Nitrogen is an essential macronutrient needed by all plants to thrive. It is an important component of many structural, genetic and metabolic compounds in plant cells. It is also one of the basic components of chlorophyll, the compound by which plants use sunlight energy to produce sugars during the process of photosynthesis.
Increasing the levels of nitrogen during the vegetative stage can strengthen and support your roots, enabling plants to take in more water and nutrients. This allows a plant to grow more rapidly and produce large amounts of succulent, green foliage, which in turn can generate bigger yields, tastier vegetables, and a crop that is more resistant to pests, diseases, and other adverse conditions.
A nitrogen-deficient plant is generally small and develops slowly because it lacks the nitrogen it requires to manufacture adequate structural and genetic materials. Older leaves become yellow or pale green due to the lack of chlorophyll, beginning in the tips of the lower leaves and eventually spreading throughout the plant. In extreme deficiencies, the affected leaves become brownish, wither, die and hang down around the lower stem.
Using too much nitrogen, however, can be just as harmful to plants as too little. When there are high levels of nitrogen present, plants may not produce flowers or fruit. As with nitrogen deficiency, the leaves may turn yellow and drop. Too much nitrogen can result in plant burning, which causes them to shrivel and die. If plants show any signs of nitrogen burn, immediately flush them with clean water.
It’s relatively normal for leaves to start turning yellow towards the end of the flowering cycle, as the plant uses excess nitrogen reserves for fruit and flower development instead. However, if you notice leaves turning yellow in the vegetative stage or during the beginning parts of the flowering stage, your plant may be experiencing a nitrogen deficiency, which should be treated.
All plants need nitrogen for healthy growth. Understanding the nitrogen requirements for plants makes it easier to meet their supplement needs. Use House & Garden’s Nitrogen Boost to raise nitrogen levels for your garden crops, helping to produce greener, more vigorous plants.