Knowledge from Olle Garden Bed: Five Reasons for Plants' Leaves Turning Purple
Understand the five reasons behind the purple coloration of plant leaves and learn effective methods to address this issue for healthier and more vibrant plants. Have you ever noticed a hint of mysterious purple on your plant leaves? Don't worry! Embark on a fascinating journey of plant care and unravel the reasons behind this transformation. So, put on your gardening gloves and get ready to decipher the colorful language of your plants!The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.
Overview of Plant Leaf Purple Coloration
Anthocyanins are extraordinary pigments that give leaves their purple color. These pigments also enhance the vibrant red and purple hues of fruits and flowers. Factors such as light, temperature, pH, and nutrients like magnesium influence the levels of anthocyanins.
It's worth noting that chlorophyll, the essential green pigment for plant photosynthesis, can mask anthocyanins. Thus, as chlorophyll levels decline, the presence of anthocyanins becomes more apparent. This phenomenon intensifies and deepens the purple coloration of the leaves. Explore the five reasons why plant leaves turn purple.
1. Phosphorus Deficiency
Phosphorus is crucial for key components like DNA, RNA, and cellular membrane functions. It is also a key element in the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) system, the "energy currency" of plants. Phosphorus deficiency in plants can result in leaf discoloration or reddening. The old leaves of these plants may turn purple due to the accumulation of anthocyanins.
Phosphorus deficiency hampers plant growth and root development, leading to decreased yields, premature fruit drop, and delayed maturity. Various factors like low pH, weak root systems, excessive moisture in the growing medium, and low substrate temperatures hinder phosphorus uptake. Substrate refers to the material or medium in which plants grow, such as soil, sand, gravel, or any other material that provides support and nutrients to plant roots.
Hence, these conditions restrict plant growth even if there is sufficient phosphorus in the substrate. Phosphorus deficiency is evident in seedlings by the appearance of purple leaves, while older plants may exhibit reddish-purple bottoms. To address this issue, add compost or use phosphate salts to enhance phosphorus uptake.
The flavonoid pathway plays a crucial role in the accumulation of anthocyanins. In response to nutrient deficiencies, enzymes in this pathway become more active, resulting in increased levels of anthocyanins in leaves.
The flavonoid pathway in plants is essential for producing flavonoids, important secondary metabolites. These compounds serve various functions in plants, such as providing UV protection, pigment deposition, and defense against pathogens and herbivores.
Magnesium deficiency can harm plants, particularly in mature leaves. They become more prone to damage and premature leaf drop. Additionally, you may notice significant discoloration between leaf veins and along the edges, where they turn yellow. Subsequently, redness and necrosis, initially resembling viral infections, occur in the areas between leaf veins.
It's important to note that chlorosis caused by magnesium deficiency may initially resemble iron deficiency. The primary symptoms of iron deficiency are yellowing of leaves with a dark green vein network. However, vibrant reddish-purple scars appear and necrotic edges form on the leaves. Fortunately, applying magnesium sulfate provides magnesium, effectively addressing this issue.
3. Potassium Deficiency
Potassium is an essential nutrient for plant growth and development. It not only regulates water absorption and promotes photosynthesis (the process of plant food production) but also stimulates flowering and fruiting. Additionally, it enhances the overall resilience of plants.
Yellow or purple leaf tones, browning of leaf margins, and a lack of flowering or fruiting in plants indicate potassium deficiency. To address this issue, use high-potassium fertilizers such as potassium sulfate. Ensure to read and follow the instructions on the packaging carefully for proper application.
Note: If you have shallow, sandy, or chalky soils, you may be more prone to potassium deficiency. These types of soils make potassium more prone to leaching. On the other hand, clay retains potassium within its structure, reducing the risk of deficiency.
4. Low Temperature Combined with High Light
The growing environment significantly influences the accumulation of anthocyanins. Cooler environments can increase the concentration of anthocyanins, resulting in more vibrant purple colors in plants. On the other hand, high temperatures have adverse effects and lower the concentration of anthocyanins.
When low temperature and high light are combined, the deepest purple coloration occurs in leaves. Conversely, crops exposed to weak light and high temperatures often do not exhibit pigmentation. The temperature and humidity percentage that leads to purple coloration depend on the plant species.
Most plants tend to display leaf purple coloration when exposed to cooler temperatures, usually between 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In some plants, higher humidity levels also contribute to leaf purple coloration. Typically, a humidity range of 60% to 80% promotes this phenomenon.
Note: Ensure that your plants are not exposed to freezing or extremely high temperatures, as it disrupts their normal metabolic processes.
5. Overwatering or Underwatering
Overwatering or underwatering can cause unnecessary stress and result in the growth of red or purple leaves. Additionally, overwatered plants can lead to root rot, which negatively affects the absorption of essential nutrients like magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. This can further enhance the purple coloration of plant leaves. On the other hand, if you submerge plants in water, their leaves may turn brown or purple.
To prevent this situation, provide the appropriate amount of water for your specific plant species. Avoid overaccumulation of moisture in the soil by watering only when the top of the soil feels dry. Using well-draining soil mixes or ensuring your pots have proper drainage holes prevents waterlogging.
Benefits of Anthocyanins
Anthocyanins are renowned for their excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Their wide range of biological effects strongly suggests significant potential in preventing diabetes, combating cancer, and promoting cardiovascular and neuroprotective health. While purple plant leaves indicate nutrient deficiencies, they don't always warrant concern. Certain plant species naturally possess purple leaves due to their genetics, such as clover, Rex begonia, and Ti plants.
Put an End to Purple Leaves Once and for All!
Restoring vibrant green plants full of vitality is easier than you imagine. Remember, a little tender care can go a long way in nurturing your green leaf companions and ensuring their robust growth in their natural habitats. So, don't let the presence of purple leaves discourage you. Instead, seize this opportunity to deepen your connection with nature and create a thriving green oasis in the comfort of your own home.