Is it Possible to Build Your Plant's Immune System?

Amir Tajer

Posted on May 09 2018

Plants, like humans, have the ability to get sick. In the agricultural industry, about 20 percent of all crops are expected to be lost due to disease. In a home garden, you may not notice the impact of plant disease affecting your yield but your plants are being affected as much, if not more so, by your plants "getting sick."

That's why it's so important to understand how a plant's immune response works, and how, if possible, you can boost your garden's collective immune system with the addition of a single new product. Here's something you may not have heard about in your run-of-the-mill gardening tips:

Plants Have Immune Systems Too

When humans’ bodies encounter pathogens, our immune system responds to those pathogens. Basically, several internal functions of the human body combine to push out foreign contaminants and then "remember" key features of the specific pathogen involved, leading to immunity.

Plants work in a similar, if much less sophisticated, way. While the human immune system is "adaptive" — i.e. able to remember past pathogens — plant immune systems are "passive," meaning that they are not able to remember past interactions with pathogens. Unlike the human immune system, the plant does not have specialized cells to destroy those pathogens should they encounter them a second time.

This means that plants must rely on a "one size fits all" immune response. Of course, plants do exhibit disease resistance, but generally, don't develop resistance to specific diseases like humans do over the course of our lives.

How Do Plants Resist Disease?

Generally, when a plant exhibits resistance to a disease, such as a bacteria, fungus, virus, oomycete, nematode, or insect, it's because the plant already has the genetic information that tells it to resist a given pathogen. Broadly, plants resist disease by building strong cell walls, and surface-level receptors that alert the plant when it needs to put up its defenses.

So, can you build a plant's immune system? The answer is not as simple as you might think. Short of using genetic modification, making a substantial change in a single plant strain is an endeavor that will likely not be fruitful.

However, when you ensure that a plant receives enough vital nutrients, it becomes better equipped to fight off pathogens. Similar to how the human body doesn't function at its best when malnourished, a nutrient deficiency can cause plants' internal systems (and immune response) to function far less than its best.

How To Support Your Plant's Immune Response

Nothing is going to stop plant pathogens completely — after all, certain types of plants are more susceptible than others to specific pathogens. Making sure your garden is providing the proper nutrient load to your plants is a great way to ensure that their immune systems are working efficiently.

So, what is the one nutrient that you should be giving your plants? Potassium, or more specifically, Potassium Sulfate (K2SO4). Applying Potassium Sulfate to your garden will ensure that your plants have the nutrition they need to fight off diseases. The key factor at work here is the potassium (K). Potassium supports many of the vital internal functions at work in plants, including the ability to respond to foreign bodies like various types of plant pathogens.

Note that even using a product that strengthens the immune system of any plant can't completely protect them against disease. You'll still lose a share of your garden plants to plant pathogens, but using Potassium Sulfate guarantees that your plants are equipped to fight pathogens that they are fully or partially resistant to.

Consider Greenway Biotech's Water Soluble Potassium Sulfate

When you're fighting plant diseases by combatting nutrient deficiency in your garden, you need high-quality nutrition for your plants. Greenway Biotech offers a water soluble Potassium Sulfate product that supports the natural immune system of the plants you grow.