Trees require nutrients to survive and flourish. When trees do not get the necessary nutrients, they grow weak and become vulnerable to pests and disease. Sunlight, water, and soil are the three primary sources of nutrients. Common symptoms of a nutrient-deficient tree are yellowing or smaller leaves, and shorter twig growth.
The three essential nutrients are:
- Nitrogen (N) – It helps to convert sunlight, water, and soil into food. Trees absorb nitrogen from the soil in the form of nitrite, nitrate, and urea. It is a primary building block for protoplasm which is the living matter in plant cells. Nitrogen is part of the chlorophyll molecule, which gives leaves their green color. It is used in photosynthesis to create food for the tree and acts as a catalyst for other minerals. Lack of nitrogen shows up as general yellowing (chlorosis) of the plant.
- Phosphorus (P) – It is responsible for the proper growth of roots. Phosphorus is a component of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which provides the energy for photosynthesis. It is needed for the growth, maintenance, and repair of all tissues and cells. Phosphorus helps to balance and use other vitamins and minerals essential for healthy growth. It strengthens the tree, making it less vulnerable to disease. Phosphorus deficiency commonly causes older leaves to curl, distort, and remain smaller than normal.
- Potassium (K) – Potassium, often called potash, helps plants use water and resist drought and enhances fruits and vegetables. It regulates the uptake of carbon dioxide used for photosynthesis. Potassium activates enzymes which affect protein, starch, and ATP production. It is involved in the movement of water, carbohydrates, and other nutrients in plant tissue. Potassium also facilitates protein and starch synthesis in plants. Yellow or purple leaf-tints with browning at the leaf edge and poor flowering or fruiting are symptoms of a deficiency.
These are the three essential minerals required for healthy trees. Soil testing is important to determine which nutrients are lacking or overabundant. Using the correct fertilizer is vital to ensuring your trees are healthy. Call Integrity Tree Care for expert advice on tree health, trimming, and removal.