Hydroponic Nutrients: a Guide to Better Plant Growth
Learn How Nutrient Solutions Can Help You Get the Most Out of Your Hydroponic System
What is a Hydroponic Nutrient Solution?
Hydroponic nutrient solutions replace the essential nutrients that traditional soil has. These nutrients come in two different forms:
- Difficult to fully dissolve
- Does not have pH buffers
- Extended time for nutrients to become available to plants
- Cost-effective and lasts forever
- Easier to dissolve into system
- Adaptable to different feeding schedules
- Plants receive immediate nutrient availability
- Typically more expensive and has an expiry date
The Nutrients Required for Hydroponic Growing
The nutrients that plants require are categorized into 2 categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are absorbed by plants in the largest quantities and are therefore the most vital to plants’ growth. The 3 numbers printed on nutrient bottles are N-P-K (Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium) ratio that indicates how much of each macronutrient is in the nutrient solution.
Nitrogen (N): forms part of the chemical structure of proteins for new cell growth including leaf and stem growth and health.
Phosphorus (P): essential for metabolic processes such as photosynthesis, energy transfer, and storage. Phosphorus also encourages root development, increases disease resistance, improves crop quality, and increases yield.
Potassium (K): plays a key role in the regulation of water in plants. It is essential for many enzymes which are vital for the plant’s metabolism and growth.
Deficiencies in any of these 3 key nutrients cause leaves to turn yellow, stems to become weak, and overall plant growth to decrease.
Plants require the following micronutrients in smaller quantities:
Boron (B): when combined with Calcium, forms cell walls, and helps with pollination and seed production.
Calcium (Ca): when combined with Boron, forms cell walls and can be used to reduce the effects of excess nutrients.
Chlorine (Cl): ensures the continued strength of leaves and growth of roots.
Copper (Cu): necessary for respiration and photosynthesis as well as cofactor for several enzymes.
Iron (Fe): in a chelated form, used in photosynthesis, and maintains healthy leaves.
Magnesium (Mg): accelerates growth and generates oxygen during photosynthesis keeping leaves and tips of new growth healthy.
Manganese (Mn): necessary for photosynthesis.
Molybdenum (Mo): aids in the formation of proteins, keeping leaves healthy and ensuring regular leaf growth.
Sulfur (S): is a building block of proteins. Assists with fruit and seed production, often affecting flavour and odour, as well as ensuring proper water uptake.
Zinc (Zn): assists with respiration and the metabolism of nitrogen.
The Best Hydroponic Nutrient Solution for Plant Growth
The best hydroponic nutrient solution mix is not limited to only macronutrients and micronutrients. Although enzymes and beneficial microbes are not technically considered nutrients, they are both important items to add to any nutrient mix.
Using Enzymes & Beneficial Microbes in a Hydroponic Nutrient Solution
The addition of a premium enzyme formula like Hygrozyme on its own or paired with beneficial microbes will improve overall plant health and contribute to plant growth.
Using an enzyme formula like Hygrozyme:
- Keeps the root zone and grow system clean
- Breaks down dead root matter
- Improves nutrient uptake through stronger and healthier roots
- Releases additional micronutrients during the break down of dead roots
- Fights and prevents root rot and root disease
- Supports beneficial microbials (if present)
Using Hygrozyme with beneficial microbes:
- Produces stronger, healthier plants with higher yields
- Releases simple sugars and nutrients that support the growth of beneficial microbes (the more beneficial microbes, the greater the benefits for the plant)
- Converts nutrients into plant available forms for better absorption
How Much Nutrient Solution Should be Used?
Monitor the concentration of the nutrient solution daily with an EC Meter or a TDS Meter. Keep between 800-1500 ppm, depending on the growth stage of the plants. Oversupply of nutrients causes toxicity.
Grower’s Tip: It’s better to have a weaker nutrient solution than one that is too strong.
Nutrient Dosing Schedule
Top up the nutrient solution (with nutrients or water) as often as daily, depending on the size of plants and the growing environment. Bigger plants and a warmer environment will cause plants to take up more water.
A nutrient change out is recommended every 1-2 weeks.