Plants, like animals, need nutrients to survive. Since they lack mouths, you may be asking, “where do trees get their nutrients?” A process called photosynthesis converts acquired nutrients to fuel for trees, but first the trees must get those nutrients in the first place.
Let’s discuss what happens in the background to help a tree grow.
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What Nutrients Do Plants Need?
Though exact plant needs vary depending on species, most plants need three primary nutrients to survive: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. Plants cannot survive without all three of these nutrients.
However, trees need more than just three nutrients to sustain normal growth and survive. They require 17 macronutrients (essential building blocks of crucial cellular components) and micronutrients.
Where Do Trees Get Their Nutrients?
Trees get their nutrients from three primary sources: air, water, and soil. They get hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen from the air and water around them. The remaining essential nutrients come from the soil. Ensuring that your tree has all the essential plant nutrients it needs throughout the year encourages it to grow faster and more robust.
How Trees Make Their Own Food
Trees use carbon dioxide (from the air), water (from the roots), and energy from sunlight to make their own food through photosynthesis, creating sugar that fuels the rest of the tree. They transport water from the roots to the leaves through xylem cells and sugar back to the rest of the tree through phloem cells.
Trees also convert sugar into starch for storage or immediate growth. The amount of food a tree can make through photosynthesis depends on the amount of water the roots absorb. Roots support photosynthesis while also relying on the sugar provided by the leaves to grow. As a result, trees must balance above and below-ground growth.
Restricting a root’s growing space or cutting it limits the amount of water the tree can transport to the leaves for photosynthesis. Likewise, topping or over-pruning a tree stunts its growth by slowing the photosynthesis process in the leaves.
What Happens After Photosynthesis?
You might know that trees take in carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis and release oxygen. While trees use carbon dioxide to process their own food, they also need oxygen to convert that food into energy.
To use starch for growth, a tree must process stored sugar back into energy through respiration. The plant combines sugar and oxygen during respiration to produce energy, water, and carbon dioxide. The plant can use the energy released to make new tissues.
With the explanation above, you can now answer the question, “where do trees get their nutrients?”
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