Where Do Trees Get Their Nutrients for Growth?

Every living thing needs nutrients to grow and stay healthy, including trees. However, many Alexandria residents don’t understand how trees gather their nutrients or what nutrients they need to thrive, causing them to wonder, “Where do trees get their nutrients?” So Dos Amigos Tree Experts compiled this guide to explain tree nutrients, where they come from, and their importance.

Dos Amigos Tree Experts is Alexandria, Virginia’s go-to choice for professional tree care and associated services. If you need a trusted arborist in Alexandria, VA, who always makes their customers their top priority, contact our team.

The Importance of Tree Nutrients

Like humans, trees need nutrients to survive and stay strong. Nutrient deficiencies can cause multiple and potentially fatal issues for trees, ranging from severe wilting to thin crowns. They can also cause:

  • Stunted growth
  • Dead plant tissue
  • Premature leaf drop
  • Mushroom growth along the trunk

So, where do trees get their nutrients from?

How Trees Gather Nutrients

Trees gather nutrients in multiple ways. However, the primary nutrient sources include soil, air, and water.


Trees gather most of their nutrients from the soil. Tree roots have tiny hairs that absorb soil nutrients and transport them to the tree’s leaves, flowers, and branches. Although healthy soil contains several nutrients trees need to thrive, the most essential are:

  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen promotes healthy growth and gives leaves their striking green color. It also helps trees perform photosynthesis, an essential process that turns sunlight into chemical energy.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus improves root nutrient absorption and growth.
  • Potassium: Potassium helps trees generate chlorophyll and improve root uptake. Trees can’t perform photosynthesis efficiently if they don’t have enough potassium.

Other essential soil nutrients include:

  • Chlorine
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Boron
  • Molybdenum
  • Nickel
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur

However, sometimes, especially in cases like replanting trees with no roots, soil doesn’t have enough nutrients to support a tree’s health. In such scenarios, it’s crucial to provide additional support through fertilization to compensate for the lack of a developed root system.


Trees obtain oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen through the air to create carbohydrates. They use these carbohydrates as a stored energy source, helping the plant grow throughout the season. Carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen form an essential nutrition trio for the tree to perform photosynthesis, and it can’t complete the process without them.


Water also provides oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen to trees, allowing them to complete photosynthesis. 

During photosynthesis, the tree’s root system transports water and nutrients to the tree’s leaves through xylem cells. Once they reach the leaves, the phloem cells send sugar created during photosynthesis to the rest of the tree. The sugars act as the tree’s food and transform into starch, allowing the tree to store it or generate new leaves and branches.

Maintaining your trees and ensuring they have enough nutrients to thrive is no small task. It requires frequent watering, fertilizing, and more, making it difficult for busy homeowners to balance it with work and family life. As such, many Alexandria homeowners hire professional tree maintenance services to keep their trees in tip-top shape and enhance their property’s appearance.

Contact Dos Amigos Tree Experts for Top-Quality Tree Care in Alexandria, Virginia

Next time you ask yourself, “Where do trees get their nutrients?” contact Dos Amigos Tree Experts. Our arborists will explain everything you need to know about tree nutrients while ensuring your trees look their best. Whether you want to know why leaves fall off trees or more about water transport in trees, our team stands ready to answer your questions.

Give us a call at (703) 300-6103 and enhance your Alexandria, Virginia, property with exceptional tree services today!

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Alexandria, VA 22312
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