If you want to grow bigger and healthier plants, it’s essential to learn what stimulates root growth. Roots not only anchor plants in place, but they also help plants take up water and nutrients.
Sure, plants will grow roots on their own. But you can boost root and plant health to another level by using products that enhance root growth.
In this article, I’m going to cover how plants take up nutrients, the role roots play in nutrient uptake, and how you can increase root growth and therefore nutrient uptake.
How Do Plants Get Nutrients/How Do Plants Uptake Nutrients?
By now, you know plants need nutrients to survive and thrive. But how do plants get these nutrients?
If plants are growing in soil, they can take up nutrients that are already present in the soil as well as those applied in fertilizers. However, if plants are growing in a hydroponic system or low-nutrient soil, they rely on grower supplied nutrients.
No matter where these nutrients come from, plants eventually take up these vital elements through their roots. More specifically, nutrient uptake occurs in the rhizosphere, the area surrounding the root.
While this may sound simple, it’s actually a bit more complex. Not all nutrients are in forms that are available to plants. And roots can’t always reach the nutrients that are present in soil or solution.
Wondering about the nitty, gritty details of nutrient uptake? Then keep reading.
What are the Different Plant Nutrient Uptake Mechanisms?
While plants take up all nutrients (except for carbon and oxygen which they take in via photosynthesis) through their roots, they use a variety of means to do so. It’s not as simple as plants sucking up fertilizer as soon as you apply it.
There are three main mechanisms for nutrient uptake:
- Direct uptake from the soil
- Symbiotic relationship with soil microorganisms
- Mycorrhizal interactions
Some nutrients can enter plants through multiple mechanisms, while others mainly rely on one mechanism. Therefore, it’s important to understand all three. So, let’s dig into some details about these mechanisms.
Direct uptake from the soil
When nutrients are available in the soil in a plant-available form, plants can directly take up these nutrients. However, before the roots can use these nutrients, they must make their way to the roots!
Nutrients reach the roots in three main ways.
The first way is root interception. In soil-based systems, some nutrients are held in aggregates – small particles of organic matter, sand, silt, and clay. When root hairs come into contact with these aggregates, they can take up the nutrients. This is an important uptake method for calcium and magnesium.
The second way is via diffusion. Diffusion means that nutrients move from areas of high concentration to low concentration.
Since plants take up nutrients, there is often a low concentration of nutrients in the plant’s root zone. Therefore, nutrients continue to move from areas of high concentration towards the areas of low concentration plant’s roots. This method is important for many nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
The third and final way is via mass flow. As plants take up water, they also take up nutrients that are in solution in the water. These include the negatively charged elements of nitrogen, sulfur, and boron.
Symbiotic relationship with soil microorganisms
As you’ve read above, plants can often take up nutrients all by themselves. But sometimes, they need a little help.
Just because nutrients are in soil, they aren’t necessarily available to plants. This is often the case with nitrogen.
To help with this problem, plants form symbiotic relationships with bacteria. The bacteria convert the nutrients into a form the plants can use and the plants give the bacteria organic acids.
While these beneficial bacteria may naturally exist in the soil, you can also apply them by using a product such as Amplify.
Just as plants form relationships with bacteria, they also form relationships with fungi. However, these relationships are a bit different.
The majority of species of plants form relationships with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. These fungi act to expand the roots’ reach, allowing the plant to uptake nutrients located beyond the range of the roots.
Imagine you’re trying to reach an apple on a tree. It’s just above your reach, but you are able to knock it out of the tree and into your hands by using a stick. AM fungi are like the stick; they help a plant reach nutrients it can’t reach by itself.
What is the Root Zone Process?
As you’ve learned, plants take up nutrients via their roots. The root zone process is when nutrients move into the rhizosphere and the roots take up the nutrients.
How to Promote Root Growth
Since roots are so important for nutrient uptake, it makes sense that you want a big root system. The more roots, the better plants can take up nutrients.
But how do you promote root growth?
First off, make sure you provide the proper environment for plants. If your plants are too hot or cold, in drought conditions, or not getting enough light, they won’t grow well.
Next, make sure you supply plants with an adequate supply of quality nutrients. Although roots help take up nutrients, roots also rely on nutrients to grow!
After you’ve provided the proper growing environment and nutrients, you can promote root grow by using a product that enhances root growth.
Root Enhancers for Plants
Root enhancers are products that boost root growth. They’re not fertilizers, but rather biostimulants. Most root enhancers contain a blend of beneficial bacteria and fungi. Therefore, you can say they’re a type of microbial inoculant.
We’ll get into the details of root enhancers and beneficial microorganisms below. But to put it simply, root enhancers drastically improve root growth and therefore nutrient uptake.
What are Beneficial Soil Microbes?
So, we know that root enhancers contain beneficial microbes. But what are these microbes?
Beneficial soil microbes generally fall under two main categories: bacteria and fungi. Within each of these categories, there are various species of beneficial microbes.
Some commonly applied beneficial fungi include Trichoderma hazarium and various arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Species like T. hazarium help protect plants against harmful fungi and AM fungi help plants take up water and nutrients.
Some beneficial bacteria include Aztobacter vinelandii, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Bacillus subtilis, and Nitrosomonas Europaea. We’ll explain what these species do below.
How Do Bacteria Help Plants Grow?
Beneficial bacteria help plants grow in the following ways:
- Convert nutrients into forms plants can take up
- Protect plants from harmful microorganisms
- Help plants take up nutrients
- Remove toxic chemicals from the soil
- Improve soil structure by forming aggregates
- Increase soil aeration and drainage
- Boost plant growth
Since they provide so many benefits, it’s no wonder you want to add bacteria to your plants.
Which Organisms Transform Nitrogen to a Form that is Useful to Plants?
In case you don’t know, nitrogen is one of the three macronutrients plants require. This means that plants need a lot of nitrogen!
Unfortunately, nitrogen isn’t always in a form that plants can take up. But don’t worry, bacteria can help!
Certain species of bacteria convert ammonium to nitrate, which is easily taken up by plants. This process is known as nitrification.
Do Growers Use Beneficial Bacteria in Hydroponics?
Yes! Or if they’re not, they probably should.
Beneficial bacteria provide just as many benefits in hydroponic systems as they do in soil-based systems. When you apply theses microbes, you’ll notice increased root growth, faster vegetative growth, and higher yields.
Just because you’re growing solution doesn’t mean your plants won’t benefit from a dose of microbes.
Best Root Enhancer
Now that you’ve learned all about how plants take up nutrients and how microbes can help in this process, it’s time to learn about how to choose a great product.
The best root enhancer contains multiple species of microorganisms that colonize roots. By including a variety of microorganisms, your plants will receive multiple benefits.
To show you why Amplify is such a great root enhancer, let’s introduce you to some of the microbes it contains.
Azotobacter vinelandii is a free-living bacteria that is a nitrogen-fixing star. It takes nitrogen gas from the atmosphere and converts it into a plant-available form. Even more, it helps produce plant growth regulating hormones like auxins and cytokinins.
Bacillus subtilis protects plants from dangerous microbes such as viruses and bacteria. B. subtilis releases compounds that attack these harmful microbes, and it also helps strengthen plants so they can better fight back. Even more, it helps plants take up phosphorus.
Nitrosomonas europaea is a pro at converting ammonium into nitrate –the form of nitrogen that plants can easily take up. It can survive in hostile environments and also help remediate soil.
Pseudomonas fluorescens thrives in the rhizosphere – the area around a plant’s roots. Once this bacterium takes hold in the rhizosphere, it starts producing compounds that compete against harmful microbes. It’s a superhero in the soil. Additionally, P. fluorescens produces compounds that promote plant growth.
Glomus intraradices is a type of arbuscular fungi. If you remember from above, these fungi help extends a root’s reach so a plant can take up nutrients that are located beyond the roots.
When you put the benefits of these five microbes together, you can see why Amplify is so good at increasing root growth and nutrient uptake! Even more, this root enhancer contains good microbes besides these five.
As a whole, Amplify converts nitrogen, potassium, and micronutrients into forms that plants can take up. It also helps protect plants from harmful soil organisms. And it increases the root surface area, allowing plants to reach more nutrients.
Best Nutrients for Root Growth
By now, you should realize that using a root enhancer will dramatically increase your plants’ root growth and nutrient uptake. And you know that Amplify is packed full of beneficial microbes.
But what nutrients do you need to make sure your plants roots have what they need to grow?
While you should apply a balance of both macronutrients and micronutrients for overall plant health, some nutrients, such as phosphorus and potassium, are extra important for root growth.
Best Nutes for Soil
When you’re choosing nutrients, make sure to take into account what stage of growth your plant is in. Plants require different amounts of different nutrients during their vegetative, flowering, and fruiting stages.
If you’re applying organic nutrients to your soils, remember that not all nutrients will be in plant-available forms. Therefore, it’s extra important to make sure the soil is biologically active.
When you apply a root enhancer and you’ll ensure maximum nutrient uptake! And this means spending less money on nutrients in the long run.
Best Organic Nutrient Line
The best organic nutrient line provides a variety of products suited for vegetative growth, flowering, and more. High-quality nutrient lines not only provide the macronutrients N, P, and K, but also vital micronutrients including magnesium and calcium.
Another thing to look for in nutrient lines is a low amount of toxic heavy metals. We love that Green House Feeding products contain very few impurities and heavy metals.
Now that you better understand nutrient uptake and the importance of healthy roots for proper uptake, it’s time to optimize root growth in your plants.
Don’t waste any time adding a root enhancer to your routine. But don’t just choose any product. Pick one that contains a variety of microbes to give your plants all the possible benefits.
Amplify contains both beneficial bacteria and fungi that act together to create a super product. When you apply this enhancer to your plants, you’ll have bigger roots, stronger plants, and increased nutrient costs.