Plants require air, water and sunlight to grow. Plants also require nutrients in order to make their own food and thrive. As they take root in the soil, the roots not only carry water, but also these necessary, life-giving minerals to the rest of the plant.
Plants need sixteen different elements for photosynthesis and growth.
These elements include:
Of these, the most important and essential nutrients, often considered “primary nutrients” are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Nitrogen is perhaps the most important, as it is needed in the formation of chlorophyll, the green pigment in leaves used for photosynthesis.
Although there is Nitrogen in the Earth’s air, plants are unable to utilize it as nitrogen is inert. Therefore, plants need to take in Nitrogen from the soil, such as an alternative form of nitrogen such as nitrate or ammonium.
However, most garden soils do not have enough, or all of the essential nutrients needed for plants to grow optimally on their own. Even with the best soil one can find, if the soil is not fertilized and replenished periodically, it becomes less fertile over time.
This is because as plants grow, they are constantly extracting nutrients from the soil required for flowering and fruiting periods. Indoor house plants grown in pots, do not get exposed to external nutrients in the wild such as rotten wood or animal remains, the soil needs to be fed with fertilizers artificially to restore any lost nutrients over time. Without this necessary step, plant quality and yield will eventually deteriorate.