There are 17 elements essential to plant life, and nitrogen is one of the most important. This macro-nutrient has many functions for the plant and, because of its importance, is particularly well known and monitored in the agricultural and horticultural sectors. We will look at what these functions are, how the plant is affected by a deficiency and how to detect it. We’ll also look at the most common causes and how Atami’s products can be used to remedy these deficiencies, so don’t miss out!

A plant showing and advanced nitrogen deficiency
A plant showing and advanced nitrogen deficiency

Functions of Nitrogen

Nitrogen is a critical component for plant growth, particularly during the vegetative phase. It is absorbed by plants primarily in the forms of nitrate (NO3-) and ammonium (NH4+). Nitrogen plays a pivotal role in cell division and biomass production, promoting green, leafy growth. It is also fundamental in the synthesis of all proteins and enzymes within the plant.

One of the most vital functions of nitrogen is its involvement in photosynthesis. Plants use chlorophyll to capture light energy from the sun, converting carbon dioxide (CO2) into glucose. Chlorophyll production relies heavily on nitrogen; without sufficient chlorophyll, photosynthesis cannot occur, and plant growth is stunted.

How to Recognize the Symptoms of Nitrogen Deficiency

Early signs of nitrogen deficiency include yellowing of the older leaves, starting at tip and the edges of the leaf due to decreased chlorophyll production. As the deficiency progresses, these leaves turn brown, curl up, and eventually die. Since nitrogen is essential for plants to grow, a plant affected by a lack of it will also show stunted growth. However, fertilised plants rarely experience a deficiency, but if the plant nutrition management is not correct, an overabundance of nitrogen can lead to overly rapid growth, weak cell walls, and increased susceptibility to diseases.

Photo details of how the older leaves of the plant start to turn yellow, rising from the tip to the entire leaf
Photo details of how the older leaves of the plant start to turn yellow, rising from the tip to the entire leaf

Causes of Nitrogen Deficiency

Nitrogen deficiency can arise from several factors. Common causes include:

• Imbalance in soil nutrients, particularly low potassium, zinc, and manganese levels.
• Insufficient nitrogen in the substrate, often seen in outdoor soils with low organic matter where nitrogen can leach away.
• High pH levels in the root environment.
• Plant diseases, such as Fusarium, which affect nutrient absorption and transport.

How to Address Nitrogen Deficiency

To correct nitrogen deficiency, ensure that the soil or growing medium is balanced in all essential nutrients. Using high-quality plant nutrition and substrates typically prevents deficiencies. If a deficiency occurs, appropriate fertilization with nitrogen-rich fertilizers, like B’cuzz Soil A, ATA Terra Leaves or ATA NRG Upgrade, can help restore plant health.

Additionally, maintaining optimal pH levels and managing plant diseases are crucial steps in preventing future deficiencies. Mastering these key gardening practices, your plants will be healthier and more productive.


If you found this article useful, or if you want to know more about other nutrient deficiencies like potassium or phosphorus or more, be sure to visit this other blog on the same subject. Happy growing!

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