Leaf vegetables are those vegetables of which both the leaves and the petioles may be consumed. Notable members of this group include Swiss chardspinachlettucecabbage and many others. In general, they are crops typical of temperate and slightly cold climates.

On the other hand horticultural fruits are herbaceous plants that can reach different shapes and sizes depending on the crop, as well as the dimensions of their leaves, flowers and fruits.

Horticultural fruits go through a stage of sowing or transplanting, rooting, vegetative development, flowering, setting, fruiting and fruit development and ripening. The time of year of each of the stages varies according to the crop.

Vegetables are heavy consumers of fertiliser so if not applied sufficiently the yield may not be as expected.

Each stage has different nutritional requirements:

Macronutrient in horticultural


Nitrogen is of vital importance in the vegetative growth and development of the plant, and so it is of vital importance at that stage of development. It is also necessary for the formation of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, etc.

A lack of nitrogen leads to chlorosis and necrosis in the leaves and slower growth of horticultural fruits.


This is essential because it is involved in metabolism, photosynthesis and storage of energy within the plant. Phosphorus is essential for plant root development and flowering.

A lack of phosphorus causes dwarfism and a decrease in the number of flowers, which leads to a decrease in production. In leaves, a purple colour may be observed when it displays a deficiency.


This is essential for fruit development and ripening, as it is involved in the synthesis of sugars.

A lack of potassium decreases production and fruit quality and makes the plant more susceptible to attack by pathogens.


This forms part of the cell walls of the plant, therefore it promotes the growth and formation of fruits. Vegetables need calcium throughout the development of the crop, and it is of great importance in the later stages of development. In addition, it is of great importance for good post-harvest quality.

A calcium deficiency causes development of smaller, deformed leaves with chlorosis present on the leaf edges, which can lead to necrosis. In fruits a dark apical spot may be detected, making the fruit unsuitable for sale.


This is part of the chlorophyll molecule and therefore has a direct influence on photosynthesis. It also helps strengthen plant cell walls.

A magnesium deficiency causes intervenal chlorosis and twisting in old leaves.

Micronutrients in horticultural


Iron is of vital importance in the life cycle of plants, since it composed of several enzymes and pigments.

Iron deficiency will be clearly signalled by an intense chlorosis, and the leaves will later wrinkle and fall. Normally this deficiency is due to a blockage of iron in the soil due to pH levels.


Boron is a very important micronutrient for flowering and fruit setting. In addition, it is used in the synthesis of cell walls and is essential for cell division.

Boron deficiency may be signalled by chlorosis and necrosis at the growth points, advancing towards the centre of the leaf. It also creates flowering problems and deformation in fruits.


This micronutrient is very important for the growth and development of plants, as it is directly involved in cell metabolism. The application of zinc is important in vegetative growth and at the end of the season to increase fruit yield.

A zinc deficiency produces intervenal chlorosis in leaves, which can lead to necrosis at the edges and tips of the leaves. It also decreases plant growth.


This micronutrient is highly important in the plant, since it is involved in several biological processes, such as photosynthesis.

A deficiency of manganese produces similar results to those of an iron deficiency, displaying intervenal chlorosis in the leaves. The difference is that in the case of manganese, necrosis also appears between the veins.

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