How to Identify 7 Types of Nutrient Deficiency in Houseplants

This week we will discuss a few of the signs and symptoms your plant may develop if it is nutrient deficient.

We will go through 7 common nutrient deficiencies with pictures that show examples of what to look for when trying to assess the health of your plant.

As with all things plant health, many of the signs & symptoms of nutrient deficiency are similar and could be mistaken for pest or disease issues (or vice versa), so it is important to observe and investigate any problem thoroughly to try to find the most accurate diagnosis and solution.

Table of Contents

Nitrogen Deficiency Symptoms

What does Nitrogen do for a plant?

Nitrogen promotes big, healthy, lush foliage.

What does Nitrogen deficiency look like?

  • Stunted growth
  • Yellowing older growth
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Phosphorous Deficiency Symptoms

What does Phosphorous do for a plant?

Phosphorous supports flowering and fruiting as well as healthy root growth.

What does Phosphorous deficiency look like?

  • Leaf loss
  • Leaf discoloration and spotting, often purple or brown
  • Older foliage appearing darker than normal
  • Browning leaf tips

Potassium Deficiency Symptoms

What does Potassium do for a plant?

Potassium supports overall plant health and vigor.

What does Potassium deficiency look like?

  • Leaf edges browning or yellowing
  • Leaf tips folded or wilted
  • Older growth wilted and/or crisped

Calcium Deficiency Symptoms

What does Calcium do for a plant?

Calcium supports healthy cell formation, root nutrient uptake, growth enzyme production, flowering, fruiting, and more!

What does Calcium deficiency look like?

  • New growth is pale and/or malformed
  • Plant has trouble fruiting or properly maturing fruit

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

What does Magnesium do for a plant?

Magnesium plays a key role in photosynthesis, chlorophyll formation, and metabolism.

What does Magnesium deficiency look like?

  • Older growth between veins looks washed out or pale
  • Leaf veins appear dark and bleeding out into the leaf

Sulfur Deficiency Symptoms

What does Sulfur do for a plant?

Sulfur supports healthy color and chlorophyll as well as protein and amino acid production.

What does Sulfur deficiency look like?

  • New growth is lighter in color, including the veins
  • As deficiency advances, older growth will also appear pale or washed out
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Sulfur deficiency, UGA1402098, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company , R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Bugwood.org

Iron Deficiency Symptoms

What does Iron do for a plant?

Iron plays an essential role in photosynthesis and chlorophyll production.

What does Iron deficiency look like?

  • Newer leaves become yellow between veins
  • As deficiency advances, older growth will also yellow between veins
  • When super deficient, the foliage can even appear a cream or white color

I hope you all find this information helpful when trying to figure out what is happening with your plants. Have a great week!

Happy growing!

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