If you’ve ever thought your plants look a little more vibrant after a thunderstorm, you haven’t been imagining things. Through a series of chemical reactions, lightning actually provides your plants with fertilizers.
Mark Vorderbruggen (@mmplantco), founder of Medicine Man Plant Co., explained how lightning helps your garden in an Instagram video. It all comes down to nitrogen, a naturally occurring element that comprises nearly 80% of our atmosphere.
“Normally, the nitrogen in the atmosphere is two nitrogen atoms tightly bound to each other. That’s very … hard to break apart, and the plants can’t use nitrogen in this form,” Mark explained.
Nitrogen is actually essential to a plant’s growth. It’s a key component of chlorophyll, the compound that allows plants to perform photosynthesis.
However, the high temperatures of lightning bolts are strong enough to break apart nitrogen molecules. When that happens, the nitrogen atoms interact with oxygen and minerals in your soil to form “water soluble nitrogen that the plants can use, which then fertilizes them and makes them greener,” Mark said.
Nitrates form naturally, but lightning strikes help speed up the process. “Thunderstorms are actually really, really good free fertilizer for your plants,” Mark said.
Runoff from synthetic fertilizers, on the other hand, can result in deadly algae blooms in our waterways, so the best option is to find natural and organic alternatives to fertilize your plants.
In addition to thunderstorms, compost, grass clippings, and manure all provide your plants with the nutrients they need.
For many viewers, Mark’s video confirmed that their plants were indeed greener after thunderstorms.
“I love growing tomatoes and a good lightning storm seems to do better for them than Miracle-Gro,” one wrote.
“I lived in the UAE for a while and there was one plant that needed lightning to grow!” another shared.
“So if an area doesn’t get lightning on the regular, how do the plants get nitrogen?” one user wanted to know.
“There are also certain bacteria that have enzymes capable of breaking apart nitrogen molecules,” Mark replied.
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