Your marijuana plants need 18 essential nutrient elements or they won’t thrive, let alone survive.
Through their roots they intake oxygen and water, and carbon dioxide from the air.
Your cannabis also needs light energy that provides the intensity and appropriate wavelengths to grow big and healthy.
However, there are 14 lesser-known fertilizer elements your plants require. Your crop needs these essentials at the right time in the right format at the right ratios. Get them wrong and your cannabis will die, or be anemic if it manages to survive at all. If you nail them, you’ll have strong, thriving marijuana that’ll deliver beautiful highs and abundant yields.
Cannabis Life Essentials: Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen
Let’s start by looking at the basics: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Your marijuana plants must have these elements so they can engage in photosynthesis, the foundational process that builds carbohydrates your cannabis uses to produce energy.
These elements aren’t absorbed through fertilizers. Oxygen comes in through roots and leaf absorption. Hydrogen and oxygen combined as water is taken in via roots; water is the transport material that moves other elements into and through your plants.
Ambient carbon dioxide, or CO2, is available from the atmosphere for your marijuana plants. Atmospheric CO2 is increasing, thus causing the greenhouse effect, which heats the atmosphere and changes the global climate, leading to ongoing natural disasters such as the recent Hurricane Harvey.
Your marijuana plants benefit when you add CO2 to your sealed marijuana grow room. When you opt for tank CO2, fermentation-produced CO2, or you burn fossil fuels to produce CO2 in your grow room, the extra carbon dioxide speeds up photosynthesis, creating more plant energy for stronger growth and larger yields.
What Fertilizers Should Deliver To Your Cannabis
There are 14 elements to be delivered to your cannabis plants via root-zone nutrients. They’re categorized as primary or macronutrients, secondary nutrients and micronutrients, reflecting the relative importance each element has for your plants.
But don’t get it twisted: All these elements are crucial for your plants’ survival. They form the building blocks for your plants’ physical structure and the processes that keep your plants alive.
The three primary elements — nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) — are of paramount importance because your plants need larger amounts of these than any other element. Without these primary elements in proper ratios and amounts, your plants will develop serious problems and are likely to die.
Nitrogen is needed for protein synthesis, photosynthesis, and the production of amino acids and enzymes. Nitrogen deficiency is particularly harmful to marijuana plants during growth phase because it’s this chemical element that helps your plants build size and structure.
If you see leaves that are light green or yellow, or whose tips are dying off, you’re likely seeing a nitrogen deficiency. Other symptoms of nitrogen deficiency include slow growth and plants that are stunted in size. Lack of nitrogen in seedlings, transplants and clones can prevent your marijuana from ever reaching its full potential.
Phosphorus is important for bud production, strong roots, maintenance of healthy ribonucleic acid (a.k.a RNA) and DNA, and for seed production. Phosphorus is useful for plants that have only a small space for their roots, which is the case in most indoor hydroponics grow ops and for plants like marijuana that grow rapidly during the first few weeks of life.
If your plants have a phosphorus shortage, their leaves may be dark green, some stems and leaves may have a purplish tint, maturity and blooming are delayed, and buds are smaller.
Your cannabis uses potassium for processing carbohydrates and for building and maintaining strong roots, maintaining disease resistance, and for forming flowers. Potassium is especially important during bloom phase. If you see older leaves yellowing or browning, if you see slow growth, fragile stems and stalks, or small buds, you could be seeing signs of potassium deficiency.
Secondary Nutrients Are Important, Too
Calcium, magnesium and sulfur are considered secondary nutrients, but your marijuana plants need almost as much of these elements as they need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Calcium (Ca) deficiency is a common problem in cannabis gardens, especially during bloom phase, because calcium is heavily invested in plants’ floral production.
Some growers have problems with calcium deficiency because of the root-zone medium they use. Coco coir, for instance, has chemical properties that affect plants’ ability to absorb calcium. Calcium deficiency is seen when growing tips and root tips die off, or plants have unnaturally dark-green foliage, flowers that rot or fail to mature, and weak stems or stalks.
Some hydroponics supplements pair calcium with magnesium (Mg), another secondary nutrient, because these elements interact to energize each other. Magnesium is also a crucial element in bloom phase that’s often undersupplied by most brands of hydroponics nutrients.
If you provide one without the other, your plants may suffer. Magnesium is especially needed during bloom phase, in order to balance the large amounts of potassium fed to your plants to boost flower size and potency. It contributes to photosynthesis and the creation of enzymes that activate and facilitate your plants’ metabolism. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include leaves that curl upward along the edges, yellowing along the middle vein of leaves, and patterns of interveinal yellowing on older leaves.
Sulfur (S) is necessary for terpenoid production and for proper ripening of buds. It’s also needed for production of several amino acids that fuel flower growth. If your plants are sulfur deficient, they’ll display slow and/or spindly growth, and an overall yellow or light-green color of younger leaves.
Micro Amounts, Macro Importance
Along with primary and secondary elements, your plants need eight other elements, which are classified as micronutrients. Even though your plants need small amounts of these elements, micronutrients are essential for vigorous growth and maximum yield. If any are missing to a significant degree, it decreases your crop potential.
Of these micronutrients, iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) are especially important for marijuana growers. Iron is used in hydroponics formulas that revive crops after they’ve been damaged by heat, drought, disease, pests and stress. Iron is a catalyst for most of your plants’ metabolic processes.
Zinc is necessary for production of a crucial plant growth regulator. A shortage of zinc may result in die-off of terminal growing tips, as well as a reduction in the number of budding sites your plants put forth during early bloom phase.
The other micronutrients — boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), chlorine (Cl), and nickel (Ni) — are important for metabolic processes and the overall health of your cannabis plants. Of these, nickel is required in the smallest amounts and was only recently added to the list of essential plant elements.
The Brand Of Fertilizer Makes A Huge Difference
Whether you’re using organic fertilizers or hydroponic nutrients, know that most fertilizer brands are inadequate at providing the 14 elements in forms your marijuana plants can easily absorb.
Sad to day, most hydroponics base fertilizers have one or more elements in the wrong chemical form, so your cannabis struggles to absorb them. Or they contain incorrect ratios and amounts of elements, which further interferes with absorption. This can lead to root-zone toxicity or plant-tissue toxicity.
Your marijuana roots need a specific pH range so they can absorb all elements properly. There are many factors that affect nutrients solution pH and root-zone pH. If pH goes even slightly off, some nutrients won’t be optimally absorbed, if at all. One of the biggest causes of bad pH is the nutrients themselves.
Marijuana growers see nutrients and pH problems and attempt to diagnose individual element deficiencies in a soil-free hydroponics garden. This is an inefficient use of time and resources. In some cases, symptoms may be caused by multiple deficiencies, or by toxicity created by over-fertilization.
Use of single-element additives to fix deficiencies is primarily a tool of outdoor farmers growing corn, soy, wheat and vegetable crops. In hydroponics marijuana gardening, that approach is counterproductive, if not ruinous.
If your cannabis plants have a healthy environment and you’re using reverse osmosis water yet you’re still seeing nutrient issues, there’s an easy way to fix the problems.
First, thoroughly flush your root zone with Flawless Finish.
Then, replace the hydroponics base nutrients you’re using with base nutrients made by Advanced Nutrients, the only company founded by a professional grower who makes nutrients specifically for your marijuana plants. These are the only hydroponics nutrients that cannabis commentators, critics and correspondents who understand your needs as a grower can recommend.
I suggest Connoisseur base nutrients, which come in a grow version and a bloom-phase version. This is an ultra-premium base formula that lifts your plants to impressive heights of performance and harvest weight.
The magic of Advanced Nutrients pH Perfect base nutrients is that they automatically balance pH to the sweet spot your plants most desire. Nutrients elements flow easily into your roots and throughout the plants, fueling explosive growth and succulent buds.
There are other supplements Advanced Nutrients makes that tune your cannabis plants to give you superb performance, extra cannabinoid and terpenoid production, and large harvests.
You benefit by contacting the Advanced Nutrients Grower Support technicians, who painstakingly work through growers’ problems and provide advice that’s always useful and rewarding.
Your marijuana plants need these 18 essentials if they’re going to give you the outcomes you expect. In a nutshell, that includes plenty of high-value light, fresh air, reverse osmosis water, an aerated, oxygenated root zone, and hydroponics base nutrients and supplements made specifically for marijuana. That’s the formula for happy, healthy cannabis plants.