Are you new to gardening? With a head full of multiple questions on the very basics of the activity? Did you ever wonder why do plants need soil? Well, then you’re at the right place because we’ll be answering why do plants need soil? and will give you insight on soil and its significance.
Ever since gardening first became common, the soil has been one of the most commonly used products by gardeners. The reasons for why do plants need soil vary all across the globe but have some common grounds such as convenience, price, and availability.
Why Do Plants Need Soil – 6 Important Reasons!
1. Reservoir of Nutrients
Soil contains many nutrients that are highly important for the growth and development of a plant. It contains nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus (NPK) which are the three main nutrients in plant growth.
Other important nutrients present in soil are calcium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, etc. The roles of the main three nutrients in plants are:
Nitrogen is a very important component of a plant cell, as it is present in the proteins, hormones, and chlorophyll. So not only is it needed by the plant proteins but it also plays a major role in absorbing sunlight that is the main source of energy in plants.
Potassium provided by soil is highly important for plant growth and activates several enzymes, for processes such as protein synthesis, photosynthesis, and sugar transport.
Phosphorus plays a vital role in absorbing the sun’s energy and converting it into energy responsible for growth and reproduction. It is used in respiration and energy transfer and without its presence plant growth gets delayed and the yield is reduced.
Soil is a source of great support for the plant no matter the size of the plant, even if it is a large oak tree or a tiny weed.
The anchorage of a plant at the beginning of its life is an essential factor as it is what puts the plant firmly into the ground, preventing it from being blown over, even during strong winds and storms.
Soil particles don’t fit together perfectly and have some spaces in them called pores. These pores are filled with water or minerals. After rainfall or irrigation, the pores absorb the water and get filled. This water later gets evaporated, goes further down due to gravity, or is absorbed by plant roots.
Out of the many growing mediums, the soil has the best water storing capability due to its quantity of pores (30% to 60%) that are of different sizes to provide the plant with a balance of water and air.
4. Organic Matter
The organic matter present in the soil is also favorable towards plant growth as that matter is previously living matter and comes mainly from plant residue, so it provides the plants with many essential nutrients.
On further decomposition, this organic matter becomes humus which is a valuable nutrient source for plants.
5. Store House for Seeds and Vegetation
The soil also helps ensure the survival of plant species. When a seed is dropped on the soil or sown into it, it needs the perfect environment to germinate which requires proper temperature, moisture, air, temperature, pH, and light conditions which are given to the seed by the soil.
Soil also provides a protective layer over the seed, hence preventing it from getting blown away or removed from its location. It also plays an important role in containing, holding, anchoring, and providing nutrients to root vegetables.
6. Living Organisms
Soil has many living organisms that are also advantageous for the plants that grow in it. Bacteria, algae, fungi, slugs, insects, mice, moles, worms, etc., are some of these organisms.
Their secretions help the plant absorb minerals. Some organisms convert inorganic matter into others that are more useful for the plant. Also, other organisms like nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert bacteria present in the atmosphere into more useful forms of nutrients for the plant.
Organisms like moles, mice, insects, and worms not only aerate the soil but also make holes and pores that store water during rainfall or irrigation and also air which further helps in the growth of plants.
No, not all plants need soil to grow, some plants just fare better in soil compared to others. There are some species that prefer other growing mediums over the soil.
You might have seen plants growing on random surfaces like poles and fences, etc. These are called air plants that get water and minerals from rain, dust, and the atmosphere.
Many plants prefer growing in the water by extracting oxygen that is dissolved in the water and getting energy from light.
Recently hydroponic farming – which doesn’t require any soil – has also gotten very famous. Other growing mediums that can be used by plants are water, wood barks, moss, sand, clay, etc.
This shows that there are many other alternatives to using soil. These mediums can also provide the plant with the basic necessities that it needs like nutrients, water, pH, etc.
Soil has always been used in gardening and farming but as time passes the world evolves and so do the different methods of performing different tasks. And so, many alternatives have emerged to replace the use of soil. But soil still remains to be one of the major growing mediums.
Even though some might think that the use of other mediums can be better for the plants, most experts have stuck to what they have always used for their work since nothing can replicate the richness of natural soil, some of the nutrients that come from organic matter, and the living organisms that inhabit it.
Plants can grow without soil but not without the necessities provided by it. This is why it can be observed that soil plays a very important role in plant growth and is needed for their survival not just by being a reservoir of nutrients but by also giving them support and protection. I hope this article helped you answer your question of why do plants need soil?