Unlike humans with our complicated social systems, dietary needs, etc., the cannabis plant has a very short list of things it needs to be happy and grow buds: Light, water, air and nutrients.
Light is the easy one since more light is usually better for your plants.
Water isn’t much trouble since any clean water from pretty much any source will do as long as the pH is corrected.
Air is free and you can move it around with a cheap oscillating fan…easy!
Nutrients are the area where many growers get stuck. Partially, this is because there are so many different types of nutrients available for purchase. Any grower who is just starting out can be justifiably intimidated by the amount of choices to sift through, and end up waiting much longer to get started.
The confusion ends now! You’ll get up to speed on the basics of nutrients, and I (Sirius) will show you the nutrients I use in 100% of my grows! If you can’t make a decision after this article, you can just do what I do! EASY!
Most people think that plants use nutrients the way humans use food…unfortunately this is an inaccurate analogy. If anything, light is to cannabis what food is for humans.
Nutrients for plants are more like multivitamins for humans. And just like a human body will start to break down without essential minerals (like Calcium, Magnesium, and Phosphorus), a plant will get sick and eventually die if it doesn’t get its needed minerals (like Nitrogen, Calcium, and Magnesium).
When these minerals are present, the plant can uptake them at will for use in some of the plants main functions like growing roots, producing leaves, fighting off disease or making buds.
In short, once enough light is present, nutrients give your plants the tools she needs to build her necessary parts.
Choosing Your Nutrients
Here's how to narrow down your choices: If you’re having a hard time making a decision, keep these factors in mind and you’ll probably end up with a more manageable number to choose from:
- Are you on a budget? Even if you aren’t it doesn’t matter, because there’s no reason to pay high prices for nutrients! I’ve tested many brands on the same strain I’ve grown many times (White Widow) and have noticed no significant difference between the high-priced and lower-priced nutrients! You just have to know which brands work well for growing marijuana in your setup.
- Your Growing Medium
- You can’t use soil nutrients in DWC, and vice-versa. Hydro nutrients and soil nutrients should only be used in the growing medium they were made for. Some brands of nutrients are made only for one medium, so you can eliminate those if they won’t work for you.
- Do you know someone who grows and has verified experience with a certain nutrient brand? Try it! Not only will you be getting a good recommendation from someone you trust, but you’ll probably also get some good pointers for its use!
- If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with hydroponic stores, you can ask one of their more knowledgeable representatives. Even if you don’t want to go with what they recommend, you’ll have more information about what you want or don’t want. Of course don't mention the name of your crop! Just say you're "growing tomatoes" and explain about your setup (growing medium, lights, etc), they'll know what you mean if they work in a hydro store.
2-1-6? 5-0-1? 0-5-4? What do the numbers on nutrient bottles mean?
You will see three numbers on pretty much any bottle of nutrients you purchase. If you’re just getting into growing, you can ignore these numbers for now.
Nebula: I’ve been growing for years, I know what the numbers are for, and I still ignore them!
Sirius: That makes two of us…
Those three numbers stand for: (N) Nitrogen, (P) Phosphorus, and (K) Potassium respectively.
These are elements that plants use for vital functions, and the numbers on the bottle are indicating the percentage of each element contained in the bottle.
Using the picture above as an example, this bottle contains:
- 2% Nitrogen
- 1% Phosphorus
- 6% Potassium
- (not shown – 91% filler)
Although this information is useful, it can be confusing for new growers.
Choosing the right nutrient system for your setup, plus correct feeding, monitoring, and general plant care will reduce or eliminate the need for studying and really understanding this information in small-scale grows.
Nebula: Of course you need to understand what these numbers mean if you want to mix your own custom nutrients, but very few small-scale growers do this themselves. Buying a nutrient system formulated for marijuana is just easier and cheaper for most personal grows.
Regular readers of the newsletter might have already known this, but I use General Hydroponics Flora Trio exclusively (except when testing a new nutrient).
As a hydro marijuana grower, General Hydroponics Flora Trio has performed as well if not better than all of the more expensive nutrient systems I’ve tried, and a little goes a long way.
In fact, I end up using about half (or less) of the recommended dosage to keep my plants happy without giving them nutrient burn. This ends up giving the added benefit of not having to buy nutrients as often which means more money in your pocket!
I can’t say enough about this brand, so let me just say that if you don’t know which nutrients to use, do yourself a favor and go with General Hydroponics Flora Trio. It’s easy, cheap, and effective!
Nebula: I should mention that despite how much Sirius loves General Hydroponics Flora Trio, they won't work for you if you're growing in soil. More on that below…
Using Your Nutrients
Most plants will end up needing far less nutrients than a feeding schedule will tell you to use, so it’s a good idea to start by putting in 1/4 of the recommended dosage per feeding. From there, you can increase the dosage to 1/2 and higher as needed.
In my experience, MOST plants will get nutrient burn if they get the full recommended dosage of nutrients from the brands respective feeding schedule (if used with every watering).
It’s better to start with a low amount and then raise it over time to prevent nutrient burn. Nutrient burn won’t kill your plants, but it will damage them in a way that makes them less efficient at making buds in addition to taking away from their natural beauty. The plant pictured here has nutrient burn at the tips of the leaves.
Which Nutrients Do YOU Use?
Do you feel like your favorite brand is better? Did you want more variation? Don’t worry, we have a full page with information on other types if you don’t want as much hand-holding!
If you're looking for the best marijuana nutrients for…
- Coco coir
- Plus the best supplements…
Additionally, feel free to let us know if there’s a brand that we need to revisit. We‘re always learning at GrowWeedEasy.com, and I wouldn’t mind at all if someone changed my mind about what nutrients are the best!
Keep Your Hydro Cannabis Setup In Shape With The Best Nutrients!
General Hydroponics Flora Trio:
Available on Amazon.com
"The standard against which all other hydroponic nutrients are measured. This is the only nutrient formula I use in my garden." -Sirius