Nutrients in cannabis cultivation

We have already talked about the soil, but we know that it alone may not be enough to give life and sustain our plants: it needs nutrients. Shall we learn more about them?

Throughout our growing series, we realized that cannabis is very similar to us: it needs a good environment, light and special conditions to grow strong and prosper. It also needs nutrients: a healthy and more organic “diet” will guarantee your health (here’s the tip), and for your plants too. And, just like everyone else, their need for each nutrient can vary according to the stage of life. So you’ll need to be very attentive and plan ahead!

There are other factors that will dictate the need for nutrients beyond the plant stage, one of which is the soil you have chosen. If you are working with inert soil, it will rely on everything you add to grow, ie fertilizers to the water, foliar sprays, and other methods . Living soil, on the other hand, is a soil that you add little: just the fact of having life should already supply the plant’s need for some nutrients. It is also important to test the soil itself – if it has not been purchased, you need to know what it has available for your cannabis, and what may need to be added to create a balanced soil.

And it is not only the substrate that can bring the nutrients: water also plays a key role at this time, both below and above. Macronutrients (NPK), micronutrients, hydration, pH – these are all essential for cannabis.

Want to get a little deeper into this universe of nutrients? Here, we’ll show you!

Plant in need or excess of water, the leaves are down indicating that they are hungry or very heavy. Possible to identify by the weight of the container.

What is NPK?

The acronym NPK is widely spoken around, and is essential in gardening. It represents the elements Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K), which are fundamental in the soil for the healthy growth of a plant. Here, we tell you more about each one, and why you may need to supplement your land with these substances:

Nitrogen: absorbed in the form of ammonia or nitrate by the roots, it is used to manufacture proteins (in the form of enzymes) and nucleic acids. It is the second most important substance for plants, right after water, and directly affects the development of plant tissues and their reproduction. Because it is part of chlorophyll, it has a direct influence on photosynthesis. It also makes up DNA and RNA, acting in the growth phase of vegetables – that is, it is essential in the vega.

The lack of this substance causes older leaves to turn yellow, and the plant loses its green color due to the lack of chlorophyll.

Phosphorus: is associated with the transformation of energy in the plant and the regulation of protein synthesis. When added to the soil, it promotes root growth and gives resistance to cold. So, like nitrogen, its synthesis is also important – in his case, mainly in flora, to harvest incredible buds.

The lack of this substance causes impaired growth and an abnormal coloration of darkened green.

Potassium: it is an enzyme activator, which gives the plant better control over its vital functions – such as breathing, water loss and resistance to pests. This makes the roots stronger and increases the resistance to arid conditions.

The lack of this substance causes decreases in the yield of the plants and in the physical quality, in resistance to pests, in the useful life of the fruits and in the quality of the harvest. In other words: it is essential in all stages of cannabis.

The rates can vary according to your soil and the needs of your plant.

How these substances are available

These nutrients can be found in fertilizers, solutions and other additives, and naturally in a balanced living soil system. To help you make decisions about what you are purchasing here are some things to know about how products are labeled. For fertilizers and other amendments on their packaging, they indicate how much of the three main elements (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) are available in the product. For example, a product that says “9-3-4” will contain 9% nitrogen, 3% phosphorus and 4% potassium by weight. These ingredients are always listed in the order N-P-K – hence the nickname! You may also look into the ingredients of agricultural products online or call the company so you know exactly what you are putting into your cannabis plant that you will later be consuming!

In addition to these macroelements, sulfur, released through decomposition, can also be important and help in the growth of your plants – that’s why organic matter is essential. Calcium and magnesium are two other minerals that are usually present in the soil, and are important for the development of stems and chlorophyll and also used in larger amounts than most of the other micronutrients by cannabis plants.

Overfert – tips burned by excess nutrients at the end of flowering

Other minor microelements are:

  • Zinc

  • Iron

  • Manganese

  • Molybdenum

  • Chlorine

  • Cobalt

  • Silicon

  • Boron

  • Copper

An ideal diet per phase

Here, we enter a somewhat delicate territory, and we will explain the reason.

Just as each cultivator has its ideal working formula for the photoperiod, for example, plant feeding can be a theme with many different approaches. That’s because everyone can have their own way of applying nutrients during the different phases of the plants! But here we are going to talk about a recommendation for beginners, not a universal ideal of diet (which, let’s face it, is not a fixed rule and depends on several factors). Take notes:

  • During a vegetative phase, plants need high levels of nitrogen and potassium, and an average intake of phosphorus. As a general rule, the amount of phosphorus should be approximately half the nitrogen, while potentiometer levels can vary from one third to half nitrogen.

  • In the flowering stage, the nitrogen level must be drastically reduced as the plant begins to shift from creating lush green vegetative growth and into creating its flowers. All commercial cannabis fertilizers are differentiated for the growth and flowering stages according to these basic principles.

Specialized additives can also be composed, but this is only advisable for more experienced producers, as overfeeding can be catastrophic.

If you notice that your soil is poor in those elements based on your plants signs, you can buy or make a fertilizer, or even think about cover crops, soil amendments or compost teas depending on the issue.

What is a cover crop

A cover crop is a very common practice in regenerative agriculture, which we love. In it, other vegetables are planted, between cycles or together with cannabis or another vegetable, to return nutrients to the soil. In addition to obtaining up to 40% of the phosphorus return, they also help in:

  • Protection against sudden changes in temperature;

  • Reduction of weed and other pest infestation;

  • No increase in the capacity for nutrient retention;

  • Protection against erosion and leaching of nutrients;

  • Improving soil biodiversity.

Millet and other legumes, such as beans, are perfect species for this!

Plant with several deficiencies, red stems and yellow leaves.

Girls, and what about the types of fertilizers?

Well, that part is very important.

There are thousands of types of fertilizers and other products for the soil. Here, we believe that nature is the remedy, and that you find the answers in it. So, use NON TOXIC, organic, and sustainably produced options to grow your plants. Because whatever you put into your soil, water, or foliar feeding, ends up in your plant which you then smoke! So make sure you use organic modes of production so as to reduce the harms and risks of consuming cannabis while it’s being grown, how beautiful!

The ideal fertilizer is the organic matter, of which we have already spoken so much about. This is where humus originates, which provides nutrients for plants, regulates populations of microorganisms and makes the soil fertile.

To apply it, as we said in the text above, the humus must be mixed with the soil. The biofertilizer, on the other hand, must be diluted (in a proportion of ten parts of water to one of fertilizer) and applied every fifteen days.

About pH

PH is the potential hydrogen of a soil. And that number is closely linked to nutrient availability to your plants! We’ll explain why. But first, it’s interesting that you get to know the concept.

The pH scale is numbered from 0 to 14. The numbers at the bottom end of the scale (0-6) represent a substance that is considered acidic. While the numbers that are higher on the scale (8-14) are considered alkaline. 7 generally represents substances that are considered pH neutral, or substances that are practically balanced and stable. Certain nutrients and elements are only available in certain pH ranges so making sure your medium and water are in the normal ranges will help to not create problems for your plants and allow them access to everything they need to grow. 

Plants like a pH close to neutral. Plants that are in the soil like the pH between 6.5 and 7.0 tolerating well between 6 and 7. Plants in soil-less mediums such as coco coir, peat moss and others typically like a pH slightly lower for their waterings around 5.5 to 6.5 depending on medium and stage of growth.

There are two ways to measure this level:

  • You can measure the irrigation water pH, and the PH of your soil (especially if your cultivation is outdoor);

  • Or, in indoor cases, you can collect the water that comes out of the holes in the plant’s pot after watering and measure aka what many call “runoff”;

  • It is very easy to find kits to measure pH, especially in agricultural and specialized gardening stores.

Problems with pH? You can find balanced soil mixes at neutral pH at most gardening stores. Another suggestion, but only if your pH is too low, is Dolomite: just mix 30 grams of dolomite for each 4 liters of soil to be stabilized. You can find it in stones or powder (powder is the best option). In addition, it is rich in calcium and magnesium!

And speaking of watering…

As we mentioned in our soil text, most growers can agree that good cannabis soil should be dark and rich, with a loose texture that drains well and can retain water without leaving it looking muddy. You can test with a handful of your soil and see if it:

  • It looks dark and rich;

  • It has a loose texture;

  • Drains well (does not form a pool on top of the ground for more than a few seconds and does not take forever to drain the bottom);

  • Retains water without forming mud.

Water will also be a way to bring nutrients to your plant. It is through it and through the air that your plant will receive carbon (essential material for photosynthesis), oxygen and hydrogen.

Guys, it’s important to say that this is a basic text on nutrition, to understand what nutrients will be needed – regardless of whether organic or non-organic. But it will all depend on what you choose: from that, you will need to do research and really see what makes sense to you.

Did you like to know that? Have any questions? Comment here for us!

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