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The Nutrients Plants Need for Strength During Shipping

by Tyler Chandler in Ornamental
Posted:  Apr 25, 2019
As a nursery or greenhouse grower, you want to ship plants from the greenhouse nursery that are beautiful and stronger than ever. Well-grown plants that, on display, have many flowers, a wonderful foliage color, sharp greens and nice, shiny leaves. There’s a secret to these strong plants, and the answer is plant nutrition. Specifically, the nutrients potassium and calcium.

Potassium and calcium supplementation a week to a couple months before shipping time can affect all the features outlined above. And, it can make an impact rather quickly.

Benefits of Potassium for Plants

Plant tissue tests often show results with potassium numbers just barely into the bottom range of being acceptable. Yet, potassium has benefits that go well beyond what the human eye can see.

Potassium helps plants use water more efficiently. It helps plants tolerate stressors, like variable temperatures. It builds strength in cells and stems to help plants resist disease.

Infographic explaining a plant's use of calcium and potassium

Potassium also impacts leaf color and flower set. Phosphorus helps trigger a flower response, but potassium helps set the flower and hold it on the plant longer.


Potassium Chloride Products

To provide plants with potassium, use a potassium chloride product like Gravity® L 0-0-30. It’s a liquid potassium source that is immediately available for foliar and root absorption.With Gravity® L 0-0-30, rate options range from 32 to 128 ounces per 100 gallons. Plan for one to four applications per month. You can get by with just one application if you use a higher rate, but a lower rate spread over a few applications is preferred.

If you’re spraying fungicide weekly, you can add in Gravity® L 0-0-30 (rate of 32 ounces per 100 gallons). Gravity® L 0-0-30 is proven safe for mixing with many plant protection products. Since it’s a fertilizer, you can spray or drench it.


Benefits of Calcium for Plants

Much like calcium keeps humans strong, calcium is also important for keeping up plant strength.
Calcium is essential to cell membrane structure and overall plant performance. It also increases cell wall rigidity for stronger stems and less breakage. It’s critical to have strong plants at shipping time to minimize the breakage that can result from extra plant handling and loading.

But, you can’t grow strong plants overnight. Calcium is a nutrient that needs time, so you’ll need to incorporate calcium well ahead of the target shipping date.


Calcium Supplements

With calcium supplements, shoot for lower rates more often to gradually build up plant strength.  As plants get stronger, they also become more disease resistant which can help you cut back on more expensive fungicides.
If you think irrigation water meets plant calcium needs, think again. Irrigation water not only leaves white water spots all over beautiful leaves, but it also typically doesn’t provide calcium in a form plants can absorb. A mix-in liquid calcium supplement is designed for foliar application and will leave little to no residue on leaves.
Plan for two to three calcium applications at a rate of 64 to 128 ounces per 100 gallons. Begin application at flower set and continue through to plant shipping.


A Strong Shipping Season Starts with Strong Plants

Your reputation as a greenhouse grower relies on plants that make it through the shipping process strong and thriving.

Find your regional WinField United representative and ask about Gravity® L 0-0-30.

©2019 WinField United. Important: Before use always read and follow label instructions. Plant performance is dependent on several factors beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation, soil type, growing practices, and weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations, over multiple years, and be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results. Gravity® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.
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