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Nitrogen Makes Your Plants Green: How They Use It and Where It Comes From

Nitrogen is essential to plant growth. Nitrogen is essential to plant growth.


From the hobby enthusiast to expert producer, nitrogen is one of the most familiar plant nutrients to any grower. It is a key supplement to any crop and used prolifically in hydroponics together with phosphorus and potassium. Although the demand for nitrogen as a fertilizer is high, its supply is in no danger of being threatened – nitrogen is the seventh most common element in the universe and comprises 78% of all air on earth in volume alone.

Nitrogen's value to both human and plant life is incalculable. Besides its momentous contribution to the atmosphere, it bonds with hydrogen and oxygen to produce two of the most important forms of nitrogen used in fertilizers today – ammonium and nitrate. In this two part series, RosebudMag.com will take readers on a journey into the role of nitrogen in plant growth cycles and how the fertilizers that spur this growth are made.

Since it is fundamental to the creation of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, and genetic material such as DNA and RNA, nitrogen could be considered the fuel behind nearly every process within a plant.

Nitrogen is virtually omnipresent on earth and throughout space, but also within all living things. Plants contain around 3% nitrogen at any given time and without it would lack their greenish hue. Chlorophyll, which is contained within the chloroplast organelle of every plant cell, absorbs light from the sun and reflects its green spectrum.

Since nitrogen is essential to chlorophyll production, a plant derived of this essential mineral will not produce chlorophyll or photosynthesize, and its leaves will eventually wither and die. Although the exact amounts differ in each plant species, crops that have a nitrogen content of 2.75% or lower will exhibit symptoms of deficiency through yellowing and stunted growth.

Since it is fundamental to the creation of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, and genetic material such as DNA and RNA, nitrogen could be considered the fuel behind nearly every process within a plant. Given in the right amounts, it will fortify roots and stimulate them to branch out into a healthy web, allowing the plant to absorb a greater amount of nutrients and water. With ample access to water and its roots at peak condition, the vegetative growth of a plant will spike, leading to a profusion of lush, green growth and an increased immunity to pests and disease.

If a plant is given too much nitrogen, however, its accelerated vegetative growth will prevent the formation of flowers and fruit. This usually occurs when the percentage of nitrogen inside a plant is over 4%. It may also result in yellow and burnt leaves, the loss of foliage, and an exhausted or wilted crop. While it is vital for a crop to receive an often superfluous amount of nitrogen that can be stored and used for later development, it is equally important not to overdose your plants in hopes of increasing their yield.

Exploring the ways in which nitrogen can boost your plant's vitality is a great way to become a better hydroponic grower. Research your measurements and be mindful that every type of crop has different needs. The best fertilizer is patience and care.

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Here’s some scintillating info about nitrogen and plant growth.
Last modified on Thursday, 22 August 2013 18:24

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