Adding a touch of greenery to your apartment, whether inside or outside on the balcony, can instantly transform your home.
Plants always look great at the garden center, but you’ll need to learn how to look after them at home to keep them looking healthy and vibrant.
When shopping for fertilizers, you may have noticed that they usually contain a mixture of nitrogen and phosphorus.
Why are most fertilizers rich in nitrogen and phosphorous? What do they offer to plants?
What Are the Primary Nutrients in Fertilizer?
Most of us will remember learning about the importance of sunlight for plants and the process of photosynthesis at school.
However, unless you majored in chemistry, it’s unlikely you’ll have learned much about nitrogen and phosphorus.
All that’s about to change and understanding their importance will help your apartment and balcony plants to thrive.
We’ll start at the beginning by asking what are the primary nutrients in fertilizer before looking at the importance of nitrogen and phosphorus.
Growing plants need a total of 17 essential elements to reach their full potential.
Three of them come from air and water, and the other 14 must be absorbed by the plant’s roots from the soil.
The primary nutrients in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, collectively known as “the big three.”
The levels of each nutrient are usually given under their chemical symbols N, P, and K.
Secondary nutrients you’re likely to come across include calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc. All these nutrients are essential for healthy plant growth.
Why Are Nitrogen and Phosphorus the Two Main Components of Fertilizer?
You’ll almost always see nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizers because they are considered the most essential, but why?
Why Is Nitrogen in Fertilizers?
Nitrogen is considered the most important of all the nutrients, as plants absorb more nitrogen than anything else.
This is why you’ll always find nitrogen in fertilizers.
Nitrogen is a crucial element in the biological molecules DNA and RNA, which are vital for the existence of all living things.
The DNA of the plant is essentially the plant’s schematics for how it should grow.
The RNA is responsible for interpreting these plans and building the proteins and other compounds needed for structure, seed production, and many other things.
Nitrogen allows plants to produce amino acids and proteins, the building blocks of the plant’s cells and tissue.
Therefore, plants that are nitrogen-deficient just aren’t able to grow.
On the other hand, plants will also be negatively affected if exposed to too much nitrogen.
Too much nitrogen will cause excessive growth in the stems and leaves, but not enough growth in the root system to support it.
To put it more simply, nitrogen is the key to life!
What Does Phosphorus Do for Plants?
Phosphorus is also found in both the DNA and RNA of plants. It is the compound that bonds their chemical structure.
Besides that, what does phosphorus do for plants?
Phosphorus also facilitates photosynthesis as a vital component in the use and storage of energy in plants.
It supports the plant’s development throughout its entire lifecycle, helping it grow strong and improve flower and seed production.
A phosphorus deficiency can result in poor root systems, stunted growth, and little or no flowers or fruit.
An excess of phosphorus may make it more difficult for your plant to absorb other much-needed micronutrients, such as iron and zinc.
How Do You Increase Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Soil?
There are many ways in which you can increase the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in soil. Among the most obvious are through using chemical or organic fertilizers.
The fastest way you can alter the make-up of your soil is with chemicals, but the results will also fade the quickest.
When choosing a chemical fertilizer, you need to make sure that it is high in nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P), or both.
The numbers of the chemicals will be displayed as 10-10-10, representing NPK (in that order).
So, to increase nitrogen, look for a fertilizer that has a high first number. In contrast, to increase phosphorus, you’ll need a high second number.
You can also increase the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in your soil organically.
Organic measures will take longer to fix a deficiency, but they’ll last much longer.
Increase Nitrogen Levels
You can increase the nitrogen levels of your soil by simply adding coffee grounds.
If you’re able to, you could also plant nitrogen-fixing plants (such as peas and beans) in the same bed.
Adding composted manure will also help to fix nitrogen levels.
Increase Phosphorus Levels
To increase phosphorus levels in your soil, you can try using bone meal or rock phosphate.
Adding compost to your soil will also help your plants absorb the phosphorus that is already in the soil.
Why Are Most Fertilizers Rich in Nitrogen and Phosphorous?
In summary, the reason why are most fertilizers rich in nitrogen and phosphorous is simply because your plants need these compounds to grow.
Nitrogen is essential for the fundamental building blocks of the plant cells, and phosphorus is vital in aiding photosynthesis and your plant’s development.