Plants need a balanced environment to grow healthy and strong, which needs to be provided constantly and in appropriate levels. From seed to full grown, plants need the best possible environment from the start to reduce the risk of withering away, being stressed, going into shock, or becoming toxic.
Some symptoms of plant stress often translate as:
- Dark patches
- Lack of blooming
- Bleached spots
- Ragged leaves
- Dried edges on leaves
- Wilting leaves
Heat and Cold Stress
Plants can start to wilt in excessive heat; severe or frequent wilting causes plants to burn under the sun, as the leaf tissues have low water pressure. Keeping the soil consistently moist can help to minimise the wilting, and wilt-prone plants should be placed in the shade.
Cold damage often also manifests in part due to soil and leaf moisture. When frozen, the water in cells will swell and burst the tissues. These tissues will either absorb water very poorly or won’t be able to absorb water all.
Nutrient Deficiencies and pH Level
When the soil doesn’t provide plants with enough nutrients right after planting, plants will often show symptoms of stress. Similarly, when nutrients are depleted from the soil, established plants will also suffer from stress.
Should major nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and more be lacking, flowering and fruiting can be affected alongside plant growth. Tomatoes will suffer from blossom-end rot due to calcium deficiency. An iron deficiency can lead plants to suffer chlorosis, which translates to yellowish or pale foliage.
Plant metabolisms can have specific needs, such as a balanced pH level in the soil. The pH level will also affect nutrient availability to plants; these need, on average, a pH level of between 4.5 and 6.0 in the soil so that roots can both access and process nutrients.
Drought and Overwatering
Plant cells have to expend greater energy when the soil is too dry so they can draw in water. Should plants remain in a prolonged drought, the roots might wither and make impossible for water to be drawn. This will then progress to the stem drooping as the plants’ tissues collapse.
Overwatering also causes as many problems, as plant roots need both oxygen and water to be trapped within tiny air spaces in the soil to be able to absorb nutrients. Chronically wet soil will lead to oxygen deficiencies and make impossible for plants to process nutrients.
Preventing Plant Stress
- Make sure to remove dead leaves regularly and avoid breaking plant stems.
- Provide adequate CO2 levels so plants can photosynthesise.
- Prevent mould and pests, making sure to deal with them as soon as you notice them. A stressed plant will be even more susceptible to pests and disease.
- Maintain constant and stable temperature, water, and pH levels.
- Maintain balanced nutrient levels.
- Provide proper temperature, ventilation, humidity, and light intensity to plants.
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