The nicest thing about controlled environments is the fact that there are few surprises. Hydroponic farming is pretty straightforward if you know what you’re doing.
In the world of farming; there’s nothing harder than putting in the effort and waiting for your plant to bloom, then it starts wilting.
Fortunately, this outcome is avoidable. Giving your plants the right hydroponic nutrients in proper amounts is the best way to get a healthy crop.
What Are Hydroponic Nutrients?
Plants are magic workers that transform sunlight and air into greenery, flowers, and fruits.
All that they ask in return is some water and a few minerals.
A healthy soil usually supplies all the required nutrients. The main elements are replenished through the circle of life, where things die and decompose. This eco-system keeps the earth virile and the plants healthy.
In hydroponics there’s no soil, so you’ll have to manually supply these minerals. The plants will still utilize what they need, but you have to maintain this controlled environment.
Hydroponic nutrients are subdivided into primary macronutrients, secondary macronutrients, and micronutrients. You need to supply more of the first two than the last.
Are There Specific Hydroponic Nutrients for Each Plant?
Yes. All plants need the same basic elements of macro and micronutrients, but the percentage and rate vary from one type of plant to another.
The optimal nutrient mix depends on a few more factors as well. The phases of plant growth have different requirements, and you can also lean on particular aspects more than others. For example, you can supplement a plant to yield more foliage, flower, or fruit.
The type of light you’re using, any filtering systems, and the weather are all factors that you need to consider as you plan your nutrient mix.
To Mix or to Get Premixed Nutrients?
Hydroponic nutrients are formulated to supply individual nutrients in an easy-to-use form. If you want to tailor a system to fit your plants; then mix your optimal cocktail.
Mixing your nutrients isn’t exclusive for seasoned growers. You can be a beginner and still learn how to mix nutrients properly.
Pre-mixed nutrients are especially popular among beginners and home-growers. You can purchase a 1-part (i.e integrated) liquid nutrient, dilute it as indicated, and that’s it. The catch here is that 1-part products aren’t as broad-range as 2-part or 3-part nutrients.
Large-scale operations have higher requirements for nutrients. It’ll be quite costly to ship all their needs as liquid products, that’s why they resort to a powder product.
Growers often pick the nutrient mixes that work best for their plants. It takes a bit of experience and plenty of trial and error!
Wet or Dry Hydroponics?
Liquid hydroponics are easier to use but come at higher prices. They’re more suitable for small-scale projects, home-growers, and beginners.
Dry nutrients need some experience and skill. They are much cheaper than liquid nutrients and have a longer shelf life. So they are more utilized by seasoned growers and large hydroponic farms.
What Does Nutrient Deficiency Look Like?
What happens when your plants don’t get proper nutrition? First of all, they would look ‘off’. You can tell right away that there’s something missing.
Luckily, plants show clear symptoms related to their type of deficiency, so you can remedy the situation promptly.
Here are some of the signs that indicate nutrient deficiency:
The vegetation, leaves, and growing tips all look much smaller than they should be, then the plant pauses and stops growing.
This points to a Zinc deficiency most of the time. Boron or Calcium scarcity could also contribute to that condition.
The leaves become rough, then dry, then they fall off. This is a sign of calcium deficiency, and you can easily remedy it by infusing a balancing amount.
The necrotic plant tissue wouldn’t come back to life though. The healing would show a bit later in the budding leaves.
A Potassium deficiency is marked by darkening in the edges of leaves. The older foliage seems to be burned and the flowers are much smaller than usual.
Sometimes the problem isn’t an insufficient supply of nutrients, but an imbalance in its introduction. Variations in pH, using a UV filter, or a growth of algae can also affect the intake of nutrients.
The Essential Measurements for Optimal Hydroponics
An optimal hydroponic farm is one where the plants take up the supplied nutrients efficiently. This implies that you need to make sure that all the parameters are correct. The temperature, pH, and nutrient content should all be within the best limits for your plants.
The Apera Instruments PC60 combo meter will tell you the temperature in Celcius or Fahrenheit, the salinity given as a PPM value and the pH value in high precision.
In addition to the Electric Conductivity (EC-value) which expresses the content of nutrients in the solution and finally the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) expressed in parts per million (ppm).
You can also use an automatic dosing system to do all the measurements and necessary replenishing.
The Best Hydroponic Nutrients in the Market
Some products have helped growers get and admirable yield for their plants. They were also more resistive to the growth of algae and nutrient precipitation.
General Hydroponics Maxigrow is a versatile dry concentrate. You can use it with a broad variety of plants, especially in the germinating phase of growth.
If you want a combo set for all the phases of your plant’s growth, you can try the FoxFarm Big Bloom, Grow Big & Tiger Bloom Trio Hydro-Formula. It’s strongest suit is caring for roots and boosting your crops. It’s also helpful in end-of-season flowering.
Flower and fruit production is all about color, smell, and taste. Some products are designed to enhance these attributes like General Hydroponics FloraNova Bloom. It’s a bit pricey though.
To Sum This Up
Choosing the right hydroponic nutrients for your plants is a tricky business! Optimal nutrition depends on a large number of variables, plus your own personal preference and convenience.
You’ll probably take a little while to find the best system, but it doesn’t need to be too long, and you don’t have to experiment with every trick in the book.
Knowledge is power. You already read this article, so be sure that now you know more than the essentials. Keep learning, and enjoy your blooming plants!