Plant Science with our Partners at Greg
We all know our plants need water, light, food, etc, but have you ever wondered why?
When we can better understand our plants we can provide them with the best care. Our partners over at Greg have put together some great infographics to help us better understand the science behind the care of our plants.
How does your plant use these things? They go through a process called Photosynthesis, which is the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis in plants generally involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct.
Your plants also use cellular respiration to consume energy. Cellular respiration is the process by which organisms combine oxygen with foodstuff molecules, diverting the chemical energy in these substances into life-sustaining activities and discarding, as waste products, carbon dioxide and water.
Light is one of the most significant needs and each plant has its own individual requirements. It is important to understand that light determines your plants growing potential.
It gets even more tricky to determine your plants light requirements because they will differ depending on what time of the year and which part of the globe you are located. You can see the differences in the infographics below.
All of this information is how the Greg app is able to help determine the best place in your home for your plant babies. The following is an example of how much light is in certain parts of a room.
The second most important energy source for your plants is water. Before we can understand how plants use water, we must understand the plant's parts.
The cuticle is a waxy, water-repellent layer that covers all of the above-ground areas of a plant. It is secreted by the epidermis, the outer layer of the plant, and covers up any holes or chinks between the cells. This waxy layer keeps all of the plant's valuable water inside where it belongs. Stomata are the specialized pores or openings present in the epidermis of plant cells, which play a crucial role in gaseous exchange during the process of photosynthesis.
In plants a network of tissues and fibers called the vascular system carries out this task.
The vascular system is comprised of two main types of tissue: the xylem and the phloem. The xylem distributes water and dissolved minerals upward through the plant, from the roots to the leaves. The phloem carries food downward from the leaves to the roots.
Now how does your plant use water as energy? You can think of your plant almost like a straw. Plants drink water through a process called osmosis. Osmosis is the movement of a liquid into a living thing, creating a balance of that liquid. For example, if a plant needs water it will use osmosis to pull water through the roots until it has enough water to photosynthesize, or make food.
Evapotranspiration is the water loss occurring from the processes of evaporation and transpiration. Evaporation occurs when water changes to vapor on either soil or plant surfaces. Transpiration refers to the water lost through the leaves of plants.
So now we know how our plants use water, but how can we tell when our plants need water? Here are a few things to check:
Soil is another important factor in your plants health because soil helps anchor plants and provides them essential elements of water and nutrients.
Each plant has different nutrient requirements. If there are not enough nutrients in the soil you can always add more with a fertilzer. Most fertilizer packages list the three main plant nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It will look like N-P-K on the package. Nitrogen is important for leaf growth. With too much nitrogen, some plants will not flower; too little and plants may have pale-green or yellowish older leaves.
Phosphorus encourages good blooming and root development. Too little phosphorus will cause stunted plant growth and purplish younger leaves. Potassium is directly involved in photosynthesis and it encourages disease resistance as well as sturdy stems. Without enough potassium, a plant may have yellowish or spotted older leaves.
It is important to note that there are different types of soil. Soil can be categorized into sand, clay, silt, peat, chalk and loam types of soil based on the dominating size of the particles within a soil.
Each type of soil has its advantages and disadvantages for planting. The most relevant characteristic is how well the soil retains water and nutrients.
It is important to keep in mind the type of soil you are using as it can affect your watering schedule and what type of planter you should use.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into understanding our plants needs. This is why the Greg app is such a great tool for plant parents. They use all this plant science along with geographical information, weather, time of year, and placement in your home to determine the best way to care for your plants.