We have colloquially established the concept of feeding our marijuana crops solely through the soil and root systems. When we notice that our plants need watering or if they seem to require certain levels of nutrients, the default option we have would be to start feeding through the growing medium. Is this really the only way that we can feed our marijuana plants? Most beginner growers would think so! The rooting systems are present to absorb and take in water and nutrients from the soils that growers plant them in, right? You learn basic things like that in elementary school.
But what you might not know is that plants can also be properly fed through their leaves! This is what people refer to as foliar feeding or foliar spraying. For many flowering crops out there such as cannabis, foliar feeding is actually something that growers do frequently. This feeding method is mostly done by mass producers who have a substantial amount of crops in their gardens! But do small-scale growers perform foliar feeding as well? Absolutely!
What is Foliar Feeding? Can It Be Used For Cannabis Plants?
As we said, foliar feeding or foliar spraying is a method of giving out water and nutrients to your cannabis plants through their leaves. By simply nourishing the leaves with enough water and nutrients. The pores found in the leaves will absorb these amounts of compounds. This allows for a much faster-acting form of feeding while still proving to be as effective as traditional feeding methods.
Not many people would have thought that you could provide nutrients to the cannabis plants through any other plant part other than the roots. This has led it to become quite foreign for casual growers. However, as a process that is also referred to as misting, many people use this for their cannabis plants, vegetables, and fruit crops.
In fact, foliar feeding is the most common and practiced way of introducing certain solutions like pesticides and insecticides to the leaves of a plant. Just as it is essential for mangoes, bananas, and other flowering crops, cannabis plants will need to undergo misting and foliar feeding every once in a while! But just how important is this, really? Is it something that you can pass up on doing if you are a casual grower?
Do I stop feeding my plants through their roots?
No, you don’t! Foliar feeding is generally more of a short-term process wherein you give your cannabis plants little boosts of nutrients every now and then. Moreover, using organic pesticides once in a while doesn’t mean that you completely forego any protective solutions that offer protection to your soils and root systems.
One pro tip is to use foliar feeding for the supplementation of micronutrients and secondary compounds to your marijuana plants. Because your crops will only be needing these in small doses, foliar feeding can be a very effective way of providing nutrients like calcium, manganese, zinc, iron, and boron.
Advantages and Benefits of Foliar Feeding
Is foliar feeding really all that? Well, depending on who you’re asking. It sure is! Foliar feeding is very beneficial to your cannabis plants. As it can come with the use of both organic or chemical-focused solutions, the health and safety cautions of its use is pretty much an issue that can easily be solved.
Here are some of the more attractive benefits that you can get from the foliar feeding of cannabis plants:
Can Heal Nutrients Deficiencies Faster
There is a much safer rate of absorption that happens when nutrients and minerals are applied to the leaves of cannabis plants. This makes it a lot more effective in healing any nutrient deficiencies that your cannabis plants may be experiencing. When your leaves are exposed to lighting, this is when their pores (or stomata) open up in order to take in these spectrums of lighting. This is also the perfect time to start foliar feeding your cannabis plants. This will really get the nutrients into the plants’ systems.
Cannabis Plants Absorb More Nutrients
Some amounts of nutrients that you feed to your marijuana plants via soil irrigation do have the tendency to get stuck in the soils. While this will actually keep the growing medium fresh and healthy, you will also want a lot more nutrients to be absorbed by the plants themselves!
Applying your nutrient solutions directly to the leaves of the plants will bring the benefit of more concentrated doses. As such, your cannabis plants will typically absorb around 90% to 95% of the actual nutrients that you give them. This is significantly higher than what you will get from soil irrigation.
Foliar Feeding is Better for Young and Developing Plants
Without fully established root systems to help them absorb their needed nutrients, young and underdeveloped marijuana plants will need to find another way to retain their levels of nutes. This is where foliar feeding will play an extremely big role. By simply applying your solutions to the plants, the young seedlings will be able to boost their development rates and build a substantially healthier set of roots.
Cannabis plants in their younger stages are a lot more sensitive to nutrient deficiencies because of this. As a result, they tend to have their leaves start wilting and turning yellow (a clear sign of nutrient deficiency).
Types of Foliar Feeding: Where Can It Be Used?
You can use foliar feeding for both feeding your cannabis plants with nutrients and applying pesticides to the leaves. We recommend taking a more organic route when doing these in order to avoid exposing your cannabis plants to harmful chemicals. Like we have stated, the intake of compounds will be much faster when applied to the leaves of the plants. This will mean that, if given hazardous compounds via foliar feeding, they will likely receive higher doses of these as well.
Pesticides and Insecticides
Foliar feeding is the most practiced method of applying pesticides and insecticides in your gardens. This is not something exclusive to weed, as well! Almost every other vegetable and fruit crop will make use of foliar feeding to layout this mist of solution which protects the plants from pests, insects, molds, and other classes of rodents that could be harmful to your plants.
A lot of pesticides and insecticides now come in all-natural and organic ingredients. These are perfectly safe for your plants to use. The more common ones that you can consider using are neem oil, insecticidal soap, horticultural oils, alcohol and water, and even detergents. Some people may even opt for infusing garlic, aloe vera, and other strong-smelling ingredients into the water. Then spraying it onto the leaves to repel any pests and insects from chomping down on the leaves and stems of the plants.
Nutrient Solutions and Fertilizers
The nutrient solutions that you will use in soil irrigation for your cannabis plants, can also be use for foliar feeding as well. Sticking to the usual NPK ratios and micronutrient doses in the different stages of the cannabis plants’ lives will ensure that you do not dwell too far off of your familiar schedules. Fox Farm, House & Garden, and Dyna-Grow are some very famous brands of cannabis nutrients that come with instructions as to how much your plants will need. Sticking to these general instructions will help you build some confidence in applying foliar feeding with regulation.
Will the amount you apply be lesser than what you would use in soil irrigation? This is a common question since foliar feeding does rely on concentrated doses. In terms of mixing the nutrient solution, you can basically stick to the measurements that you already know. The difference comes in the amounts that you actually apply to the plants.
How To Apply Foliar Feeding To Cannabis Plants
Your main objective for foliar feeding would be to apply a nice, wet mist of nutrient solution onto all the leaves of your cannabis plants. If you notice a slight discoloration due to nutrient deficiencies, spraying some nutrients through foliar feeding will take effect almost immediately!
First, you will have to prepare your nutrient solutions. Foliar feeding is best done through the use of a spray bottle. This helps you take full control over the amounts of nutrients. You will be misting without worrying too much about overfeeding them. Take an ample amount of nutrients and, depending on how you are instructed to dilute them, mix it into the water and fill the spray bottle.
Remember: less is more! When spraying nutrients on the leaves, make sure to spray only enough to coat the leaves! You won’t want them to be soaking wet with water. A good practice is to start from the bottom and gradually make your way to the top. If you start from the topmost colas, excess water will start dripping to the bottom leaves. This will lead to exposing them to too many nutrients.
The best time to use foliar feeding is during the lighting hours of your cannabis plant growing schedules. However, make sure that you do not spray them when they are directly under the light! Water molecules won’t be able to absorb light. This means that this “reflective effect” may increase the heat that the leaves are exposed to. This may lead to burning them!
Foliar feeding: it is not all that hard to do! In fact, the simplicity of it makes you wonder why people would not want to do it in the first place! It is a very fast and effective way of making sure that your cannabis plants will start absorbing their much-needed levels of nutrients. As a method that is great for both indoor and outdoor gardens. Foliar feeding is an accessible growing technique that you should definitely learn!