Potassium is the least known of the three nutrients that all plants need in larger quantities. Unlike nitrogen and phosphorus, potassium is not part of the plant but is found in the soil where it acts as a catalyst for the enzymatic reactions needed for plant growth. However, as with all useful soil components, excess potassium can be harmful to plant growth because it inhibits the absorption of other substances. However, there are ways of ensuring that your plants receive all the nutrients they need in appropriate quantities.
Why is Potassium Important for Your Plants?
- Potassium is an important component of plant growth. It is usually used in gardens, lawns, and orchards as part of a regular fertilizer program.
- Potassium helps plants use water and is resistant to drought, growth regulation, and general plant health.
- Potassium is particularly important for edible plants and improves the size and quality of fruits and vegetables.
- Potassium regulates the plant cells that control the water.
- Without enough potassium, the stomach uses water efficiently and the plant becomes susceptible to disease and heat stress. Potassium also supports enzymes that help the plant world.
- Without potassium, the plant is unable to convert nutrients into nutrient roots, leaves, and fruits.
How to Use Potassium
Potassium is often used in solid or liquid fertilizers. In commercial fertilizers, the three most important plant nutrients are listed on the label as percentages, for example, 5-10-5, known as the NPK report. Solid and granular fertilizers are used for garden or perennial plants as well as for irrigation. Manure is used for spraying or vacuuming. Sometimes potassium is used in greenhouses with irrigation systems.
How to Treat High Potassium
By following these recommendations to reduce potassium content in the soil, you can help alleviate future problems:
- All commercially available fertilizers should indicate on the front of the package the three main macro elements with an N-P-K ratio. The nutrients are Potassium (K), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) To reduce potassium content in the soil, only products with a low or zero K-factor should be used, or the fertilizer should be completely skipped. Plants usually work well without potassium.
- Organic fertilizers usually have lower doses than N-P-K. An N-P-K ratio of 4-3-3 is typical for chicken manure. The nutrients contained in the fertilizer also decompose slowly, which can prevent the formation of potassium.
- Infiltrate the soil and remove as many stones as possible. This prevents minerals in the rocks such as feldspar and mica from entering the soil.
- Open the soil with a shovel, and then pour it deep into the soil to dissolve to remove the excess potassium. Allow the soil to dry completely and repeat this two or three more times.
- Cultivate cover legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil. This practice meets the nitrogen requirement of the soil without increasing the phosphorus and potassium content.
- If the area is small, digging of mussel shells or crushed eggshells can help balance nutrients in the soil.
- To minimize potassium enrichment in the long term, the use of old or composted animal manure as a substitute for backyard manure should be considered, as its components decompose more slowly to meet plant needs.
Steps for Lowering Potassium Levels in Soil
- Loosen the soil deeply with a shovel and water to completely dissolve the water-soluble potassium. Let the soil dry completely and repeat the digging and spraying two or three times.
- Sift the soil and remove as many stones as possible with a sieve. Minerals in the rocks, such as mica and feldspar, slowly release potassium into the soil after aeration.
- Stop spreading potassium-rich commercial fertilizers. Use only commercial fertilizers with the letter “0” in the last digit. For commercial fertilizers, a three-digit system is used to measure nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content. The last digit stands for potassium. Another possibility is to stop using commercial fertilizers and to use only organic material to enrich the soil.
- Mix eggshells, mussel shells, wood ash, or soft phosphate with the soil to add calcium. Mix up to 10% organic matter to improve and balance the soil.
Excess potassium does not seem to have a toxic effect on plants. However, it can lead to a deficiency of other nutrients (especially nitrogen, calcium, and magnesium). Therefore, use too much potassium only if necessary and according to the instructions on the package.