Nitrogen deficiency

Nitrogen deficiency

A nitrogen deficiency can be recognised by yellow leaves: the chlorophyll (important for photosynthesis) disappears from the leaves. This happens first in the older leaves, at the bottom of the plant. The plant extracts nitrogen from these leaves and transports it to the young leaves and growing points. This occurs when the absorption through the roots is limited. Eventually the growth of the plant stops and the leaves fall off. In some plants (such as cabbage) the leaves turn purple instead of yellow. In the case of a nitrogen deficiency, the plants and fruits remain noticeably smaller. A plant with a nitrogen deficiency is more susceptible to suffer from diseases and insects. Unfortunately, these symptoms are also caused by all kinds of other problems (for example stagnant water, soil disease and nematodes).

How do you recognise a nitrogen deficiency?

  • First, the older leaves turn yellow-green, from the inside out
  • As the process progresses, the yellowing expands to the base of the leaf and the veins
  • Eventually the growth stops and the leaves fall off
  • Purple / reddish stems

What is the (possible) cause?

  • Excess potassium, zinc and manganese in the soil or substrate.
  • Too much chloride in the soil
  • Too little nitrogen available in the soil or substrate
  • Too high pH level in the root environment
  • Dysfunctional root system due to damage, disease or low temperatures of the soil
  • Nitrogen is easily soluble and therefore easy to wash out

How can you prevent it?

Under normal circumstances a nitrogen deficiency does not occur quickly. During intense stress or a growth spurt, however, the plant is more susceptible to deficiencies. Make sure you use the right fertiliser. A well-composed fertiliser contains more than enough available nitrogen. By using basic nutrients like Alga Grow, Alga Bloom, Terra Grow, Terra Bloom, HydroA&B, CocosA&B, you will decrease the chance of a nitrogen deficiency. Please always be aware that abiotic factors like temperature, light intensity, acidity, amount of moisture and wind strength can also have a big influence on deficiencies.


How can you cure it?

If you notice the yellowed leaves, the solution is to fertilise with a fertiliser with a high nitrogen content. This can be in the form of a leaf fertiliser. 


What does nitrogen do for the plant?

Nitrogen is essential for the plant. The plant needs nitrogen for the formation of chlorophyll, it is indispensable in the photosynthesis process. Nitrogen forms part of the amino acids, from which proteins are formed. Proteins are needed for every conceivable process in the plant. It promotes growth, increases leaf and fruit quality and promotes fruit development.
Nitrogen deficiency
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