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Macronutrients and Micronutrients – Importance for Plants & Deficiency Symptoms

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macro and micronutrients -

Macronutrients And Micronutrients

Below is a list of the basic macronutrients and micronutrients/trace elements, along with the horticultural-benefits and deficiency-symptoms of each:


Element Name: Nitrogen
Symbol: N
Atomic Number: 7
Atomic Mass: 14.00674


Nitrogen promotes photosynthesis, and is directly responsible for the production of chlorophyll. It stimulates leaf and stem growth, and aids the overall size and vigor of the plants.


A nitrogen-deficiency can be recognized by reduced growth-rates and yellowing of the leaves (starting with the older/lower leaves). Colder soil-temperatures make nitrogen less-available to plants.


Element Name: Phosphorus
Symbol: P
Atomic Number: 15
Atomic Mass: 30.973762


Phosphorus aids in the germination of seeds, and the growth of seedlings and roots. It is also vital to the production of terpene resins, floral clusters, and necessary sugars and starches. Phosphorus also influences overall vigor.


A phosphorus-deficiency can be noted by reduced growth-rates and the production of smaller leaves which wilt/drop quickly. The leaves will be a dull, bluish-green, which will turn purplish or bronze, and will have seared edges. 
Excessive “P”-levels can initiate a potassium-deficiency.


Element Name: Potassium
Symbol: K
Atomic Number: 19
Atomic Mass: 39.0983


Potassium is important to your plants for metabolic changes during flowering, and the production of floral clusters. It also promotes general plant-vigor, disease-resistance, and sturdy growth.


A potassium-deficiency will retard growth-rates, and cause leaf-tips and edges to become a scorched-brown color, with curled margins.


Element Name: Calcium
Symbol: Ca
Atomic Number: 20
Atomic Mass: 40.078


Calcium is a key ingredient in cell-walls. It strengthens stems/stalks/branches, and also contributes to root-development/growth, primarily that of
the rot-tips.


A calcium-deficiency can be recognized by distorted leaves, with hooked tips and curled margins. A deficiency would also result in under-developed roots, with weak root-tips.


Element Name: Magnesium
Symbol: Mg
Atomic Number: 12
Atomic Mass: 24.3050


Magnesium is significant for chlorophyll-production and most enzyme reactions. It is responsible for healthy leaf-structure and -production, as well as sustaining healthy vein-structure in the leaves.


A magnesium-deficiency will affect various plant-species differently. The most common symptoms in cannabis plants are a vivid yellowing of the leaves, followed by leaves falling without withering, starting with the older/lower leaves. 
Excessive “Mg”-levels may initiate a calcium-deficiency.

SEE ALSO: Climate change will make Rice less Nutritious risking Millions of poor around the World


Element Name: Sulfur
Symbol: S
Atomic Number: 16
Atomic Mass: 32.066


Sulfur, being an ingredient in plant-proteins, is vital for protein-production, chlorophyll-production, and vegetative growth.


A sulfur-deficiency can be identified by retarded growth-rates, accompanied by small, mutated leaves which are round in shape and roll upwards. Leaves will become stiff and brittle and will fall off. An “S”-deficiency will also cause flowers on the top of kholas to die.


Element Name: Manganese
Symbol: Mn
Atomic Number: 25
Atomic Mass: 54.93805


Manganese is a catalyst for many enzymes, and also aids photosynthesis/ chlorophyll-production.


A manganese-deficiency will have varying symptoms, depending on plant species. The most common symptoms in cannabis plants are a yellowing of chloroplasts while stems remain relatively green. White or grey specks/spots may develop on the surfaces of leaves. As is usually the case, older/lower leaves will be affected first. 
Excessive “Mn”-levels may cause a “Fe”(iron)-deficiency, which will exhibit symptoms similar to an “Mn”-deficiency.


Element Name: Boron
Symbol: B
Atomic Number: 5
Atomic Mass: 10.811


Boron aids the movement of necessary sugars, as well as reproduction, and water intake by cells. It also assists in the production of stems/stalks/branches, and keeps calcium in a soluble form. Furthermore, “B” contributes to leaf-production/-coloring/and -structure.


A boron-deficiency can be recognized by distorted and/or dead growing tips, hollow stems, and malformed fruits/flowers. Plants suffering from a “B”-deficiency frequently exhibit scorched, curled leaves, which are often spotted and discolored; young/vegetative leaves are affected first. 
Excessive “B”-levels may cause plants to exhibit symptoms similar to those of “Mg”-/”K”-deficiencies.


Element Name: Zinc
Symbol: Zn
Atomic Number: 30
Atomic Mass: 65.39


Zinc-levels directly affect plant-size and -maturation , as it is necessary for the production of plant-proteins. Consequently, “Zn” is vital to the production of leaves and stalks/stems/branches.


A deficiency of zinc will result in the yellowing of chloroplasts between leaf-veins, usually with purplish spots of dead cells on leaf-surfaces; older/lower leaves are the first to show symptoms. Vegetative-growth is retarded and deformed, and floral-growth is reduced. Excessive “Zn”-levels can initiate a “Fe”(iron)-deficiency.


Element Name: Copper
Symbol: Cu
Atomic Number: 29
Atomic Mass: 63.546


Copper is responsible for healthy, vigorous growth, and strengthens stalks/stem/branches. It is also necessary for the production of plant-proteins and is crucial for reproduction.


A copper-deficiency can cause otherwise green leaves to adopt a bluish hue. Vegetative growth may fail to unfold and may be yellow at the tips and edges.
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Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani is working as Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu ( Forestrypedia (, All Pak Notifications (, Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

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