So what is it about hydroponics that gives such amazing results?
The simple answer is the nutrient solution giving each plant exactly what it needs is the reason. The marijuana plants get the diet they require as they need it. This allows the plants to spend more time producing a better plant instead of looking for missing nutrients. Most plants get huge root balls from looking around for food, but plants grown hydroponically do not need this. This gives more effort to the leaves, buds and eventually, flowers. You will see huge plants very quickly with large bud and flower yields. You will find systems that use hydroponics must be automated, but it makes it easier long-term for the grower, not just the plant. Your plant will never get too much or too little water again!
How should i grow a marijuana plant hydroponically?
This depends on your preference as quite a few methods exist. There are difficult methods and super-simple methods, so whichever will work for what you need it to is what you should build. Each of the systems requires simple assembly and only basic mechanical inclination, so this can work for anyone. Each method is buildable at home with standard tools and parts you can find in many different stores.
There are 16 necessary nutrients when trying to grow marijuana plants. The three most important elements that cannabis plants require are called macro-elements. The elements are Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K) and Phosphorus (P). Most fertilizer bags have them listed so they may be common to you. The remaining 13 elements, called micro-elements, are not as familiar to most people. Thankfully, most soils have these in them already so we do not need to worry about adding them.
Nutrients that are ready-mixed
All hobby and small-scale marijuana growers who use hydroponics should really consider buying these because then you know that each nutrient you need is ready and available for your marijuana plants as they need them. The directions are simple: mix the correct amount of water with the concentrate and put it into your system. The best formulas to go along with are the nutrient formulas that are specifically made for hydroponics for the best success. There are five forms that these nutrients come in: one or two-part powders or one, two or three-part liquids. There is one form of nutrient that really stands from its competition, and that is the three part series by General Hydroponics, giving more amazing results than other brands. Specific crop phases require a customized mix of nutrients, and this brand allows you to do just that with a formula to help grow leaves and another to help the plant flower.
Making your own nutrient mix
Experienced hydroponic growers may want to consider mixing together their own nutrient mix. With each marijuana plant consuming only the nutrients that it needs, it is possible to save money using this method because you are not adding in elements your plants do not require. Chemistry knowledge is a good thing to have if you do this, plus you will need the elements that your plants require and the lab equipment to mix it all together. Others have done research before you, so it is not difficult to find a mixture that works for marijuana plants. Just find one that works for your setup and mix. Adjustments can be made over time to match the specific growing conditions that your plants have. This is still recommended to be done only by those with the knowledge and experience to successfully combine the ingredients for the size crop you are growing.
Formula flora or Dutch Pro
While Dutch Pro is a great product for soil, it is not going to give you the results you want if used in hydroponic growing environments. It does not contain all of the micro-elements that marijuana plants require. The plants may look alright at first, but they will begin to show signs of deficiencies within a short amount of time. The real solution you want will be one made for hydroponics specifically, even though it may cost a little bit more overall. You would not want to put cheap tires and gas into a brand new sports car, would you? It would lower the quality of performance you would get out of the car and the same holds true for using the wrong solution. We recommend using Formula Flora for your marijuana plants, no matter if using soil or hydroponic growing methods.
Additives for marijuana plant nutrient solutions
While there are numerous additives for hydroponics available, you will find most of them consist of some combination of bone meal, blood meal and kelp extracts. Many companies tote them to be boosters for your “organic” growing material, supposedly supplying additional hormones, amino acids, plant acids, sugars, vitamins and enzymes that standard solutions apparently do not offer. However, most of what these companies are trying to tell you is totally untrue. We will be performing experiments in the future using control groups of different marijuana plants showing exactly what these boosters really offer and let you know the results when we are done.
The pH Level
Simply put, pH is how much acid is in the solution of what you are testing. The scale for pH starts at one, which is super acidic, and it ends at 14, which is very basic. The neutral zone for pH is seven. The range you need to maintain is 5.8 through 6.5 to allow the roots of your marijuana plants to absorb the proper nutrients.
How to measure pH:
There are chemical means and electronic means to measure your pH. If you choose a chemical kit, you will have good luck with accuracy but you will need to buy new chemicals as they get consumed. Electronic methods are more expensive but typically do not need replacing. The way to use an electronic kit is to place the "pen" into the solution you are testing and the LCD display will read out what the pH level is.
How to adjust pH levels:
If your pH level gets too high, add a bit of acid. We would typically recommend you use sulfuric acid, nitric acid or phosphoric acid because they all disassociate themselves, freeing up extra Sulfur (S), Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P). These are all necessary elements for proper marijuana plant growth. Now, if your pH level is too low, add bases. Hydroponics can use Potassium Hydroxide or Sodium Hydroxide. Either of these bases will disassociate Potassium (K) and Sodium, providing them back to your marijuana plant.
If you add an acid or a base to adjust the pH of your nutrient solution, make sure to add very small quantities as you go, waiting 30 minutes before taking a new pH measurement. If your pH is near 7, it will only require a little base or acid to make the correction. The further the pH needs to be adjusted, the higher the exponent of base or acid required to get the solution back to the right zone. Example: moving the pH from 7 down to 6 will require about 2 mL of acid per 25 gallons (95 L) of solution, but if you move that same quantity of water from 6 down to 5, you will need 8mL. Going from 5 down to 4 could take as much as 500 mL so make sure you change things gradually.
Using organic nutrients
Many people are looking for "organic" or green ways of doing things, and hydroponic growing is no different. When following guidelines that are set up for "organic" growing, people cannot use any type of refined chemicals when producing food anymore, thus allowing only compost or natural animal waste to be used. This works great for soil but is totally counter-productive for hydroponic use. The only way to explain this is to explain how your marijuana plants absorb their needed nutrients. There are 16 elements that marijuana plants need as food with Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Hydrogen (H), Oxygen (O), Calcium (Ca) and Potassium (K) being some of them. Each element needs to be broken down so the marijuana plant can absorb it, and the best form is that of a chemical salt. Placing each of these elements with a complementary element will allow them to combine into a salt, and that is what the marijuana plant is trying to absorb through either soil or water.
So you are likely asking how marijuana plants absorb the chemical salts if all of these processes are now organic, so let us explain from the bottom up, so to speak. The compost is the first step. Each portion of compost has chemical chains inside it that hold the elements that need to be in the chemical salts. Once you put that into the soil, bacteria that lives in the soil begins to break it down and take the nutrients out of it. During this process, the chemical salts come out that can be absorbed directly by a marijuana plant. Simple math would break down like this: organic material mixed with bacteria that lives in the soil equals the salts your plants need to thrive. Mother Nature’s bounty offers us these bacteria in order to break down these materials into inorganic compounds that marijuana plants can absorb. When using a hydroponic system, these bacteria do not create this conversion so we have to give these chemicals directly to our marijuana plants through their nutrient solutions. The results are usually quite limited, which is counterproductive to what the hydroponic system is based on. If you choose to grow marijuana plants organically, use soil. You can add what your plants need right to the soil through fertilization, giving you wonderful results.