How To Make A Marijuana Nutrient Solution
Growing marijuana takes a lot of work, but is worth the effort. The result is sweet, smokable buds. Nutrients are one of the most important things you can give cannabis to make it thrive. Knowing how to make a marijuana nutrient solution is vital to the health of your plants.
Marijuana Needs the Proper Mix of Nutrients for Different Stages of Growth
Before you can understand how to make nutrient solutions for cannabis, it is vital to understand the different stages of growth the plants will go through. From seed to harvest, there are four stages of development, and they are as follows:
- The germination stage lasts from 5 – 10 days;
- Cannabis plants remain in the seedling phase for 2 – 3 weeks;
- The vegetative stage of development lasts 3 – 16 weeks;
- The flowering stage will last 8 – 11 weeks.
The vegetative and flowering stages are the two most critical in the lifecycle of a cannabis plant. During these two stages of growth, nutrients are vital. You cannot merely put any nutrients on the plants and hope for the best. At each stage of growth, nutrient needs must be met.
The Vegetative Stage
The vegetative stage, often referred to as the growth stage, is one of the most demanding phases of growth. Explosive growth occurs during the vegetative stage, which is why nutrients are so critical to healthy plant life.
The vegetative phase is one of the most vital in a cannabis plant’s lifecycle. Many things can go wrong during this period of growth, and nutrient deficiencies often cause them. During this time, the roots are developing into a robust system and absorbing an abundance of nutrients. It is during this period of growth where yield is determined. Give your plants the right nutrients now, and they will give you a higher return in the harvest.
During the vegetative stage of growth, nitrogen (N) is one of the essential nutrients your cannabis plants will need. Your cannabis plants will also need potassium (K) and phosphorus (P). During the vegetative stage, you will need to increase nitrogen in your nutrient mixture.
Nitrogen is vital during this stage of development because it encourages growth. A lack of nitrogen is one of the most common problems marijuana plants face. A plant that is lacking nitrogen will only be green near the top. The underlying leaves will begin to yellow and wither.
If your plants are not receiving enough nitrogen at this stage, you will also see leaf death that begins at the tips of the leaves and grows inward. If the tips of the cannabis leaves are turning brown, this is a prime indicator your plants are lacking vital nitrogen.
The Flowering Stage Has Unique Nutrition Needs
Just like with other stages, the flowering stage has its own nutrition requirements. Because marijuana growers are looking for sweet buds, you certainly want to make sure your plants produce as many as possible.
Once you see white hairs beginning to form in different areas, it is time for flowering to occur. Depending on the strain, your cannabis plants will flower for 8-11 weeks.
Although nutrients are necessary during this stage of plant development, one of the biggest mistakes growers make is overfeeding their crops. Novice growers often become overly excited because they are finally seeing blooms developing. They mistakenly believe more is better, which can lead to nutrient overload or nutrient lockout.
Just like with the vegetative stage, flowering plants need nitrogen-heavy nutrients. When you feed at the right times and in the right quantities, your plants will begin to produce many blossoms of beauty.
Four phases occur during the flowering stage, and they include the following.
- Early flowering
- Peak flowering
- Late flowering
Although it is essential to start with a nitrogen-heavy feed, you will eventually need to go with more potassium and phosphorous based nutrients.
Necessary Supplies for Making a Marijuana Nutrient Solution
Although you can purchase pre-mixed nutrient solutions, these do not give you the level of control creating your own offers. Once you learn how to make solutions, it will be cost-effective to purchase nutrient additives in bulk. You will need the following supplies to get started.
- Measuring cups
- pH meter
- 10 ml syringe
- EC meter
- pH down or up (nitric acid for vegetative and phosphoric acid for flowering)
It is wise to make 100 ml of nutrient solution at a time. To make this, you will need between 200 – 400 cc of fertilizer. Choose a fertilizer that is heavy in nitrogen and phosphorus. During the flowering stage, start with nitrogen-heavy and then follow with a fertilizer that focuses on phosphorus and potassium.
To mix your nutrient solution, you will first need to fill the water tank with lukewarm water. Starting with water that is around 72°F will help you to avoid the long wait time of waiting for the water to heat up.
Next, mix in the nutrients based on the stage of growth. After thoroughly mixing the nutrients and allowing the water to circulate in the tank, it is essential to check the electrical conductivity (EC) level and adjust as needed. There are electrical conductivity meters that can help with this process.
Although EC results can vary, the level should be not much higher than 2.5 for mature plants. If the EC level is too high, you will need to water down the solution by adding more water. If the EC level is too low, add more nutrients, and keep checking with your meter until you reach the optimal number.
Increasing EC Gradually Is Critical
While the EC level is vital, pushing it too high, too soon can result in problems. You must gradually increase the EC level, so your plants do not experience any health issues. Optimizing the electrical conductivity is essential for cannabis plant health. Although it takes a concerted effort, it is not difficult to accomplish.
An EC meter measures how many fertilizer salts are in the solution. Too much EC can lead to salt toxicity and leaf burning. When this happens, the tips of the marijuana leaves will begin to brown, and this brown color will spread and deepen in color, and eventually the plant will die. Eventually, salt toxicity can reach the root level and lead to the following:
- Marginal yellowing
- Leaf wilting
- Stunted growth
To ensure salt toxicity leaf burning does not occur, it is crucial to make sure you take a measured approach to slowly build up the EC according to the needs of your plants during their current stage of development.
You will need to slowly increase EC starting from the very beginning and just before harvest. You will have to play with the numbers to meet the unique needs of your plants and the soil they are growing in. As a rule of thumb, every four days, increase the EC level by 0.1. This method slowly introduces increased nutrients to your plants and helps to ensure they will not develop salt toxicity, which can lead to their destruction.
You will need to continuously monitor the EC of your plants to ensure their health. For the best results, check your EC daily, especially during critical stages of growth. When the EC drops or rises too high, adjust the nutrients accordingly.
EC issues are relatively easy to monitor because they are the only thing that can change throughout the growing process. If you have an EC meter and know the signs to look for, such as discoloration in your plants, it will be simple to keep on top of the EC levels.
If you keep careful track of EC levels, it will be easy to make corrections. Keep a log of all levels and make the necessary adjustments as soon as discoloration occurs. If you see the slightest hint of changes in coloration, go back to the previous EC level, when the plant was not showing signs of discoloration. Using this logging method will help you to avoid having to guess which level is most beneficial for your plants.
High Levels Can Be Adjusted
If you notice there are significant problems with the EC, it is wise to do a flush. If your cannabis garden becomes oversaturated with nutrients, it will be time to carry out a flush. Without a flush, your plants will not be able to take up any more nutrients, and they will be in shock. Shocked plants can suffer considerable damage and will eventually die.
To conduct a flush, you will need to stop feeding the plants and flush them with fresh water that has the correct pH. When you flush plants, the soil is going to become fully saturated so it will not be able to take in any more water. You will need to allow the soil to dry before watering again. Allowing the soil to dry will help to prevent root rot, which can lead to plant death.
After conducting a flush and allowing the soil to dry, you can continue to water the plants as usual. You should wait at least a week before introducing any more nutrients to the plants. If the nutrient lockout was severe, wait up to three weeks before adding nutrients again.
How to Prevent Nutrient Lockout
Ask any experienced marijuana grower and they will tell you prevention is always better than correction. It is much easier to prevent nutrient lockout than to try and correct it after it has happened. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to avoid this issue from occurring:
- Use all organic materials, so there are no needless chemicals in the mix;
- If you are feeding your plants heavily, make sure to flush here and there to give your plants the help they need;
- Carefully mix the nutrients to ensure the right ratio is achieved;
- Check the pH and EC regularly for the best results.
If you are properly monitoring your plants and using the right nutrients, it is possible to avoid nutrient lockout altogether. As you become more experienced in growing cannabis, it will be easy to notice the telltale signs of a nutrient lockout and a high or low EC. The faster you can see the signs, the sooner the problem can be reversed entirely.
Monitor the pH Regularly
In addition to monitoring the EC level, it is also vital you check the pH levels. Using a pH meter is a simple way to monitor the acidity of your soil. Ideally, the pH level should hang out between 5.5 and 5.8. Consider the following issues and make the necessary adjustments:
- If the EC is too low, you will need to add fertilizer nutrients;
- If the EC is too high, add more water;
- If the pH is too low, add potassium hydroxide;
- If the pH becomes too high, add nitric or phosphoric acid.
Check the Temperature
EC, pH, and temperature are all important factors to consider when growing marijuana. The temperature of the solution needs to hover around 72° so the nutrients will mix in well and will be ready to be delivered to the plant roots.
If your nutrient solution routinely drops below 72 or does not come up to temperature at all, a heater can be used. Aquarium heaters are ideal for ensuring the water temperature stays at the right level.
Getting the nutrients and pH at the right level is one of the toughest parts of growing cannabis, but it is possible. If you have the right meters on hand and pay attention to the clues your plants exhibit, it will be easier to make adjustments as needed.
Once you have mixed your nutrient solution, make sure to let it sit before introducing it to the plants. A circulation pump will help to mix all the nutrients thoroughly so they are dissolved. Giving the nutrient solution time to settle will allow reactions to take place and then stabilization.
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