As a marijuana grower and marijuana journalist, I frequently visit grow shops to study the hydroponics nutrients products they sell.
While it’s true that almost any fertilizer will provide enough nutrition so marijuana plants can complete their life cycle, it’s also true that marijuana plants grow the fastest and produce the heaviest harvests, with the most cannabinoids and terpenoids, when you give them the best fertilizer products.
Another fact is that defective fertilizers and hydroponics nutrients can harm cannabis plants and significantly limit bud weight and potency.
Ten years ago, you’d often see the same nutrients brands populating grow shop shelves: Canna, House & Garden, General Hydroponics, Dutch Master Nutrients, Botanicare, Advanced Nutrients, Technaflora, Earth Juice and Grotek.
Some of those brands now seem to have dropped off the face of the earth, and newer, less-established brands are trying to get their foothold in the market. These lesser-known brands include Atami, FoxFarm, Nectar for the Gods, Biobizz, Humboldt Nutrients, Cutting Edge Solutions, Rock Nutrients, Heavy 16, Remo Nutrients, Green Planet, Mills Nutrients, X Nutrients, Emerald Harvest and Dyna-Gro.
There’s even a line of hydroponics nutrients from Snoop Dogg!
After constantly hearing growers and grow shop staffers arguing about which brand is superior, I crafted this comprehensive guide to help you choose the top hydroponics nutrients brand for your marijuana grow op to ensure the best, biggest, most bountiful buds.
The How-To Of Choosing Your Cannabis Hydroponics Nutrients
1. Start by looking for a manufacturer that makes hydroponics nutrients formulas to match your specific style of marijuana gardening. Some nutrients brands won’t work with coco coir or in pure hydroponics or drip irrigation systems. I once used Earth Juice in a drip irrigation rockwool system and ended up ruining the system — and creating a wonderful environment for fungus gnats! If you’re growing outdoors in a remote location, you’re better off with granulated products. The bottom line is, you must match your nutrients to your needs.
2. Try samples of a brand, or buy the smallest size of its base hydroponics nutrients and at least one other product from the same brand, such as a bloom booster. Pour a cup of each product into separate see-through containers. Look for such defects as debris, molds, precipitates and cloudiness. Then combine the two products and observe how they look together. Inferior hydroponics nutrients products cloud up or form precipitates, especially when you combine their base nutrients with other products.
3. Has the brand stood the test of time? New hydroponics nutrients brands sometimes become the so-called flavor of the month. In most cases, growers discover when it’s too late that the brand isn’t reliable — often after they suffered a disastrous crop cycle. Any hydroponics nutrients brand that hasn’t been successfully recommended, sold, and used for at least three years should be avoided. Five or more years of brand longevity is a good measure.
4. Does the brand offer synthetic, organic and synth-organic nutrients? Nutrients companies that employ scientists such as chemists and botanists know how to make nutrients that satisfy the needs of pure hydroponics growers, soil growers, coco growers, rockwool growers and organic growers. If a hydroponics company doesn’t offer a full range of products to suit every style of cannabis growing, it could be that the company doesn’t have the research data, depth, and manufacturing skills to make a full range of high-quality nutrients. My advice? Avoid.
5. I tend to believe my eyes. If I see many photos and videos, sourced from a variety of real growers, showing lush, perfect plants grown using a specific nutrients brand in outdoor marijuana gardens and indoor grow ops, then I might have some faith in that brand.
6. Product guarantees provide reassurance. But most hydroponics nutrients brands offer no guarantee of product quality or performance. When a nutrients manufacturer is confident enough in its products to offer a money-back guarantee, that tells you something.
7. What kind of grower technical support, if any, does the manufacturer offer? If a hydroponics nutrients manufacturer wants your money, they should provide skilled telephone and internet tech support so you can easily find out about the quality, ingredients, and user instructions for its fertilizers and supplements. I consider it essential that the tech support person be an expert at growing cannabis. If they’re not, I won’t buy that brand.
8. The highest quality organic fertilizers are those with Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) or Organic Input Materials (OIM) certification, with the latter being the gold standard. If fertilizers are not certified, it could be because they’re low quality and couldn’t pass inspection. Low-grade organic fertilizers can harm your grow systems and plants, and can even contaminate crops to the point of harming your health when ingested.
9. Look for a hydroponics nutrients company that offers you reliable feed charts and general dosing support. You have enough work and worry in your grow room without having to guess about nutrients dosing and nutrients water pH. Also, be sure to get a nutrients brand that has hydroponics base nutrients capable of holding stable pH over a period of 6–7 days.
10. Believe publications you can trust. If you see a hydroponics nutrients company advertised in or favorably reviewed in legit cannabis magazines like High Times, this could indicate the company is making quality products.
11. Return on investment (ROI) is an important factor when you’re buying hydroponics nutrients and fertilizer products. Instead of looking at price per bottle or per crop cycle, look at yield per cycle compared to how much your nutrients cost you. Most low-price nutrients brands create slower-growing plants, stunted plants, and smaller, less-potent buds. They might cost less, but they yield less, too. By spending only a few dollars more on premium nutrients, you get hundreds of dollars more in increased harvest weight and potency.
12. What kind of product quality, ingredients, and user information, if any, does the nutrients manufacturer provide to the public? Too many hydroponics nutrients and fertilizer brands offer little or no technical support, or they don’t provide detailed information on their bottles or their websites. It makes me suspicious when a manufacturer isn’t providing specs about how its products are designed and made, or what’s in them.
13. You want to buy hydroponics nutrients from a manufacturer who designs and tests its products to ensure increased production of cannabinoids, terpenoids and bud weight. Marijuana produces at least 60 compounds that no other plant produces, and scientists routinely discover new ones. Marijuana creates these compounds — such as THC and CBD — by using unique biologic pathways and botanical processes. You can stimulate your plants by using the right hydroponics nutrients and supplements.
14. Look for hydroponics nutrients companies created by and run by marijuana growers. It makes sense that people who grow cannabis would know what cannabis growers need.
15. Look for a hydroponics nutrients brand that offers a full range of products, not just base nutrients and a bloom booster. When a manufacturer offers an integrated line of products including base nutrients, phased bloom boosters, root enhancers, crop protectors, taste and aroma enhancers, and a flusher, that company is giving you a great toolkit.
16. Talk to your community. When I visit another grower’s grow op and see beautiful plants with absolutely no nutrients issues, I always inquire about the feed program they’re using.
All of us who grow marijuana want the highest ROI, the healthiest plants, the biggest and kindest buds, and the finest hydroponics and organic nutrients to help us achieve our grow op goals.
Give yourself time to research your nutrients choices using the above template. I recommend studying nutrients labels and manufacturer websites. Call manufacturers and speak to their tech support people. Talk to successful growers.
Eventually, you’ll find the manufacturer and products that have the factors I’ve outlined, and you’ll enjoy the most successful marijuana growing seasons of your life.