Treating Plant Malnutrition
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated September 5, 2016)
When thinking about how to take care of your plants, how often do you stop to think about whether they are getting fed properly or not? Surprisingly most people don't really stop to think about things like that. Plants, like any other living organism, can easily suffer from malnutrition if the proper feeding requirements aren't met. Luckily, there are a few guidelines that can help treat plant malnutrition in most cases.
- Know your plants. The key to treating malnutrition lies not in actually doing anything to the plants, but rather to know the plants themselves. By taking the time to research the plants, their growing habits, what they like, and what they don't like, you will be able to have a feel for what the plant needs. In fact, this little bit of knowledge can even help you identify when there is a problem with malnutrition. The reason for this is that not all plants will show signs of malnutrition in the same manner.
- Check the soil. A common reason for plant malnutrition is that there is something wrong with the soil. This could be due to the pH balance being out of alignment, or that the nutrients have been leached out of the soil due to overworking, or that there could even be something in the soil that is preventing the plants from absorbing the nutrients they need. To really get an idea of what is wrong with the soil (if anything is) then you should take several samples of soil and get them tested. Make sure that you remember where you retrieved the samples from for later reference.
- Adjust pH as needed. If you find that your soil needs to have its pH balance restored after having it tested, then you will want to make some adjustments. This can be done by adding a few things to the soil such as peat moss, or lime, or a commercially prepared additive. When you make the needed adjustments the pH balance of your soil you will need to first remove the plants from the garden, and transfer them to a container while you are making your adjustments. Only return the plants after you have retested the pH levels to ensure it is within the proper range.
- Try a light fertilizer. Hopefully your test result comes back saying that your soil isn't as nutrient rich as you would like. In such a situation all you really need to do is apply a light or slow acting fertilizer around the plant. While you can add the fertilizer to the soil itself, that would require you remove the plants in much the same manner as when adjusting the pH balance of the soil. A slightly less labor intensive option is to apply a topical fertilizer to the soil around the plants themselves.
While there are some methods that you can use to treat plant malnutrition, nothing works better than preventing the problem from cropping up to begin with. What this means is that you should know your soil, and whether it will support the plants you are intending to grow in it, prior to actually planting. It is a whole lot easier to prepare the soil before planting than it is to try and fix the problem after it crops up.
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