A Guide to Hydroponics Nutrients
We stock a huge range of brands of the best quality plant nutrient. Whichever one you have decided to use, we probably stock it! The Canna Aqua range is excellent for recirculating hydroponics. The Canna Hydro range is great for run to waste systems. Both are available in Grow and Bloom formulations
How to choose the right hydroponic nutrient for you
Before you start growing plants, you should decide if you are going to grow completely organically or whether you would prefer to use mineral nutrients. Growing organically offers very high quality crops. Hydroponics places the emphasis on the highest size yields. These days, with the advances in both types of nutrient, there is much less difference between the two than there used to be. Organic yields can be big, and hydroponics can produce very high quality crops. Decide on whether you want a simple and easy grow (organic), or one with more control over your nutrient solution during the grow and bloom stages.
Growing with a Organic Nutrient Solution
This used to mean growing in soil but these days it could be in coco coir too. Organic hydroponic nutrients work hand-in-hand with microbes in the substrate. They feed the beneficial microbes in the rootzone which then break down large organic molecules when you're growing plants. It is important to try to encourage the beneficial microbe population to thrive. This can be achieved by the following some easy guidelines:
- The chlorine or chloramine in tap water inhibits or even kills microbes - This used to mean using a Reverse Osmosis (RO) treatment unit to remove it, or allowing the water to sit for a day or so the chlorine could evaporate out of it. However, now there is Ecothrive Neutralise which instantly neutralises the chlorine and chloramine. Just add it to water before mixing your nutrient solution.
- Bolster the population with a high quality beneficial microbe additive once every week or 2. One of our favourites is Ecothrive Biosys.
- Use a quality organic feed such as Biobizz, Plant Magic Oldtimer, or the Canna Bio range.
- Use natural pest control methods - protective coatings like Biobizz Leaf-Coat or Cannacure which makes like very hard for insects, and get rid of them with an organic spray such as See Ya Mite.
Just remember that organic nutrient solution can be thick and if used in a hydroponics system will often block feed and drain lines - not recommended.
There are some hydroponic nutrients that are semi-organic that can be used with clay pebbles in a hydroponics system. Good examples of these are Emerald Harvest and Botanicare's Pure Blend Pro. These offer a great middle ground - huge, high quality crops! Either that, or you could use Buddhas Tree Organicus alongside your mineral nutrient to add in some organic material. Either way, these solutions are not really compromises. They fully stand up as fantastic nutrients in any hydroponic system.
There's some superb nutrients around now such as the Canna range. Other good examples are Advanced Nutrients, House & Garden, and Shogun Fertilisers to name just a few. We don't stock poor quality nutrients, so whichever one you choose you'll be on to a winner. Remember to use a decent pH pen and nutrient strength meter to get the best results out of them. This is a fantastic way to grow in a hydroponic system for rapid plant growth during the grow and bloom stages.
What do plants need to thrive?
Plants need a mix of micronutrients and macronutrients to put on the most weight and increase your yields. Key minerals are calcium, potassium, magnesium and nitrogen, and these can be found in a variety of fertiliser types. Your plant accesses these in a number of different ways, depending on if you're growing in systems or other media such as soil or coco. Making sure your nutrients solutions are perfect is key to having a perfectly mixed solution for maximum growth, and if you don't get this bang on, your minerals won't be soluble / accessible to the plants, meaning it could miss out on valuable micronutrients / macronutrients, stunting development and leading to slower plant growth.
When you grow in a system, your plants get the nutrient solutions benefits straight to the root-zone, allowing those key minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium and nitrogen etc) to be taken from the nutrient solutions, straight to your plants. If you're not growing using traditional means of hydroponics, your nutrients will be absorbed through the substrate your plants are growing in, ie, through the soil.
pH Perfect Nutrient
Having perfectly pH balanced nutrient solutions is also key to getting the most out of those nutrients and allows your plants to uptake it correctly (between 5.8 – 6.2 is key to up-taking the most micronutrients and macronutrients, allowing those key minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and nitrogen to fuel plants growth).
See our pH section here
Macronutrients & Micronutrients in Nutrient Solution
Learn about the different key macronutrients and micronutrients below
If you want to learn about more macronutrients and micronutrients, click here.
How to Mix up Nutrient Solution
Mixing up your nutrients properly is key to successful plant development. This is due to the nutrients having to be in a soluble form which your plants can take in and use to fuel growth.
When mixing nutrients, you'll need a few items -
- Your nutrients
- Nutrient Feed Chart
- Something to mix your nutrients in (we recommend a 20L bucket)
- a pH meter
- a EC meter
- Syringes for accurate measurements
You can find out how to mix your base nutrients in our blog here.
Powdered VS Liquid Nutrients
When choosing whether you want to grow with powdered or liquid nutrients, you need to consider a few things. Firstly, how much control do you want? Some people grow in full hydroponic systems to get maximum control over their plants feed, others want an easier feed schedule with a lot less effort which still gets their plants good results.
We'd suggest growing with powdered nutrients if you want full control OR are growing large numbers of plants. Having powdered nutrients allows you to transport them easily, meaning you haven't got to carry large numbers of liquids to wherever you're growing. You will need to check your feed more regularly and it does require a little more effort when using powdered products, but you can reap the rewards when your plants are thriving.
We'd suggest you use liquid nutrients if you want to get up and running quickly and with little effort. Liquid nutrients have been a staple in the hydroponic industry for years and will let you grow plants easily if you're a beginner.
Tips for maintaining your Nutrient solution
When growing over the summer/winter, it's so important you keep your hydroponic nutrients at optimal levels, regardless of the temperature outside. The way that nutrients work is giving minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium and nitrogen etc) directly to the roots of your plant, allowing them to thrive).
If there's complications in your hydroponic system caused by the heat/cold, it can lock out nutrients and cause an array of other problems.
Summer has one main issue when growing in a hydroponic system, pythium (or root rot). Pythium is a genus of parasitic oomycetes and is a fungi which is mainly caused by the hot weather. Pythium WILL kill your crop quickly, especially when you're growing in a hydroponic setup.
We recommend using a chiller and silver bullet to keep your system clean and free from pathogens over the summer. We'd also recommend for those wanting to grow year round to grow using non-organic mineral feeds due to you needing to use Silver Bullet in your system to keep disease away.
In the winter, it's a lot easier to pull down a good harvest, but, you still have one thing it's worth keeping an eye on, and again, it's to do with the cold!
The cold stunts the growth of your plants, leading to them slowing down and yielding less.
Vitalink Heat is a fantastic product which when used allows your plants to produce vital growth-hormones which hardy them from the cold; if you want healthy plants during the winter, use Vitalink Heat!
Giving your plants a good silicon is key to growing big yielding crops when conditions aren't in your favour. It creates stronger stems and creates plants that are more resilient to pests and diseases, allowing your plants to pile on additional weight with that extra growth.
What are our favourite nutrient ranges?
The range of Canna hydroponic nutrients and boosters has always been one of the most popular ones around; they make great products and we are proud to stock their whole range. They're affordable and really easy to use, regardless of how many plants. Canna Boost is to go to product in the range for pushing yields and weight up.
House & Garden
A favourite among the growing community, House & Garden are known for high-quality and insane yielding products. Our favourite House & Garden product...? Roots Excelurator!
If you're growing organically, BioBizz is the perfect hydroponic nutrient for you. Originating from Spain, BioBizz gives you excellent results, yields and flavours. We recommend you use it in soil for maximum results. Bio-Heaven is our go-to component in the BioBizz range!
Made in the UK, Shogun Nutrients are known for their striking branding and high quality, yet affordable products. Want our favourite? Sumo Active Boost!
How can you increase weight, flavour and yield?
Once you've chosen your nutrient range, you can add additional additives in to help increase your plant yield and quality.
If you want to increase the natural colours within your plants, use Purpinator! It helps to also increase your plants flavours too, a double whammy!
Increasing Plant Weight
If you want to increase your yield, you want to pick a booster which contains triacontanol, a naturally occurring growth stimulant found on plants. Shogun Sumo Active Boost is perfect for the job, providing your plants with an increase in yields and flower weight.