What Makes Plants Grow: Plant Growing Needs
Plants are everywhere around us, but how do plants grow and what makes plants grow? There are many things plants need to grow such as water, nutrients, air, water, light, temperature, space, and time.
What Plants Need to Grow
Let’s take a look at the most important factors for growing healthy plants.
Water and Nutrients
Like humans and animals, plants need both water and nutrients (food) to survive. Most all plants use water to carry moisture and nutrients back and forth between the roots and leaves. Water, as well as nutrients, is normally taken up through the roots from the soil. This is why it’s important to water plants when the soil becomes dry.
Fertilizer also provides plants with nutrients and is usually given to plants when watering. The most important nutrients for plants growing needs are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Nitrogen is necessary for making green leaves, phosphorus is needed for making big flowers and strong roots, and potassium helps the plants fight off disease.
Too little or too much water or nutrients can also be harmful.
Air and Soil
What helps plants grow besides water and nutrients? Fresh, clean air and healthy soil. Dirty air caused by smoke, gases, and other pollutants can be harmful to plants, limiting their ability to take in carbon dioxide from the air for making food (photosynthesis). It can also block out sunlight, which is also necessary for healthy plant growth.
Healthy soil is extremely vital to plants. In addition to essential nutrients found in soil (from organic matter and micro-organisms), soil provides an anchor for plant roots and helps support the plants.
Light and Temperature
Plants also need sunlight to grow. Light is used as energy for making food, a process called photosynthesis. Too little light can make plants weak and leggy looking. They will also have fewer flowers and fruits.
Temperature is important too. Most plants prefer cooler nighttime temps and warmer daytime temperatures. Too hot and they may burn, too cold and they will freeze.
Space and Time
Space is yet another factor to consider when growing plants. Both the roots and foliage (leaves) need room to grow. Without enough room, plants can become stunted or too small. Overcrowded plants are also more likely to suffer from diseases since airflow may be limited.
Finally, plants require time. They do not grow overnight. It takes time and patience to grow plants, some more so than others. Most plants require a particular number of days, months, or even years to produce flowers and fruit.
If you remember your science class in school, you might recollect learning how plants use sunlight to perform photosynthesis – the process through which they synthesis nutrients and make ‘food’. This food, essentially sugars, provides it with the energy required to grow. When you deprive plants of sunlight, you are basically forcing them to observe a fast. Their leaves might die and their stems could grow leggy as they stretch themselves to search for the elusive sunlight. Such plants would also have fewer fruits and flowers. However, most plants do not require all-day exposure to sun in fact, over-exposure to sun may burn their leaves. So make sure you regulate the amount of sunlight you expose your plants to.
The most commonly grown hydrangeas used to be the bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) and mountain hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata). Both are deciduous shrubs, native to seacoasts and mountain valleys in Japan, and they are categorized by the shape of their flowers. Mopheads (sometimes called hortensias) have large, round flower clusters in contrast, lacecaps bloom in flat, delicate clusters.
Most hydrangeas adapt to a wide range of growing conditions. They are hardy from USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9. As long as they are planted in well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter, they should grow well.
Too much shade can reduce hydrangeas' flower output. Hydrangeas do well in the partial shade provided by tall deciduous trees, especially if they receive morning sun and the partial shade is in the heat of the afternoon. They will also thrive in full sun but may need extra water on hot summer days (bigleaf hydrangeas do particularly well in full sun in coastal areas once they are established).
One of the perks of growing hydrangeas is being able to change their color. Although somewhat determined by cultivar, color can be changed or "tweaked" by the amount of aluminum in the soil and the soil pH. The soil pH determines how available aluminum is to the plant. Acidic soil (aluminum available to the plants) will give you blue flowers, and alkaline soil (aluminum unavailable to the plants) will give you pink flowers.
To decrease the acidity of your soil and change flowers from blue to pink, add hydrated lime to your soil in the spring. To increase the acidity of the soil (to change flowers from pink to blue), add aluminum sulfate to your soil in the spring or mulch with oak-leaf mulch.
Regular water is vital for healthy plants. Hydrangeas benefit from one inch of water a week during summer (unless it rains). Bigleaf hydrangeas in full sun may need up to two inches during the hottest summer days.
Temperature and Humidity
In areas with bitterly cold winters, dieback, a plant dying from the tips of its leaves inward, can be a problem. Protect your hydrangeas from cold winds by planting them in a sheltered spot or with a burlap windscreen or a burlap frame filled with dry leaves. It may sound counter-intuitive, but a north- or east-facing site, where temperatures remain somewhat constant is a better choice than a spot on the south and west side of your property, which will heat up in the winter sun and may cause hydrangea buds to open prematurely, leaving them vulnerable to cold snaps.
If hydrangeas are given too much high-nitrogen fertilizer, they may grow full and lush, but there will be fewer flowers. If the soil is rich, fertilizer is not needed. Otherwise, a light application in March or April may be warranted.
Easy to grow greenhouse fruits
The extra warmth of a greenhouse lets you grow your favorite fruits all year round. Set your goals, wait for the satisfying results, and enjoy your gardening experience.
Tomatoes in a Riga Greenhouse
It is easy to plant tomatoes outdoors and even easier in a greenhouse! Nothing beats a year-round supply of organic tomatoes. For starters, choose a variety that is immune to diseases like fusarium and verticillium.
Tomatoes are heat-loving plants that cannot stand the freezing weather. Inadequate light can lead to pale and frail plants. There are a lot of varieties to choose from. Choosing the best variety can be a tough task. Decide on the type of tomatoes you want. Consider the size of the full-grown tomatoes depending on your planned garden.
Make sure to plant your seeds in a soil that has proper drainage. The soil should be moistened but not immersed in water. The best temperature is around 70°F to 75°F. Place one seedling per pot for a strong and healthy tomato plant. Do not hesitate to thin the plant, because it has to be done. Start fertilizing once you see the second set of true leaves.
Organic tomatoes are healthier with greater levels of Lycopene. Lycopene helps to unclog obstructed arteries. It is also good for the heart. Another reward with growing your own tomatoes is the astounding diversity of size, shape, color, and flavor.
Strawberry is one of the most common greenhouse fruits in the country. Greenhouse-grown strawberries taste better than those bought from a supermarket. Planting them inside a greenhouse also lessen pest and disease damage. You may also want to bring bumblebees into your greenhouse for better pollination. You can also use VegiBee garden rechargeable pollinator. Make sure to buy disease-free seedlings from reliable nursery stores. Growing strawberries doesn’t have to involve so many activities. Just make sure to follow the easy steps on growing it.
Plant strawberries in pots packed with soil high in organic material. They need well-draining soil. Mulch to control the soil temperature. Drip irrigation is necessary because they have shallow roots. Sprinkling them from above may result from pests and diseases.
Make sure to keep a healthy and clean greenhouse all the time. Be alert for any indications of pests and diseases to prevent difficulties from worsening. Strawberries are also prone to verticillium wilt. You can stop this from happening by buying varieties in accredited stores. Put them away from other plants especially tomatoes.
Raspberries can be grown in a greenhouse at any time of the year. They are easy to grow and can produce fruit regularly. Primocane bears flowers and fruits in the same year. They are capable of fruiting in their very first year of maturity. Floricanes have stems that develop for a year before producing fruit and flowers. They are usually the summer fruiting types.
They don’t need additional lights and they develop properly in nearly cool conditions. A greenhouse temperature of 70°F is excellent for growth. Buy raspberry canes from a reliable garden supplier. Install a drip irrigation system for potted raspberries because overhead watering can cause rot.
The harvest season lasts between 8 and 10 weeks. Don’t keep them for long. You may try freezing some for later use. Scatter them on a tray and place them in the freezer. Transfer them into freezer bags once frozen.
Is the cucumber a fruit or a vegetable? It is a little bit tricky, right? But based on science, it is a fruit.
Planting cucumbers can be a bumper crop in your greenhouse. Be sure you propagate cucumbers in peat pots, not in flats. Their cucurbit root systems must not be obstructed.
There are a couple of ways for training vines when raising in a greenhouse. First is the triple stem training method. All suckers are taken off the developing creeper up to the head of the trellis. The other approach is the lateral growth training. Each sucker is pinched off for the first 4 to 5 fruit sets.
A few pests and diseases might risk your cucumbers’ growth. The spider mites are microscopic. You will see them webbing the stem and leaf. Insecticidal soap can help reduce their populations.
Cucumbers grow fast. Never let them become too big because it will taste bitter. Harvest every two days. Keep picking. Because they will stop producing as they mature.
Have fun gardening with easy to grow pepper varieties. Peppers are colorful plants. The variety of shapes and sizes is one of the best aspects of your greenhouse. The distinct flavors varying from light and sweet to eye-watering spicy. It is something to satisfy everyone‘s taste among different varieties ready from seeds.
Peppers need a fairly long growing period to give the best results of sweetness or spiciness. Pack your seed tray and water the soil with fertilizer before scattering your seeds on its surface. Once they are well-established, the roots will begin to stretch in the cells. This is the right time to transplant them into pots. They don’t expect pinching or training. When they start to flower, the stems will manage to branch out naturally.
Always watch for colonies of aphids on leaves. They suck the sap and secrete sticky honeydew. This will promote the increase of black molds. Use your fingers to squish these colonies or apply biological control. Dark spots may develop on the ends. Water regularly and not intermittently. Do not let your soil dry out.
Harvest peppers as soon as they reach the right size. Fully grown peppers are the most nutritious and tastiest. Picking them regularly will stimulate more fruits. It is better to use a sharp knife or scissors so that they won’t be easily damaged when cutting it.
Cherries are one of those fruits that can be planted in a greenhouse. Potted cherries take up smaller greenhouse place and are movable. Cherry species that do not need cross-pollination are one of the easiest to grow.
They would fruit as they would outdoors with the right combination of soil, temperature, water, and nutrients. Fertilize your cherry trees once a year. Be sure your greenhouse is well ventilated. Keep the temperature from rising quickly especially in summer. Prune it lightly using scissors. Remove every broken or dead branch. Prevent diseases by implementing good airflow, pruning, and thorough cleaning. Do not leave the leaves or aged fruits on the ground.
We know that you are excited to harvest your cherries but you need a lot of patience. Harvesting them too soon may result in ruining your fruit. It will take up to 3 years to produce proper fruits.
Growing cantaloupe or muskmelon in a greenhouse is so satisfying. The answer is lots of moisture, sunshine, and warmth. If you have a small space, its vines can be trained using a trellis. They love loamy and well-drained soil. They also need pollination to produce fruit. Bees can help!
Thinning lessens the competition for space, nutrients, and water, to provide healthy growth. Companion planting is one of your best defense from pests. Try planting dill to ward off these bugs. Inspect your vines at least twice a week.
A crack in the stem where the fruit is attached is a sign that your melon is already ripe. This sun-ripened fruit is packed with antioxidants and vitamin C into every bite. It perfectly blends great flavor with great nourishment.
You are right! You don’t need a vineyard to grow your own yummy grapes. They are not really as demanding to grow as they seem. It only takes a little attention to watering, training, fertilizing, and pruning. It is achievable to produce a stable crop year after year.
Greenhouse vines need to be planted at the opposite edge to the door. Then the stems trained on the side of the greenhouse alongside the ridge of the roof and moving close to the door. For bigger greenhouses, you can start it with the root outside, or inside. Water them every 7 to 10 days throughout the growing period.
Greenhouse grapes may need a little help with pollination when the vine develops into flower. Remove these curly tendrils as they appear. They will just get tangled up with the fruits. Leave the vines scrambled rather than adhering to your pruning and training course.
You can even increase your possibilities of getting a good harvest. One vine is enough to grow in a tub for small greenhouses.
Chilies may seem like a veggie but it is surprisingly not. They are clearly a fruit. The secret to an abundant harvest of chilies is a long and hot growing period. This is the reason why they are famously nurtured in a greenhouse.
The germination is normally from a week to 10 days. Pick the main stalk when it reaches about 11 to 15 inches high to promote a lot of side shoots to progress. They love water but make sure not to drown them. There are times that whiteflies may bother them. They are normally caught from another plant like tomatoes. Use yellow sticky cards to manage minor infestations.
Use scissors or a sharpened knife to pick green or red chilies. However, some variations of chilies will not go red in certain environments. You can harvest them green and they will turn red. But they will appear wrinkled and dry out. It is better to leave them on the plant until needed.
Lemons are pretty simple to grow considering they need little attention once planted. It will thrive if the moisture, lighting and temperature conditions have adhered. Think of the dwarf varieties that are well-suited to containers. This allows a lot of gardeners everywhere to appreciate the privileges of homegrown lemon trees.
Lemon trees grow best in an inside a temperature-controlled greenhouse where it stays between 70°F to 90°F. Lemon trees need at least eight hours a day of sun to grow. But if you can provide 12, that will be best! They absolutely require intense daylight to induce flowers and have the energy to bear fruits.
Conduct a taste-test to decide if the fruit is sweet enough because skin color doesn’t mean ripeness. Lemons may be picked over several months. The conventional storage advice is to leave them on the tree until you are willing to consume it.