Like all plants, cannabis has specific requirements to achieve its most successful levels of growth and production. For recreational and commercial growers alike, the consistent introduction of essential nutrients for cannabis growth – during each phase of plants’ life cycles – is necessary to produce a successful and repeatable crop.
Essential Nutrients for Growing Cannabis Plants
Essential nutrients are divided into three groups. Macronutrients are required in large quantities. Essential secondary nutrients are required in small quantities. Essential micronutrients are required in still smaller quantities. However, all of the nutrients are essential to plant health and crop production.
While Oxygen (O), Hydrogen (H), and Carbon (C) are rarely lacking in soil, water, and air; three other macronutrients often need to be added to the growing medium:
- Needed for plant growth, foliage development, and protein production.
- Necessary to the chlorophyll molecule that gives plants their green color and is essential to photosynthesis.
- Essential for root, flower, and seed development.
- Essential for energy transfer between cells and throughout the plant.
- Essential to photosynthesis
- Aids in water absorption.
- Regulates the opening and closing of stomata.
- Required in the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which drives many processes in the living cell.
Essential Secondary Nutrients
While Essential Macronutrients are needed in large quantities for optimal plant growth, Essential secondary nutrients are also required in smaller quantities. They are, however, essential to plant growth and health.
- Necessary to transporting other nutrients.
- Necessary to the absorption of nutrients.
- A component of Chlorophyll and therefore photosynthesis.
- Assists in the metabolism and transportation of nutrients throughout the plant.
- Necessary to the transport of chlorophyll.
- Aids with plant metabolism.
- Essential to the transportation of other nutrients.
Essential Micronutrients are needed in much smaller quantities than either essential macronutrients or secondary macronutrients. They are essential to plant life and successful crops.
- Necessary to the absorption of zinc (Zn).
- Helps to transport calcium (Ca).
- Necessary to chlorophyll production.
- Necessary to photosynthesis.
- Helps enzyme interactions.
- Necessary to the development of stems, leaves, and branches.
- Required in larger quantities as the plant matures.
- Strengthens the limbs and branches of the plant.
- Necessary to the development of plant proteins.
- Necessary to Chlorophyll production.
- Necessary to process nitrogen.
Cobalt (Co), Chlorine (Cl), Silicon (Si), and Selenium (Se)
- Necessary to the support of all plant life.
- Sources do not agree as to whether they should be included in the list of essential nutrients. However, they should appear in any nutrient mix.
Balance of Nutrients and pH
Plants need a correct pH in order to absorb and use nutrients well. As with all plant production, the needs of individual plants vary by the plant’s phase. A newly rooted plant will need a different balance of nutrients than a flowering plant.
The ideal pH of the growing medium must be maintained. The pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity of the soil or growing medium. A soil or growing medium that is either too acidic or too alkaline will impede plant growth and crop production.
Ideal pH for cannabis in
- soil is 6.0 and 6.5.
- Coco Coir 5.5 to 6.5.
- hydroponic setups 5.5-6.5.
pH testing kits are widely available alone or as part of DIY soil testing kits.
What to Look for in a Cannabis Nutrient Mix or Kit
Cannabis nutrient mixes and kits are available for most growing mediums. There are a few considerations when choosing a nutrient mix and when to use it.
- Make certain that you have had your soil tested and know the pH of the soil before adding nutrients. This information will allow you to make precise decisions about nutrient additions.
- Nutrient mixes are called N-P-K mixes or Nitrogen (N)-Phosphorus (P)-Potassium (K)
- In the growing phase, an N-P-K mix high in Nitrogen (N), medium in Phosphorus (P) and high in potassium works best.
- In the flowering phase an N-P-K mix low in Nitrogen (N), medium to high in Phosphorus (P), and high in Potassium (K) works best. This is because a mix high in Nitrogen can discourage bud development.
- Check that you are purchasing a nutrient mix and not a supplement mix. Supplement mixes have very low N-P-K ratios.
More About Essential Nutrients for Cannabis Growth
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