In the DGT technique, elements are accumulated on a binding gel after their diffusive transport through a hydrogel. In this paper, we explore in more detail why - and under which conditions - DGT correlates with plant uptake. The theoretical considerations are illustrated with experimental results for metal uptake and toxicity, and for phosphorus deficiency. Strong correlations between DGT and plant uptake are predicted if the diffusive transport of the element from soil to the plant roots is rate-limiting for its uptake. If uptake is not limited by diffusive transport, DGT-fluxes and plant uptake may still correlate provided that plant uptake is not saturated. However, competitive cations may affect the plant uptake under these conditions, whereas they have no effect on the DGT flux. Moreover, labile complexes are not expected to contribute to the plant uptake if diffusion is not limiting, but they are measured with DGT. Therefore, if plant uptake is not limited by diffusion, interpretation of the observed correlation in terms of the labile species measured by DGT is inappropriate.