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Luis Valdovinos

Ms. Auble
AP Biology
31 August 2015
The Effect of Fertilizer on Plant Development
The ability to speed up plant growth and create the most optimal plants has always been
something to desire, leading to the development of GMOS, pesticides, and fertilizers. The
purpose of this experiment is to observe the effect of fertilizers on tomato plants. The needed
nutrients in most, if not all plants, are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Fertilizer can
provide an abundance of nutrients, to not only speed up plant growth, but to observe if the plant
produces more leaves under an abundance of nutrients. If fertilizer contains an abundance of
nutrients for plants, then plants should produce more leaves.
The materials used were soil, fertilizer, tomato seeds, plant pots, water, and a spray bottle.
Performing the experiment is very simple. First, a tray with some soil and seeds will be provided.
If it is not provided, purchase some pots, soil, and seeds (which will need to be done for later
stages regardless), Water the seedlings in the tray daily, until they sprout. It is NOT
recommended to leave them out for the first few nights, as leaves might fall off, because of cold
weather or insects. Once the seedlings grow large enough, they must be transplanted to larger
pots, with more soil, and the fertilizer that will be used in the experiment. Transplanting requires
uprooting the seedlings, which requires gently pulling on the seedlings until the seedling comes
out, with the roots intact, or gently digging around the area of the seedling and then pulling them
out. There should be 3 or more sets of pots, one for one fertilizer, one for another fertilizer, and
one for a control group. For example, the fertilizers used were Vigoro and Miracle Gro, both blue
crystalline substances that need to be dissolved in water, and then placed into the pot. The control
group does not use any fertilizers. After transplanting the seeds in, the soil should be sprayed or
dripped with fertilizer, following the directions in the box (placing a small amount of fertilizer in
water and then using that mixture as fertilizer). This must be done every two weeks. A spray
bottle with water makes watering plants much less intrusive, making plant displacement less
severe. Watering plants should be done on a semi daily basis, depending on the weather. If the
weather is hot, then plants should be watered more, and if the weather is cold then plants should
be watered less. Plants should be watered when the soil is starting to lose its moisture. In order to
determine the effect of fertilizer on leaf development, data is collected every week, counting the
leaves on every plant, and documenting which plant it is, for future references. The number of
leaves is the quantitative data, while the qualitative data is the appearance of the plants, the
height and general health of the plant, which might be used for discussion on the effects of
fertilizers on plants in general, if they did not have much of an effect on plant growth.

The weekly results are as follows

July 5: This is in the middle of the first week, there are no seedlings, yet. There is no tray in this
experiment as the seedlings on the tray all died on the first week, and so the experiment was
restarted, taking 1.5 weeks to obtain pots, soil, fertilizer, and seeds. As a result, no transplanting
will take place in this experiment.

July 8: This is around the end of the first week, which is important as this is the first occurrence
of seedlings. Soil is a bit dry as I neglected to water the edges of the pot (Seedling care)

July 10: This is in-between the first and second weeks, and is important as it is showing the
development of more seedlings. (Seedling care)

July 16: More seedlings are sprouting, although some are drooping. One leaf in the control shot
up and is very thin and tall, as it presumably grew when the plant was inside the house and was
receiving reduced sunlight. (seedling care)

August 2: Leaving town and neglecting to take a photo before doing so is a bad idea, and should
generally be avoided. The two week jump shows that the miracle gro group shot up with many

plants, with larger leaves when compared to the other two groups. The true tomato leaves are
finally growing in all groups, in varying degrees.

August 16: Another two week jump due to being out of town, again, being unable to take data.
The plants in the miracle gro group are the largest, although it is noted that they have fewer
leaves on average when compared to other groups. Most plants now have multiple sets of leaves.

August 24: Many plants died off, resulting in a fewer number of plants, especially in the miracle
gro group. However, most of those plants were seedlings that have not grown their true leaves.
There is not much growth when compared to the other weekly jumps.

The data recorded each week are as follows:

Plants
Miracle Gro
Plant 1

Week 1

Week 1.5
2

Week 2

Week 4

Week 6

Week 7

2

2

3

3

4

2

2

4

5

5

Miracle Gro
Plant 3

4

5

5

Miracle Gro
Plant 4

4

6

6

Miracle Gro
Plant 5

2

2

2

Miracle Gro
Plant 6

3

5

5

Miracle Gro
Plant 7

4

5

6

Miracle Gro
Plant 8

2

2

2

Miracle Gro
Plant 9

2

2

2

Miracle Gro
Plant 10

2

2

2

Miracle Gro
Plant 11

4

5

5

Miracle Gro
Plant 12

2

2

0

Miracle Gro
Plant 13

3

3

0

Miracle Gro
Plant 14

3

3

0

Miracle Gro
Plant 15

3

4

0

Miracle Gro
Plant 16

2

2

0

Miracle Gro
Plant 17

2

2

0

2.9

3.3

4

Miracle Gro
Plant 2

Miracle Gro

2.0

2.0

2.0

Average

Control Plant 1

2

2

2

4

7

7

Control Plant 2

2

2

2

4

6

8

Control Plant 3

2

2

4

5

6

Control Plant 4

2

2

4

4

6

Control Plant 5

2

2

2

4

6

Control Plant 6

2

2

4

6

7

Control Plant 7

2

0

0

0

Control Plant 8

2

0

0

0

Control Plant 9

2

0

0

0

Control
Average

2.00

2.00

2.00

3.67

5.33

6.67

2

2

2

3

4

5

Vigoro Plant 2

2

3

4

Vigoro Plant 3

2

4

5

Vigoro Plant 4

2

4

4

Vigoro Plant 5

3

4

0

Vigoro Plant 6

2

0

0

2.333333333

3.8

4.5

Vigoro Plant 1

Vigoro
Average

2

2

The charts reflecting this data are as follows:

2

Patterns seem to indicate that fertilizers do NOT have a positive effect on leaf
development, as plants that used fertilizer had on average less leaves than those in the control
group. These trends are unexpected, as it would be assumed that a plant utilizing more nutrients
would develop more leaves. While the Miracle Gro group had the largest plants, it also had on
average the least amount of leaves, having 4 leaves on average, when compared to 4.5 (Vigoro)
or 6.67 (Control). This hypothesis seems to be incorrect, as data indicates that fertilizer might not
increase the production of leaves. Errors done in the procedure include inconsistent data timing,
as data was not taken in a timely manner. Something to note next time would be the influence of
sunlight on plant growth, as groups might have been receiving an uneven amount of sunlight.
Something to take note next time would be to make sure that each plant group receives a
consistent amount of sunlight.