Even if you haven't been growing plants or maintaining your home garden for a long time, the chances are that you've still heard of macronutrients. The most important of these are of course NPK or Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. These are the building blocks upon which you build your garden but they aren't the 'be all and end all' when it comes to plant nutrition. You also need to know your micronutrients!
The essential plant micronutrients are boron (B), chloride (Cl), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) and molybdenum (Mo).
Though not required in as large quantities as the macronutrients, these still play an incredibly important role in plant growth and development. They also develop a plant's ability to fight off pests and diseases that plague most home gardens.
Let's take a look at how they help the plant by taking each micronutrient individually.
1) Boron (B)
Living in a region with high rainfall and sandy soil? Haven't checked the pH balance of your soil and think that it may be too acidic? Well, if your plants are displaying stunted growth or hollow stems and fruit, then your soil most definitely lacks boron!
Boron helps in cell wall formation which ensures plant growth and development. Processes like pollen formation, germination, and flower retention also require boron.
2) Chloride (Cl)
Chloride helps in a little known yet incredibly important function of the plant; it regulates the stomatal opening. Through this, it affects some outcomes, the most significant being plant water loss. The stoma is an opening on the surface of leaves through which evaporation takes place. The presence of chloride means that this is regulated so that the plant doesn't dry out.
But in its absence, you'll see wilting, widespread roots that are striving to search for water to compensate.
3) Manganese (Mn)
Necessary for that most important process of all, photosynthesis! Manganese aids in the metabolic processes in the plant, forming the compounds that are needed for metabolism to take place. If your soil lacks manganese, then you'll see the effect in the leaves, as they develop brown/white/ gray spots that indicate decay. You'll also notice a higher rate of leaf drop and delayed maturity.
4) Iron (Fe)
Not just humans, but plants need iron too! It is a cog in many plant processes, including but not restricted to energy transfer, production of chlorophyll, nitrogen fixation and acting as a catalyst to speed up chemical reactions that produce energy. If the leaves of your home plant are yellowing, then they lack the required iron content.
5) Zinc (Zn)
Plants need a constant supply of Zinc to display the most optimum growth, especially in the early stages i.e. germination. Zinc also helps in the development of enzymes that regulate growth, produce energy and synthesize all the essential proteins in the plant. A lack of Zinc means stunted growth.
6) Copper (Cu)
The presence of copper helps in strengthening the plant's cell wall structures by synthesizing lignin, which also reduces the chances of wilting. It is also a necessary component of nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism. Pale green leaves and dieback of stems are the symptoms of copper deficiency.
7) Molybdenum (Mo)
Molybdenum makes its presence felt in the process of pollen formation which goes on to affect fruit and grain production. It initiates enzyme systems that relate to nitrogen fixation in legumes so that symbiotic bacteria may grow easily. However, molybdenum requirements are usually low, so most plants don't exhibit any deficiency in this.
Now that you've been introduced to these essentials start testing your soil for deficiencies and help your plant grow long and healthy!