Potassium nitrate fertilizer, potassium nitrate - all advantages and disadvantages

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Potassium nitrate fertilizer, potassium nitrate - all advantages and disadvantages: nitrate

Fertilizers supply plants with valuable nutrients, which i.a. promote growth or resistance to pests and weather so that they feel comfortable in their home.


Fertilizers or fertilizers are available in a variety of forms: liquid, solid, granular or in the form of sticks. In addition, a distinction is made between so-called universal fertilizers and special fertilizers. Furthermore, fertilizers are classified according to their constituents. This distinguishes between organic and mineral applications. Potassium nitrate fertilizers are among the mineral fertilizers.

Chemical composition and properties

Potassium nitrate is the potassium salt of nitric acid. That's why the salt is often called saltpetre or potash saltpeter. In nature, it occurs mainly in China and Southeast Asia, but today it is mainly obtained synthetically from nitric acid. The acid itself is an inorganic substance the most stable mineral acid of nitrogen. Their salts are called nitrates. From a chemical point of view, potassium nitrate consists of these elements:
  • Oxygen (O)
  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Potassium (K)
The chemical formula is KNO3. The fertilizer is thus mineral and nitrogen fertilizer at the same time. Saltpetre forms colorless crystals that dissolve in the water. Potassium nitrate dissolves best in warm water. Potassium saltpeter can be found not only in plant fertilizers. As E 252 it is also used as pickling salt for the preservation of food; In addition, potassium nitrate is the main constituent of black powder. And it even occurs in toothpastes for pain-sensitive teeth.
Potassium nitrate is hygroscopic, but it does not bind water as much as sodium nitrate. Since potassium nitrate is slightly oxidizing, it should be handled very carefully with pure KNO3.

Use as a plant fertilizer

In addition to nitrogen and phosphorus, potassium is one of the core nutrient elements of a plant. In other words, potassium is vital to any plant, be it useful or ornamental, as the plants need the mineral for water absorption. Therefore, just room or potted plants should be supplied in sufficient quantity with them. Of course, the amount actually needed depends on the individual plant. The high potassium plants include:
  • tomatoes
  • pumpkins
  • cucumbers
  • potatoes
  • Aquatic plants (aquarium)
Ornamental plants that are cultivated in pots or pots need an average of 49 grams of potassium per kilogram of soil.
Tip: For planted plants, a soil analysis is recommended before using a potassium nitrate fertilizer, as too much potassium can also be detrimental to the plants.
Potassium helps plants absorb other nutrients better. So they thrive better and higher yields can be achieved in crops. But the positive properties of potassium go even further:
  • Improvement of fruit firmness and color
  • Improvement of frost resistance through regulation of the water balance
  • promotes winter resistance
  • Reduce susceptibility to pests by strengthening cell walls
  • Prevention of fungal attack
  • Promotes reserve formation
For plants to absorb potassium better, they need nitrate nitrogen. It can be absorbed by the plants immediately and in turn promotes growth. In addition to potassium, nitrate nitrogen also ensures that calcium and magnesium can be better absorbed by the plants.

Potassium deficiency and excess


Fertilizers are usually used to provide plants with the appropriate nutrients. As a plant food, in addition to water and carbon dioxide, they should be given regularly during the growing season. A renunciation of nutrient supply can lead to deficiency symptoms. A potassium deficiency you recognize:
  • in places leafless leaves (chlorosis), yellowing
  • a browning of the leaves (necrosis, death of leaf tissue)
  • the death of the leaves from the edge
  • a low stability of the plant
  • stunted growth
  • the bursting of fruits (especially tomatoes)
Overall, the plant is limp in potassium deficiency. Too much potassium in the soil can also cause damage to the roots, resulting in the so-called burning of the roots, which causes them to die.
Tip: A bad crumb structure of the soil is a good indication of an excess of potassium in the soil.
Although potassium is vital for plants, excess potassium is just as harmful to the plant as a deficiency of the core nutrient. If plants receive too much potassium, they can no longer absorb the equally important nutrient, magnesium, which is necessary for many metabolic processes in the plant, including photosynthesis. At the same time, an excess of magnesium inhibits the absorption of potassium. An interaction in the intake also exists with calcium.Thus, an excess of potassium can make it difficult to take up, which in turn can lead to a reduction in growth.
Tip: If the plant suffers from an excess of potassium, the further addition of the nutrient should first be suspended. In addition, magnesium should be given more, so that the plant comes back into balance.

Potassium nitrate fertilizer commercially

Potassium nitrate fertilizer can be obtained at the hardware store or in specialist shops. Often one finds the special fertilizer under the name NK fertilizer. Here, "NK" stands for the substances contained nitrate nitrogen and potassium. In order for Potassium Nitrate to be able to produce explosives and other pyrotechnic mixtures, you may be asked for your ID card when you purchase it. Universal fertilizer is available under the name N-K-P fertilizer. They contain the core elements nitrogen (N), potassium (K) and phosphorus (P). The proportion of individual nutrients varies depending on the fertilizer.
In addition to the universal fertilizers, potassium is also found in so-called combined potassium fertilizers. In addition to potassium, these fertilizers also contain magnesium, sulfur or sodium. For aquatic plants in the aquarium there are special Kalisalpeter. They are available in liquid form not only in hardware stores, but also in pet supply stores. Commercially available N-K-P fertilizers should not be used for aquarium plants. They may have unallocated copper, which is dangerous, if not deadly, to fish and snails.
Tip: Often it can be read that potassium nitrate can also be obtained through the pharmacy of trust. Since in this case one is often moved in the vicinity of "bomb makers", this supply is currently being advised against for reasons known reasons.

Video Board: Chemicals Used as Fertilizers.

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