Hello again, we all have struggled trying to find the perfect nutrient feed program for our cannabis plants. We all have struggled with micro and macro nutrient balances, as well as, checking our pH levels and water chemistry. In this article we will cover the absolutely simple, complete, nutrient feed program that will work well under 600 or 1000 watt HPS lighting. We will also talk about balancing your water chemistry, pH calibration and special consideration with pH water chemistry. This is really worth reading simply because one must master your nutrient feed program + pH chemistry.
When we start with a cannabis feed program we must understand that most cannabis plants are nutrient hungry! Cannabis plants are fast growing with a short life cycle. Their feed demands change weekly and a grower must be conscious about the influential factors such as water temperature, ambient temperature, night temperature, total dissolved salts (TDS) or R/O water. So lets start of with simply looking at a nutrient feed program + pH chemistry.
Cannabis plants must receive from your 2 part or 3 part feed program:
- the macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), magnesium (Mg), carbon (C), oxygen (O), hydrogen (H)
- the micronutrients (or trace minerals): iron (Fe), boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni)
Now, we must understand most macro nutrients are mobile nutrients; in which, your cannabis plant will generally pull from the larger, mature fan leaves to help facilitate the new growth. Mobile nutrients are great and required when growing under HPS lighting.
When you look for a feed program make sure you read the back of the bottle. You must determine what brand you are going to use such as General Hydroponics (the cheapest), Advance Nutrient (the most expensive) or my favorite Innovating Plant Products (not the cheapest or most expensive). What they have done is design a three part feed nutrient feed program for Cannabis plants. Now that we have chosen a brand lets look at what we expect to find within our bottles.
MICRO: 1 of 3 part of nutrient feed program
Our first bottle called Micro, will deliver the micro nutrients as well as, some nutrients in plant available form. Nutrients that are plant available is particliarly good for hydroponics growers. The nutrients are synthetic and in a liqued form. Bacteria is not required to break down the salts to make your nutrients plant available.
Your micro is were you can make your biggest adjustments if your plants are showing deficiency. You bottle will have the specific ratios between all the elements so they do not lock out. This is important to understand so you do not go crazy with adjustments and mix ratios such as Micro 100ML per 5 gallons and 25 ML of grow and bloom.
Follow the instruction on the bottle and if needed, differ marginally. The marco nutrients will be numbers listed such as 5-0-1 on the bottle; most 3 part feed programs use the same numbers. Each number represents Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium . You are required to mix your Micro bottle first into your water and let the pH chemistry balance. IF you are using R/O water, like myself, you MUST use a Calcium/Magnesium supplement nutrient sold separately and balance your water chemistry. Click here to read more about RO water and growing here. Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous are in the greatest percentage that is represented as 5-0-1 on the front, but also Calcium, Sulfur, Iron, Magnesium should also be listed.
I have chosen a nutrient company called Innovation Plant Products and use there growers series called High Output Garden (HOG). Please review the feed program below or CLICK HERE for printable feed program.
Grow: 2 of 3 part of nutrient feed program
Your second bottle will be Grow which represents 2-1-6 for your NPK ratios. Your ‘grow nutrient liquid’ may be colored green and that will not hurt your plants. They color the product to help you visually limit mixing mistakes. If your bottles are clear and you can see your nutrients you should make sure they are placed within a black bin with minimal heat stress. Your grow is the second part to your program and if used alone would be very weak; it would not give you any results for rapid vegetation. The Grow bottle is designed to help give you more control over your feed program; but you must incorporate your Micro bottle. Add up your Micro and Grow bottle numbers together; they will add: 7-1-7. It is time to add our Bloom bottle.
Bloom: 3 of 3 part of nutrient feed program
The third bottle to mix is Bloom. The NPK ratios will be similar to 0-5-4. The nitrogen is low simply because you do not want high nitrogen when your trying to product flowers. If you require higher nitrogen than you can increase your Micro bottle. But if you increase your micro bottle you need to increase your Grow and Bloom bottle by following a simple ratio pattern; such as, a 3-2-1 Grow/Veg and 1-2-3 Boom/Flower stage. Next, we add our 7-1-7 with 0-5-4 and we have a sum of 7-6-10. The NPK ratios are specifically designed for the stages of growth and should be followed.
If you follow the feed program you should not have micro and macro nutirents locking each other out. Now for those people who think they know it all, I’m not talking about pH lock out. I’m simply talking about have an imbalanced between element ratio. When adding booster and ripeners be very careful about your ratios as that is a common way to lock out your nutrient availability.
Three Part Bottle Feeding Ratios
Again let me make clear: a three part feed programs is designed for ratios of 3-2-1 VEG and 1-2-3 Bloom/flower. You can simply increase or decrease the strengths of your feed, as long as, you keep to the feeding ratios. The feed program is flexible and for the serious grower or a grower who likes attention to detail. The program allows you to adjust for different lighting strengths or nutrient issues. Its completely flexible, as long as you keep your 3 part feed close to the 3-2-1 and 1-2-3 ratios.
I will keep pH chemistry short and simple; you can read more about pH balancing and pH pen calibration on my blog. Once all your nutrients are mixed together, your almost ready to water your cannabis plants. Now its time to check your pH chemistry with your pH pen. To do this, you must purchase a pH pen; do not cheap out, as I have created many problems in the past simply because I was trying to be cost effective.
More can be read here about effective growing tips on my blog. I personally use the Hanna pH pen with double digit accuracy. Well your water is stirred and in motion, test your water. When your pH meter stops reading the pH chemistry than you can assume your reading is correct.
Adjust your pH according with liquid pH up or pH down. If growing in soil-less growing medium, adjust your pH chemistry to 6.4 in VEG and 6.2 in flower. If your growing in hydroponics your pH chemistry is different because your not fighting against the soil-less electrical molecular charge. Instead your working strictly with elements in your water and directly with H20. Therefore, your pH chemistry is different and should be at approx 5.8pH.
Do not let your pH range fluctuate below 5.6 or above 6.0. Again, more can be read about calibrating-pH-pen and pH chemistry on another post; I highly encourage you to read as you my find something interesting. Always double check your pH chemistry once you added your liquid pH adjustments.
Remember, I did not write these rules, the nutrient companies did when they made there nutrients and feed charts. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel if real scientists already did the work. You just need to learn to read your plants and spend your time perfect the grow room environment.
Nutrient mixing advice
Here is some mixing advice that I have come across in no particular order. I suspect more home growers mix 5 gallon buckets. This can be time consuming but generally there is no problems doing that. It even allows you to mix different strengths for different strains; some strains are more sensitive to higher PPM etc. Just remember to view your water to make sure all your salt is being dissolved and not collecting on the bottom.
Mix well between each nutrient you add. This will help minimizing nutrient lock out and balancing the correct pH. Wait a few minutes after you added your last nutrient to check pH. Once adjusted, wait a few more minutes for final pH reading. This will allow you the most accurate reading.
Mixing in large barrels
I personally have mixed nutrients in 30-55 gallon blue drums as well as, 250 gallon touts. When I water my outdoor I use a 250 gallon water tank and pump to mix my feed. You must be very careful as a pump does help significantly, it does not mix perfectly. Longer mixing times is required between nutrients; ideally waiting 5 minutes between nutrients.
Powder nutrients must be mixed separately from the nutrient buckets or barrels. This will help the powder to dissolve completed once combined with the primary buckets/barrels. You must make sure your water temps are adequate as to low will cause your powder to clump and mix poorly.
I firmly believe to become a master grower, you must not only know how to grow but to become handy with the hardware and the essence of a grow room environment. Therefore, a must read is: how-to-grow-cannabis with a strong focus on grow gear!
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