Plant Nutrients Deficiency – Easy Identification and Solutions

Plant Nutrients Deficiency – Quick Identification and Practical Solutions

Just as we, humans, need vitamins and nutrients in order for us to be healthy and strong, other living beings need the same as well. And plants are also living beings, so they are not excluded. If there is plant nutrients deficiency, plants will not be healthy and may wither and die.

Therefore, you need to use proper nutrient mixtures and solutions so that wouldn’t happen.

In this text, I will explain what plant nutrients deficiency exactly is, how it can hurt the plant and what are possible solutions to dealing with this problem. So stick with me and let’s start!

What Does Plant Nutrients Deficiency Mean?

When you hear the word “nutrients”, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably nutrients for the people. But, that is not the case here because plants, of course, require different nutrients than us, so before you try to treat your plants, you need to know exactly what nutrients they need.

Plants require nutrient minerals, which are the common elements that can be seen in the periodic table. Plants consume these elements, turning it into raw energy, which is used to keep the plant healthy.

Now, when those minerals are missing from the plant’s system, that means the energy that comes with them is missing as well. That leads to the plant’s diminishing health. And that is exactly what plant nutrients deficiency means.

Just as people get sick when they lack some nutrients or vitamins, the same goes for plants. That is why you should take great care of your plants.

Now, before you start pumping all nutrients to the plant’s body, you should first get to know what nutrients it needs and what is the percentage of used nutrients. It is very important to keep this in mind.

Giving it too many or too little can be as counter-productive as not giving it the required nutrients at all.

With that comes the understanding of the environment in which the plant lives. Knowing what affects the plant’s everyday life and how it contributes to its welfare is as important as everything else.

1. Watering

One of the crucial environmental effects to look out for is the watering process, where you need to make sure you don’t use too much or too little water.

2. Lighting

Then we have the lighting. You should learn what type of light your plants need, so you know how much to expose them to it. Whether to put them closer to the window or not, whether to use more natural light or not, and so on.

3. Soil

Soil types and its temperature is also a very important factor to look out for. Different plants require different soil type and different soil temperature. Therefore, it is crucial for you to learn about those characteristics of your plant as well.

4. Pests

Of course, apart from all of this, one more danger to keep in mind are pests that can really damage your plant and diminish all your hard work. You should definitely look into what types of pests attack certain plants and what are the ways to deal with them.

How To Identify Plant Nutrients Deficiency?

How To Identify Nutrient Deficiency

Identifying symptoms of plant nutrients deficiency is not an easy task. There are a lot of nutrients and each carries a different symptom to show. So it is very important to get to know the most important plant nutrients and the symptoms that plants would show in case of their deficiency.

Even though there are a lot of symptoms that may occur, there are several of them that are most common:

  • Scrubby growth – if you notice that your plant hasn’t grown enough, that may be one of the symptoms of plant nutrients deficiency;
  • Dried leaves – if you notice that leaves have been a bit dried out and look like they have been burned, you might want to look into the symptom and find out what nutrient deficiency might have caused it;
  • Chlorosis – this is the situation where plants lose their green color;
  • Necrosis – this means that plant’s cells are dying, which can turn the tissue color to very dark. This is usually the sign of a fungus.

What Types Of Nutrients Exist?

What Types Of Nutrients Exist

In order for plants to stay healthy and grow as they should, they need a proper mixture of nutrients. They consume it through the root, so it is very important to have a good soil composition and to water the plant as much as needed, no more, no less.

There are two main groups of nutrients:

  1. Macronutrients these are nutrients that have to be consumed in large amounts or let’s say, the nutrients plants need the most;
  2. Micronutrients these are secondary nutrients, which are also important, but don’t have to be consumed in such large amounts as macronutrients.


As mentioned above, macronutrients are the nutrients that need to be consumed in a fairly large amount. I will mention the most important ones and the symptoms their deficiency could cause.

1. Calcium

Important for: Maintaining the cell walls healthy to ensure steady growth;

Source: Gypsum and any other product that has a calcium label;

Deficiency symptoms: Yellow spots on leaves and deformed looks of the leaves, which are shaped like a hook.

2. Nitrogen

Important for: Ensures that stem and leaf grow healthy. It is the most important nutrient, not just for plants, but for everyone else as well;

Source: Fertilizer;

Deficiency symptoms: Slower growth and yellowed leaves, mostly at the bottom of the plant itself.

3. Magnesium

Important for: It is crucial for the process of photosynthesis and formatting the proteins;

Source: Some mixtures that contain “Mg” label, such are the Epsom Salts (I love this product, it can do wonders!);

Deficiency symptoms: Slower growth and brown, yellow leaves on the outside part of the plant.

4. Phosphorus

Important for: Maintaining the right root growth and flowering;

Source: Greensand (I use this organic version of green sand; it is all natural and it really promotes the plant’s growth and health);

Deficiency symptoms: Leaves can be very small with a distinctive red or purple color. Also, the tip of the leaf can seem dead, with black or dark brown color.

5. Potassium

Important for: Defense against pests and cold weather. Apart from that, it is important for growing healthy new leaves;

Source: Mixtures with “potash” or “potassium” label;

Deficiency symptoms: Chlorosis



Now that we are done with all the most important macronutrients, let us also mention the most important micronutrients you should keep in mind.

1. Boron

Important for: Creating and maintaining the way root and leaves grow, and it is used to move the sugar through the plant;

Source: Mixtures with the label “borax” or “borate”;

Deficiency symptoms: It can cause the formation of witches brooms and can affect root growth;

2. Iron

Important for: It is crucial for creating chlorophyll;

Source: Mixtures labeled with “Fe”

Deficiency symptoms: Slower growth, interveinal chlorosis

How To Treat Plant Nutrient Deficiency?

How To Treat Plant Nutrient Deficiency

When treating the plant nutrient deficiency, it is important to know exactly what kind of deficiency your plant has, so you could act in a proper way.

It is crucial to use the right tool to deal with this problem. Know that some deficiencies can spread and cause other deficiencies, which would only cause you more problems.

The best solution in a short term is the use of proper nutrient mixtures in order to give the missing nutrients to plants. In that case, you should observe the symptoms closely and see what kind of deficiency your plant has and then look for the right mixture to help you with that.

Since some deficiencies can show similar symptoms, sometimes it can be a bit harder to exactly pinpoint the cause of the particular plant nutrients deficiency. If you made a mistake and the mixture you had used didn’t work, then you need to look for another mixture. So, basically, a trial and error system.

Of course, this comes easier when you get more experienced in recognizing the symptoms for each plant nutrients deficiency, so you will be able to do it properly much faster.


1. Nutrient mixture from the store isn’t working. What to do?

As mentioned above, if a specific mixture is not working, try a different one. It could be that you didn’t use the right one for the right plant nutrients deficiency.

2.Young leaves are growing healthy, but the older ones are still sick. What to do?

If the new growth seems fine and healthy, that usually means the problem is solved. What you should do is remove the old damaged parts.

How do you deal with plant nutrients deficiency? Do you have a cheat sheet to determine what is the cause of a plant’s problem to share with us?