Hydroponic Nutrients For Cannabis

Hydroponic cannabis plants being checked by a hand.
Hydroponic cannabis plants

Why are some hydroponic nutrients for cannabis growing considered to be better than others? What hydro nutrients do you need to avoid? Do you need to put money in the expensive hydroponic nutrients or will cheaper ones get the job done just the same?

With the array of marijuana nutrients available out there, how can you tell which ones are best suited to nourish your hydroponic setup?

Join us as we determine the best hydroponic nutrients for cannabis.

What Factors Are Important?

When set up the right way and with good nutrients, Hydroponics/DWC can produce incredible yields!

When you are considering which hydroponic nutrients to use for growing your weed, a few factors are vital.

This is what you should consider in this process of choosing your weed nutrients. Pick them if they:

  • Are specifically made for hydroponics
  • Contain no organic matter (provide nutrients via minerals)
  • Have “chelated” mineral nutrients (“easier for plant to absorb at a greater range of pH levels”)
  • Contains bountiful sources of micro-nutrients (this makes up for what the soil would have offered)
  • Optimum NPK ratios, as expounded later in this article.

Why Are Soil Nutrients Bad For Hydroponics?

Nutrients made for soil are usually full of organic matter such as fish emulsion, guano, blood meal, worm castings etc. These organic nutrients would totally mess up your reservoir while causing unexpected and unwanted root problems and bacteria.

If it seems cloudy with floating matter when put in water, do not use it for your hydro.

Always look at the label of the nutrients you want to purchase to find out what they contain.

What Are The Optimum NPK Ratios For Hydroponic Cannabis Nutrients

Most bottles containing cannabis nutrients prominently display three letters, i.e. “NPK”. These numbers inform you of the ratio between the three nutrients in the bottle.

N-P-K is the abbreviated form of Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium, These are plants nutrients that are most important to a plant.

For you to achieve the best results growing cannabis the hydroponics way, these nutrients have to be balanced in the correct ratio. It is crucial for our cannabis nutrients to obtain the nutrients they need at the right time.

An example is giving too much Nitrogen in the budding/flowering stage of the cannabis plant. This will serve to suppress bud production reducing your yields even in healthy plants. You definitely don’t want that, do you?

So what are optimum NPK values in the growing of cannabis in hydro?

Optimal Hydroponic Cannabis N-P-K Nutrient Ratios

Life Stage N P K
Vegetative/Grow High Medium to High High
Bloom/Flowering Low High High

Additionally, hydroponic nutrients need to include….

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Sulfur

Some micro-nutrients that are not necessary but good to have are:

  • Boron
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Zinc

These nutrients are usually found in most water sources. However, if you are using very soft water or RO, you can add them for the prevention of possible deficiencies.

What Are the Main Differences between NPK ratios For Hydro And Soil?

  • Hydro nutrients contain more micro-nutrients, sometimes in trace amounts that would have been gotten in soil.
  • Hydro nutrients need to contain higher Nitrogen levels as soil have this in abundance but most water sources don’t.
  • Most hydro nutrients usually have lower Phosphorous levels as this can be gotten by the plant more readily in a hydroponic setting. In soil, micro-organisms and clay “colloidal” particles ‘steal’ some of it. You will find that soil nutrients usually have to compensate for this by adding phosphorous to their mix.
  • While soil nutrients often use organic sources, hydroponics usually steer clear of these. This is because the organic material can encourage the growth of harmful stuff in the hydroponic reservoir. In the soil environment, microorganisms are usually at hand to break down the organic material for consumption by the plant, a factor that lacks in a soilless environment.
  • Hydro nutrients are usually made up of “chelated minerals” which are specially created for better absorption by the cannabis plants.

What are Chelated Nutrients?

This is the process by which manufacturers ‘wrap’ the nutrients required by the hydro plant inside an “organic molecule” which stands to be less affected by pH. This ensures the nutrients get to the plant even in instances where the pH is too low or too high.

What is the Right pH For Hydroponic Weed?

No matter what nutrient brand you happen to be using, or even when using chelated nutrients, the roots of the cannabis plants absorb some nutrients in chemical form better than others. This is where pH plays a major role.

If the pH near the roots happens to be too low or too high, the chemical form of individual nutrient compounds change, making it even harder for the plant to absorb the nutrients it needs.

Hydroponic cannabis nutrients are designed to be best absorbed in pH ranges of 5.5-6.5. Anything higher of lower than this and you might start noting nutrient deficiencies, even if you are providing everything as required.

How Do You Get The Right pH To Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies?

Adjusting the pH in your hydroponic reservoir takes but a few minutes. Do this and your cannabis plants will thank you!

First, be very skeptical of companies which promise their nutrients “automatically” adjusting your waters pH. Although a few nutrient systems may actually be better at stabilizing pH than others, you will still need to manually check your pH regularly in order to get the best results from your hydro.

The reasons why “pH-Perfect” nutrient systems will not always be able to consistently correct the PH to the required levels throughout the grow cycle are:

  • Your source water is likely to contain minerals and “other stuff” that will change your water’s pH. Starting with highly purified water even makes it worse as there is no “buffer” to stabilize the pH.
  • The balance of nutrients needed by your plant at different stages changes, changing with it the PH of your water.

That said, ensure that you periodically check the PH of your water, especially if you see your plants exhibiting signs of deficiency.

Recommended DWC Nutrients & Supplements

We have prepared for you a list of hydroponic nutrients systems that will ensure you have high quality yields, while not breaking the bank.

Here goes!

  1. General Hydroponics Flora Trio Lineup
  • Flora Trio
  • CaliMagic
  • Hydroguard

General Hydroponics has been around the nutrient space for a while and their products are trusted. The Flora Trio works particularly well for both beginners as well as advanced cannabis growers.

One amazing quality of the “General Hydroponic Flora trio” is that it contains lots of micro-nutrients in the trace amounts required by growers using soft water or RO (reverse osmosis) water that is often lacking in these kinds of water. It is of note because some other hydroponic nutrient systems do not offer this.

The GH Flora trio works for any setup and practically any water.

  1. General Hydroponics Flora Duo Lineup

Another great choice from GH, this two bottle system is ideal for those who crave a simpler schedule and find dealing with 3 bottles being too much of a hustle. Bottle A has high amounts of nitrogen, which is best for your first half, and then you can switch to bottle B, which has more potassium and phosphorous.

  1. House & Garden DWC Kit Lineup

Though quite expensive, the House & Garden line-up is remarkably effective. It consists of:

  • Aqua Flakes A + B: Cannabis nutrients
  • Roots Excelurator: Root supplement
  • Algen Extract: Additional supplementation. Tested specifically on cannabis plants

​3. Hydroguard (formally known as Aquashield)

This provides great nutrients while treating root rot. You will not need additional Cal-Mag supplementation with this line as it has these in abundance.

  1. Botanicare KIND Hydro Lineup

Botanicare has a system called the KIND Trio For Hydro. It consists of the

  • Base
  • Grow
  • Bloom

These three bottles will nourish your plants successfully until harvest time.

This trio gives the grower a high level of control not found in other nutrient ranges. It is a fan favorite among many weed farmers. The trio offers great results and is quite inexpensive. It has a base of Nitrogen and Calcium but it allows the grower to adjust other values per their needs. This is a perfect system for hydro farming.

Both the Grow and Bloom bottles contain most of the necessary nutrients with additional ones like seakelp. The Bloom is 0-6-6 while the Grow is at 2-2-4. This literally means that you get to call the shots on quantities of nutrients. This is pretty cool tool for the savvy grower.

In Conclusion

Unlike growing your cannabis in soil, hydroponic farming needs special care and attention.

The tricks we have given you around Hydroponic nutrients for weed will go a long way in ensuring that you do it right, and that your grow is well nourished. Because this is a carefully balanced enterprise, always make sure you have every little detail in your sights to ensure a bountiful harvest.

All the best!

Image credit: CRYSTALWEED cannabis

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