If you are a cannabis cultivator who visits grow supply stores in person, or via the internet, you probably know just how many growing products exist out there. The sheer number of options can be overwhelming.

Many companies feature a wide selection, from basic nutrients and fertilisers to grow boosters, bud enhancers and additives galore - not to mention the many other plant-enhancing supplements you could possibly imagine.

Quite often, the grower isn’t just advised to purchase a product or two for their operation. Instead, many of these companies recommend buying a lot of merchandise to make it seem like you can’t go another day without the latest (and most expensive) trend in cannabis plant care.

From that point of view, you can’t really blame growers when they fall for the hype and then, despite their best intentions, literally end up loving their plants to death! Frequent overfeeding and the administration of too many nutrients can cause more problems than they solve - an issue many new cultivators fall victim to.

excess nutrients improper nutrient balance cannabis cultivation

GROWTH PROBLEMS FROM EXCESS NUTRIENTS AND IMPROPER NUTRIENT BALANCE

Considering that nutrient products are highly concentrated and that young plants are especially susceptible to incoming materials, it doesn’t take much to create a harmful imbalance and destroy your crop. Such excessive nutrients can cause all sorts of problems, including root and nutrient burn. When this happens, the roots or the leaves of your plant appear “burnt,” sustaining yellow and black discolorations.

Instances like these may urge you to go out and buy another product to fix the problem, but resist this desire! If your plants are suffering from root burn or nutrient burn, the first thing you should do is stop giving them anything and flush the plants with pH balanced water (6-7 pH) to dilute nutrient build-up.

“LESS IS ALWAYS BETTER”

Some less experienced growers think that cannabis requires some extraordinary skills, as well as a ton of different products. This is a common misconception that could not be further from the truth. Overdoing it, whether this means overwatering or packing your plants with unnecessary additives is a seemingly small mistake with giant repercussions. The good thing is, these slip-ups can easily be avoided!

A seasoned grower will inform you that some basic nutrients, the right amount of light and proper watering is (mostly) all it takes for a successful cultivation cycle. Even if some manufacturers claim their products “enhance” the flavour of your yield or make similar unsubstantiated claims, they often encourage the exact opposite effects.

The best case scenario when using certain unhelpful products will result in harsh or bitter tasting weed. The worst case scenario? Your entire crop starts shutting down plant by plant. If you really want to grow cannabis to achieve the most flavour and potency, you should keep things as simple and natural as possible.

cannabis nutrients excess fertilization

KEEP IT SIMPLE: CANNABIS GROWING TIPS

When it comes to growing tips, first thing’s first - do NOT get lured in by smarmy salesmen looking to make a buck off their “miracle products.” There are few instances where grow boosters or additional additives are necessary to improve the quality of your crop.

Start out with acquiring sufficiently size pots, around 11-18 litres. You should be able to find a business that sells flower pots and other gardening supplies nearby. They don’t need to be special, just make sure they have holes in the bottom to allow for optimal drainage. You should also make it a habit to clean your pots before use as this can minimise the risk of plant diseases, fungi and other pathogens.

GET THE RIGHT POTTING MIX

Most potting mixes (soils) available for purchase are already pre-fertilised. In theory, this means your plants don’t require additives. The three essential minerals for plant growth are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK), although potting mixes normally contain other beneficial minerals like calcium and iron. Nitrogen is the mineral that your plants need most when they grow “green stuff“ like leaves and stems. Phosphorus is necessary for good root spread and growth, as well as for flowering. Potassium encourages plants to grow vigorously.

You can usually find the correct N-P-K ratio displayed on your bag of potting mix or on your bottle of nutrients in the form of three numbers, which might look like: 12-14-24. In this case, the mix contains 12% nitrogen, 14% phosphorus and 24% of potassium, which is normally considered to be the best balance for cannabis cultivation.

PH graphic cannabis nutrients

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WATER AND CANNABIS

You could have the “best” nutrients and an ideal feeding schedule, yet it will all be in vain if the pH balance of your water or nutrient solution is not correct. The reason for this is that cannabis can only take in nutrients when the water (and then the soil) is within a certain pH range. For growing in soil, the correct pH balance for your water should be between 6.0 and 6.3. If it isn’t (which can be the case when you use water right off the tap, or if you add anything to the solution), the plant cannot take in nutrients, even if they are present. This culminates in nutrient deficiencies, causing your plants to become sick, sometimes beyond repair.

This is why a pH measuring stick or solution, along with products that either increase or decrease your water’s pH if needed, is probably the most important item every grower should own.

The issue with so called grow boosters is that they can dramatically alter the pH, which will incite all kinds of disastrous outcomes in no time.

Usually, if your water’s pH is on point and you are using a quality substrate, there won’t be much standing in the way of a healthy and successful crop! You likely won’t need any type of additives at all, so long as your potting mix contains some nutrients.

nutrient burned cannabis plant

WHEN DO YOU NEED SPECIAL CANNABIS NUTRIENTS?

There are a few select cases where your plants may benefit from additional nutrients. NPK contained in potting soil doesn’t always last throughout the duration of a grow, but only for several weeks. While this will give your plants a good start, it may not be enough to achieve the kind of yields you are hoping for.

In such cases, you may want to consider administering nutrients after several weeks when the nutrients in the soil are mostly depleted. Once your plants have almost reached maturity, extra nutrients may give your crop a much-needed final kick during the flowering phase.

Some growers prefer to use unfertilised potting mix. This involves feeding your plants nutrients as soon as they are out of the seedling stage. This method allows experienced cultivators to regain more control over their crop, a helpful tactic to raise plants under unique growing conditions.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE RIGHT BALANCE

When feeding nutrients to your cannabis plants, it's all about maintaining balance. More seasoned cultivators use their years of experience to “read” their plants, assessing what amount of nutrients to give. While this may sound complicated to novices, it is a skill that can be learned over multiple grow cycles, just by using your common sense.

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