Mineral Elements

Elephant Man

Oct 6, 2006
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Okay, I'm not one to be linking to other sites and copying stuff, but when it comes to sick plants, I feel we all could use any info available.

I found this on another forum posted by a guru named 'Fing 57' and found it very useful, especially when used in conjunction with Hick's EXCELLENT troubleshooter.

something I got out of "ECO Enterprises" catalog

Mineral Elements
Plants are the only living things on earth capable of taking raw minerals and converting these elements into the sugars, carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids that all animal life on the planet needs to survive.
Besides Hydrogen, Oxygen and Carbon, witch plants acquire from the air and water, at least 14 other elements must be present. They are freed from the rocks of the Earth by watering or from the decay of organic matter through bacterial action.
They must be dissolved in water and most have to be present in the form of ions (an excess or lack of their full complement of electrons) before they can be assimilated.
Most plant nutrients are derived from mineral salts. Others can be derived from "organic" sources such as worm castings, fish fertilizer or bat guano. It is the"inorganic" components of these substances that are used by the plants for growth.
Plants cannot take up carbon (chemically classified as organic) at the roots. It is impractical to make a good hydroponics plant nutrient from organic material as the molecular structure is not fixed and purity is variable. The fallowing elements are required by plants. Their biological contribution , toxicity and deficiency symptoms are briefly mentioned. Element symbols are in parenthesis.

Major Elements N-P-K
Nitrogen (N) - a major element needed by all green plants.
it is transported from older growth to new growth

Deficiency - lack of lush green color, especially in older leaves.
Toxicity - soft,dark green leaves, long,weak stems, poor root development and slow to maturation

Phosphorous (P) - an important mineral that stores energy in plants and animals, also a flowering agent

Deficiency - stunted dark green leaves. lower leaves turn yellow and die. leaves have brown or purple spots
Toxicity - small, curled new leaf. Early maturity, large root systems

Potassium (K) - a nitrogen catalyst for enzyme manufacture . needed in large quantities, although plants do not use a tremendous amount

Deficiency - brown, necrotic (dead) tips and edge margins on older (lower) leaves fallowed by yellowing of entire leaf. dead brown spots on older leaves. slender, weak stems and small seeds
Toxicity - saline condition, marginal leaf burn, wilting and drying due to poor water uptake.

Major Trace Elements

Calcium (Ca) -helps form the structural parts of plants and animals (it is a major element in cell walls and bone). Counters acidity (low pH)

Deficiency - new growth affected first. root tips turn brown and die. hard, stiff new leaves with dead edges and brown spots. stems are stunted and woody, blossoms fall off. little or no fruit
Toxicity - rear, but can cause an alkaline (high pH) condition- wilting, iron and potassium lockups and deficiencies. Calcium is not very mobile in plants

Magnesium (Mg) - is important in photosynthesis and the chlorophyll molecule where light energy is converted to chemical energy. chlorophyll gives plants their green color

Deficiency - chlorosis (yellowing) of older leaves between the veins. Later, leaf tips curl, entire plant turns yellow and dies. Magnesium is mobile and is transported from older to newer growth. Old growth is affected first
Toxicity - edge curl on leaves, small stems, signs of potassium deficiency.

Sulphur (S) - is a building block for amino acids and proteins. Used in small amounts, it aids transpiration and transport of other elements

Deficiency - rear, but young leaves turn pale green with yellowing along the veins, stems turn hard and woody. Plants are stunted and spindly.
Toxicity - Saline condition, wilting

Iron (Fe) - is an important constituent of enzymes and plays a role in photosynthesis. Iron is not very mobile in plants and can be "locked up" if the pH goes much above 7.

Deficiency - yellow or white chlorosis between veins of younger leaves. Stunted new growth with spindly stems. Flowers drop off before opening
Toxicity - deficiencies of other elements, brown spots on leafs

These symptoms can occur because of "lockup" due to improper pH, hardwater (high in bicarbonates) or other environmental conditions. Some detective work may be necessary to isolate a specific problem
Minor Trace Elements

Manganese (Mn) - plays an important role in photosynthesis and chloroplast membrane formation. needed at only 1/2 the rate of Iron, its importance cannot be understated. Mn also enters into the chemical reactions of oxidation and reduction

Deficiency - dead (necrotic) spots on younger leaves. hard and woody stems, slow maturity. Mn is not very mobile in plants so younger growth exhibits symptoms first.
Toxicity - wilting and death in all but small quantities. Mn is toxic in large amounts

Boron (B) is needed in small amounts. Boron aids in cell division and in transporting sugars though cell walls. It also aids in forming the amino acids - thymine and cytosine, important to DNA synthesis.

Deficiency - affects new growth first. Black, brittle areas on leaf tips. Small, burned leafs with dead spots. Stubby brown and dead root tips. "Heart rot" in beats and "stem crack" in celery.
Toxicity - above 10 PPM, dead leaf margins, wilting and quick death of the plant

Copper (Cu) - is needed in only small amounts. this aids in plant metabolism and general health. It helps ward off disease and pests, aids in the utilization of iron and the manufacture of enzymes.

Deficiency - dark green, spindly young leaves. Plants are susceptible to disease and insects, wilt easily and exhibit stunted growth.
Toxicity - dark roots, leads to an iron deficiency (interveinal chlorosis on young leaves).

Zink (Zn) - needed in small amounts for growth and chlorophyll synthesis.

Deficiency - short stem internodes and a condition called "little leaf" or "rosetting" where the young leaves are spindly and twisted around each other. Reduced or no bud formation. Mottled dead spots between veins.
Toxicity - related to an acid pH, splotchy mottled leaves and wilt

Chlorine (Ci) - this element controls water uptake and transpiration.
stimulates photosynthesis and is a major constituent of the anthocyanin molecule.

Deficiency - plants wilt easy.
bronze colored leaves with dead or chlorotic spots, stunted roots with club-shaped tips.
Toxicity- saline poisoning, small dark leaves, burnt margins, wilt.

Molybdenum (Mo)a catalyst needed in small quantities. It is involved in nitrogen fixation (assimilation) and in the manufacture of enzymes.

Deficiency - causes a nitrogen deficiency. Plants are light green, malformed and stunted. Causes the "whiptale" disease where young leaves are long, narrow and severely twisted, but not tightly bunched as in the "rosetting" caused by a zinc deficiency.
Toxicity - very toxic to plants above 100 to 200 PPBillion (not much). Causes iron and copper lockup, improper nitrogen utilization

Cobalt (Co) - a constituent of vitamin B-12 and required for the fixation of nitrogen and DNA synthesis.

Deficiency - causes pernicious anemia (lack of vitamin B-12) and improper nitrogen assimilation.
Toxicity - all but smallest amount causes quick wilt and death


Aero Lord
Jul 18, 2006
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Pretty sure thas already posted somewhere aruond here. =P

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