There has been a tremendous surge in the popularity of hydroponic gardening during 2020, with many people recognizing the fun and benefits to be derived from growing their own crops, vegetables, and flowers at home.
The range and flexibility of hydroponic systems on the market have meant that even people with very limited space can get their green fingers growing. Many of the people who have invested in a hydroponic system are new to the process and are easily baffled when it comes to the vast array of nutrient products available and are not entirely sure why they are needed or how to use them.
Why should I use nutrients in my hydroponic grow?
When a plant is grown outside or in a plant pot, it draws most, if not all of the nutrients it needs from the soil, or compost it is planted in. Occasionally, depending on soil type, or ‘medium’ such as compost, additional nutrients may need to be made available for your plant, in the form of fertilizer, manure, or compost.
In a hydroponics setup, the plants are grown in an inert medium, which can not provide the crop with nutrition. The supply of water alone is not enough to feed the plants and deliver what its system requires to grow, develop flower, and bear fruit, so you must add nutrients to the water. Water carries the nutrients to the roots of the plants and its cycle of development and growth can begin and be sustained.
What is the best hydroponic nutrient solution?
The best nutrient solution for abundant flower growth and full, bushy foliage is comprised of both macro and micronutrients that address your crop’s needs, at each stage of its development.
No matter what you are growing, your hydroponic plants will rely upon molecule and enzyme production and reactions to produce bumper crops, quality produce, and rich essential oils; both macro and micronutrients allow them to achieve this.
All plants require these in larger quantities than other nutrients. Macronutrients include phosphorous, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, oxygen, sulfur, and calcium.
The ‘Holy Trinity’ are the primary nutrients required by any and every plant, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Because of their importance, these three nutrients are usually featured prominently on the packaging of fertilizers as an NPK ratio. The greater the number for each position of the ratio, the higher the percentage content of that nutrient.
There are other nutrients within the macronutrient classification but, while they still play vital roles, they are secondary to N/P/K. These include:
Helps to activate enzymes and regulate the flow of water in cells. It is essential for cell growth and division. It also helps as a buffer when excesses of other nutrients are present, making it an important element of a plants' root structure.
Is an essential element of photosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism, and also contributes to the stabilization of plant cell walls.
Features in many important plant tissues and is necessary for the formation of chlorophyll and the production of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, and vitamins. It plays an important role in the water equilibrium within the plant and helps protect plants from disease.
As the name suggests, these are elements of nutrition that plants need in smaller quantities, although still essential for the health of your crop. These include iron, manganese, zinc, boron, nickel, copper, molybdenum, and chlorine.
I’m ready to get my grow on, what nutrients do I need?
The nutrients you need very much depend on what you’re growing and the results you are looking for. Always seek advice from your seed, plug, or cutting supplier and do a little research, to ensure that you don’t damage root structure and more by providing the wrong nutrients.
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to assume that we’re aiming for dense foliage growth and an abundance of large, healthy flowers. For this, the best hydroponic nutrient mix you can use is a four-stage system, with a specially tailored set of nutrients, designed to boost each stage of your plants’ development.
Here you have two options, you can opt for standard nutrients that return stunning results, or you can choose to get the same amazing returns from organic nutrient sets.
Drive growth and strengthen your young plants from day one, with this natural formulation. Our specially formulated Seedling Booster delivers a total nitrogen content of 11%, made up of 7% ammoniacal nitrogen and 4% nitrate nitrogen. It boasts a phosphate level of 40% of the product volume, together with 13% soluble potash.
The N/P/K ratio of 11-40-13 enables your crop to put down healthy roots and boosts vigorous growth, without being too demanding on your infant plants. All your plants’ vital nutrients are contained in our seedling booster and are derived from potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, monopotassium phosphate, and diammonium phosphate.
Our Growtime Fertilizer has just the right balance of macronutrients and micronutrients to ensure your plants reach their full potential. It delivers a total nitrogen content of 19%, with 12% ammoniacal nitrogen and 7% nitrate nitrogen. Phosphates account for 5% of this product, together with 20% of soluble potash.
Our balanced 19-5-20 N/P/K ratio is the perfect way to energize your crop and promote solid growth during the crucial vegetative phase. Using this highly effective treatment will develop stronger root-balls, enhance the microbial activity, and improve nutrient uptake and retention. Growtime Fertilizer’s vital plant nutrients are derived from potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, monopotassium phosphate, and diammonium phosphate.
Switch the cycles and encourage an explosion of buds and flowers! This is our best hydroponic fertilizer formula and has everything your plant needs to develop large, healthy, and plentiful flowers. Flowertime Fertilizer contains a nitrogen content of 16%, with 10% ammoniacal nitrogen and 6% nitrate nitrogen. Phosphate levels are at 6% in this product, with a bonus of 30% soluble potash.
Our perfect 16-6-30 ratio will promote quite stunning ‘floral’ development. Start dosing your crop as soon as you see the first sign of buds and flowers, then continue right through the flowering period. All your blooming plants’ vital nutrients can be found in our Flowertime Fertilizer and are derived from diammonium phosphate, monopotassium phosphate, potassium sulfate, and potassium nitrate.
Give your hungry, fast-growing plants a treat and reap the results with our Plant Booster.
It provides your plants a 27% Phosphate content, together with 27% soluble potash.
Happy and healthy plants, with an abundance of flowers, are the result of using this 0-27-27 N/P/K ratio treatment. Using Plant Booster towards the end of the vegetative stage can help to drive early flowering, improve root stability and nutrient retention. The essential nutrients in Plant Booster are derived from potassium sulfate and monopotassium phosphate.
Are these the best hydroponic nutrients for vegetables too?
The optimum balance of nutrients for vegetable growth will depend very much on the crop you want to grow. Again, all plants have different nutritional requirements. However, it is most likely that any vegetable or flowering plant will derive great benefits from a rich macronutrient supply like these. If you wish to make the absolute most of your chosen crop, check its exact requirements are met.
When should I start to feed my plants nutrients?
If you are growing from seed, your seedling is provided all the nutrients it requires for the first stage of growth from the seed capsule itself. It will absorb water through its leaves while its root system develops, making it essential that its first stages of growth take place in a warm, humid environment.
After about 3-4 weeks, when the plant’s true leaves have developed, it enters the early vegetative stage and this is when you should start to feed your crop.
For further information on feeding patterns and growth cycles, take a look at our other posts.