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Reviving Nutrient-Depleted Soil with Phosphorus-Fixing Flora

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

Phosphorus fixing plants are nature's phosphorus wizards, with the unique ability to harness and make accessible this vital nutrient, ensuring the health of ecosystems and agricultural productivity. Certainly While nitrogen-fixing plants are well-known for their ability to enrich soil with nitrogen, phosphorus-fixing plants play a valuable role in improving phosphorus availability in the soil. Here's a list of plants that can help in fixing phosphorus:


Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum): Buckwheat is known for its rapid growth and ability to accumulate phosphorus from the soil, making it a useful cover crop for improving phosphorus availability.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense): While primarily known as a nitrogen-fixing plant, red clover can also enhance phosphorus availability in the soil through its root system and associated microbial activity.

Turnips (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa): Turnips, along with other brassicas like broccoli and cabbage, can contribute to improving phosphorus availability through their root exudates and uptake mechanisms.

Sorghum(Sorghum bicolor): Sorghum can accumulate phosphorus in its aboveground biomass and contribute to improving soil phosphorus content.

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa): Alfalfa's deep root system can help bring up phosphorus from deeper soil layers, contributing to overall phosphorus availability.

Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas): Sweet potatoes can accumulate phosphorus in their storage roots, making them effective in enhancing phosphorus levels in the soil.

Wheat (Triticum spp.): Wheat and other cereal crops can also contribute to phosphorus availability in the soil through their root exudates and nutrient uptake mechanisms.

Legumes (Various Genera): While legumes are more commonly associated with fixing nitrogen, they can also help in phosphorus availability through their root exudates, which promote the release of bound phosphorus in the soil.

Cowpea: A versatile legume, cowpea, also known as black-eyed pea, adds nitrogen to the soil while providing edible beans rich in protein and nutrients.

Beans: As legumes, beans play a role in phosphorus fixation, improving soil fertility and promoting sustainable cultivation practices.

Lentils: Nutrient-dense and nitrogen-fixing, lentil plants contribute to soil health and provide a protein-rich staple in diets worldwide.


Alyssum (Lobularia maritima): Alyssum is a low-growing flowering plant that can release organic acids from its roots, which help in solubilizing phosphorus and making it more available to plants.

Asters: Asters, although not significant phosphorus fixers, can aid in nutrient cycling and soil improvement, indirectly benefiting from the overall health of the soil ecosystem.

Black-Eyed Susan: Black-Eyed Susan flowers don't play a significant role in phosphorus fixation, but they contribute to garden biodiversity, potentially enhancing soil health and nutrient cycling through root activities and organic matter decomposition, which can indirectly impact phosphorus availability.

Canna Lilies: Canna lilies, with their dense root systems, help in nutrient uptake including phosphorus, indirectly improving soil structure and nutrient availability through their root activities and decomposition.

Indian mustard (Brassica juncea): Indian mustard is a fast-growing plant that can accumulate phosphorus in its tissues. It's often used as a cover crop to help in phosphorus uptake and cycling.

Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.): Sunflowers have been found to improve phosphorus availability in the soil due to their root exudates that help in mobilizing phosphorus compounds.

Lupines: Known for their ability to associate with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, lupines contribute to improved soil fertility which indirectly supports the availability of phosphorus and other nutrients for plant growth.

Marigolds: Marigolds, while not direct phosphorus fixers, can be beneficial as cover crops or companion plants, enhancing soil health and structure, which can indirectly support nutrient availability, including phosphorus.

Zinnias: Zinnias play a direct role in phosphorus fixation by making phosphorus easily available to plants, but their presence in a diverse garden ecosystem can contribute to soil health, indirectly promoting nutrient cycling and availability, including phosphorus, through interactions with other soil organisms and processes.

It's important to note that while these plants can contribute to improving phosphorus availability, the effectiveness can vary based on soil conditions, plant health, and other factors. Incorporating a diverse range of plants into your garden can create a more balanced and nutrient-rich soil environment.Happy gardening!

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