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Peaceful Resistance: The Hydroponic Plant’s Arsenal of Defense

Plants have their own means of protecting themselves. Plants have their own means of protecting themselves.


Have you noticed that some plants may be unaffected by a particular fungus while others succumb easily to the same disease? This is partially because plants manufacture an array of bioactive compounds called phytochemicals, which are responsible for a variety of growth needs, including defense from pests and disease, and some plants do so better than others. Phytochemicals help plants become resistant to insects by acting as feeding deterrents and warding off insects with their smell. They also act as prohibitins and reduce or completely halt the development of micro-organisms.

Terpenes form the largest class of these protective compounds and play many roles in mediating antagonistic and beneficial interactions among many different organisms, including your crop. They defend many species of plants, animals and microorganisms against predators, pathogens and competitors, and they are involved in signaling messages to other members of the same species and mutualists regarding the presence of food, friends and foes. Many types of plants have external organelles where phytochemical resins and essential oils are secreted. These substances create a physical barrier that may trap and kill smaller bugs such as spider mites. Additionally, the aromatic compounds that are produced in the resins will deter many types of insects from contacting the plant altogether.

When phytochemicals are working at maximum efficiency, not only will your plants be more resistant to insect predation, they will also be able to flourish in conditions that would otherwise stunt production.

Knowledge of phytochemicals matters to growers for two reasons: Obviously, you want to protect you plants from outside predators. But the production of phytochemicals also affects your plant’s growth from the inside out. Your plant is in a constant internal debate known as the “to grow or to defend” dilemma. The energy and nutrients required to form these defensive compounds are the same ones utilized by the plant to grow. More of one means less of the other. Plants must grow fast enough to compete, yet they must also defend themselves against pests, pathogens and herbivores. In other words, plants must constantly choose between growth and defense.

How can you help aid your plants in this life-and-death decision? Applying Advanced Nutrients’ Bud Factor X in the early bloom phase triggers and maintains a higher level of resin, aromatic and terpene secretion throughout the bloom phase. The ingredients are absorbed by the plants’ roots and begin to signal the plant to increase production of these valuable compounds while minimizing the depletion of growth energy. This is accomplished by signaling receptors that are inherent in the plant on an intra-cellular level.

When phytochemicals are working at maximum efficiency, not only will your plants be more resistant to insect predation, they will also be able to flourish in conditions that would otherwise stunt production. This helps to ensure healthy and abundant harvests, regardless of which troublesome pests might otherwise get in the way.

Protect Yourself

More than just defenders of your plants, phytochemicals are also an essential part of your diet. Here are some key examples:


Obtained chiefly from many vascular plants, these include steroids and some saponins extracted from beans, cereals and herbs.


Found in aromatic plants such as garlic and onions.


Many are extracted from fruits and vegetables, including flavones (in chamomile), flavonols (in grapefruit and buckwheat rutin), flavanones (in citrus fruits and milk thistle) and isoflavones (in soy, peanuts and lentils).


These are extracted from green vegetables, soy products and grains, and they represent one of the largest classes of phytochemicals.

The most intensely studied terpenes are carotenoids (in fruits and carrots). A subclass of terpenes contains the limonoids found in citrus fruit peels.

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A very cool plant displaying its defense mechanism.
Last modified on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 09:25

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