Plants normally get their nutrients from the soil in which they grow. While plants sometimes need fertilizer in order to have adequate nutrients, nutrients are especially important for plants that grow hydroponically. These are concentrated amounts of nutrients that are mixed into the water that the hydroponically grown plants rest in. Getting the right amount of nutrients is crucial because either having a lack of the proper nutrients or adding an excessive amount can harm and kill the plant.
Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients needed by plants and must always be a part of a hydroponics growing solution, according to Hydroponics B.C. Plants that lack nitrogen are not able to develop the chloroplast needed to adequately engage in photosynthesis. They develop weak stems that cause the plant to droop, and have a hard time developing adequate root systems.
Phosphorus is another important nutrient that must always be in the hydroponics growing solution. This mineral makes it possible for the plant to store energy. Plants that have a deficiency in this nutrient will turn yellow and slowly die.
Potassium is the last of the three most important nutrients. Plants that do not have potassium cannot create enzymes needed for the plant to grow. Seeds will be smaller and the stems of the plants will be very weak, according to Hydroponics B.C. Plants that do not have potassium will eventually die.
Plants are usually able to get calcium in soil, so calcium definitely needs to be added to hydroponic growing solutions in order to allow the plant to have strong cell walls. Without calcium, the plants will not develop fruit and the blossoms will fall off. Calcium-deficient plants will eventually wilt away.
Magnesium is necessary for the plant to engage in photosynthesis and produce chlorophyll. Without magnesium, the entire plant will wither and die, according to Hydroponics B.C.
Some plants need certain nutrients in small amounts in order to flourish, but the plants will die if they get excessive amounts of these nutrients. Too much sulfur will make make plants salty, which will cause them to wilt. Too much iron can cause the plant to develop brown spots on the leaves. Large amounts of manganese, boron and cobalt will definitely kill the plant.
Excessive copper and molybdenum makes it difficult for the plant to absorb iron, which the plant needs in order to create enzymes and engage in photosynthesis. Zinc and chlorine can cause the plant to wilt.