Will Plant Vitamins Help Your Plants Grow?

Whether or not there are plant vitamins needed to help plants grow has long been a controversial subject. Plants obviously require certain nutrients to grow, and we generally know what these nutrients are, but what we don't fully understand is whether or not there are certain plant vitamins which are a part of the mix.

The Case For Vitamin B1 - For many years it has been claimed that vitamin B1 is important in reducing or eliminating transplant shock in plants. There are a number of products on the market, both powders and liquids, containing vitamin B1 (thiamine hydrochloride), designed to apply to the roots of transplants. These vitamin B1 products usually contain other nutrients important to plant health, such as iron and manganese. A number of tests were performed using a number of different plants in which one set of plants were transplanted after being given an application of a product containing vitamin B1. Several different vitamin B1 products were used in the test. A companion set of plants were transplanted with an application of standard fertilizer, but no vitamin B1. In all cases, the plants to which fertilizer was applied were significantly faster growing and healthier looking than those receiving only vitamin B1.

The results of the test did not conclusively prove that vitamin B1 did not provide any benefit, but only that fertilizer did a far better job, and an application of vitamin B1, while possible helpful, was not necessary.

The Case For Vitamin C - Vitamin C on the other hand, appears to be helpful in establishing and maintaining healthy plant growth, although its function is not well understood. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, both in the human body and in plant tissue. Vitamin C, produced in the plant by a certain enzyme, apparently protects the plant against UV radiation, and also helps the plant from becoming overly stressed during drought conditions. Studies appear to indicate that plants, or at least many types of plants, will not grow without vitamin C, though this has yet to be definitely proven.

Of two plant vitamins studies, vitamin C is apparently necessary in a plant's development while vitamin B may or may not be a contributor, but is apparently not required.

What A Plant Requires - Aside from vitamin C, there does not appear to be any plant vitamins present in the list of nutrients required by a plant to grow. Aside from carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, the primary plant nutrients, a plant requires a mix of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, the major ingredients of most fertilizers. A given type of plant will need a specific ratio of these three nutrients. In addition, plants require a number of other elements, just as we do. These are the minerals - calcium, sulfur and magnesium being key. Trace amounts of several other minerals are needed as well. These trace amounts of manganese, iron, copper, zinc, and several other metals, are naturally present in most soils.

Summary - There does not appear to have been any studies documented indicating that any of the vitamins required by humans would be harmful to plants, though a concentration of any one could conceivably have an undesirable effect. A fertilizer chock-full of vitamins probably isn't going to do any more for a plant than the standard nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium combination.  The addition of vitamin C might not even make a difference, as plants are apparently able to produce their own. It might be difficult to convince some gardeners that Vitamin B supplements could be a waste of money, as these products are fairly well established. One series of tests doesn't necessarily prove anything of course, and there is always the possibility that other compounds or chemicals in a given transplant powder or solution could be quite beneficial to a plant.