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Absorption of Water and Nutrients

Understanding the Absorption of Water and Nutrients by Cannabis Plants

Marijuana is gaining quite a bit of attention these days. It’s becoming more widely accepted with each passing year. Because of this, an ever-increasing number of people are testing their green thumbs by growing cannabis crops at home.

As far as crops go, marijuana isn’t overly difficult to germinate and cultivate into full-grown plants laden with healthy, luscious buds. Of course, fully understanding how the plant works and how the absorption of water and nutrients factor into the equation can certainly increase a grower’s rate of success.

Taking a Brief Look at the Basics

Cannabis plants require certain basic elements in order to develop into healthy plants with juicy flowers. Sunlight gives them energy to carry out photosynthesis, the process by which the plants utilize water, sunlight, CO2, micronutrients, and macronutrients to grow.

Carbon dioxide is absorbed by the plant leaves’ stomata (pores), combined with water in the plant cell’s chloroplasts, and converted into glucose (plant food). Oxygen is sourced from the water absorbed through the plant’s root system.

Nutrients are vital to marijuana growth as well. Seventeen vitamins and minerals, both micronutrients and macronutrients, are carried by water and distributed around the plant. Plants require large amounts of macronutrients like potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, as well as small amounts of micronutrients such as iron, copper, and zinc, in smaller quantities.

Water is the most abundant chemical compound on the planet, and it constitutes approximately 90% of marijuana plants. This single element is essential for all plants’ life processes and serves several purposes.

Cannabis Cells from the Outside in

Before delving into the absorption of water and minerals, we need to discuss cells. These tiny structures come in numerous forms, each with a distinct role on the plant.

In marijuana plants specifically, different cells make up the leaves, stems, roots, buds, and various internal organelles. The organelles in each cell serve various functions: some process the photons from sunlight, combine them with oxygen and convert them to glucose, other organelles behave like bladders for the cell to process water, while others behave like filters helping to remove waste. Root cells draw water and nutrients from the soil.

Every plant cell has a cell wall. It’s a rigid outer layer that provides shape and structure to the plant. Cell walls also help protect plant cells from invading pathogens. Inside the cell wall is a semi-permeable cell membrane. The cell membrane contains a gel-like fluid called cytoplasm. The cell membrane’s job is to allow some substances through the cytoplasm while preventing others.

There are many functioning bodies inside the larger body of the cell wall and membrane. They’re known as organelles and they all work together in amazing synchronicity, performing the various functions of plant growth.

Chloroplasts are the conversion organelles that convert sunlight energy, H2O, and CO2 into glucose for the plant. Chloroplasts also contain chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green hue.

One of the major organelles in cannabis plant cells is called the mitochondria, the powerhouses of marijuana plant cells. These organelles generate energy to make cannabis plants grow and produce flowers.

Another organelle is called the ribosome. It uses nutrients to make food and sends it to the Golgi Apparatus of the cell where the food is either stored or passed along.

One of the most important organelles is the nucleus. This organelle stores DNA and sends commands to the rest of the cell.

All organelles work in concert to produce an abundant crop of delicious flowers, and water happens to be an integral part of the process.

Discussing Water Absorption in Cannabis Plants

Cells and their organelles carry out their duties, while water distributes nutrients and contributes to cell turgidity. When the cell’s release their stores of water through transpiration, the available space in the vacuoles creates pressure and signals the root cells to take in water.

From there, water flows through the plant’s cells and membranes. Cell membranes are semi-permeable, allowing the import and export of specific substances to pass through its gel-like fluid. Those substances are taken into the cell and those filtered out move along to their next destination.

Cannabis plants “sweat” via transpiration. Heat causes water to evaporate. In colder temperatures, plants’ cell walls tend to allow less fluid to flow in and out. That’s why plants usually require less water when temperatures are low. When temperatures remain within an optimal range during each stage of growth, the plant is more likely to utilize water optimally.

Where the Nutrients Come in

Marijuana plants’ roots take in nutrient-rich water which flows throughout the plant. Plant roots are made of hard cells called sclerenchyma cells. Micronutrients and macronutrients are draw up through the sclerenchyma cells into xylem, parenchyma, collenchyma, and phloem cells that serve various essential functions throughout the plant. Micronutrients and macronutrients are distributed by water throughout each type of cell.

Looking Deeper into the Role of Minerals in Marijuana Growth

The nutrients required by marijuana plants are sourced from the grow medium or soil. In the case of hydroponic growing, vitamins and minerals come from a nutrient solution added to their water source. Different kinds and amounts of nutrients at specific stages of growth prompt the plants to branch out and eventually bloom or produce seeds, depending on the plant’s sex.

Among a variety of plant functions such as osmosis, transpiration, digestion— there’s also photosynthesis: the vital biological function in which all environmental variables combine with pressure inside the plant to perform plant growth. The pressure pumps nutrient-rich water into the branches and leaves. There, the vitamins, minerals, and fluids act in concert with photosynthesis. As a result, plants convert sunlight energy, nutrients, and elements into glucose to feed the plant.

Some nutrients are more important than others, including:

  • Calcium: Calcium helps cannabis plants form new growth and mature properly. It also keeps cell walls strong.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium aids plants in creating glucose during photosynthesis. This element likewise helps plants utilize glucose when needed.
  • Nitrogen: As is the case with magnesium, nitrogen is an essential component plants need for photosynthesis. This element helps plants grow taller and stronger during the vegetative stage before buds begin to develop. It’s also associated to the function of DNA and the activity it commands.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is vital throughout plants’ lives especially during the flowering phase. It also aids in nutrient uptake through plants’ root systems. Buds may not form at all if your cannabis plants lack phosphorus.
  • Potassium: Potassium works in a few ways to foster growth. It ensures the cell membranes function properly during osmosis and helps plants store the energy they need to thrive and continue carrying out all their essential processes.
  • Sulfur: Chlorophyll can’t form without sulfur, so it’s critical to plant life in virtually every way. At the same time, plants use sulfur in the creation of proteins, amino acids, and numerous other components needed to keep cells functioning well.

These are the primary elements marijuana plants must absorb in order to grow properly and produce potent buds. If your plants are lacking in any of these nutrients, you’ll notice certain telltale warning signs. Phosphorus deficiency exhibits itself in the form of a purplish tinge on leaf veins. Calcium deficiency causes slow growth, brown spots, and curled leaves. Magnesium deficiency shows up as plants’ leaves yellowing.

Giving Your Plants the Nutrient Boost They Need

Though plants usually get the vitamins and minerals they need from the soil, natural earth sometimes falls short on nutrient content. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the most vital of those elements, so they’re the ones you want to look for in fertilizers and nutrient solutions.

This essential trinity is clearly listed on soil-enrichment products’ labels in order of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You’ll see a number, such as 20-20-20, on the front of the package. Incidentally, this happens to be one of the recommended ratios for plants in the vegetative state.

You might want to use a lower concentration for indoor plants, though. Several types of fertilizers and solutions specifically for marijuana are on the market, but standard plant fertilizers will certainly suffice.

It’s also important to understand some products designed particularly for cannabis growth come in different forms. Some have high nitrogen content and are meant for use during the vegetative phase whereas others offer higher phosphate concentration for the flowering stage.

Fertilizers come with varying feeding instructions, so it’s difficult to say exactly when to feed your plants and how much to give them. If you’re in doubt, simply follow the instructions on the product packaging. If your plants seem to stop growing or their leaves begin to turn yellow or brown and fall off, you may be feeding them too much. Beware of distress symptoms that signal nutrient lockout and nutrient burn.

Ramping up Water’s Effectiveness

Plants need food, and they can’t get it without water. Take care with the intervals and amounts of water you provide though, as giving plants too much or too little water at the wrong times may have negative implications in the plant’s development.

How Much Water and When?

It’s impossible to say exactly how much water your plants will need and when, but certain guidelines can give you a rough estimate. As seedlings, marijuana plants need quite a bit of water. They need extra nutrients and energy to grow at this point, and their roots need constant moisture to be able to spread out. This means the soil should remain moist, with the top inch of soil drying between intervals. Avoid watering so much that water pool around the bases of the plants, though.

As a rule of thumb, you should give seedlings small amounts of water twice each day. If the soil feels dry to you, it probably feels the same way to the plants. If the soil feels soggy, scale back your watering efforts for a little while.

During the vegetative phase, about four to eight weeks into your plants’ lifecycle, they’ll begin needing less water. During this phase, their root systems have branched out enough to find water that’s deeper in the soil. If the top of the soil feels dry but it’s moist underneath, your plants should be fine. In most cases, they only need water once every two or three days for the weeks to come.

Once flowers begin to form, you’ll have to judge your watering schedule by the look of the plants and the way their soil and leaves feel. Press your finger into the soil a couple of inches. If you feel moisture, the soil is likely saturated enough. If the soil or the plants’ leaves are dry, it’s time to water.

Supplying your plants with the right amounts of water at the right times will improve their moisture and nutrient absorption. Giving them too much water will prevent water (and oxygen) from being absorbed by the roots and could lead to fungal infections or root rot.

Methods Matter

How you water your marijuana crop matters just as much as the amount of water. It’s best to water your plants early in the morning before the sun rises. Though plants need a small amount of chlorine, tap water contains too much. Consider sticking with rainwater, distilled water, or filtered water. Also, pay attention to the water’s pH because cannabis grows best when pH levels are between 6.0 – 7.0.

Bottom Line

Plants absorb water and nutrients through the roots. From there, various cells within the plants absorb the moisture, vitamins, and minerals they need to keep the plants flourishing. Giving the plants the right amounts of water and nutrients helps ramp up the absorption process. All this leads to abundant yields of the potent buds you’re looking for.

Water is an important part of the process from the germination of the seed to the final pre-harvest growth phase. Talk to the support team at to establish the right seeds for your cannabis cultivation goals.