There are a variety of nutrients ranging from organic to synthetic and blends in between. Some are good in soil, some are good in hydroponic growing environments.
Every grower has different needs and every strain of plant behaves slightly different when exposed to different combinations of nutrients. We encourage experimentation to find the right combination of products for your unique tastes. Some lines are extremely simple to administer while other more advanced nutrient packages require careful timing and measurement but can offer some unique benefits.
Most nutrient manufacturers will include a feeding chart similar to figure 1. There are a base group of nutrients that sustain a plant and supplemental nutrients to enhance different features of the plant. Nutrients can change from week to week of growth and the stages of development. You should always consult the feeding chart for your nutrients in order to get the most out of them and ensure you are using the correct dosages for your grow to get the desired effects you are looking for.
There is much debate on which is better, organic or synthetic nutrients. While both can grow a successful plant, anecdotal evidence suggests that synthetics produce larger root structures and greater yields. One thing that can be certain is that more is not always better. It can be easy, especially in a hydroponic system, to overdose on nutrients and fry a plant or stunt it’s growth. Having a quality meter on hand to measure EC, PPM, and pH levels helps to ensure that you are growing in the right ranges. Accurate measurement tools are also important to ensure that the correct amounts of each are being added as needed. You can learn more about how to diagnose and treat nutrient deficiencies in our other nutrient learning center articles.
Generally you want to use synthetic nutrients when you are not using soil as these tend to be easier on your hydroponic or aeroponic systems. This doesn’t mean you can’t use natural nutes but it does mean you might spend more time unclogging sprayers and pumps. Synthetic nutes tend to be faster at absorption meaning they will be quickly taken in by plants while natural nutrients will be slower to act. Your mileage may vary so feel free to experiment and find the best blend that meets your needs and tell us about it in the comments below.
Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) certification means that an organic material has been verified to conform to organic standards and supports organic integrity. OMRI is a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization that certifies products for use in the United States and Canada. Organic growers that are concerned about maintaining organic standards should look for products that are OMRI Certified. Not all organic nutrients are OMRI certified as it involves an extra cost and process for the manufacturer.
Another supplement to organic nutrients is compost tea. Compost tea is brewed from the organic waste of plants and contains a rich mixture of nutrients and healthy enzymes to promote plant health and vitality. You can brew it yourself through the use of brewers and ingredient kits or select a ready made, pre-brewed tea to add to your plants.
We recommend that new growers get an entire nutrient package rather than trying to pick individual components a la cart in order to maximize their success. Fox Farm and Cultured Solutions are a great place to start. Staying within the same brand for the cycle usually yields the most consistent results. We’ve taken the work out of picking nute packages by organizing them by easy, intermediate and advanced to make your growing experience painless.
While not technically a nutrient, root zone optimizers are an excellent addition to your regular nutrient feeding schedule, especially in a hydroponic environment. They reduce mineral build-up in the root zone and can help flush plants. They also help to keep sprayers and nozzles flowing freely. UC Roots from Cultured solutions is what we recommend. It can be used with any brand of nutrients and works especially well with Cultured Solutions products. UC Roots is pH neutral and can be used to clean grow media in between grow cycles if not excessively degraded or contaminated or as a grow media preparation before growing.
Easy Vs Advanced Nutrient Packages
There is a base set of nutrients that plants need to grow. Having these together in a package is really the easy way to start growing fast and ensure that your plant is getting everything it needs. Advanced nutrient packages start to add in additional supplements that may not be as readily found in your grow media or through base nutrients. These can add additional effects like bigger blooms, larger flowers, thicker roots and other specific traits that you wish to encourage in your grow. Every grower is different and has different objectives. We encourage you to try new things and see what works the best for you. Every strain of plant is also different and what works great for one plant may not be optimal for another. Take notes and learn from each growing cycle.
Questions? Call 888-815-9763 or email [email protected].