There are a lot of relatively complex aspects of growing, one of which is nutrient control. Depending on the growing stage, the style of growing and the type of plant nutrients will change. If we don’t feed our babies correctly they will likely become sickly or even die. We will cover feed charts, nutrient types, different growing mediums and all the basics we need to keep our plants healthy.
This is one of the most important nutrients for plants during the initial stages of growth. During the vegetative stage, nitrogen will help the plant photosynthesise by aiding in the creation of chlorophyll. It also provides plants with amino acids that help it stay strong and healthy.
This one is a bit of an all-rounder, making sure the plants are supported throughout the flowering cycle. It helps the plants balance their water and salt content.
Plants need plenty of this to take in the other nutrients. If there isn’t enough phosphorus the roots won’t develop properly and the plant won’t be able to feed. If the leaves go purple early on the plant may be lacking in phosphorus.
This one helps with the cell structure of the plants and supports the cell walls. If the plants don’t get enough calcium the leaves will curl and yellow. The plant won’t be able to support itself and store nutrients.
Magnesium is another photosynthesis helper and without it, the plants cannot produce glucose and so won’t have the energy to grow.
A feed chart simply tells growers which products to use as well as timings and all of the other nutrient details. Feed charts are especially important for hydroponic growers who will have to play around with nutrients a good deal more than soil growers. Feed charts are perfect for beginners who still aren’t sure how everything works.
To keep things simple a lot of growers use a week-by-week format. This can be easier to read than complex or expert charts. Most charts will register the nutrients in a per gallon format. Beginners should stick to the feed chart but as they become more experienced feed charts can be edited to preferred results, much like recipes.
Following the feed chart week to week will show growers clearly how much of which nutrients the plants will need and exactly when. It will also tell growers which order to add the nutrients in.
Charts will usually say something different from the bottles of premade nutrient solutions. Feed charts look at combinations of nutrients whereas bottled nutrients consider them as individuals. Following the bottle too strictly without comparing properly to the chart may result in a nutrient overdose. This will stop the plants from taking in any nutrients at all.
Soil Growing Nutrients
Hopefully with soil growing most growers won’t need to play with nutrients too much. Many growers will use nutrient-rich potting soil that already has a decent level of all the necessary support nutrients. There will need to be a different balance for soil growing than for hydroponic growing. The only reason that soil growers would need to add nutrients is if there was an issue with the environment or if the watering habits go a bit wonky.
The NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) are the three primaries to keep an eye on when soil growing. During the vegetative stage, the plants will need more of these nutrients. It’s best to keep an eye out for any signs of nutrient deficiency but if the plants appear healthy they should be fine. During flowering, they won’t need as much nitrogen but will still need a good amount of potassium and phosphorus. If we do need to add nutrients they can be purchased in liquid form or in natural products such as sea kelp and homemade fertilisers.
Hydroponic plants are different from soil-grown because they require a nutrient solution to grow the plants. When we start looking at the nutrient balance for hydroponic growing we need to be precise and careful. Too much or too little of anything can result in trouble for the plants. On top of the other nutrients, we listed earlier we should also consider sulfur. Sulfur helps plants resist disease by improving their vitamin and amino acid labels.
Nutrient solutions can be bought or made at home. It is possible to purchase the individual nutrients and dissolve them in water to get the perfect balance for the plants. We need to avoid nutrients designed for soil use or any solid matter.
As I said earlier we need to balance the nutrients to suit the stage of growth. For the vegetative stage, we want to pack the solution with nutrients to create strong, healthy plants. As with soil growing, we want high everything for vegetative with phosphorus being medium to high. For flowering, we reduce the nitrogen but keep the others high. For soil growing this is all we need, but when it comes to hydroponic growing we can look at micronutrients. These micronutrients are not vital but they can help create some incredible plants. Copper, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, boron and cobalt are all perfect for healthy cannabis growth.
We also need to make sure that the PH level isn’t too high or too low when it comes to the solution. If the PH is wrong the roots won’t be able to absorb the nutrients and if they can’t feed they might die. The PH level needs to be between 5.5 and 6.5 for optimum nutrition absorption. Some companies claim that their nutrient solutions automatically balance the PH level, but they shouldn’t be trusted. It’s best to just stay in charge of the PH manually to ensure happy plants.
As long as we are careful with the nutrient levels we should have happy and healthy plants. For beginners small helpers like feed charts and premade nutrient solutions are ideal. Advanced growers can get a little bit more creative with their nutrients, designing charts specifically for their plants.
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