A plant obtains everything it needs to grow from one of two places: the air around its leaves, or the water around its roots. The air supplies carbon and oxygen. Water supplies hydrogen and also acts as a carrier for a variety of other elements. These elements are known as “plant nutrients” and are essential for a plant to grow and bloom.
Intro to Nutrients
Plant nutrients are commonly divided into three groups: primary, secondary, and micro. Plant nutrients have other charactaristics too, such as the ideal pH for optimal absorption, and whether they have the ability to move around inside the plant (mobile or immobile).
Each plant requires a different balance of nutritional elements at different phases of its life cycle. Nutrient manufacturers try to make the grower’s life as straightforward as possible by creating easy-to-use complete formulations to support vegetative growth (roots, leaves, and stems) and flowering (buds, flowers, and fruits).
As well as the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen (the non-mineral elements) there are many additional mineral elements that are either essential or beneficial to plants. Exactly how these elements are supplied is dependent on your growing method. Hydroponic growers supply these elements directly via a mineral nutrient solution. Organic growers use beneficial biology and a mixture of organic inputs and soil / peat-based mixes.
The Most Important Element?
CARBON (from CO2)
Carbon is a basic element of all life on this planet – plants get hold of it in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). As plants photosynthesize, they absord carbon dioxide from the air transforming the inorganix carbon in CO2 into an organic form of carbon to make carbohydrates and proteins.
There are many other micronutrients that are not 100% essential, but they have proven to be beneficial and may be included as part of your liquid mineral nutrients. These include – silicon, nickel, cobalt, sodium, selenium, vanadium, and silver.
Try not to think about elements individually. It’s not just about making sure all these elements are present. It’s about the ratios between various elements. Too much of one element can lock out another. Too little of one element can make another harder to metabolize. Start with the best quality water you can and always use professionally blended nutrient products.