June 04 2015

How to Determine What Your Plants Need

Like all life on Earth, plants have certain needs for survival. It’s the proper satisfaction of those needs that leads to a truly beautiful landscape.

When it comes to NJ lawn and irrigation services, the summer is certainly no time to skimp. Having these services performed on your property can make the difference between awe-inspiring and awful.

Are your plants receiving the attention they need to flourish? This post can serve as your quick action guide for diagnosing what your plant may need.

Firstly, it helps to know what key ingredients no plant can live without.


Sunlight, soil, air and water are the four main essentials for plants to grow and flourish. While different species require different degrees of each, these four ingredients are all required in some form.

  • Sunlight activates photosynthesis within a plant, feeding it and promoting healthy metabolic growth.
  • Soil acts as the foundation for a plant, where roots take hold and absorb nutrients. The soil must remain loosely packed around the plant to allow for proper root growth.
  • Air is an important change agent in plant life. It allows plants to take in carbon dioxide, give off oxygen, and receive pollen to be used for reproduction. It is also, however, a way in which fungal spores can travel and reach a plant.
  • Water is vital to all plant life, enabling all of its inner functions. It allows for nutrients to be absorbed and properly transported throughout the plant.

A defect in one or several of these key components is oftentimes the source of the problem when diagnosing what’s wrong with your plant life.


The absence or abundance of the main four essentials may be only part of the problem. Nutrient deficiencies can pop up in various forms and degrees as well. While some deficiencies share symptoms, it helps in narrowing down the probable cause for your flower or plant’s current state.

It’s important to recognize what you’re looking for by first knowing what your plant in a healthy state should be expected to look like. Landscape design experts are able to properly diagnose a deficiency because they know what to look for and what to rule out.

When it comes to nutrient deficiencies, the following symptoms might be indicative of what you’re seeing:

  • Calcium (Ca) – New leaves are distorted or irregularly shaped.
  • Nitrogen (N) – General yellowing of older leaves, exclusively at the bottom of the plant.
  • Magnesium (Mg) – Older leaves turn yellow at the edges, creating a green arrowhead-like shape in the leaf’s center.
  • Phosphorus (P) – The tips of leaves appear burnt, with older leaves turning a dark green of reddish hue of purple.
  • Potassium (K) – Older leaves begin to wilt or appear scorched, usually beginning at the plant’s base.
  • Sulfur (S) – Younger leaves turn yellow. Older leaves may also take on this yellow coloration.
  • Boron (B) – Newly formed buds die and drop off before maturing.
  • Copper (Cu) – Leaves appear dark green and plant growth may be stunted.
  • Iron (Fe) – Yellowing can be seen intermixed in the veins of young leaves.
  • Manganese (Mn) – Yellowing may appear in young leaves along with dead patches and a reduced size.
  • Molybdenum (Mo) – Older leaves begin yellowing, while remainder of the plant appears light green.
  • Zinc (Zn) – Yellowing appears between the veins of young leaves.

Once the symptoms are in view, it’s important to also know the size of the affected area. Are these symptoms only appearing in one specific area, or throughout the property? Are they only appearing on one plant of flower? Are they appearing around the same time every year, or is this a first-time occurrence?

Observing and taking note of the symptoms will help aid the expert who you ultimately decide to share this information with.

When trying to meet your plants needs, an industry expert’s recommendations can certainly help.


Another critical element of properly diagnosing your plant life lies in understanding all the variables in play. Knowing the lawn care regiment of products, fertilizers, and the like during and before the problem occurred may help in tracing back to the cause.

Leaf Spots

Varying in size, leaf spots that are generally round and appear almost as a “bull’s eye” are many times fungal in nature. They are not limited by leaf veins.

When spots appear angular and are limited by leaf veins, the spots may be bacterial.

[See also: Controlling Fungus During the Hot Months]

Leaf Distortion

When leaves appear elongated, stunted or overly thick it may be caused by a viral, fungal or bacterial infection. In some cases an insect or mite infestation may be the cause.

Stem Discoloration

This is oftentimes indicative of the presence of spores from one of several fungal diseases. The stems appear rusted.


Often caused by a lack of water or blockage of water within the plant. They may also be caused by an obstruction to the root system.

Uniform Spots

This may be caused by a chemical spray or pollutant. There is usually a stark contrast between the affected area (usually located closest to the injury/pollutant) and the rest of the healthy plant.

Sudden Dieback

This can most likely be attributed to a climatic change or chemical injury. However, certain variations can indicate a bacterial blight.


To ensure the best possible care and attention to detail for your plant life, there needs to be an expert diagnosis. At High Tech Landscaping, our specialists work through a comprehensive list of criteria developed through years of field experience. They can properly diagnose and execute a plant health care program that addresses current needs while also building for the future.

Our process involves asking the questions that others might not during the diagnosing. Factors like:

  • What preventative measures have already been taken in this particular area?
  • What insect populations are present or have historically been present in this area?
  • What plant-based diseases are common in this local area?
  • What horticultural oil applications can be used to take care of these observed symptoms?
  • What irrigation system limitations does this property have?
  • What ways can this property’s irrigation system be improved?
  • What lawn and plant treatments might be clashing against one another?

Getting “to the root” of the problem may very well require a bit of excavation. However, our landscape specialists are prepared to take the greatest care and non-invasive action in diagnosing and caring for your property’s plants, flowers, and foliage.