Cannabis Nutrients; What and When to Feed
Many growers find it difficult to identify and choose the best cannabis nutrients. The proper nutrients help plants grow faster and produce better yields. Cannabis fertilizers vary in nutrient ratio, ingredients, supplements, and the cannabis growing medium, whether hydro or soil. Read on to find out what and when farmers need to feed their cannabis plants.
Understanding Cannabis Nutrients Macro and Micronutrients
Macronutrients required by cannabis plants are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Cannabis plants need them in large quantities. These nutrients typically appear on the front of fertilizer packaging in the form of an NPK ratio. The number of values in the ratio represents the concentration of the nutrients.
Cannabis plants need nitrogen during their vegetative state. As part of chlorophyll, nitrogen helps plants turn sunlight into energy. It also aids plant cells in controlling their energy use. Nitrogen creates nucleic acid necessary for growth and amino acids that work as building blocks for proteins in plants.
The role of phosphorus in cannabis plants is to help make nutrients accessible for the plants to absorb. The absorbed nutrients help build the plant from the roots to the leaves. With adequate levels of phosphorus, the plants will produce large and healthy buds.
Potassium is one of the cannabis nutrients that keep plants healthy. It regulates salt and water concentrations in the cannabis plant. Potassium also initiates the production of ATP, which stores energy produced in photosynthesis by creating glucose. Glucose provides power to the plant during the growth process.
Additionally, secondary nutrients such as magnesium, sulfur, and calcium are also needed by the cannabis plants to survive and flourish. Calcium is responsible for cell wall development and increases water penetration when used as a soil amendment. Magnesium is vital in carbohydrate metabolism and photosynthesis. It converts sunlight to energy. Sulfur protects cannabis plants against diseases, and it is essential in the formation of chlorophyll. Sulfur is also necessary for the production of amino acids, proteins, vitamins, and enzymes.
Finally, cannabis plants need micronutrients in small quantities but are essential in the growth and development of the plants. They include chlorine, copper, boron, iron, zinc, manganese, and molybdenum.
When to Feed Cannabis Nutrients
Cannabis plants have different nutritional needs throughout the various stages of growth. Cannabis seedlings obtain nutrients from the seed and do not need any additional nutrients. Once the seedlings have used up all the food material stored in the endosperm, the grower must first feed.
At 3-4 weeks old with 3-4 true leaves, the seedlings enter the vegetative stage. Growers can start with a 2:1:2 NPK ratio for one week. Some growers introduce the plants to fertilizer this way to avoid nutrient burn. Some use 4:2:3 fertilizer to boost growth. During the mid-vegetative stage, growers can increase cannabis nutrients to aid the plants in developing solid and healthy foliage. Growers can use an NPK ratio of 10:5:7 at this phase. At the end of the vegetative stage, reducing nitrogen in preparation for the flowering period is imperative. Growers mostly used a ratio of 7:7:7 in the last week.
Cannabis plants in the flowering stage need more potassium to promote bloom. Most growers use 5:7:10 nutrient solution during the first two weeks of flowering and 6:10:15 by mid-flowering. During the last stages of flowering, growers cut down on cannabis nutrients.
Hydroponic Cannabis Nutrients
Hydroponic cannabis growing involves growing plants without soil. Growers use other growing mediums such as Rockwool, coco coir, or clay pebbles. Most nutrients sold for marijuana cultivation are hydroponic nutrients because most indoor cannabis growers use soilless means to grow cannabis.
Hydroponic cannabis nutrients are primarily in liquid form. They can sometimes be found in powder, which can be easily diluted. During the vegetative stage, growers must use solutions high in nitrogen for growth. During the flowering stage, solutions high in potassium and phosphorus are used for flower development.
Cannabis Nutrients in the Soil and Organics
Unlike hydroponic media, the soil has organic matter such as compost and humus. The organic matter contains macro and micronutrients in an insoluble form. To be accessible to the plant, they must be acted on by soil-dwelling fungi and microbes. Organic fertilizers and nutrients have nutrients that are not immediately soluble and are more beneficial elements to soil organisms. Non-organic cannabis nutrients quickly and easily increase soil fertility but can build up in the soil and inhibit the plants’ uptake of nutrients and water.
One of the cheapest ways to source organic fertilizers and nutrients is to use readily available materials like fish and blood meals, which are high in nitrogen. Growers can use bat guano and bone meal for phosphorus. Kelp meal and wood ash are high in potassium. Dolomite lime is high in magnesium and calcium. Epsom salt is a source of sulfur and magnesium. There are pre-mixed organic nutrients that are expensive but reliable and give good results.
Premium soil blends are pre-inoculated with organisms. The downside of these soil blends is that they are expensive. Inoculating soil through actively aerated compost tea is the best and cheapest method. This method enriches the best microbes and enables soils to retain nutrients. Organic growing is ideal for outdoor cannabis growing. The organic or natural growth of marijuana requires healthy levels of soil microorganisms in the soil.
It is essential to make sure cannabis plants get the proper nutrients in the right amount and at the right time. Applying too much cannabis nutrients can cause chemical interaction and nutrient burn resulting in reduced yields or even death of the plants.
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