Not all nutrients are created with the applicator in mind. Some nutrients require a great degree of precision to properly use. Nutrient burn is a risk to the quality and quantity of your harvest. Other nutrients are highly concentrated and pose physical safety risks. Furthermore, not all cannabis nutrients are safe, so determining which are safe and when to use them distinguishes great growers.
What Is A Cannabis Nutrient?
Just like people, proper nutrition is essential to healthy growth. In agriculture, the primary nutrients are nitrogen (N,) phosphorus (P,) and potassium (K.) These are the most abundant nutrients in plants and therefore are in almost all fertilizers. Carbon is the building block of plant tissue but is absorbed from the air, not the soil.
As cannabis grows, it uses these nutrients from the soil. If you are growing in an inert media, one without any nutrients, you have to apply nutrients. Even in soil, the cannabis plant will require additional nutrients to maintain health.
If you want to increase yield, adding nutrients is key. Excess nutrient applications damage the plant tissue. Overfertilization causes nutrient burn and harms the quality and quantity of your crop. Using cannabis nutrients that are safe and knowing when to use them is a key skill to successful growing.
Image via @KISorganics
Reading A Nutrient Label
The first trick to using cannabis nutrients safely and correctly is reading a nutrient label. All nutrients have the same uniform information to help users. Every reputable label has three conspicuous numbers, usually right by the product name. These numbers indicate the N-P-K ratio; the plant nutrient percentages in order.
The N-P-K ratios reflect the nutrient percentage by weight. Secondary and micronutrients are a smaller part of the nutrient formulation. They are listed on the back of most nutrients. Furthermore, they come in supplement formulations and not a true nutrient formulation. Common cannabis secondary or micronutrients include iron, calcium, magnesium, silica, and sulfur.
Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum
What is “Safe” to Use?
Most nutrients, organic or inorganic, pose a small risk to human health. It is best to wear gloves and goggles when mixing nutrient solutions. When weighing a granular formulation, wear a respiratory mask for protection. Some supplements, like pH modifiers, are extremely corrosive. These can burn your skin and eye tissue.
Highly concentrated nutrients can also harm your skin. Some nutrients recommend the application to the foliage by spraying; foliar nutrients. Respiratory masks rated for organic particles protect your lungs from these sprays. Having a sink where you can wash off nearby is highly recommended for safe nutrient use.
Often, organic nutrient formulations, like the popular Botanicare PureBlend Pro, is designed for beginner users. These formulations are safe for you, and your plant. Overfertilization can cause a nutrient burn, reducing the yield and quality of your crop. Organic fertilizers release slowly and are less likely to burn.
Image via @KISorganics
When To Use Cannabis Nutrients
Most soils run out of nutrients in about 2 weeks. Some “Super Soils” like that by KIS allow you to grow plants without needing to add nutrient mixtures. Also, inert media like coco needs nutrients added right away since they provide none. Conventional nutrients and cannabis-specific nutrients have recommended feeding schedules. These tell you how much nutrient solution to add based on how old the plant is. If you’re struggling to figure out which nutrients your plant needs, check out this simple guide.