How do plants grow, Mr. Porter?
Gardening in Bergen County
What a wonderful experience I was blessed with today at work. A client’s daughter walked up to me while i was looking over one of their perennial beds, tugged my pant leg and when i glanced down she said with a big smile.
“How do plants grow Mr. Porter”
It was break time then and there.
We both sat down on the lawn in front of the lavendars, groundcover and other perennials and I explained that plants are a lot like us. We need to eat and drink and they need to eat and drink. We need a clean house to live in and so do they. Most all plants use water to carry moisture and nutrients back and forth between the roots and leaves. Water, as well as nutrients, is normally taken up through the roots from the soil. This is why it’s important to water plants when the soil becomes dry.
Then i told her that just like we take vitamins, plants need fertilizer to provide them with nutrients. The most important ones being nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They have green leaves and foliage because of the nitrogen, big flowers and strong roots because of the phosphorus and potassium helps plants keep “slimey” away and fights diseases. But if they get to much or too little then they can also get sick.
And just like us they need a clean and nice place to live so they need good dirt to grow in and clean air to breathe. Pollution can be harmful to flowers and trees and shrubs, limiting their ability to take in carbon dioxide from the air for making food (photosynthesis). It can also block out sunlight, which is also necessary for healthy plant growth.
A good growing mediums is vital for plant growth. Besides the nutrients and water, the ground they grow in provides a place for them to set down their roots, so the healthier the soil, the healthier the plant will be.
Plants also need sunlight to grow. Light is used as energy for making food, a process called photosynthesis. Too little light can make plants weak and leggy looking. They will also have fewer flowers.
Temperature is important too. Most plants prefer cooler nighttime temps and warmer daytime temperatures, just like we do. Too hot and they may burn just like we get sunburn, too cold and they will freeze just like us when it’s cold out.
Space is yet another factor to consider when growing plants. Both the roots and foliage (leaves) need room to grow. Without enough room, plants can become stunted or too small. Overcrowded plants are also more likely to suffer from diseases since airflow may be limited.
Finally, plants require time. They do not grow overnight. It takes time and patience to grow plants, some more so than others. Most plants require a particular number of days, months, or even years to produce flowers and fruit.
By then she was tired of “going to gardening school” but we sure had FUN chatting. To me, moments like those are another great job benefit as important as health and insurance benefits are. Like the plants that i was explaining grow stronger, so did we in that interaction. You see, we are like plants after all.
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