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Best Cannabis Nutrients For Hydroponic Setups

Hydroponic growing is a way of growing soilless, this unique way also utilizes a very specific type of nutrients.
02 May 2022
5 min read
Best Cannabis Nutrients For Hydroponic Setups

Contents:
  • 1. Soilless growing
  • 2. Coco coir cannabis cultivation
  • 2. a. What are the main benefits of using coco coir as a growing medium?
  • 3. What are good hydroponic nutrients?
  • 4. Cares you should take with nutrients in hydro
  • 5. In conclusion

Hydroponics is a way of growing where you don’t need soil or any type of medium (although you can). This way exposes the roots directly to an oxygenated mix of water and nutrients, making the nutrients available when the plant needs them.

1. Soilless Growing

Soilless growing can refer to any type of growing where soil is not used (like hydroponics or aeroponics). 

The benefits of these methods are that you submerge the roots in a rich nutrient solution, allowing your plants to feed when they want and the amount they need.

 

Best Cannabis Nutrients For Hydroponic Setups: DWC hydro setup

Hydroponic is the most used method of growing soilless.
 

By being directly exposed to the nutrient solution, they can feed without having to “fight” against soil, allowing the plant to grow bigger without the roots having to grow too much. This results in quicker development and can result in an overall faster harvest.

2. Coco Coir Cannabis Cultivation

While soilless, pure hydro setups are great, they do come with a few marked downsides. They can be quite expensive to implement, waterborne diseases are common in hydroponic systems, power cuts can quickly destroy a crop where timers and pumps are used, and there is a steep learning curve to overcome for new growers. There is another option though! Coco coir (pronounced coco kwaar) -which is also sometimes referred to as coco peat - has grown in popularity over the last decade as a hydroponic medium, and it is easy to see why. It combines many of the advantages that come with growing in both soil and hydro while cutting down on a few of the cons.

What is Coco-Coir?

This increasingly popular hydroponic growing medium is made of the parts in between the shell and the outer coating of coconut. There are two main types of coco coir - brown and white coir. The vast majority of coco coir used in cannabis cultivation is brown, as this is the stronger type and more suited to hydroponic growth. It is mainly produced in the subcontinent countries of India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The bigger hydro supply companies started making and selling their own coco coir blends about a decade ago, and there has been a huge amount of research and development put into these products in the years since. 

What are the main benefits of using coco coir as a growing medium?

Apart from the fact that coco coir is a great cross over medium for cultivators looking to switch from soil to hydro, there are a few other big upsides:

  • Coco coir is an inert substance 

This medium is naturally pH balanced and has zero additional growth nutrients. This means you are starting with as clean a slate as with a pure hydro setup. This makes pH and nutrient control and monitoring very easy, as the only nutrients in the mix will be the ones you feed your plants with

  • It offers higher oxygen concentrations to the root zone

When compared to soil cultivation, coco coir offers up to 70% better root oxygenation. This means the rate of growth and the quality of the final product has the possibility to be heavily boosted. 

  • It retains and drains water well

Coco coil is much easier to flush than regular soil. This is great if your plants are struggling with deficiencies or overfeeding issues, as the medium can be quickly and easily brought back to an inert baseline

  • It is an eco-friendly, renewable resource

The coconut husk was once a discarded waste product. With the coco coir craze that has swept the growing world in general, this once useless product can now be used in a renewable way.

Does coco coir cultivation use the same hydroponics nutrient blends as straight hydro?

Nope. The years of R&D put into coco coir growing has given us so much information, and with that, there has come a bunch of coco-related products. Of course, there are heaps of additives that can be used across the hydro board, and in soil growing. But, when it comes to base nutrient blends, it's best to stick with coco coir-targeted products. All the big names ( like House and Garden, General Hydroponics, Canna, Fox Farms, and Botanicare to name just a few) produce their own dedicated coco nutrient blends. These usually come as a two-bottle set, and you will most likely need a bottle of cal-mag and either pH up or down (depending on the water you are using). Remember to always feed at half the bottle strength, to begin with, to combat any overfeeding issues, and to always check the pH and TDS or EC levels before feeding your ladies.

3. What Are Good Hydroponic Nutrients?

There are lots different nutrients for feeding your plants in a hydroponic setup, the best one will depend on your budget and ability as a grower, although in a hydro setup the nutrients are fed directly to the roots so you have to be careful with the amount given. When looking for good hydroponic nutrients you need to find a brand that provides every nutrient the plant needs in the right amounts. That is a medium amount of Phosphorus (P), and a high amount of Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K) in the vegetative stage. And less nitrogen (N) and a high level of Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) in the flowering stage.

 

Best Cannabis Nutrients For Hydroponic Setups: Macronutrients (NPK)

N, P, and K are the main nutrients a cannabis plants need.
 

You should only use nutrients specially designed for hydroponic systems. They contain a high amount of micronutrients, including magnesium, calcium, iron, and sulfur which your plant gets from soil, but because there’s no soil in this method, you should provide all of the micronutrients yourself. Also, have in mind that almost all organic nutrients need organic matter to work, they depend on microorganisms and the microorganisms depend on soil which is not available in hydroponics, so be really careful when buying nutrients.

Note that if you’re using filtered water, you should also look to add the following nutrients boron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. This is because the filters not only remove impurities but also remove the minerals in the water, not providing all of the micronutrients can cause deficiencies.

4. Cares You Should Take With Nutrients In Hydro

There’s not much you need to do when feeding in hydro, other than checking and adjusting the pH of the solution daily. Because the roots are directly exposed in hydro, even the slightest change in the pH level can shock your plants, stunting growth and not allowing them to properly absorb nutrients.

 

Best Cannabis Nutrients For Hydroponic Setups: pH meter

A pH meter is essential in hydroponic grow to make sure the plants are absorbing nutrients properly.
 

For optimal growth, you will need a pH meter, and be sure you maintain the pH level between 5.5 and 6.5. This will depend on the strain and nutrients being used of course. Also remember the pH level may change depending on if your setup is using any medium (like coco fiber, rockwool, perlite, etc.). It is crucial to provide them with the perfect growing environment because they will be directly affected by the, unlike when growing in a medium like soil which doesn’t expose the roots directly to the solution.

5. In Conclusion

Unlike growing in soil, hydroponics need special attention and care. Hydroponics can allow you to grow better flowers than in soil but paying the price of having to be present 24/7, as a slight malfunction of any of the equipment in your setup may result in the death of all your plants. We definitely recommend growers to try hydroponics, but we advise that you will need a bit of experience to be able to successfully harvest your plants.

 

 

This post was most recently updated on May 2, 2022.

02 May 2022