Token Grow

The Elements Of Plant Nutrition

Think plant nutrition is a complex subject? We’d like to put that myth to rest.

Understanding plant nutrition doesn't have to be difficult....

The basics of plant nutrition are easy to understand when you know the simple truth. At Token Grow, we believe that the more you understand about the basics, the better crop you can enjoy – and the more you’ll appreciate our high-quality fertilizer formulas. Getting top-of-the-line harvests doesn’t have to break the bank, and it doesn’t have to stay a mystery.

The Elements of Plant Nutrition

Plants need specific nutrients for healthy growth, in the same way that humans do. There are 17 essential plant nutrients. By essential, we mean plants must have these elements in order to live. All nutrient elements work together in proportion to one another. When one is missing or in short supply, it affects the plant’s ability to use all the rest. Plants need some of the essentials in major quantities and other elements in small amounts, but every one of the 17 is equally vital to your plant’s health.

Of the 17 essential plant nutrients, three of those come from water and air: carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O2). Plants depend on soil or fertilizer for the other 14 elements. Those 14 elements fall into three categories, based on the amounts plants need:

Primary macronutrients

Primary macronutrients are those three elements that plants need in the largest amounts. The Big Three are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Because plants need more of these than other nutrients, they constitute the main ingredients in fertilizers. The three numbers you see on your Token Grow labels are the percentages of these three elements found in those products. Together, they form what’s known as the “NPK ratio,” named after their chemical element symbols. Every legitimate fertilizer product has the NPK ratio clearly displayed so you can compare products. The numbers always stand for these three primary nutrients, always in the same order. Our All-Purpose Fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 7-9-9. This means the product contains 7% nitrogen, 9% phosphorus and 9% potassium, in addition to its other beneficial ingredients.

Secondary macronutrients

Secondary macronutrients are needed in smaller quantities than the Big Three, but plants need larger amounts of these three nutrients than the remaining essentials. Calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S) are the secondary plant macronutrients.


Micronutrients are just as essential to healthy plant growth as macronutrients, but plants only need them in small amounts. Boron (B), chlorine (Cl), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn) make up the eight plant-essential microelements.

Primary Plant Macronutrients

Nitrogen and Its Role

Plants require nitrogen in larger quantities than any other single nutrient. Nitrogen stimulates plant growth, shortens the time to maturity, increases quality and size of leaves, and promotes seed and fruit development. Plants require nitrogen for every one of their metabolic processes. This includes photosynthesis, when plants utilize light to create energy and food. Nitrogen also impacts a plant’s ability to use water efficiently.

Because plants use high amounts of nitrogen, it needs frequent replacement. This is especially true if you’re growing in containers. Nitrogen moves with water through soil to reach plant roots, but it also moves with water through containers. When water comes through the drainage holes on a container-grown plant, it’s taking nitrogen with it. That’s one reason why having the right nitrogen fertilizer for your crop is so important.

When nitrogen is in short supply, photosynthesis slows down, and tell-tale yellow leaves show you chlorophyll is missing. Nitrogen moves easily in plant tissue, like it does in soil. When nutrients are in short supply, plant parts farthest from the main pathways run out first. When this happens with nitrogen, and new leaves and buds don’t have what they need, nitrogen moves through plants to supply those areas. Because of this, nitrogen deficiencies show up first as yellowing of the old, bottom leaves that sacrificed their nitrogen for new growth.

Plants respond quickly to added nitrogen when it’s in a form optimal for plant use, like our Token Grow nitrogen. Without sufficient nitrogen, your plants will be stunted, yellow or pale, and deliver low yields. However, too much nitrogen can be as bad as too little, so the balance is important. Too much nitrogen promotes excessive growth, weakens stems and focuses plant energies away from buds and blooms.

Phosphorus and Growth

Normal plant growth depends on the right balance of phosphorus in your growing medium. Many metabolic processes in plants can’t occur without it. Proper phosphorus levels improve seed germination and early seedling growth, increase root development and stem strength, speed maturity, stimulate bud set and enhance flower and seed formation.

Unlike nitrogen, phosphorus doesn’t move readily through soil. To meet roots, you need to put phosphorus where roots are. Once there, it’s fairly immobile in soil and stays where it’s put until plants use it. By using fertilizers that deliver phosphorus in the right form and quantities, timely applications boost buds right when they need it most. Phosphorus is highly mobile in plant tissue. As buds develop, phosphorus moves from older tissue to support that active fruiting growth.

Phosphorus is sensitive to soil pH and temperature, more than any other nutrient element. When pH is at extremes – high or low – or when soil is cold, phosphorus becomes unavailable to plants, even when it’s present in large amounts. Phosphorus deficiencies, whether due to pH, cold or lack of fertilizer, often show up as a reddish purple tint on the tips and edges of leaves. Bud set drops significantly when phosphorus is in short supply. Plants respond well to phosphorus fertilizers applied at the right time and place, in forms that plants can use, such as those in our Token Grow formulas.

Potassium and Plants

Like nitrogen, potassium is essential for photosynthesis. It also is the nutrient behind well-hydrated leaves, strong stems and roots, and improved disease and drought resistance. Potassium also supports bud firmness, shape, size and taste, and the oil content in your crops. Many of the metabolic processes for growth, fruit and seed development rely heavily on adequate potassium. It’s an all-round growth enhancer.

When potassium is in low supply, leaf edges and tips lose their color and turn yellow. This starts with the lowest leaves and moves up the plant. Potassium-deficient plants are more susceptible to stress, disease and pests. Symptoms include stunted or distorted growth, weak stems, scorched leaves and poor yields. Using the right fertilizer up front prevents potassium deficiencies from happening.

Major Secondary Nutrients in Token Grow

Calcium and Crops

Without calcium, plants can’t utilize nitrogen effectively. Cell walls, new growing points and root tips all rely on calcium for proper growth. Though it moves through and out of soil with water, calcium stays immobile in plant tissues. Concentrated in the oldest, lowest leaves, it serves as a foundation for other plant processes.

Calcium deficiencies show up in areas of new growth, such as branch tips, young leaves, roots and buds. Deficient plants have stunted root growth, and buds may stop developing or fall off. When calcium is low, plants can suffer nitrogen deficiencies – even if nitrogen is abundant. That’s why calcium, in quantities your crops need, is a main ingredient in Token Grow.

Magnesium’s Central Role

Magnesium has a very special place in plant nutrition. It’s the only essential element that is actually a part of the chlorophyll molecule itself. Without proper magnesium levels, photosynthesis doesn’t just slow down, it stops. Magnesium also impacts the plant’s ability to use all the other essential nutrients – particularly phosphorus – and for plant energy to move through plant tissue. Magnesium stays mobile within plants, moving from old tissue to important growing points.

When magnesium is limited, leaf veins stay green, but the tissue between the veins turns yellow. The oldest, lowest leaves show symptoms first, before yellowing moves up the plant. Leaves may turn reddish as well, and spots of tissue begin to brown and die. Once this happens, your leaves are a loss. That’s another reason that magnesium earns a prime spot in Token Grow. We want to prevent deficiencies before they start.

In addition to these primary and major secondary essentials, Token Grow formulas provide the elements you need in the quantity and quality you need them. Our All-Purpose Fertilizer provides the complete, balanced nutrition needed to sustain proper growth. Our Growth Fertilizer and Bloom Fertilizer formulas give the added edge you need during vegetative and blooming growth stages.

No mysteries, no hype, no guesswork. Just the simple truth. High-quality, natural-based fertilizers from Token Grow deliver the essential nutrients your plants need in a form that’s easy to use – for you and your plants. We’ve done the research for you. Just add water and enjoy!

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