Just as a human infant’s nutritional needs differ from those of a toddler and even more so from those of an adult engaged in physical labour, plants also require different nutrients during the various stages of their growth cycle. When growing plants from seed, providing the correct balance of nutrients can be crucial to their subsequent development and, ultimately, survival. Controlled application of a specially formulated seedling fertilizer is invariably the best way to ensure a healthy crop.
The Point at Which Seedling Fertilizer is Needed
In addition to containing the embryonic elements of the mature plant, a seed is also a storehouse that contains all of the nutrients required for the early stages of the germination process. For this reason, it should not be necessary to provide any additional nutrition until the emerging young plants have developed past the cotyledon stage and are showing their first set of true leaves. It is at this point that it will be advantageous to apply a suitable seedling fertilizer.
Diagnosing Reasons for Distress
That said, if a plant may be showing signs of distress, applying additional nutrients could do more harm than good. Instead, it will be necessary to first identify and address the possible reasons for their distress before taking further action. Generally, spotting these problems should be fairly straightforward. For example, droopy leaves will typically mean that your plants require water, and when their stems grow too tall and slender, it’s because they aren’t receiving enough light. Brown, dried leaves are suggestive of too much sun but can also occur if you overdo things by applying too much fertilizer to your seedlings. So, once you have rectified these problems, what’s next?
Creating the Right Nutritional Mix
Throughout their lives, three of the primary nutritional requirements of plants are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. However, the precise proportion in which these elements must be present will vary according to the particular stage in a plant’s development. During the early stages following the production of true leaves, plants require rather more nitrogen and potassium than phosphorus to help form healthy green foliage and a dense root system. In practice, a liquid or water-soluble seedling fertilizer will be far easier for the young plants’ roots to absorb than if applied in granular form.
Kynoch is a leading specialist in plant growth and nutrition, and is a supplier of world-class products specially formulated to enhance plant development at each stage in their life cycle. To address the earliest phase of their development, Kynoch offers a carefully formulated, water-soluble product named KynoPop®. This specialised seedling fertilizer contains a balanced mix of essential nutrients that act to increase resistance to diseases, pests and other forms of plant stress.