Silicon content is determined via inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy.
Zinnia in elevated silicon hydroponics solutions.
Scanning electron microscope image of a silicon deposit in new guinea impatiens leaves.
Silicon is not viewed as an essential element for plant growth because most species are able to complete their life cycle without it. However, numerous studies have documented a beneficial role of silicon in reducing stress from disease, pest, and nutrient toxicity. Recognizing this, commercially available forms of silicon have entered the retail market, but use of them has been limited by expense, delivery systems, and a general lack of knowledge about silicon’s effects on specific crops. Of the many different ornamental crops, relatively few have been studied for their ability to uptake silicon and beneficially use it. Our current silicon research is directed at identifying silicon accumulation in a wider variety of crops, the potential benefits and drawbacks of silicon to both accumulator and non-accumulator crops, and appropriate methods of delivering silicon to plants through both plant-based and inorganic media and fertilizer amendments.