Choosing the right nutrients and planning your feeding schedule can be a daunting task, especially for the first time grower. However there are a few simple steps you can use that will make feeding your precious plants much easier. There are two main types of nutrients you will see growers use, chemical nutrients and organic nutrients.
The first step is understanding the nutrients, there are three main nutrients you will use, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, known collectively as N-P-K. When you buy nutrients they will often have numbers on the label such as ‘2-1-6’, this is the percentage of these nutrients that is in the mixture (see below image).
Different mixes will have different percentages of each nutrient however as a rule of thumb marijuana plants generally need a higher percentage of nitrogen during the vegetative stage and then a higher percentage of phosphorus during the flowering stage.
You will see that lots of nutrient companies offer both a veg mix and a flowering mix in separate bottles, this is because the fertilisers in the two bottles cannot be combined without ruining the consistency of the liquids, usually they need to be mixed together in a bucket in equal measurements with water and mixed thoroughly before feeding the plants.
Benefits of Chemical Nutrients
- More Potent – Because you can measure the exact amount of nutrients many people say that chemical nutrients create higher levels of THC in the plant.
- Faster Growth – Chemical nutrients are instant and easy to absorb for the plant and so it is the most efficient way of getting the nutrients into the plants. Plus once you have done a few grows and pick up on signs of deficiencies you can measure the nutrients to perfection based on the look of the plant.
- Suitable for Hydro – If you are growing in Hydro then I would advise to only use chemical nutrients, this is because organic nutrients contain micro organisms and can be a catalyst for mould and pests to gather in the water reservoir.
Organic weed nutrients
If you don’t want to use chemical nutrients diluted into water you can use organic weed nutrients instead. If you use compost or an amended soil mix as your growing medium then you don’t actually need to use chemical nutrients at all because they are naturally occurring in the compost. Tiny micro organisms in the compost create a living soil that allows the nutrients to be continuously produced over time and steadily feed the plant throughout its life. Many growers prefer using organic weed nutrients because it is a more natural way of growing and usually creates a better smell and taste in the buds, however the grows can sometimes take a little longer to achieve the same size and bulk as bottled nutrients.
Benefits of Organic Nutrients
- Cheaper – Your only cost is the compost or amended soil, then all you need to do is water the plants. If you want to be super efficient you can even create your own compost.
- Natural – Using organic nutrients means that you a feeding the plant how nature intended, although the grow may take a little longer many people claim that you cannot beat the taste and quality of naturally grown bud.
Checking pH levels
Getting the pH levels right when watering your plants is just as important as getting the right measurements of nutrients. More often than not when there is a nutrient deficiency it is down to the pH level of the water not being correct, this is because without the right pH level in the water the plants will not be able to absorb the nutrients effectively.
Ideal pH levels
- Soil: 6.0 – 7.0
- Coco Coir: 5.5 – 6.5
- Hydroponics: 5.5 – 6.5
Checking the pH of the water each time you water your plants is extremely easy if you purchase a pH monitor and for only a few dollars it will make a world of difference to the health of your plants.
Providing your cannabis plants with the right nutrients is vital for them to thrive, however what many people get wrong is the very basics of watering them. Watering your plants correctly may sound simple but as a beginner it is important to know how much water to give them and how to spot signs of over or under watering. Have a read of our article The complete guide to watering your cannabis plants or the importance of pH and how it can affect cannabis plants to get some useful tips that will help your grow thrive.