These three numbers are absolutely everywhere in a plant nutrition store, and to the novice, they can seem daunting but fear not! The crew at PJ's is here to assist you. Here we will break it down into simple terms to help you pick just what you need for a healthy, beautiful grow. The numbers will always be in the same order and that will be Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).
Nitrogen is mainly responsible for a plant’s development during the vegetative stage of its life. It’s an essential part of chlorophyll and without it, a plant can’t turn sunlight into energy and it won’t be able to grow.
Nitrogen is also part of the amino acids that act as building blocks for proteins in a plant. Without the necessary proteins, your plants will be weak and frail. Nitrogen is also a part of ATP, which allows plant cells to control the use of energy.
Nitrogen is also necessary to create nucleic acid, an essential ingredient in DNA or RNA, and without it, cells won’t be able to grow and multiply.
Phosphorus - (P)
Phosphorus is important for producing large, healthy buds. The key role of this element is to help make nutrients available for the plant to uptake. These nutrients than are used to build the structure of the plant as it grows from the roots to the flowers.
Without adequate phosphorus, plants will show signs of undeveloped roots and might not even flower. Early signs of phosphorus deficiency shows up as a purple hue in the veins of leaves.
Potassium - (K)
Potassium has a number of jobs that largely help to regulate the systems that keep a plant healthy and growing. It plays a large role in osmoregulation, the passive regulation of water and salt concentrations in the plant. Potassium accomplishes this by controlling the opening and closing of the stomata which is how a plant exchanges CO2, H2O, and oxygen.
Potassium also triggers the production of ATP, which works to store energy produced in photosynthesis by creating glucose. This glucose is then used as energy for the plant as it grows. Without sufficient potassium, you will see weak plants starved for energy that appear burnt because they are unable to successfully regulate the exchange of CO2, H2O, and oxygen.
There are many micronutrients that we go into in other articles, but this will give you a good idea on the basics.