Calcium (Ca) is an element which is vital to virtually any living thing, be it plant or animal. It has many different critical roles. Calcium plays a very similar role in a plant as it does in animals. It is essential in the development of a firm structure that lays the foundation for healthy and strong growth. Calcium is a crucial structural component of cell walls and plasma membranes which contain the highest levels of calcium in the plant’s tissue. If there is not enough calcium present in a plant, cells will become leaky. This results in a loss of cell compounds. Losing these vital cell compounds can ultimately cause the death of these cells, and potentially the death of the entire plant. Calcium can reach 10% or more of leaf dry weight in mature leaves with no negative effects on plant growth.
Calcium as pectate strengthens plant tissues and cell walls which helps plants resist fungal and bacterial infections. It also plays a critical role in maturation of fruit. For example, tomatoes that lack sufficient calcium suffer blossom end rot and will not set fruit. Calcium also promotes the regulation of various functions carried out by both the individual cells as well as the plant as a whole. As a component of cell walls, calcium is essential for cell division and pollen tube growth. Calcium functions as a secondary messenger for nutrient uptake, changes in the state of the cell, and other factors.
Another function of calcium in plants is extremely similar to that of hormone regulation of various cell functions. One example is the process of the protein pump that controls the uptake of nutrients, as well as how they are moved through the plant and into the cells from the roots. Through stimulation of the protein channels, calcium helps to promote the uptake of different nutrients to be able to nourish the plant.
If the calcium levels that fall short of sufficient levels for plants, a number of problems can result. One thing that can be caused by a calcium deficiency is necrosis around the base of the leaves throughout the branches of the plant. Because calcium is extremely limited in its mobility, calcium deficiency symptoms are typically expressed in new growth. Therefore, it is important that the substrate or the nutrient solution provide a constant supply of calcium. Other disease symptoms include severe tip burn in lettuce, celery can develop what is known as a blackheart. Growing regions simply die if there is not enough calcium available to the plants.
Calcium helps to minimize the effects heat stress and stress resulting from freezing and thawing. The stomatal function is increased, water is better and more efficiently utilized, and the plant is able to tolerate the stress of prolonged heat more effectively.
If you see symptoms of these sorts of deficiencies in your plants, make sure that you take the appropriate action. Any of our complete nutrients like Foliage-Pro® Grow™, or Bloom™ will eliminate calcium deficiencies. They will provide all the calcium required by plants to ensure that your plants grow to their full potential. An important fact to remember: All plants require more calcium than phosphorus! Most mere fertilizers contain no calcium!