Why do plants need phosphorus?

Plants need a handful of nutrients to remain healthy and thriving, that includes phosphorus. But what is phosphorus, why do plants need phosphorus, and how can you tell if your plants need more of it?

Let’s take a few minutes to answer these questions, so you can become a better prepared gardener.

What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus is an element in the periodic table that is essential to living things. In fact, phosphorus is found in everything from teeth and tissues to bodily fluids and the human skeleton. In its natural state, phosphorus is highly reactive and can be found in two major forms — white and red phosphorus.

Why is phosphorus important for plants?

Phosphorus isn’t just vital to the human body — it’s vital to plants, as well. But why exactly is phosphorus important for plants?

Plants need phosphorus for a variety of reasons, but here are some of the heavy hitters:

  • Phosphorus aids in cell processes — such as division and enlargement
  • Phosphorus is involved in the conversion of sun into energy
  • Phosphorus plays a role in energy storage and transfer
  • Phosphorus is found in DNA, RNA, and ATP

But what does all of that actually mean? How does any of this benefit the plant? Well for starters, phosphorus is able to boost plant growth and stimulate the roots. It also plays a vital role in making sure that the fruit or seeds that come from plants are healthy and abundant. On top of this, phosphorus increases a plant’s resistance to disease.

In other words, phosphorus is a pretty big deal in the plant world.

How do I know if my plants need more phosphorus?

If you’re wondering, “How do I know if my plants need more phosphorus?” the answer can be found one of two ways.

The first way is to take a look at the plant itself. The physical appearance of a plant can often help you determine what nutrient(s) it’s missing. In the case of phosphorus, a deficiency usually means small plants with little to no flowers or fruit.

The second way is to perform a soil test. However, soil tests can be tricky, and they aren’t always accurate.

While a soil test is designed to help you determine what your soil might be lacking, it doesn’t test all of your soil — only one part of it. In other words, the results for one small section of your soil may not be accurate for the rest of your soil. If you add amendments to your soil based on one test result from one section, you could end up damaging the other sections of your soil.

Secondly, soil tests are designed to tell you what nutrients are in the soil, but it won’t tell you what (or how much) nutrients are in a plant-available form. It would be something like the difference between cows and hamburgers. We eat hamburgers — not cows. This same concept holds true with the nutrients in your soil. Many can be in a form that plants simply can’t absorb. Needless to say, soil tests don’t always give us the information we are looking for.

simple plant deficiency guide

What if my plant is not phosphorus-deficient but it still looks bad?

Phosphorus is only one of the 16 essential plant nutrients, and your plant needs all 16 nutrients to remain healthy. If your plant is not lacking phosphorus but still looks to be in bad shape, then your plant might be deficient in a different nutrient.

If you want to learn more about these nutrients, take a look at the following articles:

But if you don’t want to get a PhD in chemistry, we recommend using a soil treatment like GardenMAX or TurfMAX. Not only do these treatments contain all 16 essential plant nutrients, but they also have a ton of other great benefits. For example, they can correct pH imbalances, add beneficial microbes to the soil, and slow-release fertilizer. Even better, they’re super easy to use — apply on top and water in.

Final Thoughts

Phosphorus is essential for plants, so if you think your plant is missing this nutrient, you need to act fast. Unfortunately, testing for phosphorus deficiencies in plants isn’t the clearest thing to do. But luckily, there’s another way to overcome this hurdle.

With a soil treatment from Green As It Gets, you can easily transform your soil into a place where plants love to grow. These soil treatments work fast to correct pH imbalances and supply your soil with any missing nutrients. It’s intelligent, advanced, and ready to go to work for your soil.

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