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Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions Explained

hydroponic nutrient solutions

Hydroponics is one of the most popular methods for growing cannabis plants nowadays. This is why it is important to have clear insights regarding how to grow with hydroponics so you can ensure that your cannabis plants grow healthy and produce invigorating buds. In every hydroponic system, the quality and the amount of nutrient solutions are a key aspect that every grower should look into. Similar to growing in a soil medium, it is essential that your cannabis plants receive the maximum amount of nutrients. In this article, we will explain everything about nutrient solutions for hydroponics. More specifically, we will go over how hydroponic nutrient solutions are made and their respective compositions.

What nutrients are needed for plants to grow?

Normally, for a plant to grow it requires a specific amount of nutrients in order to survive properly. That is why it is essential for your nutrient solution to contain these specific components. In a typical soil medium, these nutrients are readily obtained in the soil. For hydroponics however, this is an entirely different case. The nutrients should be given directly to the plants through nutrient solutions. The following includes the essential nutrients;

Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen is the dominant element that your cannabis plants need to grow. This element is used for the development of cells, food processing, and transport within the plant’s system. These compounds are used to produce chlorophyll, proteins, and hormones.

Source: Nitrogen could be obtained through the atmospheric nitrogen. This compound is taken up into the air via some legumes that fix atmospheric nitrogen to be used by plants for absorption.

Other than that, you could also obtain nitrogen through fertilizers as needed.

Phosphorus (P)

This element is particularly helpful during the course of photosynthesis and bud maturation. On top of that, this is also used for the root’s development in its early stages. More specifically, phosphorus is often poured in your solution through the course of the flowering stage of the cannabis plant. This element aids to improve potency and bud yields.

Source: Most likely, you’ll get phosphorus in animal or human manure. Though in some cases, they are internally present within the soil as some rocks are rich in this element.

Potassium (K)

Potassium is mainly used to improve the bud quality being produced. Nevertheless, this element helps in keeping up your plant’s defense against diseases that could attack it. Aside from that, it aids in the manufacture of oils, starches, and sugars in plants.

Sources: Potash of muriate and sulfate are a common source of potassium.

Calcium (Ca)

This element is essential for root health and development. Similar to humans, this element helps with the stability of the plant’s structure.

Sources: Lime and Dolomite are the cheapest options.

Magnesium (Mg)

This is the key element for the green color pigment of the plant and it’s vital for a plant’s photosynthesis.

Source: Found in dolomite, magnesite (magnesium oxide), and Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)

Sulfur (S)

The element that is used for protein production in the plant. Furthermore, this element is also utilized in energy processing.

Source:  Most organic matter. Sulfur can also be present in gypsum, sulfate of ammonia, and some fertilizers.

Other Trace Elements 

These elements are important for the plant to grow. But nonetheless, they should only be found in small amounts. These elements include iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, and molybdenum. Excessive amounts of these compounds could poison the plant.

Nutrient Solution Formulation

Knowing all these important nutrients needed for your plants, you are now ready to mix all the nutrients that you have. Though most nutrient solutions are already pre-mix, you could intuitively formulate a solution for your hydroponics.

Basically, NPK namely Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are used in ratios of 30:10:30. The other three macros namely sulfur, calcium, and magnesium could be found in some mixed bags of fertilizers. The same thing also goes for micronutrients or trace elements.

But nonetheless, these numbers could differ depending on what particular stage your plant has undergone. Respectively, the most pre-mixed hydroponic nutrient solution is given with two solutions, one for vegetative and other for the flowering stage.

Aside from that, some manufacturers present some feed charts for you to follow to indicate what particular proportions of each nutrient should be put into your water depending on the stage of your plants or your personal preference. For most cases, this feed chart is followed.

Other Things to Remember When Mixing Nutrients

Check the Water’s pH

Before mixing in the nutrients, it is important to measure the pH of the water. Variation in your water’s pH could affect the quality of nutrient solution that you’ll have. Ideally, the pH of your water should be close to neutrality or betweeen 5.5-7. Beyond this range, could mean that your water is contaminated with unnecessary organics, microbes, or ions. Thus, it is important to purchase a pH meter for things to become easy as possible.

Aside from pH, also take note of the water’s temperature before mixing. It should be roughly room temperature, not that hot or cold.

Shake the Container Well

Use a well-sealed container with a cap to mix everything. The container should contain all the nutrients and the water to be used. It is recommended that you shake it carefully as to not spill and lose some nutrients. Nutrient deficiency could cause damage to the plants.

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