The cultivation of cannabis has never been more popular. Thanks to broad efforts by nations around the world to legalize or decriminalize the use of cannabis, more and more growers are taking it upon themselves to nurture marijuana from seeds in their own gardens.
Cultivating cannabis may seem like an overwhelming and potentially difficult task. Thankfully, the most important aspect of cannabis cultivation has to do with proper nutrients throughout the plant’s life cycle.
Today, we are going to take a broad view of how to properly feed your plants nutrients. We’ll cover the most common issues that growers face while tending to their plants.
Plant Nutrition and You: Understanding the Diet of Our Plant
Cannabis needs more than just regular water to grow. When we cultivate cannabis either indoors or in a controlled outdoor garden, it becomes our duty to accommodate the nutritional needs of the plant. For gardeners, this means paying attention to the NPK profile of their plant.
What Does NPK Mean?
If you’ve spent more than a handful of minutes researching cannabis cultivation, you’ve likely come across those three letters. N.P.K. What does it mean?
N – Nitrogen is the nutrient that helps to develop stem and leaf, as it helps to speed up your plant’s growth. It’s ideal in larger amounts for leafy veggies.
P – Phosphorus is prized by marijuana plants because it helps develop root systems while plumping up fruiting crops. Heavy flowering plants will need healthy amounts of phosphorus to reach their full potential.
K – Potassium helps to promote healthier root systems that are more resistant to disease.
In nature, plants will source from the world around them. When we grow marijuana in our own controlled environments, we must account for any missing nutrition. Work with a reputable nutrient company to ensure that your plants receive the nutrients they need to thrive.
Should I Feed With Nutrients EVERY Time?
Understanding what to feed your plants and when to feed them can be two entirely different conversations. Feeding your marijuana plant should occur on a weekly basis, allowing you to break apart the nutrient allotment through multiple waterings or an individual session.
There are a few different ways to approach watering your plants with nutrients, so let’s take a look at a few examples.
- Feed With Nutrients EVERY Time: Some cultivators swear by the idea of feeding their plants with added nutrition during every feeding. The argument here is that a consistent supply of nutrition is healthier for your crop.
- Multiple Feedings: Some growers argue that it is better for their plants to split up nutrient solutions between two feedings; one during the beginning of the week and the latter whenever the plant requires it.
- Keep a Rotation: Some growers also argue for a rotation approach to feeding their plants. Feed. Water. Feed. Water. Splitting feedings can also lead to problems and, as such, is a technique best reserved for more seasoned growers.
Primary Targeted Outcome: Try to feed your plants at least once or twice per week with nutrients added to the mixture. Provide your plant with plain water during the rest of its scheduled feedings. The closer to harvest you become, the less you will feed your plant in order to stimulate stress for bud growth and potency.
What Factors Impact Feeding Marijuana Plants?
A plant is a plant is a plant, right?
Well, not exactly.
Whether you are cultivating feminized Jack Herer seeds or your favorite Indica landrace, you’ll want to make sure that you are feeding your plants the right amount of food. The food required to accommodate your marijuana will change based on the strain, its growing medium, and the stage of its growth.
When starting marijuana seeds, you will need fewer nutrients than you will later on in the plant’s cycle. As the plant grows and evolves, so too will its individual nutritional needs.
Seedlings: Marijuana seeds do not require any nutrition at all. Seedlings will transition into their vegetative stage after undergoing germination. Following germination, growers will want to begin the vegetative life cycle of their plant’s diet.
Vegetative Stage: The vegetative stage is where your plant becomes quite needy with regard to nitrogen. In the vegetative stage, we will be focusing on providing our plants with a well-rounded NPK profile that increases along with the plant’s age. Nitrogen is responsible for producing the protein that fuels the growth of leaves and stems.
Flowering Stage: Once your plants enter the flowering stage they will require more potassium while reducing nitrogen levels. Nutrient levels will be increased throughout the flowering stage and up until the end of the bloom.
The cultivation of cannabis can be done through many different mediums. While most growers utilize soil, it is far from the only option on the market.
Let’s highlight the primary growing mediums as well as their benefits.
- Soil: Soil already contains nutrients for your plants and, as a result, will not require feeding for the first couple of weeks of growth. Eventually, you will need to supplement your soil with additional nutrition.
- Soilless Medium: From Rockwool to coco coir, soilless mediums are ideal for gardeners that want to maximize every aspect of their nutritional schedule. With that being said, soilless growing mediums require a careful eye for calibration as well as the ability to make nutritional changes on the fly.
Common Nutrient-Related Issues
While cannabis can thrive in many different environments, you will want to keep a careful eye out for potential issues. From germination to flowering, there are plenty of hurdles that you may come across as a result of nutritional issues.
Here are a few of the primary struggles growers will face when cultivating marijuana.
Lack of Proper Nutrition
Also known as nutrient deficiency, lacking proper nutrition can manifest through underfeeding as well as a nutrient lockout. Deficiency of nutrition can be seen in a variety of different signs including yellow leaves, brown stems, or rust-colored bodies.
If you suspect your plant lacks proper nutrition, identify any potential signs before adjusting your feeding schedule. Find out which nutrient your plant lacks before making adjustments.
If a plant is receiving too much nutrition it will show signs of nutrient burn. Nutrient burns manifest as dark green leaves that eventually turn yellow or brown. Plants with nutrient burns will also begin to curl upward before turning a deep red within their stem.
Finally, nutrient lockout happens when a pH imbalance or a nutritional imbalance has attacked your plant’s root system. Make sure to keep your pH balanced for soil (6.8) or hydro (5.8). Start slow before gradually increasing your nutrition.