The Role Of Silicon in Plants

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On the market today, there are many products which may be seen as supplemental, or additive.  But, does that mean "not necessary"? When adding a little something "extra", to your regime, reduces stress, improves strength, or prevents disease; you may want to re-consider what is essential vs. supplemental.  Personally, like in my own human health, I'd prefer to be giving my plants the optimum conditions, to thrive and not just survive.

One element that fits well into this "supplemental" category is Silicon (Si).  While not listed as an essential plant micronutrient, Si has many functions that any gardener wanting to provide an optimal state, would see as necessary.  Silicon is the second most available element in most soils (right after oxygen), yet is often left out of hydroponic basic feed schedules.  Silicon has been the focus of many scientific studies in plants from almost every family.  It has been found to increase resistance to fungal disease and herbivory, strengthen cell walls, prevent burn from some of the other micronutrients, such as manganese and aluminum, and help a plant deal with salt stress.  With so many uncontrollable environmental aspects in a plants life, it only makes sense to add such a beneficial nutrient as silicon into your plants feed schedule.

The most commonly applied form of silicon into plant nutrient solutions, is potassium silicate.  When transported into a plant, the cell walls absorb the largest part of applied silicate.  This strengthens stems, allowing a plant to support potentially larger fruits and flowers.  Also, leaves become thicker, which helps prevent biting insects, and infestation of fungal disease, such as botrytis and powdery mildew. Additionally, roots are stronger, denser, and more able to quickly uptake available nutrients in solution. Plants treated with potassium silicate tend to be healthier and less susceptible to root disease, fungal disease and insect infestation.

 Potassium silicate acts as a facilitator for other nutrient uptake, but also as a blocker, when excess salt solution is present.  It's almost a universal buffer, for helping plants take what they need from the soil and preventing them from taking more than they can use.  If only humans had a silicate we could add into our diets that would stop us from absorbing the garbage that's available to us! Don't get me wrong, you must still measure your other nutrient inputs, and not rely solely on silicon to solve your nutrition issues, but it can definitely help the minor issues that many gardeners face. Use as directed, just as any other nutrient for your plants, too much can be even worse than not enough.  Remember when adding to your nutrient solution that silicate tends to raise pH, so make sure you test your solution and keep your pH at the right levels to keep all nutrients available for your plants.

Sunlight Supply offers several silicate products to our garden store partners.  These include: General Hydroponics' Armor Si, Raw Silica, HydroDyanmic's Europonic Silicate, Botanicare's Silca Blast, Gro-Tek's Pro-Silicate, and Dutch Master's Gold Silica.  Each has slightly different properties and may work better in various nutrient regimes, than others. Why not try adding silicon into your feeding plan? After all, helping your plant strengthen stalks and stems, build resistance to varying temperature extremes, preventing disease and insect infestation, and helping optimize fertilizer uptake, all sound like not only "supplemental" things you'd want to do for your plant, but essential!



Written by Industry Expert at 00:00

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