Vegetative growth is the growth of leaves, stems and roots. Generative growth is the development of flowers, fruits and seeds. The plant divides its energy between vegetative and generative growth.
The leaves of a plant are the sugar producing organ of the plant. The more vegetative growth, the more leaf surface is created that can be used for sugar production. These self-developed sugars feed the plant, making extra growth, fruit set and tuber formation possible. Vegetative growth can be subdivided into two processes:
- Cell development: more cells are added, making the plant larger.
- Cell stretching: the existing cells take up more water, which elongates them and makes the plant larger.
What slows down vegetative growth?
If the balance tips to generative growth, more energy, water and nutrients are directed to the growth of the generative parts and vegetative growth is slowed down. At a certain point in its natural cycle, a plant will switch to generative growth under the influences of age, season and climate conditions (particularly light and temperature).
The transition from vegetative to generative growth can also occur suddenly under the influence of stress (heat, cold, drought). In that case, vegetative growth is almost immediately slowed down and the plant ‘grinds to a halt’.
In addition, almost all nutrients are involved in the vegetative growth of plants. Insufficient uptake of these nutrients provides will lead to suboptimal vegetative growth.
What stimulates vegetative growth?
An abundant supply of nitrogen, sufficient water, high air humidity and moderate temperatures stimulate vegetative growth.
For good vegetative growth, it is important that the plant can properly take up the nutrients in the soil. Primary elements (N, P, and K), secondary elements (Ca, Mg and S) and trace elements (Mn, Zn, Fe, Cu, B, and Mo) are all of importance in vegetative growth. Vegetative growth is the result of numerous plant physiological processes such as photosynthesis, cell division, cell stretching, transport of sugars, etc. If one of these processes is inhibited, vegetative growth will slow down.