Providing nutrients to your cannabis plants is necessary if you want the best results from the strain you’re cultivating.
However, there are a lot of variables at play when it comes to trying to feed your plants the nutrients they need.
Feeding nutrients to marijuana plants
To maximize your yield’s quantity and quality, you have to know how to use nutrients correctly.
In this guide, we’ll help you better understand how to provide nutrients, “nutes,” to your cannabis plants by answering a lot of the questions asked by other growers, such as ‘how often should I give my plants nutrients?’ and ‘how often to add nutes during flowering?’
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How often should I give my marijuana plants nutrients?
When figuring out the feeding schedule for your cannabis plants, you should know that the type of medium you use affects when you need to feed them.
Different growing mediums have different nutrient and moisture retention levels.
Soil-based growing, sometimes called the traditional method, is one of the most common styles of growing cannabis.
Despite not being the best option for weed anymore, many growers still prefer soil because growing in soil means you won’t have to feed your plants as much.
This is especially true if you choose the right soil.
The one caveat with soil-based growing is it’s inefficient. Excess nutrients in the soil get washed off when you water your plants.
Additionally, soil-based growing is more prone to soil-borne diseases, especially when growing your cannabis outdoors.
In contrast, soilless growing is efficient. Since soilless grow methods replace the soil with a different growing medium, you won’t worry about soil-borne diseases.
With soilless growing and, by extension, hydroponic growing, you maximize the yield of your plants by funneling the right amount of nutrients each time you feed them.
However, there’s one main drawback to this grow method.
You frequently need to provide your plants with nutrients – often daily since the soilless growing medium has no nutrients and depends on your hydroponics system to provide the required nutes for your plants.
Should I use nutrients every time I water?
Whether you should use nutrients each time you water depends on what you feed them since there are many types of fertilizers.
The best way to know how often you should feed your plants is to check the nutrient chart provided by the fertilizer brand.
Doing so will tell you whether you need to feed your plants with nutrients every watering or only feed them once a week.
How often should I add nutes during flowering?
It’s challenging to know how often to fertilize in the flowering stage. Sometimes you’ll fertilize once a week in the flowering stage, but that’s not always the case.
It’s essential to check the nutrient chart provided by the fertilizer brand that you use. One more factor to consider when feeding flowering cannabis is which fertilizer you use.
Switch out your nitrogen-rich veg fertilizers with bloom fertilizers with high potassium and phosphorus concentrations.
What factors affect how often I need to feed my marijuana plants?
Outside of the type of growing medium you use and the style of how you grow cannabis, one of the major factors that affect your cannabis plants’ feeding schedule is their growth stage.
How much nutrients you have to feed them and the type of nutrients they need depends on which stage your cannabis plant is in.
Another factor affecting how frequently you feed your plants is the type of fertilizer you use.
During your cannabis’ seedling stage, your plants won’t require a lot of nutrients. Most of your seedlings receive nutrients from their seed leaves (cotyledons).
Provide your seedlings a warm and humid environment since, without an established root system, your seedlings can only absorb water through their leaves.
When it comes to providing nutrients for the veg stage of cannabis, you need to start early but light.
You can tell when your seedlings have started their vegetation period once they have 3-4 true leaves.
You can apply an NPK fertilizer with a 2:1:2 ratio at this stage. By the middle of the vegging period, you’ll need to increase the ratio to 10:5:7 until last week.
Switch again to a ratio of 7:7:7 to prepare your plants for flowering.
Once your plants switch from vegging to flowering, you also need to change the ratio of nutrients you feed them (from a veg fertilizer that’s rich in nitrogen to a bloom fertilizer high in potassium).
Remember, the nutrients during the flowering stage are different. So you’re probably asking, well, how often should I give my plants nutrients?
When flowering, even though you still need to gradually increase the number of nutrients you feed to your plants, it’s now more important to feed them with fertilizers that have high concentrations of potassium to ensure that they grow and thrive.
The growing medium you use factors into your cannabis plants’ feeding schedule. Different types of mediums have varying nutrient and water retention levels.
And in cannabis cultivation, growers can choose either soil, sphagnum moss, or coco coir.
Choosing soil as a medium means you don’t need to devote as much attention to feeding your plants the nutrients they need to develop.
Soil is already rich in nutrients – especially if you prepared the soil before transplanting your cannabis plants.
Check things such as the pH level of your soil, the nutrients that it lacks, and whether or not the soil is too hot. Here are some of the best fertilizers when growing in soil.
Hot soil has too many nutrients and can slow down the nutrient uptake of cannabis plants. Soilless growing mediums like coco coir also have their problems.
They are often paired with a hydroponics system to make up for drying out too fast and having no plants to absorb. You’ll frequently need to feed your plants nutrients in soilless mediums.
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Types of nutrients used
Organic fertilizers are one of the most abundant and cost-effective nutrients for your plants. You can purchase natural fertilizers or make them yourself by following a how-to guide.
One drawback of creating your own organic fertilizers is that they typically require more time to break down into nutrients that your plants can absorb.
Overall, growing cannabis naturally with organic fertilizers can produce better-tasting buds that don’t have a lousy chemical aftertaste.
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Inorganic fertilizers are synthetically produced fertilizers with exact NPK ratios and precise amounts of micro and macronutrients.
This type of fertilizer is appealing to growers because they have the ideal ratio of nutrients for each growth stage and a nutrient chart that tells you how often you need to apply it to your plants.
However, a chemical fertilizer’s strength is also its weakness since you can end up overfeeding your plants which can cause nutrient burn.
What is a feeding schedule, and how do you use it?
A feeding schedule is a chart that tells you when and which nutrients to provide your plants.
It helps prevent nutrient burn, nutrient deficiency, and other nutrient-related problems that new growers often encounter when they don’t know what to feed their plants.
Optimizing your feeding schedule also increases your plants’ overall yield and the potency of their buds.
Reading a feed chart properly is a bit hard since, at first glance, it’s a literal block of text.
It’s a spreadsheet with horizontal columns indicating the weeks and vertical rows representing the various nutrients your plant needs during said week.
The intersections (cells) are the specific amounts of nutrients you need to dilute into the water you need to feed to your plants.
Lastly, to measure the number of nutrients in your diluted solution, you can calculate it using a TDS meter (which stands for ‘totally dissolved solids’).
With a TDS meter, you can check whether or not you have the right amount of nutrients to avoid over or underfeeding your cannabis plants.
When it comes to diagnosing your plants, the best way to recognize problems is by checking the conditions of their leaves.
Different nutrient-related problems appear in different ways. However, they all share one thing in common: they damage and impede your plants’ healthy growth and development.
If you want to know more about spotting nutrient-related problems, check out our article on how to identify marijuana plant problems.
One of the main reasons you start light when applying fertilizers to your plants is to avoid nutrient burn.
This condition causes your cannabis leaves to turn yellow or brown – often with the tips curling, making it look like they burned, hence the name.
Thankfully nutrient burn has an easy fix. Since an overabundance of nutrients causes the problem, simply flushing your plants with water will fix it.
The water removes the excess nutrients while leaving enough traces for your plants to absorb so that they can recover. Find out more about nutrient burn and its other symptoms and treatment.
Outside of overfeeding your cannabis plants, you can also underfeed them. What’s annoying with nutrient deficiency is that it can still occur even if you’re providing the necessary amount of nutes that your plants need.
This is because this problem doesn’t just occur from underfeeding your plants; it can also happen if the pH level of your soil is too high.
To find out more about nutrient deficiency and how pH values factor into your plants’ ability to absorb nutrients, check out our article on nutrient deficiencies in marijuana plants.
Another cause of nutrient deficiency is nutrient lockout, which is caused by a chemical reaction between the nutrient solution, the growing medium, and your cannabis plant.
It results in your plants’ inability to absorb the necessary nutrients they need to grow properly, leading to slow growth.
Typically, chemical fertilizers cause nutrient lockout due to their high salt contents.
How often should you feed cannabis: conclusion
When it comes to providing nutrients for your cannabis plants, it’s important to know that each stage of growth requires different amounts of nutrients and that they need to be applied at the right time to prevent over or underfeeding your plants.
If you want to grow like a pro and produce a considerable amount of buds, you can use a feeding schedule to optimize your nutrient application.
Nutrients are just part of the equation when it comes to producing maximum yields. Read my free Marijuana Grow Bible to learn more ways to increase yield and grow like a pro.
FAQ’s about feeding marijuana plants
When there’s an excess or lack of the necessary nutrients your cannabis plants need for their growth and development, it can lead to many nutrient-related problems. These include nutrient burn and nutrient deficiency that can damage or even kill your plants if left untreated.
When the leaves of your flowering cannabis are turning yellow, it isn’t a sign of nutrient deficiency. It’s a sign your plants are diverting a lot of the nutrients and energy into developing their buds.