Cannabis Nutrients & Supplies – Planning Your First Indoor Cannabis Grow

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Planning Your First Indoor Cannabis Grow – Part 4

Best Bud Seeds shares our best knowledge of how to plan your first indoor grow in this blog series. In this feature, you’ll learn the basics of Cannabis plant nutrients in order to start growing. For example, how to read nutrient labels, what is NPK, and when to switch to bloom nutrients. Our experts at Best Bud Seeds highlight the ways of using nutrients in an easy to understand guide for your needs as a first time cannabis grower.

How to Select Nutrients & Supplies for Your First Indoor Cannabis Grow

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Growing high-quality cannabis for your first time requires more nutrients, or fertilizer, than most common crops. Indoor growers typically use liquid nutrients and mix them in with water before watering plants. Using liquid nutrients is usually more time consuming, as you typically have to measure and mix them in water 1-2 times a week.

Best Bud Seeds recommends not using nutrients made for indoor growing for outdoor plants, as they are usually composed of synthetic mineral salts and can damage soil bacteria.

  1. Learn the macronutrients involved in nutrients for cannabis plants.

Your marijuana plants need the following primary nutrients, collectively known as macronutrients:

  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)

These micronutrients are needed as well, but in much smaller amounts:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Copper

In addition to the mentioned nutrients above, cannabis plants derive these non-mineral elements from air and water:

  • Carbon
  • Hydrogen
  • Oxygen

Cannabis plants need different amounts of these nutrients throughout the different stages of growth: more nitrogen during vegetative growth, and more phosphorus and potassium during flowering for bud production—also called “bloom” nutrients. 

  1. Consider the types of nutrient brands that are on the market.
    1. There are tons of different nutrient brands out there for you to choose from, to say the least. But our growers at Best Bud Seeds are very fond of General Hydroponics, Botanicare, and Fox Farm nutrients. Fox Farm also sells amazing soil! All brands and reviews considered, it is also important to note that indoor grows require mixing with water. This is because liquid nutrients are readily available to a cannabis plant’s roots, they are fast-acting, meaning they can damage plants if you feed them too much.
  2. Learn more about what NPK means to you as a grower.
    1. Nutrient solution bottles and fertilizer bags will indicate how much of the three main nutrients are in the product, in the form of N-P-K: Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, For example, a product that says “10-4-4” will contain 10% available nitrogen, 4% phosphorus, and 4% potassium by weight. 
    2. A general rule of thumb is that a vegetative fertilizer should have high nitrogen, low phosphorus, and moderate potassium: for example, 9-4-5. As a plant transitions into flower, taper off the nitrogen and focus on phosphorus and potassium—seek a ratio around 3-8-7, for example.
    3. Products are also generally divided into “grow” solutions, high in nitrogen needed for vegetative growth, and “bloom” solutions, high in phosphorus for flower development. You can stick to these general terms if you don’t want to get bogged down with numbers. 
    4. In the final week or so before harvest, be sure to give your plants only water to clear any nutrient buildup in the buds—this is called flushing.

Nutrients & Fertilizer – A Guide on How to Measure PH for Each Growing Stage

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A great example of a cannabis plant that is lacking in magnesium vs. a healthy plant full of nutrients.

It is important to understand that all the nutrients needed for cannabis plant development are naturally present in the environment. However, to help your plants develop even faster and produce a better end product, you’ll want to feed them with fertilizer, or concentrated nutrients. This is why the types of nutrients, soil, and fertilizer are important. It’s very easy to over-do it and in turn cause damage to your plants. Here’s a breakdown of how to ration each nutrient so that you don’t make any dire mistakes your first time around growing cannabis.

As a rule of thumb, the ideal pH balance for marijuana grown in soil ranges between 6.0 and 6.8. Hydro, or hydroponic, growers should keep their water pH in a range of 5.5 to 6.5. On average, marijuana plants need a gallon of water each day per pound of anticipated flower.

Plant growth is equally dependent on the work of fertilizers and nutrients. Here are some guidelines for applying fertilizer during different stages of growth.

  1. Seedling: Minimal or no fertilizer. You may want to wait until your plants have sprouted a few leaves before administering the first dose of primary NPK fertilizer.
  2. Vegetative: For Week 1, use an NPK ratio of 2:1:2 — that’s two parts nitrogen to one part phosphorus to two parts potassium. By Week 7, consider increasing the NPK ratio to 10:5:7, followed by a 1:1:1 ratio in the late vegetative phase.
  3. Flowering: At this juncture, stop feeding nitrogen to the plants and focus on elevating the phosphorus and potassium levels. It is useful to fertilize plants during the early flowering stage but not as effective in the latter weeks after true buds have formed. 

In addition to weekly feeding, cannabis plants require regular watering with pH-balanced water. As a rule of thumb, the ideal pH balance for marijuana grown in soil ranges between 6.0 and 6.8. Hydro, or hydroponic, growers should keep their water pH in a range from 5.5 to 6.5. On average, cannabis plants need a gallon of water each day per pound of anticipated flower. 

For even better results, make sure to research the best feeding schedule according to the cannabis strain you are growing. There are great strain related resources you can get on reddit, or a simple google search that leads you to an awesome blog or two.

What is the Best Type of Cannabis Fertilizer?

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If you want to grow an organic indoor garden, choose a natural marijuana fertilizer containing the following materials:

  • Worm castings
  • Good bacteria and fungi
  • Forest humus
  • Fish meal
  • Blood meal
  • Bat guano
  • Compost tea (a mix of the above elements, in addition to kelp meal and molasses, which maximize the benefits of the other ingredients)
  • Biochar (a blend of carbon and charcoal)

Integrating these ingredients into regular soil can help you create a potent soil with a diverse wealth of primary, secondary, and trace nutrients. While you can also purchase commercial fertilizers in liquid or powder form, natural materials often provide the most powerful nutrients.

Next Step: Grow Maintenance Schedule & Planning

Now that you have learned the ins and outs of nutrients and what they can do for your cannabis plants, it’s time to plan out your grow maintenance schedule. This is crucial, and our growing experts will share notes from their grow journals that can help you in each stage of cannabis growth.