Marijuana plants eat various things so they can produce the buds you love.
Your crop consumes photons (light) and carbon dioxide (CO2) through its leaves. Plants consume oxygen, hydrogen and water through their roots.
Cannabis also consumes 12 essential fertilizer elements through its roots, which is why the quality and configuration of hydroponics nutrients, soil, and other materials you use in your marijuana garden feed program are so important.
Most marijuana growers don’t rely on soil as a root zone media. They know they can’t precisely control soil nutrition, and that soil eventually runs out of nutrients.
Most of us grow our plants in coco coir, soilless mix, rockwool, pure hydroponics such as deep water culture, and in other water-based systems.
And almost all of us use hydroponics nutrients in those systems.
Problem is, it’s no easy task to manufacture hydroponics nutrients and other fertilizers that work well for cannabis.
The Chemical Elements Of Style
To be useful, hydroponics nutrients products must include the following 12 elements that are immediately bioavailable to your plants:
- Nitrogen (N): Classified as one of three major nutrients that are listed as NPK on fertilizer labels. Nitrogen is important in your grow phase, but also essential during bloom phase in reduced amounts.
- Phosphorus (P): Another major nutrient, most utilized in bloom phase. Phosphorus is crucial for bud formation.
- Potassium (K): This major nutrient is necessary from start to finish of your marijuana plant’s life cycle, but especially in bloom phase.
- Sulfur (S): A secondary nutrient that helps plants form amino acids.
- Calcium (Ca): Also classified as a secondary nutrient, but many believe calcium should be considered a major nutrient. Mirroring its role in forming skeletons, calcium helps plants build strong cell walls.
- Magnesium (Mg): This secondary nutrient is often undersupplied. It’s a key component of your plant’s photosynthesis process.
- Copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), molybdenum (Mo), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe) and boron (B) are grouped together as micronutrients. In three-part hydroponics base nutrients formulas, the six micronutrients are often combined into one bottle.
The challenge for hydroponics nutrients manufacturers is that the sources, types, forms, and ratios of these 12 essential fertilizer elements are difficult to properly source and mix.
For example, nitrogen in hydroponics nutrients may be present as calcium nitrate, sodium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, urea, diammonium phosphate or monoammonium phosphate. Some of these nitrogen forms are far better for your cannabis plants than others, and some forms of nitrogen can toxify your root zone.
Another example: Some hydroponics nutrients companies use potassium chloride to provide potassium. The problem with this is that potassium chloride accumulates as a toxic salt in the root zone, especially during bloom phase when growers use bloom boosters loaded with phosphorus and potassium.
Growers who use inferior hydroponics nutrients are forced to periodically use a flushing formula, such as Flawless Finish, to purge the nutrients salts out of the root zone.
Every choice a manufacturer makes when configuring nutrients affects how stable the elements will be in solution, how elements interact with each other, the pH of your nutrients water, and how easily your marijuana plants can intake each nutrient element.
Often is the case that inferior hydroponics nutrients products damage plants and can even kill them.
Nutrients Winners And Sinners
Many of you have seen with your own eyes that some brands of nutrients are inferior.
All you have to do is pour hydroponics base nutrients or bloom boosters into a clear container and you can easily see when they have problems.
You might see undissolved nutrients elements, or debris and contaminants.
These problems happen when the hydroponics nutrients manufacturer has bad formulas and/or flawed quality control, or if the nutrients bottle has passed its expiration date.
Problems with nutrients reservoir pH are a serious concern for you as a cannabis grower, with pH a key factor in whether or not your marijuana plants absorb all the nutrients elements they need.
Advanced Nutrients is the only major hydroponics nutrients company that publicly states its nutrients and supplements are designed for cannabis plants.
Just like you wouldn’t buy motor oil for your car if it was designed for a two-stroke lawnmower engine, you don’t buy nutrients for tomatoes if you want to grow marijuana.
Why? Because marijuana is a unique plant that produces dozens of unique compounds (such as THC and CBD), and it needs a specialized feed program to maximize the botanical pathways that produce those compounds.
General Hydroponics, Canna, and House & Garden are three hydroponics nutrients brands that are somewhat reliable.
What we mean by that is, they won’t kill your plants.
But make no mistake, they don’t perform anywhere near as well as Advanced Nutrients.
There are many nutrients brands you see at hydroponics stores, such as Emerald Harvest, Ionic, Rock, Heavy 16, Botanicare, Mills Nutrients, Dutch Master, Humboldt Nutrients, Nectar for the Gods, Dyna-Gro and Grotek. In our experience, these brands are low end, poorly made, not worth using.
If you’re seeing leaf problems, slow growth, low yields, and other problems in your marijuana garden, it isn’t always because of your hydroponics nutrients, but it could well be.
Choose hydroponics nutrients made properly and specifically for marijuana, and you’ll grow your biggest, most potent buds yet.