When our plants are looking unhappy, we immediately suspect they’ve been attacked by a pest or disease. It is, of course, important to rule out such problems but, if leaves are discoloured or distorted and you can’t see an obvious cause, it’s also possible that the problem is caused by a nutrient deficiency.
What is a nutrient deficiency?
Plants must be able to obtain about a dozen nutrients that are found in the soil. The three they require in the largest amounts are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Calcium, magnesium and sulfur are needed in slightly lesser quantities and the so-called ‘trace elements’ – iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, molybdenum – in even smaller amounts. But each nutrient is essential and if just one is lacking the plant will grow poorly.