Factors That Cause Stunted Plant Growth
Factors such as pests, diseases and nutrient deficiencies can cause stunted plant growth.
First and foremost, eliminate pests and diseases. After that is done, you can address the underlying issue that is resulting in stunted plant growth.
Pests and Diseases
Plant growth can be severely stunted due to various pests, diseases and environmental elements. Examples include insects, fungi, bacteria and other organisms that feed on plants and can either stunt their progress or even destroy them entirely.
Genetic makeup plays a role in plant susceptibility to disease. A plant’s growth habit, cuticle thickness and stomatal shape may all influence its resistance against infection by certain diseases.
Many diseases are affected by environmental conditions, such as temperature, light and moisture levels. In some cases, these factors can exacerbate existing illnesses or even result in death.
Plant diseases are caused by pathogens, which are microscopic organisms that attack plant tissues and cause infections. Pathogens can spread via insects, water, soil, air or people.
Some diseases are caused by fungi, while others by viruses and other pathogens. When certain viruses replicate within plant cells, symptoms like yellowing and stunted growth may appear.
Some diseases can even kill plants, while others spread to nearby plants. These invasive pests and diseases cause massive destruction to crops and result in massive losses for farmers and consumers alike.
Some diseases can be difficult to diagnose and control, so it’s essential to catch them early. For instance, Early Blight is a fungal disease that causes bull’s-eye-shaped patterns on tomato, pepper, eggplant, and potato leaves as well as stem lesions and fruit rot. A copper fungicide can be used to prevent this infection.
Overwatering or Underwatering
Overwatering or underwatering a plant can result in stunted growth and may even cause disease, root rot, or even death.
Overwatering or under watering can occur in a variety of settings, but is especially common with outdoor plants growing in poor drainage soil. It also occurs with potted indoor plants.
Plant roots require oxygen to thrive and remain healthy, but in heavy or poorly drained soil it can be difficult to provide this vital element. Without oxygen, plants become deprived of essential nutrients and water sources.
When your plant reaches this stage, it usually wilts and drops its leaves. To distinguish this symptom from overwatering or underwatering and other signs such as dropping leaves or shriveled bottom leaves, take the necessary steps to save your plant.
Overwatered leaves may display yellowing or brownish hues, depending on how severe the issue. They may turn crisp and light brown within a few days depending on how well-watered it was previously.
Blisters or growths on the underside of leaves, particularly lower on the plant, can be indicative of overwatering. These blisters or growths occur when cells in the leaves burst and release excess water into the atmosphere.
You can tell if a plant is drowning or overwatered by looking at its leaves. Overwatered leaves will be soft and limp, while underwatered ones will be crisp and crunchy.
Gardeners often struggle with overwatering and underwatering, but you can help avoid it by keeping track of your plant’s watering schedule. Furthermore, avoid excessive heat or hot drafts as these will increase evaporation rates and transpiration, potentially increasing the likelihood of overwatering.
The temperature of a plant’s environment is an important factor in its ability to thrive. Most prefer moderate temperatures, while some species are more vulnerable to extreme heat or cold.
A higher temperature can restrict the amount of oxygen a plant can absorb through photosynthesis, as well as how much water can be stored in its roots. This could result in stunted growth and other issues.
Another factor that can hinder plant growth is nutrient deficiency. Plants require various essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium for proper growth; these minerals are crucial in cell development and metabolism.
If a plant lacks essential nutrients, it may exhibit yellowing leaves or stunted growth. To guarantee your plants get all the essential vitamins and minerals, select healthy plants and use high quality potting soil.
Potting soil has a major effect on seedling health, from its physical composition to its nutrient and chemical makeup. Utilizing an inappropriate type of potting mix can lead to root rot, overwatering, and other issues.
Potting mixes that drain poorly can create waterlogged soil. Furthermore, the plant’s ability to absorb water is affected by the amount of nutrients present in the mix.
It is also essential to monitor the soil temperature to make sure it is not too hot or too cold for your plants. Extreme temperatures can burn or cause roots to burn, while freezing temperatures damage their root systems and ultimately result in death.
Conversely, high temperatures can disrupt the balance between carbon dioxide absorption by photosynthesis and respiration in plants. While these processes are essential for healthy plant function, when temperatures reach uncomfortably high limits they become disrupted.
Nutrient deficiencies in plants can be a challenge for farmers and gardeners alike. They may arise due to various reasons, such as extreme conditions, pests, disease or lack of nutrients in either the soil or plant itself.
When plants lack essential nutrients, they cannot grow normally and will show symptoms. These are usually visible as discoloration or distortion of leaves and stems.
Nutrient deficiencies are commonly occurring, such as those to nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium – all considered macronutrients that must be present at high concentrations for proper functioning.
Nitrogen, for instance, is one of the most essential macronutrients and it helps build new cells, hydrates plants and transports water and other essential elements to their roots. Furthermore, nitrogen helps plants develop leaves and flowers.
Potassium is another essential macronutrient, having multiple roles within plants. It helps balance cellular anions, activate enzymes and control stomatal opening/closing as well as aiding with nutrient absorption, sugar formation for protein synthesis and cell division, plus it increases resistance to diseases.
Iodine is an essential micronutrient for thyroid hormone production and metabolic control in the body. A lack of this nutrient can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland, known as a goiter.
Additionally, a deficiency can lead to weight gain, learning difficulties in children and pregnancy complications. Iodine can be found in many foods but seaweed is the most abundant natural source.
Other micronutrients, such as iron, copper, manganese, boron and chlorine are necessary for plant growth. A lack of these elements can cause stunted growth and flowering, reduced fruit or seed production and a reduced harvest.
Pesticides on crops are an essential tool for controlling insects and other plants, but they may also have negative effects on both plants and the environment if absorbed into soil or other materials.
Residues from pesticides on fruits, vegetables and grains can contaminate food supplies if they reach humans. That is why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits on how much pesticides can be present in foods.
Some pesticides remain on the surface of fruits and vegetables even after washing or peeling, while others are absorbed into seeds, roots or other parts of plants.
Once pesticides reach the soil, they undergo chemical decomposition and biodegradation by microorganisms. As a result, they produce various by-products which affect soil microbial communities as well as affect plant growth and health.
These byproducts include oxidative stress, ROS production, DNA damage and photosynthesis malfunctioning that can have detrimental effects on plants. If left unchecked, these conditions could result in stunted growth or even plant death.
Herbicide exposure can occur through direct or indirect contact, such as exposure through contaminated hay, grass clippings and manure that may be spread into local compost facilities. If this occurs, watch for signs of plant injury such as stunted growth and distorted leaves.
EWG publishes a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide Residues in Produce, which ranks contaminated fruits and vegetables based on data from USDA and FDA testing of 46 popular foods.
This guide focuses on the most commonly consumed fruits and vegetables by children and adults alike. Each year, the USDA tests a subset of these produce items and compiles their results into two lists – The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.