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What Does Magnesium Do for Plants

Discover the vital role of magnesium in plant growth, enhancing photosynthesis, and maintaining healthy chlorophyll levels for better yield and vitality.

When it comes to plant nutrition, one mineral is often overlooked. It’s Magnesium.  People fail to recognize that magnesium is a key component of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants crucial for photosynthesis. 

Magnesium helps plants create and use energy, and it’s also involved in synthesizing plant DNA and RNA. Without the right quantity of magnesium, leaves can turn yellow, which affects the plant’s growth. 

Therefore, if you ever find your plants not growing at their optimal heights despite regular care, know that magnesium might be needed.

It’s crucial to ensure that your plants get sufficient magnesium to promote their health, vitality, and ability to thrive in their environment.

Magnesium: The Photosynthesis Powerhouse 

Corn plant with yellow leaves on the ground showing magnesium deficiency in plants

Photosynthesis is the life-sustaining process that enables plants to convert the sun’s light energy into chemical energy. This process is fundamental for plants as it is their means of producing food through glucose. 

Also, it is the way through which plants grow and fulfill their own energy needs. Photosynthesis is crucial not just for plants but also because it forms the base of the food chain for other organisms, including humans.

Central to this miraculous process is chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives color to the plants while promoting photosynthesis. The porphyrin ring in the chlorophyll has a single magnesium ion at its center. This magnesium ion is essential for capturing sunlight most efficiently. 

What’s more interesting is that magnesium enables chlorophyll to absorb energy from light through a range of wavelengths, especially in the blue and red regions. This captured energy is then converted into chemical energy, followed by its conversion to carbon dioxide and water and then glucose and oxygen, which is released as a byproduct.

So, as evident, magnesium plays a very crucial role in plant growth. And, of course, in the production of oxygen, which is crucial for the existence of living beings. But when plants are deprived of magnesium, it can lead to:

  • Reduction in chlorophyll production
  • Chlorophyll is becoming less efficient at capturing solar energy

But how do you know if your plants lack this essential nutrient? 

If you see the spaces between leaf veins turning yellow while the vein remains green, your plant might lack magnesium. Leaves may become reddish-purple due to the accumulation of anthocyanins.

How Magnesium Multitasks 

Vibrant purple plant featuring green leaves highlighting magnesiums role in photosynthesis

Magnesium plays a crucial role in plants. It supports various functions and benefits plant health in multiple ways.

  • Chlorophyll Production: Magnesium is an integral component of chlorophyll, which uses sunlight and converts it into energy through photosynthesis. Without enough magnesium, plants can’t produce sufficient chlorophyll.
  • Phosphorus Movement through Plants: This nutrient helps transport phosphorus, which is crucial for plant development. Magnesium helps phosphorus move through the plants to reach all parts wherever required. This process is vital for energy transfer and storage within the plant.

Apart from the benefits above, magnesium plays other key roles as well. Here’s how:

  • Enzyme Activator: Magnesium supports metabolic processes like nutrient absorption and protein synthesis through enzyme activation. This supports plants to maintain a smooth metabolism that promotes healthy growth and development.
  • Strong Cell Wall Formation: Magnesium forms strong cell walls that offer structure and protection to the plant. With strong cell walls, plants become more resistant to diseases and physical damage. 
  • Seed Germination and Fruit Development: Magnesium is a crucial ingredient as it supports the growth of healthy seedlings and contributes to higher yields. Plants with adequate magnesium produce better-quality fruits, which is vital for gardeners and farmers.

Understanding these benefits is crucial to understanding the importance of magnesium for plants. 

But what happens when plants lack this vital nutrient? We will discuss this in-depth with visual presentations in our next section. 

Magnesium Deficiency – A Visual Guide 

Plants show their health through their leaves. Look for yellowing between the veins of the leaves, which should stay green (if healthy). The leaf edges might turn red or purple. If it gets worse, the leaves might fall off early. 

Let’s explore how your plants might look like if they lack magnesium:

  • Interveinal Chlorosis (Yellowing Between Leaf Veins)
  • Reddish or Purplish Tinge on Leaf Edges
  • Premature Leaf Drop in Severe Cases

A close up of a palm tree with yellow leaves showcasing the vibrant colors and unique texture

So, please keep a close eye on your plants, as they will help you detect any problems or changes in their surface before they get too serious. Also, detecting these problems early makes it easier to correct them and prevent long-term damage.

Ensuring Magnesium Levels in Your Garden 

Now that you know how crucial magnesium is for your plants, it’s important to know how to ensure optimal levels throughout. 

The first step is to check the soil’s nutrient profile, pH level, and other vital characteristics that affect plant growth. Soil tests will help determine magnesium levels. Take a sample of your soil and send it to a laboratory, as this will guide your fertilization strategies. 

With this approach, you can do away with the guesswork and identify the amount of nutrients your plant needs. 

Next, if the report suggests deficiency, you must try different ways to address it. 

  • Opt for magnesium supplements such as Epsom salts. They are highly soluble, and plants can absorb them quickly when applied as a foliar spray or directly into the soil.
  • Dolomitic lime also works wonders to address magnesium deficiency.  It also helps to neutralize acidic soils.
  • Composted manure is another option, especially if you like organic gardening. It enriches the soil with magnesium while also improving its overall structure. 
  • Other alternatives to consider are seaweed and rock dust. They provide a natural source of magnesium along with a range of trace minerals.

Important things to remember:

A balanced approach is crucial to ensure the right levels of magnesium. Too much of anything is harmful. Over-application can lead to imbalances and potentially harm your plants. 

Ensure you follow the recommended application rates, whether from soil test results or the product’s instructions.

Keep in mind that different plants have varying magnesium needs. Make sure you understand the plant and its requirements to strike the right balance of magnesium. 

Yellow leaved plant in brown dirt highlighting importance of magnesium levels in gardening


Hopefully, this guide was able to help you understand the crucial role of magnesium for your plants. By ensuring sufficient magnesium levels in your soil, you can promote healthy growth and high-quality yields. 

HANS, a leading fertilizer manufacturer in China, offers a range of magnesium supplements to address your plant’s needs. Contact HANS today to discuss how our products can help you create a joyful garden. 


What are the magnesium-rich foods I can add to my compost pile?

There are plenty of magnesium-rich foods that you can add to your compost pile. This includes banana peels, egg shells, and coffee grounds (add in moderation).

How long does it take to see results after addressing a magnesium deficiency?

It takes around a few weeks to see visible results. However, it depends on the severity of the deficiency.

Is it possible to test my plants directly for magnesium deficiency?

Yes, you can test your plants directly for magnesium deficiency. Go for soil testing, as it gives you the right results. 

What are some alternative ways to naturally increase magnesium in my soil?

Apart from organic waste, there are a few other alternatives to try. Use Epsom salts, composted seaweed or crushed rocks to boost magnesium content in your soil. 

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