What Plants Need Potash

What Plants Need Potash?

Just like humans, plants too need to be fed for them to grow up healthy. Poor diet or insufficient food will lead to malnourishment and eventually to death. Plant nutrients are classified into two categories, namely macronutrients and micronutrients.

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Macronutrients are the essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, while the micronutrients include the likes of calcium and manganese. These are the main constituents of the N-P-K fertilizer. The micronutrients are taken in by the plants in smaller quantities.

What is Potash?

Potash is one of the main sources of potassium. Potassium is an essential element for the health of both humans and plants. In humans, it plays a major role in the metabolism, growth of tissues, and the electrical system of the heart. Potassium is also responsible for healthy well-developed muscles and internal body organs.

Potash is also important for the health of plants. Plants grow better and look healthier when applied with generous amounts of Potassium. Potassium is responsible for healthy roots, fruits, and general cell development in plants.

Where Does Potash Come From?

As mentioned earlier on, N-P-K fertilizers contain nitrogen(N), phosphorus(P), and potassium(K). Potassium is labeled as K to distinguish it from phosphorus. Different fertilizers contain different ratios of the three and this ratio is what determines the function of the fertilizer. A balanced fertilizer has an equal ratio of all the constituent nutrients.

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Besides the NPK fertilizers, potash can also be found in limestone, and other natural sources such as wood ash, manure, and compost. When making compost manure, it is advisable to throw in wood ash, to supply Potash.

Last but not least, Potash exists naturally in soil and some are washed away into the water sources. This means that even before it is applied in processed form, the plants are already supplied with the naturally existing form.

Benefits of Potash in Soil and Plants

  • Potash minerals are known to promote water absorption by the roots.
  • Potash helps in breaking down plant sugars so that they can be used up by the plant as food
  •  Fertilizers containing potash increase the pH in soil hence promoting the health of plants that thrive in alkaline conditions.

Plants That Need Potash

1. Potatoes

Potash is an essential mineral for the growth of healthy potatoes. It affects both the quantity of the harvest, the quality of the potatoes, and their outward look when they are growing on the farm. When visiting your farm, you want to see your plants looking green and succulent. It makes you look forward to the harvest.

Potash helps in maintain turgidity in the leaves and stems, which consequently grow to their full size. The healthy plant cover helps the soil to retain water since the scorching sun does not get to the soil.

As mentioned earlier, Potash helps in the distribution of water in the soil. This means that in the absence of potash the roots will not be able to utilize the available water effectively. The water will either be less causing the potatoes to dry or too much and clog the potatoes causing them to rot.

The effect of Potash on the quality and quantity of potatoes is not just dependent on the quantity of Potash applied. Other factors play a major role, such as the timing and the source of the potash.

Role of Potash in Potatoes

  • Potash prevents the darkening of the fleshy part of the potato
  • Improves resistance to diseases. It acts as an immunity booster
  • Reduces the starch concentration in potatoes
  • Helps in the production of good quality potatoes, which translates to higher profits
  •  It increases the shelf life of the potatoes meaning the potatoes will be less perishable. There will no losses incurred in case the market is not favorable.
  •  Because of the turgidity, the potatoes are less prone to mechanical damage. Mechanical damage is the dents that the potatoes acquire during packaging and transportation.

2. Green Leafy Vegetables

Potash is responsible for the overall health of crops. When planting green vegetables, our dream is to harvest, big, well-developed yields. NPK fertilizer contains all the nutrients needed for a good harvest. However, the potassium and potash are mainly responsible for the healthy-looking leaves in the green vegetables.

The soil usually contains some bits of potash but this cannot be ascertained unless the soil is tested in the lab. It is therefore recommended that you add Potash to the soil before planting vegetables.

The other option would be to rotate your vegetables with crops that do not take in a lot of potassium. This way you will be sure that the soil is still rich in the natural potash.

Whether you will find a market for your green leafy vegetables or not largely depends on how they look. It is, therefore, worthwhile to spend a little more time and resources to ensure the soil is well endowed with the right amounts of potash.

Signs of Potash Deficiency in Green Leafy Vegetables

  • The crops are growing slowly compared to previous seasons
  • The leaves at some point start turning brown or yellow

3. Corn

Potash is very essential in corn-growing because the corn needs it throughout the growing period. The fact that Potash is responsible for the distribution of water through the plant explains its importance.

Potash is also responsible for strong stems and considering the physical nature of corn plants, then we understand why the use of potash is emphasized. If the corn plants do not get enough potash, they will be falling with the slightest wind.

The quantity of potash you should apply on corn depends on whether you intend to harvest sweet corn or dry corn. Dry corn required a slightly higher concentration because it will be on the farm for a longer period.

The surest way of knowing that the corn has a deficiency of potash is observing the leaves. If they appear to be browning at the edges, then you should consider adding more potash to the soil

4. Berries

Berries such as raspberries, currants, and strawberries among others need potash for them to yield healthy fruits. As we have mentioned earlier, potash is the mineral that is responsible for the absorption of water.

In berries to be specific, Potash helps in balancing the acid content, meaning that when sufficiently used, the crops will produce sweet-tasting berries. A deficiency of potash, on the other hand, will lead to bitter or sour-tasting berry fruits.

Besides the taste, potash in berries is responsible for the vitamin C content as well as the color of the fruit.

Just like in the other plants, potash in berries is responsible for healthy-looking plants. This is usually the first indicator that the soil contains enough potash.

How Do You Know the Soil has Insufficient Potash?

By observing plants as they grow, you can easily tell whether they are getting sufficient nutrients. For Potash, the first sign of deficiency is the changing color of the foliage, which can either be dark greenish or bluish-green.

The other sign that the plants are not getting enough potash is that the plants will start curling downwards.

Advantages of Potassium Fertilizer

1. Plant Metabolism

The main nutrients needed for plant metabolism are N-P-K fertilizers and potassium. These nutrients are important in any garden, and it serves as a support for nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus. Most especially, potassium aids plants in retaining water, improve plant balance, and aids protein synthesis to make your plants healthier.

2. Root Development

Potassium is great for the root development of the plants, which is why it is very essential for young plants to put down new root systems as they settle into their new home. In addition, phosphorus also aids root development so if your plants need a more durable root system then you should acknowledge putting both potassium and phosphorus to let them work in tandem.

3. Disease Resistance

Potassium can also improve plants’ defense systems that make them less vulnerable to disease. Most importantly, potassium enlarges cell walls and strengthens stems, stalks, and roots to make the plants more immune to any diseases and makes them withstand any weather condition stress. Also if your plant has an existing disease or bug infestations, potassium can decrease the severity of these problems. However, keep in mind that when applying a high dose of potassium you should also apply nitrogen to support green growth.


To preserve potash in the soil, you should practice crop rotation. This involves interchanging crops that have high and low demand for potash respectively in different seasons.

Since some of the potash is generated by the natural minerals in the soil, giving it a break will allow it to rejuvenate.

Alfalfa is the most preferred crop to rotate with potash consuming plants. Alfalfa does not use up any potash. It is grown as an animal feed.