The Nutritional Needs of Trees

Most of us understand how important it is to eat a healthy diet.  We carefully choose the foods we eat in order to consume a balance of the nutrients we need.  Making healthy food choices is important to us because we know that our bodies need a variety of nutrients to function correctly.  This truth is a reality for all living creatures, including plants.  Just like humans, trees have nutritional requirements which must be met for healthy growth.  Read on to learn more about the nutritional needs of trees.

What Nutrients Do Trees Need?

You are probably familiar with the dietary needs of people, but what do you know about the nutrients trees need?  There are three categories of nutrients used by trees: macro nutrients, secondary nutrients, and micro nutrients.  Macro nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.  Trees need a substantial amount of these nutrients.  For this reason, these are the main nutrients contained in fertilizers.  Trees do not need as much of the secondary nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.  Finally, trees need very little of the micro nutrients, including iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and boron.

How Do Trees Get These Nutrients?

Trees are generally very self-sufficient.  Many trees survive without any help from anyone.  The incredible design of trees allows them to get the nutrients they need from their environment.  They create food for themselves from sunlight through the amazing process of photosynthesis.  Using their expansive root system, trees are also able to draw nutrients out of the soil.  When left undisturbed, nature provides much of what trees need.  Sometimes, however, our human intervention can cause deficiencies for trees.  In suburban neighborhoods, common practices, such as stripping off top soil and removing leaves in the fall, can upset the delicate balance of nature.

What Happens When Trees Are Deficient of Nutrients?

A tree is dependent on the soil in which it is planted for much of its nutrition.  It is hard to know what nutrients are contained in the soil of a particular area.  Thus, it is also difficult to discern whether a tree is getting what it needs.  It is important to look for outward signs that might indicate a deficiency.  Some of these signs include slower growth than expected; wilting, yellow, or discolored leaves; and sparse foliage.  While these symptoms are noticeable, there are other problems that are not so visible.  Trees that do not get the right nutrients will gradually become weaker.  When weakness occurs in a tree, that tree will become more susceptible to disease, pests, and even damage from weather events.

You may be wondering what role the application of fertilizer plays in correcting nutrient deficiencies.  It is true that the appropriate application of fertilizer will replace the nutrients that are missing in the soil.  However, care should be taken to evaluate what trees are actually missing before applying fertilizer.  Trees can also be harmed by an excessive amount of some nutrients too.  If you suspect your trees may be nutrient deficient, it is always a good idea to get the opinion of an experienced arborist.  The arborists at Ping’s are always available to conduct a thorough inspection of your trees.  We can then make recommendations or apply the needed fertilizer.  As experts in the science of tree care, we have the know-how to take care of all your tree needs.  Call us today at 317-298-8482 to set up an appointment or schedule online.