Plants rely on 13 mineral nutrients found in soil to survive and grow; therefore, the type of soil used for a plant directly affects its growth. If there are not enough nutrients in the soil for a plant to grow, it dies. This is why people fertilize soil by adding nutrients.
The 13 mineral nutrients dissolve in water, and plants can absorb them through their roots. The minerals are divided into two groups: macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients.
Macro-nutrients are either primary or secondary nutrients. Primary nutrients are nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. These are the nutrients plants use first for survival, often depleting the soil until they are reintroduced with fertilizer. The secondary nutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulfur. These nutrients are normally plentiful in soil, and fertilization is not needed.
Micro-nutrients are also essential for plant growth, but are needed in much smaller amounts than macro-nutrients. Micro-nutrients are also referred to as trace elements. Micro-nutrients are boron, copper, iron, chloride, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. Recycling glass clippings and leaves is one way to provide growing plants with needed micro-nutrients. Soil texture and acidity also influence plant growth.
Ideal soil is clay or organic soil, which holds nutrients much better than sandy soil. Acidity, or soil PH, is ideal at approximately 6 to 6.5, allowing optimal nutrient absorption.