A Description of the Macro Nutrients Required By Anthuriums
Besides carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, anthurium plants like virtually all other types of vegetation require thirteen elements to grow. Many of the elements are only necessary in trace quantities, but there are six elements that are required in larger quantities and thus are considered to be macro nutrients. They are: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (the NPK in NPK fertilizer) and calcium, magnesium and sulfur.
Nitrogen is an inert gas that makes up roughly 78% of the air we breathe. Can you believe that there is more nitrogen in the atmosphere than oxygen? Anyway nitrogen is very important to plants. It helps them to grow bigger, without it your plants will be stunted. But plants don’t use gaseous nitrogen they generally require it to be fixated or combined with other elements in order to be able to use it. Most of the time bacteria are responsible for fixing nitrogen.
Phosphorus in its pure form is highly reactive and very dangerous. Fortunately it is not found in this form naturally. It is very important to cell membranes. Without it cells in all plants and animals would die. Plants suck a lot of phosphorus out of the soil and so fertilizers contain large quantities of it. It governs the growth rate of plants and if it isn’t present, plants will cease growing. A slight deficiency will cause stunting of anthuriums, while a severe deficiency will cause necrosis of the foliage.
Potassium is quite similar to sodium and in elemental form it will liberate hydrogen gas when dropped in water. The heat generated by this reaction will then ignite the hydrogen. A lack of potassium will cause the leaves of your plant to turn yellow. If the deficiency is severe enough the yellow spots will eventually turn necrotic and the leaf will die.
Calcium is important for building strong bones and generating action potentials in nerve cells. Without it, we wouldn’t last very long. Calcium is also very important to plants. With calcium deficiencies we see many of the same problems as with magnesium deficiencies: chlorosis and necrosis. But calcium deficiencies may also cause irregular leaf borders to develop.
Magnesium is a light metal that is used in high end automobile and aircraft parts. It too is highly reactive with oxygen and can catch fire under the right conditions. It seems like we are seeing a pattern here with all of these metallic elements. A deficiency will result in chlorosis and eventually necrosis, so make sure your plant gets enough of this element too.
Sulfur, or brimstone, is the element associated with the devil in ancient times. But this “evil” element is quite important to us and to our plants. It is the seventh most abundant element in the body and it a very important part of all proteins. Sulfur is very important for repairing oxidative damage in the body and it is important to plants too. Without it, your plants will not grow well and will be stunted.
So there you have it. These are the essential macro nutrients that all anthurium plants require. Without them your plant will stop growing and producing flowers and may even die. So make sure that your anthurium gets all of these nutrients. And it probably is a good idea for you to get these nutrients too, but of course we have to get these nutrients from food, not from a bag of fertilizer.