Growing your marijuana plants is a process that requires a lot of time, patience and skill. However, besides providing your plants with the best air, water and light – there’s another element that can be provided to your plants to ensure you get the best possible results: nutrients. Like humans need for a better and healthier growth, plants too require nutrients. While humans can grow without nutrients, but their growth would be stunted or they would face nutrient-deficiency problems, plants go through the same phase. Nutrients are essential to ensure a healthy growth – as well as to get bigger and better buds.
There are two types of nutrients: Macro and Micro nutrients that plants require for a healthy growth. Besides that, there are two stages of growth: vegetative and flowering. In both these stages, your plants require different compositions of nutrients. We shall be taking a detailed look at both these aspects in the sections to follow.
By the time you reach the end of this article, you will be well versed with the best nutrients required for each flowering stage (vegetative and flowering) of your marijuana plant. You shall also get a detailed understanding of what the different kinds of nutrients are, how to provide them to the plants, as well as when to stop providing them! All of these details are essential for any grower so that they know that their plants are getting the best possible care.
Let us cut straight into understanding what nutrients are and why do marijuana plants need them:
Nutrients 101: What Are Plant Nutrients?
Plant nutrients are basically supplementary chemicals which help your plant grow in a better manner. While there are always some nutrients and organic elements present in the soil, you actually need to give something extra which ensures that your plants are getting just the perfect condition for growth. Like how humans need a lot of different vitamins and minerals, plants too need nutrition to grow. For us, it comes from the food we eat. For the plants, it has to be provided mixed with the water that you provide them.
Nutrientes help the plants grow taller and stronger, prevent certain plant diseases, as well as gain more branches and produce more flowers, as well as larger flowers. This is what makes them important for marijuana growers – as they would get a higher return on the same plant by adding some nutrients than they would otherwise get. Nutrients essentially help growers maximize the yield per square feet of their plant, thereby resulting in more produce and more profits (if they are a commercial grower).
Types of Nutrients for Marijuana Plants
Nutrients that are provided to the marijuana plants can be differentiated in two distinct categories: the Micronutrients and the Macronutrients, the latter being the more important of the two. Let us take a closer and detailed look at these two different types of nutrients:
1. Marijuana Macronutrients (NPK Nutrients)
Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) are the three major nutrients that are to be provided to plants during the vegetative phase of growth.
(N) Nitrogen helps the plants with the generation of chlorophyll, which in turn is essential for the plants for photosynthesis. The better a plant photosynthesizes, the better its growth is, the greener, bushier it will grow and the more leaves it will have. Deficiency of Nitrogen is visible when leaves begin to yellow up and even end up looking brown.
(P) Phosphorus helps the marijuana plants develop various sugars, enzymes and starches which are essentially ‘food’ for the plant. Especially in terms of marijuana plants, it is even more important because it helps generate raisins and terpenes, which add the taste and the smell to your weed. Your leaves will begin to look smaller or won’t grow much if there’s a deficiency of Phosphorus, while having excess of this nutrient will result in your leaves looking purple in color and you’ll know you should slow down.
(K) Potassium is another important element that is essential for the marijuana plant to grow properly. It is of importance at all times, but it is the most beneficial during the flowering phase of any plant’s life cycle – as potassium helps the plant metabolize better and helps form clusters of marijuana flowers.
2. Marijuana Micronutrients
While macronutrients are the main ones, micronutrients are also to be taken care of and need to be provided at the right time. These are the likes of Sulfur, Manganese, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, Molybdenum, Copper, etc. These have their own minor roles to play but don’t, by themselves, cause any major visible difference. However, their absence can lead to problems in the slowing-down of the growth of the marijuana plant.
Providing Nutrition During Different Phases of Growth for Marijuana Plant
There are a number of different phases of growth, seven to be precise. However, we are focusing on only three of these phases here. The plant starts as a seed, enters the germination phase, matures into a seedling, enters the vegetative phase, proceeds into the pre-flowering phase, reaches the flowering phase, and is then in the harvest phase. Here, we focus only on the vegetative, pre-flowering and flowering phase, where the latter two are clubbed together as the ‘blooming’ phase. Here’s a closer look at both these phases:
1. Vegetative Phase of Growth:
In earlier stages of growth, you don’t really need to provide a lot of nutrients. You can start giving it a considerable thought only when your plant enters the vegetative phase of growth. 3:1:1 would be an NPK ratio for your marijuana plants during this time. Before your plants bloom, you’ve got to make sure that your nitrogen levels are always higher compared to the other two nutrients.
2. Blooming Phase of Growth:
Pre-flowering phase is when you begin to change the composition of the nutrients that you are providing to your plants. 1:3:2 would be an ideal combination for your plants while providing them nutrients in this phase where the flowering has just started off. However, once your plants mature and reach the peak flowering ‘bloom’ phase you should change it to 0:3:3 as your plants no longer need ‘N’ anymore.
This can differ from strain to strain but generally you’ll need to provide a higher amount of Nitrogen in the early phase and no Nitrogen in the late phases. Following this proportion will help you get healthy plants over a long run of growing weed.
Best Nutrients for Vegetative Phase of Growth of the Marijuana Plant:
When it comes to the vegetative phase of the marijuana plant’s growth cycle, you need to provide the kind of nutrients that are a little Nitrogen-heavy because your plant needs a lot of Nitrogen at that time. Here are some of the best nutrients for a dense vegetative growth for your marijuana plants:
The iconic gorilla of this brand has been known even to those growers who are very new in the market! A very trusted brand which has been around for a very long time, Advance Nutrient makes a set of three fertilizers: Grow, Bloom and Micro. For the purpose of a vegetative growth, we focus on ‘grow’. This helps the plant grow better, greener, and wider.
You also get a pH balanced growth here. Your plant gets not only the best nutrition but also a diverse variety of amino acids that it requires for a healthy growth. The fact that it balances the pH without you having to adjust it for the plant is another major reason as to why people buy these nutrients! You can buy this nutrient in variants of 4 liters, 10 liters, 1 liter, 500ml and 23 liters depending upon your requirement.
Apart from Advanced Nutrients, another very popular and highly credible name in the markets is that of Fox Farm. The company makes and sells a large number of fertilizers which are very popular among marijuana growers. Their set of three comes with ‘Grow Big’, ‘Big Bloom’ and ‘Tiger Bloom’ nutrients, out of which the first one, Grow Big, is best suited for the vegetative phase of growth. This helps your plants get taller and sturdier during the first half of their growth cycle.
This nutrient offers an NPK ratio of 6-4-4 and is high on Nitrogen which is best suited for early-stage plants. Most growers also provide a little bit of Big Bloom along with Grow Big which aides in the growth of the plant. About two to three tablespoons of this has to be provided per gallon of water, twice a week to get the best possible results for your plants.
A company best known for making nutrition kits, you get a lot of options when you buy this nutrition kit from General Hydroponics. This one is particularly of great use if you are a hydroponic grower who is looking forward to buying nutrients for their marijuana plants during the vegatative stage of their growth cycle. You get a set of eight nutrients here, but BioThrive ‘Grow’ and BioThrive ‘Bloom’ are the two main ones here. Going by the name we’re sure you must have understood that the former is to be provided during the vegging phase and the latter during the blooming phase.
Besides these two, there are six other options that you get as well. These are BioRoot, BioMarine, BioWeed, BioBud, Diamond Black and CaMg+. These six help your plant get the best possible added support and provide them with all the micronutrients that are needed for the marjiuana plant to sustain over a period of time and give you the best possible result. This ‘Go Box starter kit’ is one of the best marijuana kits you’ll find out there and provides you with the best nutrients for each flowering stage.
Humboldts is a brand that makes really good fertilizers for marijuana growers, as well as for anyone who is interested in gardening and wishes to grow plants of their own which provide them with big buds and big flowers. This particular package from them comes in two sets: ‘Base A’ and ‘Base B’. The first of the two (Base A) offers a ratio of 4-0-1, while the other one (Base B) provides a ratio of 1-4-2. As is visible by the high Nitrogen on the first one, it is better suited for the vegging phase while the latter is better for blooming/flowering plants.
While NPK nutrients are the primary focus, these nutrient bottles also carry in them Calcium, Magnesium and Fulvic acid, which are an added advantage for the growers. It comes in variants of 8 ounces, 1 gallon, 2.5 gallons, 5 gallons and 32 ounces. For those who may wish to know how much it suffices, an 8 ounce bottle can create between 16 to 45 gallons of solution! Another great thing about this nutrient is that it works really well with all mediums – be it hydroponic growth, potting soil or be it coco coir! This combo provides one of the best nutrients for each flowering stage.
All the nutrients that we’ve seen up until now have focused on the macronutrients of NPK while they had trace micronutrients. Now we look at one last name on our list of the best nutrients for growing marijuana but this time with a focus on macronutrients – two of them to be more specific – Calcium and Magnesium. This is the bloom city ‘Cal Mag’ fertilizer which is rich in the two nutrients that form its name, as well as Iron, Zinc, Boron, Copper, Manganese, Sulfur and even Molybdenum!
It comes with a bioactivated formula which ensures that the plant intake is done in the right way. This is a very useful nutrient to have for those growers who want a strong shoot and healthy leaves. This is a compatible add-on with almost any other major NPK nutrient, including almost all names on our list. It is also safe to use as it carries no harmful chemicals like EDTA in its mix. You can buy this nutrient in the variants of 8oz, 32oz, 128oz, 320oz, or 640oz.
Best Nutrients for Flowering Phase of Growth of the Marijuana Plant:
In the flowering phase you do not necessarily need a lot of nitrogen, but have to depend a lot on the phosphorus and especially the potassium. These are some of the best nutrients for your plant’s flowering phase:
Who doesn’t like bigger flowers! This is the wet dream of any grower to ensure that their plants get bigger and better and produce large flowers which are great to taste and smoke! Isn’t it true? Flower Fuel’s Bloom Booster allows you to get exactly that. With an NPK ratio of 1-34-32, this is quite an ideal mix for those people who wish to get bigger plants with heavier harvests. You get a mixture of nutrients, amino acids, as well as vitamins in this package.
In addition to all this, there are also certain organic elements that go into the preparation of Bloom Booster. With a mix of 40 elements, this is one of the most premium varieties of nutrition you can provide to your marijuana plants while they are in the flowering phase. Another great thing about Bloom Booster is that it is compatible with hydroponic plants as well and works well with almost every base nutrition mix on our list. A 250 gram pack of Bloom Booster can help you prepare a solution for upto 200 gallons of water. It comes in variants of 250g, 1kg, 5kg and 20kg.
We are back to Fox Farm! While we saw the benefit that your plants get from using ‘Grow Big’ above, this is the flowering variant in that combo. ‘Tiger Bloom’ helps your plants get bigger buds and bigger flowers and is among the most popular nutrients used by marijuana growers worldwide who wish to maximize their yields. Tiger Bloom has an NPK ratio of 2-8-4 and is rich in Phosphorus, which is the best suited combination for the flowering phase.
Besides getting the three bottles of nutrients, you also get a pipette for adding the nutrient to your water, as well as a chart which helps you quickly convert between various numeric standards so that you know exactly how to mix your nutrient in the water. Tiger Bloom and Big Bloom go side by side and work together to get your plant to maximize its flowering capacity.
Humboldts, too, makes a second appearance on our list (and this won’t be its last one either!) The company makes a specialized product for flowering plants called ‘flower stacker’, which, as the name suggests, helps your plants get bigger flowers. If you are a marijuana grower you are going to be in love with this nutrient because of one major reason – you can improve the taste and the smell of your plant too, as well as get larger flowers. That is something that is more evident in the next name on our list, but this does the job pretty well too!
This is the kind of nutrient that needs to be provided to your plants when they enter their third week of flowering. You’ll need to use it between 1 to 8 ml per gallon over the weeks. 1 gallon of this nutrient can prepare a solution of up to 3785 gallons of water! You can get hold of the Humboldts Secret Flower Stacker in variants of 8oz, 32oz, 128oz, 2.5 gallons and 5 gallons depending on your need.
As we said, Humboldts makes one more (and final) appearance on our list. This time with another product that is great for your plant’s flowering phase. While the previous one (Flower Stacker) was more about getting bigger flowers, the whole point of using ‘Sweet and Sticky’ is to get your plants to not only bloom, but to also get a better taste and smell to them!
When it comes to weed, the taste and the aroma play a major role as that is the whole part of the stoner’s overall ‘experience’ of smoking weed and most people want to smoke stuff that can not only get them high, but also give them a good experience while getting high. This additive is a rich source of carbohydrates and microbe food for your plants. You can choose to use it every time you water your plants, or you can choose to do it every alternate time – depending on how strong a taste you wish to have.
General Hydroponics, which we saw earlier with their growth kit in the past, makes a comeback – but this time with a focus on their NPK products. This is a set of three nutrients – FloraBloom, FloraGro and FloraMicro. As the name clearly indicates, our focus here is on Flora Bloom, which is the key nutrient here for the flowering phase. The NPK ratio here is that of 0-5-4. All three of these are pH balanced and are very easy to use. General Hydroponics also claims that scientists at NASA and Antarctica also make use of their products to grow plants!
Using Flora Bloom will help you get bigger flowers and a better return on your yield per square foot. Besides the main NPK nutrients, you are also providing your plants with a number of other micronutrients that are essential for their overall well-being. FloraBloom also helps your plants get a better flavour and aroma, and also helps them develop essential oils. This is a one-gallon pack of each bottle, but you can also find other variants of packaging on Amazon.
You have heard of the Incredible Hulk but have you heard of the Incredible Bulk? This ‘Bloom Booster’ is one of the best options that you have when it comes to boosting the size of your flowers as well as the number of buds and flowers that are produced by your plants. With an NPK ratio of 0.1-10-25, this is a nutrient mix which is very rich in Potassium while very low on Nitrogen – two things that suit your flowering plants the best, particularly towards the mature flowering phase. This is an organic bloom booster where 1 lbs can help you prepare about 25 gallons of watering solution for your marijuana plants.
You need to start by providing about ¼ tbsp per gallon, and eventually keep increasing till you reach 4 tbsp per gallon. Two great things about this is that even if you accidentally end up overfeeding your plants (strongly recommended that you DON’T do it), but even if you do, it won’t cause a ‘burn’ on your plants. Next, using this means you don’t need to flush your plants too (again something that you must do because there are bound to be other nutrients that you’ve used that need flushing). This is one of the best nutrients for the flowering phase of the marijuana plant and comes in packages of 1lb, 3lb, 10lb and lastly, 40lb. Strongly recommended for growers who are looking for an organic option for their plants.
How to Choose the Right Nutrient for Your Plants?
Now that you know which are the best options out there for your plants (for either phase of growth), here’s a quick look at how to buy the right nutrients for your plant. You might want to treat this as a buyer’s guide or as a checklist to run through before you make the actual purchase:
1. Know the exact composition of the nutrient
This is particularly important in case of a macronutrient (an NPK nutrient). You need to know the exact Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium ratio before you start feeding it to your plant. Plants at different points in time and based on different climatic/soil conditions require different NPK ratios. It is best suited to choose the one which fits the needs of your plants the best.
2. Know why you want to use the nutrients before you buy them
Do you want to get bigger buds? Or do you want to make your plant sturdier? Or are you looking for a better flavor, taste and smell? Or do you want to keep your plant safe from insects and pests – what is the particular reason for which you are looking forward to provide nutrients to your plants? Make sure that the nutrient that you provide and the purpose you want to provide it for match up.
3. Determine the right quantity
Undernourished or overnourished plants are both not an ideal scenario. Plants need to be well fed and well protected – and you need to make sure that your plants are getting the right quantity of nutrients. Many people make the rookie mistake of providing a lot of nutrients expecting that overfeeding the plants will result in higher returns in terms of a higher produce. However, that is not the case and that’s not how plants grow! Overfeeding will result in plants getting damaged.
4. Powder vs Liquid
You must also decide beforehand if you wish to buy a powder nutrient or a liquid nutrient. Powder nutrients are cheaper but have to be dissolved in water because they are quite concentrated. It takes a trained hand to do it and adding more of it could be detrimental to the health of your plants so this is something we’d recommend only to experienced growers. Liquid nutrients, on the other hand, dissolve easily in water and are better suited for newer growers (as well as small to mid scale growers) but are somewhat expensive in comparison. Nonetheless, the difference doesn’t make much sense if you are a small or a mid scale grower.
5. Organic nutrients
You also need to know the organic composition of the nutrients that you are providing to your plants. Sometimes instead of providing nutrients people prefer to use soil/concentrates that have organic nutrition present in it. If that’s something you are into you need to know exactly what your soil has.
6. Know the phase of growth of your plant
Lastly, at different phases of growth, you need to provide different nutrients. Try and ensure that you are providing the nutrient with the right NPK composition during each phase to get the maximum possible benefit to your plants! Sometimes the wrong composition can actually end up damaging the plant more than it benefits it, so you need to take care of that too!
Understanding ‘Flushing’ the Nutrients
While it is very important to provide the right nutrients to your plants, and at the right time, it is also essential to stop at the right time. You cannot keep providing nutrients till the time you harvest. You have got to stop about a week to ten days before you begin the harvest. This is done to ensure that any excess or stored nutrients in the body of the plants are used away instead of being trapped in the final product.
Flushing is basically the name given to the process of providing plain water to your plants (with no nutrients mixed in them). This will make sure that any excess nutrients that are left stored in the body of the plants are consumed by the plants in absence of this fresh supply. By the time you harvest your plants, all the nutrients will be consumed and there will be no deposits left. If flushing is not done properly, the leaf will have certain spots and marks, and the taste of the bud will not be as natural as it should otherwise be! This is a critical process and this is the reason as to why growers need to know the exact date and time that they will be harvesting so that they can begin to flush their plants about 10 days before that.
Frequently Asked Questions About Plant Nutrients:
Here are the answers to some of the most common and popularly asked questions about nutrients for marijuana plants. We have put them all at one place here so that you can get a better understanding about what plant nutrition is and how it functions!
1. Powder Nutrients vs Liquid Nutrients: Which are better?
While both these nutrients are effective equally, we’d suggest going for liquid nutrients if you are someone who is just starting out. However, if you have been around for a while and know what you’re doing quite well, you can also go for the powder nutrients. This is because you need to get the mixing and proportion of the powder vs water right. Besides, liquid nutrients are much simpler to use, but cost a little higher. Powder nutrients can bring the price down but can increase the technical difficulties! In the end, the choice is yours, but we’d generally go with the rationale of beginners and small-scale growers going with the liquids and pro-growers or large-scale growers going with powder nutrients.
2. Do nutrients ‘guarantee’ bigger buds?
There’s no ‘guarantee’ that you will get bigger buds if you are using the right nutrients and in the right quantity. However, there is a very high chance that your plants will grow much better than what they would grow without them. Nutrient deficiency can cause many problems in a plant and making use of nutrients ensures that your plants grow in a better manner. There are many other factors such as temperature, humidity, air flow, light, etc. which play a major role in the overall number of flowers that your plants produce and the size of the buds – and nutrients too, are a part of that, but are not the sole deciding factor of bigger buds.
3. Does more nutrients mean more flowers?
No! More nutrients does not mean more flowers. In order to get the most number of flowers you need to provide the ‘right’ amount of nutrition and not a ‘lot of’ nutrients. Providing excess nutrients to your plants expecting bigger returns is actually detrimental to the health of your plants as they would suffer from either nutrient blockage or nutrient burn and both of these are bad for the health of your plants. So make sure you are providing them only in the right quantity as prescribed by the manufacturer.
4. Where can I buy nutrients for my marijuana plants?
Nutrients for your marijuana plants can be bought off any store which sells gardening supplies. You can also find them at some hypermarkets and supermarkets which sell a variety of products, including these nutrients. However the largest collection of plant nutrients can be found at Amazon from where you can easily purchase the nutrients that you need without ever even moving out of your home! This is an advantage in these pandemic times where you’d rather get stuff delivered than go out to buy it.
We hope that by the time you’ve reached the end of this article, you have gained a deeper perspective about plant nutrients – and specifically about the ones that are needed to grow the marijuana plant. We have tried to provide as detailed an outlook as possible about these nutrients. The primary focus of this article is to help you decide the best nutrients for each flowering stage – be it the vegetative or the blooming phase of growth. Getting the combination of the right nutrients is extremely important as that can help you get healthier plants which produce more flowers! If there are any other questions, feel free to let us know in the comments section or drop us an email and we shall get back to you as soon as we can! Till then….
….Happy Growing! 🙂