Many people dont realize that plants are a lot like humans. We need to eat and exercise in order to have a healthy and strong life. If we get too much or too little of one or the other, it can have serious effects on us.
Plants are the same way. When you start a garden, you know what will happen if a plant gets too little of something, but they require balance like we do. Even in plants, too much of a good thing could lead to disastrous results.
1. Too Much Water. This is one that most people have a basic understanding of but, still, some people over-water their flowers and vegetables. When you get thirsty, do you go and drink a glass of water or take out a jug and try to swallow the whole thing at once? Plants get thirsty too, but they dont need a jug of water to survive.
When plants get too much water, the effects are similar to those that dont get enough. The leaves will begin to wilt and turn brown, they will stop growing and, in some cases, algae can even begin to grow in the soil. ALGAE! Suddenly, your flower pot has become an aquarium. Plants dont need a standing puddle of water, they only need enough to make the soil moist. Many people think that by adding more water, they can go longer periods between watering, but thats not true.
2. Too Much Sun. What? Is it possible for a plant to get too much sun? Thats not possible, right? Wrong. Different plants require different amounts of sunlight. While many plants and vegetables will do fine with long periods of direct sunlight, others can die. Its similar to how some people tan naturally and can spend hours out in the sun, but others can go outside for 15 minutes and come back burned.
Plants use sun for photosynthesis and there is a molecule in their makeup that protects them from getting too much sun, called zeaxanthin. It allows the excess chlorophyll to be eliminated as heat. Different plants can tolerate different amounts of sunlight, but if the zeaxanthin gets overrun, then the plant receives oxidative damage and could eventually die.
3. Too Much Nitrogen. When we start out gardening, its expressed to us in no uncertain terms that nitrogen is the key to good plant growth. We load our soil up with nitrogen and watch as our plants grow like skyscrapers. Yeah, not so much. Plants use nitrogen to gain energy and help make protein. This is key to being strong plants.
When a plant is overloaded with nitrogen, it grows large, but not strong. The plants will be leafy, but their stems and roots will be weak. This makes them prone to disease and even small infestations of bugs can destroy them. Any fruits from the plant may also have an imbalance of sugar and vitamins, making them taste significantly different, if they form at all. Its all about moderation. Its like a human eating a candy bar a day to help with energy versus eating 15 in a day. Youll grow bigger alright, but not in the right way.