

These major nutrients are classified as macronutrients and are usually the first lacking from the soil as plants use large amounts for their growth and survival.

In addition, these elements can leach from soil naturally due to weather especially during rainy or hot seasons.

Nitrogen (N): The Growth Element

Nitrogen is “the growth element”.

Nitrogen is considered the most important component for supporting plant growth.

It is found in healthy soils, and give plants the energy to grow, and produce fruit or vegetables.

Nitrogen is so vital because it is a major component of chlorophyll, the compound by which plants use sunlight energy to produce sugars from water and carbon dioxide (i.e., photosynthesis).

Nitrogen is part of the chlorophyll molecule, which gives plants their green color and is involved in creating food for the plant through photosynthesis. Lack of nitrogen shows up as general yellowing (chlorosis) of the plant. Because nitrogen can move around in the plant, older growth often yellows more than the new growth.

Nitrogen is also a major component of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Without proteins, plants wither and die.

Too much nitrogen can cause stability issues, leaching nutrients and over-stimulating top growth.

The best result for your garden or lawn and the environment are achieved by applying the correct type of nitrogen, in the proper amount, at optimal times throughout the year.  How much nitrogen to apply can be found by getting your soil tested.  An accurate analysis of the elements in your soil goes a long way for a healthy productive garden and a green lawn.

Phosphorus (P): The Energy Element

Phosphorus is “the energy element”.  Plants must have a steady supply of phosphorus from seed to harvest.  

Phosphorus is particularly beneficial during the early rooting stage but also provides energy during fruit and flower production.

Phosphorus (P) is essential for all living organisms. Plants must have phosphorus for normal growth and maturity.

Phosphorus plays a role in photosynthesis, respiration, energy storage and transfer, cell division, cell enlargement and several other processes in plants. A plant must have phosphorus to complete its normal production cycle. 

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient both as a part of several key plant structure compounds and as a catalysis in the conversion of numerous key biochemical reactions in plants. Phosphorus is noted especially for its role in capturing and converting the sun's energy into useful plant compounds. 

Phosphorus is a vital component of DNA, the genetic "memory unit" of all living things. It is also a component of RNA, the compound that reads the DNA genetic code to build proteins and other compounds essential for plant structure, seed yield and genetic transfer. The structures of both DNA and RNA are linked together by phosphorus bonds. 

Phosphorus is a vital component of ATP, the "energy unit" of plants. ATP forms during photosynthesis, has phosphorus in its structure, and processes from the beginning of seedling growth through to the formation of grain and maturity. 

Thus, phosphorus is essential for the general health and vigor of all plants. Some specific growth factors that have been associated with phosphorus are: 

  • Stimulated root development
  • Increased stalk and stem strength
  • Improved flower formation and seed production
  • More uniform and earlier crop maturity
  • Increased nitrogen N-fixing capacity of legumes
  • Improvements in crop quality
  • Increased resistance to plant diseases
  • Supports development throughout entire life cycle

Plants require large amounts of phosphorus to grow and thrive. Without enough phosphorus, plants will develop a phosphorus deficiency and plant growth will become stunted. Leaves will be small, blue-green and are sometimes covered in blotches. Stems and veins may turn purple, beginning with the bottom older leaves. Leaf tips will turn dark and curl downwards, also beginning with the lower older leaves. Flowering plants will have few buds or flowers. Flowering and fruit set will be delayed with small flowers and fruits. The overall yield will be drastically reduced. 

Potassium (K): The Health Element

Potassium is “the health element”.  It contributes to the quality of fruit and flowers more than any other element.

Potassium (K) is one of the essential nutrients and is taken up in significant amounts by crops. Potassium is vital to photosynthesis, protein synthesis and many other functions in plants.

Potassium (K) is required for photosynthesis, carbohydrate and protein creation. It assists with disease resistance and is used in the plumbing of the plant—liquid movement within the plant, stems and roots. Many enzymatic reactions require potassium, and it assists in silica uptake and helps with fruit quality. Bloom and flowering nutrients often contain elevated levels of potassium.

Potassium is associated with the movement of water, nutrients and carbohydrates in plant tissue. It’s involved with enzyme activation within the plant, which affects protein, starch and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. The production of ATP can regulate the rate of photosynthesis.

Potassium also helps regulate the opening and closing of the stomata, which regulates the exchange of water vapor, oxygen and carbon dioxide. If K is deficient or not supplied in adequate amounts, it stunts plant growth and reduces yield.

Potassium deficiency often shows up as a yellowing or browning of the leaf edges and curled-over leaves, followed by yellowing spots in the interior of the leaf face. Discolored spots may appear on the undersides of leaves. Potassium is mobile, so deficiency symptoms show first on lower leaves as flecking or mottling on the leaf margins. Prolonged deficiency results in cell death along the leaf margins and the plants can show signs of wilt. These symptoms first display in older leaves and continue to work up through to the newer leaves if not corrected. Growth, root development, disease resistance and bud size are reduced.

Plants deficient in K are less resistant to drought, extreme temperatures and other stressors. Plants lacking K are also more susceptible to pests, diseases and nematode attacks.

Potassium increases crop yields because it:

  • Increases root growth and improves drought tolerance
  • Builds cellulose and reduces lodging
  • Activates at least 60 enzymes involved in growth
  • Aids in photosynthesis and food formation
  • Helps translocate sugars and starches
  • Produces grains rich in starch
  • Increases protein content of plants
  • Maintains turgor, reduces water loss and wilting
  • Helps retard the spread of crop diseases and nematodes.

Please contact us at 1-866-444-7174 or via email at if you have any questions and for more information on our products.


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