What Do Plants Get From Soil?

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Soil is a major source of nutrients needed by plants for growth. While nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) may be the most common.

There are other nutrients out there that are important too like calcium carbonate. Let’s Read and Explore Answers About this What Do Plants Get From Soil?

Types of Plant Nutrition

In higher plants growing on earth, there are 2 types of nutrition: 

Air Nutrition of Plants

Air nutrition includes photosynthesis. The process of formation of organic substances from inorganic substances with the help of sunlight. Plant leaves contain chlorophyll, which gives them their green color.

Under the influence of sunlight, a complex reaction begins in chlorophylls. As a result of which oxygen and a supply of energy are released. Then comes the next stage, in which light is no longer needed.

At this stage, various organic compounds, carbohydrates are formed. Which are then distributed to all parts of the plant.

This process is useful not only for the plant but also for all living things since green plants release the oxygen necessary for the respiration of all living beings.

Root Nutrition of Plants

This type of food is also called mineral. The root of the plant absorbs water and minerals from the soil necessary for its growth and normal functioning.

The root system of plants can be so developed that it exceeds the size of the ground part. Roots are able to extract nutrients from the deepest layers of the soil.

The roots of the plant are equipped with special thin hairs, which, like pumps, extract water and salts from the soil. f

The amount and proportion of minerals required by a plant depend on its species, growth stage, climate, and even the time of day. The most active feeding occurs during the day.

Both types of plant nutrition are related to each other. The development of the root system depends on photosynthesis, and the process of photosynthesis is impossible without water obtained from the soil.

What Do Plants Get From Soil?

To determine exactly what substances a plant absorbs through its roots. Scientists conducted an experiment by growing a certain type of plant in water.

Various substances were added to the water and it was found that the plant absorbs potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Excluding any of the above, growth or fruit formation is impaired.

Hands with Macro Plant Soil Grow Life
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

There are other trace elements that the plant needs. For example, beets need boron in addition to the above, as well as copper, zinc, and cobalt. Each element in its own way is important and valuable for plant nutrition:

  • Nitrogen. This element is essential for the normal growth and development of fruits. In the case of nitrogen deficiency, the growth of the plants is greatly slowed down, and the active growth of the greens and tops takes place in excess, but the development of the fruits is inadequate.
  • Phosphorus. Phosphorus is needed during the period of active plant growth.It handle the body’s protective functions, increases resistance to various diseases and pests , stimulates fruit development and ripening.
  • Calcium. It supports the normal metabolism of the plant with a certain amount of calcium.
  • Potassium. Potassium helps the plant cope with environmental influences (extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, soil salinity). Buds, fruits and shoots become more resistant to disease, the harvest is stored for a longer time.
  • Magnesium. Magnesium is involved in many chemical processes within the plant and is essential for energy production. In the absence of this trace element, the roots of the plant begin to suffer, which is not always immediately noticeable.
  • Iron. The plant needs a small amount of iron, but it is important for the synthesis of chlorophyll. If this element is not enough, the leaves will start to fade, turn yellow and fall off prematurely.

Why Is Nutrition Needed?

All minerals and salts must be contained in the soil in a certain amount, maintaining a balance. Only in this case, you can count on the normal growth of plants and a rich harvest.

If cultivated plants are grown on the same site for many years in a row, the soil becomes poorer, loses some of the nutrients, and does not have time to accumulate them. For this, there are various supplements.

Fertilizers can be organic or mineral. Both of them perform the same function – feeding the soil, plants and increasing productivity.

Organic fertilizers (usually manure or manure, peat, humus) are considered more effective, but they will cost more for large areas.

The main advantage of organic fertilizers is their ability to accumulate humus in the soil. Not all cultivated plants tolerate organic matter well, especially fresh manure. Some of them can get sick because various microorganisms and parasites often live in manure.

There are many complex fertilizers on the market, in which all the nutrients are already balanced. However, experienced gardeners prefer to feed separately in various quantities depending on the growth stage.

It is worth remembering that an overabundance of fertilizers can also be harmful. Usually, top dressing is done at planting, and then as needed. Plants themselves will show that they lack any trace elements.

There are also bacterial fertilizers. As you know, nodule bacteria living in the soil take part of the carbohydrates from the plant but supply it with nitrogen. They provoke active division of root cells, as a result of which nodules are formed on it.

What Nutrients Do My Plants Need?

Every garden enthusiast naturally wants a garden that is full of beautiful and healthy plants. But plants need regular nutrition to survive, grow and thrive. Which nutrients are essential for your plants? Here is a detail.

Producing Nutrients

Thanks to the process of photosynthesis, plants can produce part of their food themselves with the help of sunlight.

The other nutrients that a plant needs are taken from the soil by the roots and transported to the above-ground part.

A shortage of good nutrition, for example, the important building materials, can lead to poorly developed and eventually even dying plants.

Nitrogen and Calcium

Building materials are very important for the growth and health of a plant. Nitrogen, for example, is such an important building element for the following reasons:

  • Nitrogen is necessary for the development of the green parts of a plant. A good nitrogen balance stimulates the production of vegetable proteins and the formation of extra leafy green. The latter is especially important for the energy supply.
  • A steady, well-balanced supply of nitrogen delays plant senescence. They continue to produce leaves longer and flower or ripen later.

Are your plants suffering from a nitrogen deficiency? Then there are signs that betray that. The yellow color and rapid shedding of older leaves may indicate a nitrogen deficiency.

The amount of nitrogen that is ideal for a plant also differs per species. For plants that cannot withstand high acidity, too much nitrogen can be very bad. That is why the calcium content is also important. Calcium neutralizes acidity.


Phosphorus is a second indispensable building material for plants. The element is present in the soil as phosphate. Plants get their phosphorus from soil phosphate.

Phosphorus ensures, among other things, root formation, bud formation, and good hardening of the plant. Phosphorus is also an important part of DNA.

You can usually recognize a phosphorus deficiency by ailments such as stunting, black discolorations, and dying (watch out for spotting) leaves.


Although potassium is not a building material, the element is an important part of plant nutrition. Potassium mainly affects the sturdiness of a plant.

It resides in the soil in the form of potassium salts and, because it washes away easily, falls prey to soil erosion. Potassium fulfills various functions in plant management:

  • Potassium makes plants less sensitive to extreme weather influences such as drought and frost.
  • Thanks to a good supply of potassium, the plant gets more, but above all also better quality fruits and flowers.
  • It has a positive influence on taste, smell, shelf life and color, especially in fruit-bearing crops.
  • Potassium improves and facilitates the transport of nutrients. This allows important substances to be transferred to other parts of the plant.
  • The element increases a plant’s resistance to diseases and pests.

Sulfur and Magnesium

The last two elements to be mentioned are sulfur and magnesium. Sulfur is necessary for the production of amino acids and also has a beneficial effect on the water balance of a plant.

Magnesium promotes photosynthesis by stimulating the production of chlorophyll. The substance activates metabolic processes, which in turn has a favorable effect on the growth quality of plants.


Kratz, R. F. (2016, March 26). How Plants Take Elements from the Soil. Dummies. https://www.dummies.com/article/academics-the-arts/science/biology/how-plants-take-elements-from-the-soil-169160/

Plant nutrients in the soil. (n.d.). Https://Www.Dpi.Nsw.Gov.Au/. https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/soils/soil-testing-and-analysis/plant-nutrients#:%7E:text=Soil%20is%20a%20major%20source,the%20trio%20known%20as%20NPK.

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