The Essentials for Plant Growth: Understanding the Basic Needs of Plants

Plants are everywhere around us and are a great addition to the home, whether indoors or outdoors. However, growing a plant is one of the most rewarding activities, and it’s fascinating to watch them grow from a tiny seed or seedling into a beautiful flower or tree.

 Plants are living things and are just like animals. Therefore, most of the essential things they need to grow are similar to those of animals. They include moisture, nutrients, air, space, proper temperature, etc. 

These are critical factors all living organisms depend on for healthy growth and reproduction. The absence of these factors can affect the expected growth in a given geographical location.

What Do Plants Need To Grow?

What Plants Need to Grow

Plants are living things that have basic survival needs. Plants need air, sunlight softer, nutrients, proper temperature, time, soil pH, space, and love to grow. These needs can be divided into two categories, Primary needs, and Secondary needs.

Primary needs are called primary because they are the basic survival needs, while secondary needs are called secondary because they are not unique to all plants.

Let’s take a look at these critical factors in more depth

Primary Needs

1 . Water

Plants are just like animals therefore, they  need water to germinate. However, for a seed to germinate, it needs to be moist. 

Water activates the germination process and helps move nutrients from the soil into the plant. The plant roots can only absorb nutrients from the soil when dissolved in water. Too little water can cause a plant to wilt it drop, so too much water can cause rot in the roots.

2. Sunlight

Though plants can grow in artificial light, they also need light from the sun. The light derived from the sun is used as energy for making food which is a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process all plants utilize to make food for themselves.

Within these plant cells, there are tiny structures called chloroplasts, and within these chloroplasts, there is a substance called Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll makes plant leaves green, and its primary function in plants is to absorb energy from sunlight. The absorbed energy makes room for the plant to convert carbon dioxide, which is absorbed from air and water from the soil, into sugar which triggers the plant to keep growing.

3. Air Circulation

Air contains many gases, including nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Like humans, plants also need air to breathe proper circulation to grow well. Through this process, carbon dioxide is taken in, so photosynthesis takes place, which converts its carbon dioxide into sugar that the plant uses as food.

However, wind and gentle breezes help to strengthen the plants because when the wind moves a plant, it triggers a hormone that signals the plant to make more supporting cells and to make the stem stronger. Furthermore, insufficient airflow can make the soil around the plants remain damp, and dampness breeds fungal and bacterial diseases that can be detrimental to the plant.

4. Nutrients

Nutrients nourish a plant, and plants need tons of them to grow. The essential nutrients the plant requires in large quantities are called a macronutrient.

The primary macronutrients required for plant growth are;

1 . Nitrogen

Nitrogen is a component of Chlorophyll that plays a vital role in photosynthesis. It is responsible for the rapid growth of foliage and the rapid growth.

2. Phosphorus

Phosphorus is essential in the development of roots. It is also responsible and transporting energy. Phosphorus deficiency leads to stunted plant growth and weakened roots and shoots.

3. Potassium

Potassium is responsible for Influencing water uptake and improving drought tolerance. Potassium also helps in the improvement of cold hardiness. 

4. Calcium

Calcium helps to build solid walls and activate certain enzymes that send signals to coordinate cellular activities.

5. Magnesium

Magnesium helps to activate specific enzyme systems needed for growth. Magnesium deficiency will cause slow growth, yellow leaves, and purple or reddish spots on the leaves.

Other essential nutrients needed for plant development are calcium, sulfur, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, and boron.

5. Space

Plants need enough space to grow so their leaves can capture sunlight. Overcrowding of plants can result in stunted growth and compete for nutrients, water, and light.

6. Time

Time is a significant factor needed by plants to grow. Though timing varies between plants, it is advisable to research the specific plant you are working with to know how much it will need to mature fully.

7. Love

Plants are living things, and they benefit greatly from love and care. Like humans respond to love and attention, plants also respond to how we touch them.

Secondary Needs

1 . Proper Temperature

Temperature is another factor that affects plants in all stages of growth. However, it is needed by plants to thrive.

For a seed to germinate, it needs to be at a specific temperature. In addition, plants’ temperature requirements differ from one plant to another. Some plants prefer a cold environment, while others thrive well in hot temperatures.

2. Soil

Soil is the foundation of all plants. Plants prefer good soil that has good water drainage and good aeration. However, some plants grow best in sandy or clay soil, but the required soil is Loamy Soil.

3. Optimum pH

The pH of your soil tells if your soil is alkaline or acidic. However, plants have specific preferences and need optimum pH that is neutral. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic environment or a slightly alkaline environment.

How Do Plants Grow?

Plants have different stages of growth. They include Seed, Germination, Seedling, Adult Plant, Pollination, and Seed Dispersal.

1 . Seed

The seed stage is the first step in the cycle of germination. From the outside of the plant, that is a tough layer that protects it, and from the inside, there is an embryo growing inside, which is also referred to as the baby plant. The plant embryo consists of a root, shoot, and leaves.

2. Germination

The next stage is the germination stage. For germination to occur, there have to be suitable conditions like the right location, temperature, and water.

3. Seedling

At this stage, the plant will require water, sunlight, and a consistent amount of air to grow and survive. The photosynthesis process will grow the seedling into a complete plant.

4. Adult Plant

When the plant fully matures, it will begin to grow into a flower, and the seeds will be produced. The natural plant would have the stem, flower, fruits, roots, and leaves. Other parts of the plants include stamen, petals, sepals, etc.

5. Pollination

This is an important stage in the plant cycle. Pollen produced by flowers is transferred by various pollinators like butterflies, insects, bees, etc.

6. Seed Dispersal

Seed dispersal is the final stage of the plant growth cycle.  In this stage, the seeds are dispersed to new places, and a new life cycle begins. 

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