Interveinal chlorosis caused by nitrogen deficiency on a grape vine

Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients for plants. It is a key ingredient in chlorophyll, which helps plants convert sunlight into energy. Nitrogen is also essential for plant growth and development.

A nitrogen deficiency can cause a host of problems for plants, including stunted growth, yellow leaves, and reduced flowering and fruit production.

Yellowing leafs on a plant caused by nitrogen deficiency.
Nitrogen deficiency in plant

Causes of Nitrogen Deficiency

There are several reasons why a plant might suffer from a nitrogen deficiency.

The most common cause is insufficient nitrogen in the soil. This can be due to soil that is too sandy or too alkaline.

It can also be caused by soil that has been depleted of nitrogen due to excessive cultivation or the use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.

Another possible cause of nitrogen deficiency is a lack of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil. These bacteria help convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use. 

Symptoms of Nitrogen Deficiency

Nitrogen deficiency often manifests as stunted growth and poor leaf coloration. The leaves of a nitrogen-deficient plant will become yellow or pale green, starting at the bottom of the plant and moving up as the deficiency worsens. Stunted growth is another common symptom of nitrogen deficiency.

Flowering and fruit production may also be reduced if a plant does not have enough nitrogen. 

Treatment of Nitrogen Deficiency

The best way to treat a nitrogen deficiency is to add more nitrogen to the soil. This can be done by using commercial fertilizer or by planting cover crops such as alfalfa or clover, which add nitrogen to the soil as they grow.

Hands adding potassium nitrogen fertilizers to soil.
Potassium nitrogen fertilizers

Adding compost or manure to the soil can also help increase its nitrogen content. In some cases, it may be necessary to test the soil to determine its exact nutrient needs before adding any amendments.