Factors Affecting Plant Growth

Factors Affecting Plant Growth

Plants are living organisms which play a major role toward the environment and life itself. Plants and greenery depend on numerous roles to allow the growth of plant to successfully sprout. However, there are many factors affecting plant growth reducing their ability to grow at its greatest potential.

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Environmental Factors

  • - Light
  • - Soil composition
  • - PH
  • - Nutrients
  • - Climate change

Diagram of light affecting photosynthesis
Diagram of light affecting photosynthesis
Light Affecting Plant Growth

Aside from water and nutrients, light is most essential when growing and flourishing a plant. The amount of light received for the plant can ulitimately determine the length and time alive consisting for the plant itself. Light is necessary for all plants because they use this energy source to photosynthesize, and can easily die off if absent for an extended amount of time from light.[1] Photosynthesis mainly permits plants to combine glucose from water and carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen. A plants chloroplasts simply trap light energy where the water can then enter into the leaf and then become chemical energy. [2] Plants require light energy for the process of Photosynthesis by which they convert this light energy to chemical energy.With the presence of chlorophyll in plants, they have the ability to absorb light emitted from the sun. Chlorophyll appears green in color and absorbs red and blue light. The red light has the important role of flower growth when combined with blue light, where blue light is responsible for vegetative growth.
Chlorophyll is unable to absorb green light, therefore with the inability makes the leaves of plants and chlorophyll appear green to the human eye!
Sunlight also comes into play with plant growth with 'Phototropisms'. Phototropism is a plants reaction to light. The cause of phototropism is an auxin. Auxin is a hormone which explains the side of the plant with the most shade to grow longer than the other side, which then results in a plant to bend toward the light source.[3] Without light, plants reduce their ability to develope and reproduce as much as they naturally can. Without light, photosynthesis would not take place and would ultimately result in the plant not to develope properly and make it able to germinate.[4]

Average texture of top soil
Average texture of top soil

Soil Composition Affecting Plant Growth

Soil serves the needs for a plant by providing water, air, nutrients and stabilitly. There are a variety of attributes soil
must carry which can determine if the plant will have the ability to adapt to it. Wetness is one of the main attributes to have for plant growth. This is relevent for the plants water supply, and its exclusion of air and oxygen. Having not enough water in the soil could result in the plant not being able to grow with its proper functioning. If there is too much water, not all nutrients designated for the plant growth would absorb into the soil correctly, and would lead to some nutrients to spill out with the extra water. For air, with not having enough would result in the plant not having a balance of air supply for its growth since it would be using the air up quicker. [5] A root barrier is another key attritube which mainly controls the depth of soil available for roots to extract water and nutrients, as well as the soils porosity. Stoniness can also determine a plants ability to grow. Stones and rocks dilute the volume of soil within the root depth that is available for water storage and nutrients. Having too many stones and rocks could also be a barrier if there are too many stones surrounding the soil resulting in interference with the root of the plant. Soil texture affects how well nutrients and water are retained in the soil. The type of soil used for plant growth determines how easily the plant can access its required nutrients. Soil types are determined by particle texture and density.Plant growth will depend on the soil's ability to deliver its required materials. [6] Fertile soils will retrieve the chemical reactions required to recycle the materials for the plants use. Clays and organic soils carry more nutrients and water appose to sandy soils. As water drains from sandy soils, it often carries nutrients along with it. This condition is called leaching. When nutrients leach into the soil, they are not available for plants to use. Nitrogen and phosphate are two important nutrients for plant growth and soil. Nitrogen helps leaves and steams to grow, while phosphate helps roots and fruits to develop. Phosphate can be found in many "young soils" though the only barrier for young soil is that because of its age, there could be an issue causing a reduction of nitrogen since the soil would not be able to produce healthy top soil, which is a large barrier since the growth of plants depend on nitrogen alot.[7]

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PH Affecting Plant Growth

Soil pH is one of the most important soil properties that affects the availability of nutrients.
  • Macronutrients are usually less available in soils with low pH.
  • Micronutrients are usually less available in soils with high pH
Lime can be incorporated to the soil making it less acidic and also supplies calcium and magnesium for plants to use. Lime also raises the pH to the moderate range of 6.0 to 6.5. In this pH range, nutrients are much more available to plants, and microbial populations in the soil increase. Microbes exchange nitrogen and sulfur which the plants can use. Lime also enhances the physical properties of the soil that allow water and air movement.[8]

Nutrients Required For Plant Growth

Nutrients needed for plant growth
Nutrients needed for plant growth
Nitrogen (N)
  • - Nitrogen is a part of chlorophyll, the green pigment of the plant that is responsible for photosynthesis.
  • - Helps plants with rapid growth, increasing seed and fruit production and improving the quality of leaf and forage crops.
  • - Nitrogen often comes from fertilizer application

Phosphorus (P)
  • - Phosphorus also has an essential part in the process of photosynthesis.
  • - Helps in the change of light energy into chemical energy.
  • - Effects rapid growth.
  • - Encourages plant and root growth.

  • Potassium (K)

- Potassium is absorbed by plants in larger amounts than other mineral elements
- Helps in the building of protein, photosynthesis, fruit quality and reduction of diseases.

Climate Change Affecting Plant Growth
Forest fire- Global warming
Forest fire- Global warming

The effect of global warming on plants is caused by rising land and water temperatures. Global warming does infact harm plant growth by higher temperatures and other climates to change and decrease the amount of rain and water plants would normally recieve. Droughts also could occur due to global warming which results in increasing the risk of wild fires. Small transitions in climate change can be harmful toward a variety of different plant species.[9] This is because the usual temperature the plants are accustom to is no longer capable of adapting to the change in climate. Some are able to, however many are not. As the temperature changes, many plants and not capable of reproducing, causing many numbers of plant species to become limited.

Article Summary

"If climate change alters the timing of plant activity, then it could have a domino effect, impacting the feeding, breeding or migration patterns of the animals that rely on particular plant species." Researchers from Stanford and the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology proceeded an experiment which was designed to simulate environmental conditions within the range that climate experts predict may exist 100 years from now, being a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a temperature rise of 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a 50 percent increase in precipitation and increased nitrogen deposition. [10]

Other Resources



  • Photosynthesis: The process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water.
  • Chloroplasts: Organelles that are found in plant cells, as well as other eukaryotes. They contain cholorophyll.
  • Light Energy: The energy of electromagnetic waves.
  • Chemical Energy: The potential for a chemical to react with other substances, or transform into a new substance.
  • Chlorophyll: A green pigment, present in all green plants and in cyanobacteria, responsible for the absorption of light to provide energy for photosynthesis.
  • Phototropism: The orientation of a plant or other organism in response to light, either toward the source of light
  • Germinate: The process of a plant emerging from its seed and beginning to grow.
  • Macronutrient: Nutrients needed by plants in the largest quantities.
  • Micronutrients: Nutrients neede by plants in very small quantities.
  • Porosity: Promotes stability by allowing deep rooting. Drains excess water, and circulates air to roots
  • Leach: The process of minerals leaving soil by being dissolved in a liquid.
  • pH: Short for 'Power of Hydrogen'. It's used as a measurement of how acidic something is. It is measured on a scale from 0 t o14, with 0 being the most acidic, and 14 being the least acidic.


  1. ^ Environmental factors affect plant growth | Fort Frances Times Online. (2009, January 28). Fort Frances Times Online. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.fftimes.com/node/219209
  2. ^ **

    Hackel, H. (2008, September 6). Agrocourier.
    Why plants need water//. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from www.agrocourier.com/bcsweb/cscms_de.nsf/id/Plasun_Agro/$file/plants_sunlight.pdf
  3. ^ Phototropism Lesson. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://herbarium.desu.edu/pfk/page11
  4. ^ Kane, D. (2008, June 4). Can Plants Grow Without Light? | eHow.com. eHow | How to Videos, Articles & More - Discover the expert in you. | eHow.com. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.ehow.com/way_5325444_can-plants-grow-light.html
  5. ^ Jeanty, J. (2011, February 18). Soil Types & Plant Growth | eHow.com. eHow | How to Videos, Articles & More - Discover the expert in you. | eHow.com. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.ehow.com/about_5391065_soil-types-plant-growth.html
  6. ^ Plant Nutrients. (2009, April 18). North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.ncagr.gov/cyber/kidswrld/plant
  7. ^ Soil. (2010, July 1). The Department of Biodiversity & Conservation Biology - UWC. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.bcb.uwc.ac.za/Envfacts/facts
  8. ^ Plant Nutrients. (2009, April 18). North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.ncagr.gov/cyber/kidswrld/plant
  9. ^ AlyssaAst. (2010, June 30). The Effect of Global Warming on Plants: Dangers to Surface and Underwater Plant Life. Find Science & Technology Articles, Education Lesson Plans, Tech Tips, Computer Hardware & Software Reviews, News and More at Bright Hub. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/46102.aspx
  10. ^ Global Changes Alter The Timing Of Plant Growth, Scientists Say. (2006, September 4). Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006