What These Elements Do for Plants
Major Nutrients
Nitrogen (N) is the main nutrient for strong, vigorous growth, good leaf coloUr, and photosynthesis. Plants that are almost all leaf (such as lawn grasses) need plenty of nitrogen, so the first number in fertilizers for lawns is especially high because grass must continuously renew itself after mowing. The higher the number, the more nitrogen the fertilizer provides.

Phosphorous (P) promotes root development which helps strengthen plants. It also increases blooms on flowers and the ripening of seeds and fruit. Lots of phosphorous is great for bulbs, perennials, and newly planted trees and shrubs. They depend on strong roots, so fertilizers meant for these plants often have high middle numbers.

Potassium (K) improves the overall health of plants. It helps them withstand very hot or cold weather, defend against diseases, helps fruit formation, photosynthesis, and the uptake of other nutrients. Potassium works along with Nitrogen so if you add nitrogen to the soil, it is important to add potassium at the same time. Most soils already have some potassium, so the third number in the fertilizer analysis is usually smaller than the other two. Fertilizers for some tropical plants, especially palms, contain extra potassium because these plants have a special need for it.

Secondary Nutrients
Calcium (Ca) is important for general plant vigor and promotes good growth of young roots and shoots. Calcium also helps to build cell walls.

Magnesium (Mg) helps regulate uptake of other plant foods and aids in seed formation. As it is contained in Chlorophyll, it is also important in the dark green colour of plants and for the ability of a plant to manufacture food from sunlight.

Sulfur (S) helps maintain a dark green colour while encouraging more vigorous plant growth. Sulfur is needed to manufacture Chlorophyll.

Trace Elements
Boron (B) helps in cell development and helps to regulate plant metabolism.

Chlorine (CI) is involved in photosynthesis.

Copper (Cu) helps plants to metabolize nitrogen.

Iron (Fe) assists in the manufacture of chlorophyll and other biochemical processes.

Manganese (Mn) is needed for chlorophyll production.

Molybdenum (Mo) helps plants to use nitrogen.

Zinc (Zn) is used in development of enzymes and hormones. It is used by the leaves and needed by legumes to form seeds.

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