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Using Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions

July 5, 2016

A hydroponic nutrient solution is a liquid mixture that contains all the pre-dissolved nutrients a plant needs to thrive. Although a “one-solution-fits-all” formula would make things much simpler for professional growers, different types of cannabis plants require different minerals in different amounts at different stages of their growth cycle to reach their maximum potential. So, a one-solution approach is not practical, and some growers choose to buy individual chemicals to mix their own solutions.

Some growers feel that using custom solutions made from composted organic plant matter (also known as “compost teas”) creates sweeter, less harsh cannabis than using chemical formulas. Although organic solutions rarely produce the high yields of chemical formulas, the plants are fed a super rich diet of the nutrients they need to grow and mature.

Custom vs. Pre-mixed solutions

Other growers prefer the convenience of buying pre-mixed solutions. These are available as liquids or powders and are relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of small quantities of individual chemicals. Also, pre-mixed solutions are available in either organic or non-organic varieties, as well as one-, two- or three-part formulas.

For example, one company, Dutch Master Nutrients, hired a Ph.D. chemist to develop its line of hydroponic solutions, and its system is one of the most complete (although expensive) on the market. The system includes formulas for both the vegetative and flowering cycles, as well as specialized solutions for increased root growth, bigger buds, enhanced light absorption and enhanced efficiency in using the light absorbed. The company’s web site includes a nutrient solution calculator to create a custom formula for each week of plant growth.

Pre-mixed solutions can’t always be adjusted to fit the specific needs of the plant in the way that custom solutions can. But buying individual chemicals for a custom solution can cost more unless you buy them in bulk. For large scale growers, the best approach is often to buy these chemicals from a commercial supplier, using them to mix a custom solution designed specifically for cannabis in its different stages of growth. This is meticulous and time-consuming, since the correct amount of each chemical must be weighed precisely before adding it to the mix. But mixing nutrients from scratch gives you precise control of the ratio of nutrients at any given point.

It also should be noted that all hydroponic solutions must be monitored daily for both pH and electrical conductivity. They should be adjusted accordingly, since the ratio of the various chemicals used to create the solution changes as the plants extract what they need. Plus, all solutions should be changed weekly and the growing medium flushed with a one-third concentration solution to remove excess salts before introducing the new batch. Finally, all solutions should be oxygenated and kept cool before distributing them to the plants. This maintains dissolved oxygen levels and prevents the roots from becoming overly active; otherwise, the plants’ respiration rate can rise to the point where oxygen deprivation occurs.

But, if you do your job correctly, a good hydroponic solution can drastically boost both your yield and the quality of your buds, making all of your hard work well worthwhile.


By Bill Bernhardt
Cannabis Cultivation Today articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal guidance or advice on grow practices. You should contact an attorney or a qualified cultivation consultant for specific compliance and cultivation advice.

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