Growing Your Marijuana with Fertilizers
Growing marijuana requires more than just sticking a few cannabis seedlings into the soil and waiting for its buds. In addition to carefully tracking its growth, cannabis demands a lot of careful tendering. Many times, the various inputs and skills required to properly groom and grow cannabis make the whole process capital and labor-intensive.
Depending on the size and quantity of your seedling, the input and skill required might differ considerably. However, if you are expecting a bountiful harvest, you might consider a few farming hacks that directly increase your plant yield. Fertilizer application is one of such methods to improve your harvest yield directly. Fertilizers are popular for this single purpose –they help you heck the growth processes, supplying nutrients that directly increase plant yields.
Your Fertilizer Options Can Include Pre-mixed or Organic
Cannabis farming benefits enormously from fertilizers. If you understand the basics and how to apply them, you are sure to get the best return on your cannabis investment. Ready-made fertilizers are available for purchase in stores and online agro-chemical stores. With this type of fertilizer, you have to follow the written instructions and apply the components to the soil. Most of the work has already been done; the mixed components have been prepared for easy application. Not all fertilizers are pre-mixed, for instance, application. You can decide to make yours at home. Home-made fertilizers can be made from biodegradable materials derived from animals or plants.
Your options in making organic fertilizers are quite plenty. Depending on the soil type, you can use different materials that can supply nutrients directly to your cannabis plant. While trying this out, you might want to steer clear of synthetic materials. Many times, these materials may be harmful to your plant or degenerate into chemicals that reduce the potency of your harvest. If you are not an expert in making homemade fertilizers, your best bet is the read-made alternative available in agrochemical stores.
What Nutrients are needed for Optimal Growth?
Marijuana is different from other plants cultivated today, as they require more nutrients than most common crops. Therefore, the nutrient mix required to increase output quality is different from these required by other plants. In addition, the mix required by the cannabis plant depends on the growth stage of the plant and the method of cultivation. If grown outdoors, powdered fertilizers can be added directly to the soil during seedling transplanting. If more nutrients are needed as the plants grow, fertilizers can be added to the topsoil in an application method called ‘top dressing.’ Indoor cannabis growers typically use a liquid fertilizer mix. Fertilizers may be dissolved in water and sprayed on the plant or directly introduced into the bed.
The most common nutrients needed by cannabis during the growth cycle include;
Nitrogen is an important macronutrient responsible for regulating many biological processes of the growth processes. It is a fundamental component of the amino acids that build proteins strands in plants. Proteins strands are needed to improve the support systems of your cannabis plant. Soils that lack Nitrogen grow weak cannabis plants. Such plants are easily destroyed as the stems, flower support, and bud anchors appear weak.
Nitrogen is also an important component of ATP –a compound responsible for cellular control of energy in every plant. Increased levels of ATP production help provide energy and cellular nourishment for the cannabis plant. Nucleic acid, an essential component of DNA and RNA, is also made from the plant’s Nitrogen store. Cannabis plants lacking these components will not grow properly, cell differentiation is disrupted, and plant growth becomes stunted.
Phosphorus partakes in the cellular processes responsible for bud formation in cannabis plants. If present in an ideal volume, phosphorus triggers the production of large healthy buds. Marijuana strains with characteristic large buds reportedly have a nutrient-absorption mechanism that directly extracts phosphorus for bud formation. In addition to bud formation, phosphorus also helps build other structures of the cannabis plant. Underdeveloped roots and poorly formed flowers are typical signs of and Phosphorus deficiency. Discoloration of the leaves and the appearance of a purple hue in the leaf veins is another common indicator of phosphorus deficiency.
Potassium completes the team of nutrients commonly referred to as NPK (Nitrogen: Phosphorus: Potassium). Potassium plays a significant role in osmoregulation –the regulation of water and salt concentration balance in the plant. This process keeps the plant healthy and helps regulate the growth process. Potassium also controls the opening and closing of stomata –pores in the leaves with its role in osmoregulation. This regulation helps the plant breathe, exchanging carbon dioxide, water, and oxygen with the environment.
Remember ATP, the energy currency of the plant? Potassium triggers the production of ATP, storing energy produced during photosynthesis as glucose. In turn, the glucose stores are explored as fuel for growth. Potassium deficiency disrupts this process, leading to weak plants with no effective means for energy production. Growth is stunted, and the plant might likely wither off as carbon dioxide, water, and oxygen become impaired.
Calcium builds the cellular walls, making sure your cannabis plants remain strong and do not lose vigor. This nutrient essentially shapes up the plant, providing characteristic shapes for the stems, buds, calyx, and margin. Calcium deficiency directly stunts plant growth with the leaves and buds irregularly shaped. Curled leaves, rusty stems, and frail stems typically signal poor levels of calcium in cannabis plants.
Magnesium plays a structural role in cannabis by acting as the central molecule in the formation of chlorophyll –the green pigment of cannabis plants. Chlorophyll is important for photosynthesis as it traps sunlight providing the solar energy needed for glucose production. Magnesium also helps mobilize the glucose produced to regions of the plant where they are required. This transfer process, referred to as ‘translocation,’ depends heavily on magnesium stores. If magnesium is missing in your plant soil, plant growth is significantly disrupted. Leaf discoloration may likely suggest your cannabis plant lack adequate magnesium levels.
Factors to Consider Before Selecting Your Marijuana Fertilizer
Finding the right fertilizer for your cannabis plants requires careful thought. There are many parameters to be considered and measured. Every one of these parameters makes a huge difference in how fast and effective your plant responds to the selected fertilizer. If you do it right, you are sure to get ideal yield improvement once you start harvesting. Here are some of the factors you need to consider before selecting a fertilizer;
1. Soil Aeration and Moisture
Before you select a fertilizer brand, make sure to consider the level of soil aeration and moisture content. The aeration level helps you determine how much water the soil can take without drowning the plant. This is very important if you are considering fertilizers with liquid formulations. In addition to gauging the aeration level, you will also want to make sure the soil is well aerated. If you are selecting fertilizers formulated as granules, a well-aerated soil makes sure the roots get enough oxygen even as the granules compact the root. If fertilizer particles become compacted and cut off the oxygen supply to your plant roots, harvest yield can be adversely affected.
2. Yield and Germination Rate
Of course, the only reason why you are considering a fertilizer is to improve the germination rate and eventual plant yield. The best fertilizer for your marijuana will significantly improve your harvest yield. You can simply check the labels on the fertilizer pack to confirm the estimated germination rate boost the fertilizer can add to your plant. Many times, these parameters depend on the materials the fertilizers are made from. For instance, earthworm castings are known to speed up the germination rates of many marijuana strains considerably. The natural hormones and biodegradable materials present in the worm casting help the root sprout faster, increase the stem lengths, and increase bud yield.
3. pH Management
How well can the fertilizer affect the soil pH? Soil pH is described as a measure of the acid-base balance. This balance affects the soil’s microbial population, nutrient deposit, and the rate of root germination. Different plants grow better in soils of specific pH. For example, many strains of marijuana reportedly grow better at a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. At this range, the roots grow normally, and you can be sure of ideal plant yield. Fertilizers can easily disrupt the pH of your soil, especially if the nutrients are derived from synthetic sources.
You will want to understand how far the fertilizers you prefer can change the soil pH. The pH of earthworm casting is reportedly around 7.0. If you add this to another medium of slightly acidic pH –around 6.0, the mixture can balance out around 6.5, giving you’re a better growing medium. Fertilizer that changes the soil pH to extremes of acidity or alkalinity is generally not recommended for marijuana cultivation.
4. Source Raw Material
How are the nutrients in the fertilizers sourced? What is the nutrient composition of the fertilizer? You will want to make sure the source components of your selected fertilizer are healthy to the soil and your marijuana strain. Fertilizers made from harmful chemicals or chemicals with carcinogenic properties are not recommended for marijuana cultivation. These chemicals constitute health hazards to you and your plants. Fertilizers that contain heavy chemicals including lead, mercury, cadmium, mercury, and aluminum are also not recommended. Heavy chemicals can poison the plant, change the taste of your marijuana, and delay the plant germination rate.
5. Nutrient Components
You might want to consider the nutrient composition of the fertilizers if you need to correct a nutrient deficiency in your marijuana plants. If your plant is lacking a particular nutrient, it is logical that the fertilizer you will select can provide optimal quantities of the nutrient your plant needs. The nutrient composition of these fertilizers is often included on the product labels and measured in percentages. However, you might need the expertise of an agrochemical consultant to better understand the nutrient composition best for your marijuana.
The Most Popular Eco-friendly Marijuana Fertilizers
There is a long list of fertilizers you can choose from to supplement your plant growth. Some of these fertilizers are pre-mixed and made from synthetic chemicals. Others are eco-friendly and made from composting organic products. Depending on your preference, you can decide to use readily available biodegradable products for your fertilizers. Organic wastes from the animals and plants rot into the soil, producing nutrients and improving the nutrient profile of your soil. This method reduces contributions to landfills and generally provides an endless supply of good quality soul for every planting season. If you have considered all the parameters listed above, you are ready to finally select one of the following fertilizers;
1. Bat Guano
Bat Guano is typically bat poop. For centuries of farming history, bat guano has been used consistently as a readily sourced fertilizer option for rural farmers. Luckily for us, bat guano still works, even for marijuana cultivation. All you have to do is gather this organic component in large quantities. You can also add the fecal remains from chickens and cows. The manure is worked into the soil directly or made into a compost tea. The NPK ratio of Bat guano is reported about 10-3-1 –ten parts of nitrogen, three parts of phosphorus, and a part of potassium. This ratio supplies abundant nitrogen for your marijuana and increases yield rapidly.
2. Wood Ashes
Wood ash is another viable option for an eco-friendly fertilizer. You might not know, but wood ash contains a large deposit of potassium and lime. These components can be readily absorbed by the soil and picked up by your marijuana plants. In addition, ash from hardwoods such as oak generally contains more nutrients compared with ash from other trees. All you have to do to get wood ash is simply burn wood. Gather the ash from the fireplace, and you have a readily available fertilizer. To apply wood ash, you can lightly scatter it on your plants or add it directly to a compost heap. In addition to providing trace nutrients, wood ash can also help you keep out pests, slugs, snails, and worms.
3. Fish Meal
Fish meal is popular in arable farming. Farmers simply gather the ground-up, inedible parts of the fish to make cheap fertilizers. Cheap but effective. The inedible parts are milled into a fine powder and added directly to the soil. Farmers can also combine fish emulsion with fish meal. This combination acts as a nutrient depot, releasing nutrients quickly and improving marijuana yield in an all-season method. You can also consider using soy meal, blood, and bone.
4, Human Urine
Weird right? Well, human urine, if well prepared, is considered a good fertilizer and can be used for marijuana farming. However, do not urinate directly on your plant. This will probably kill your plant. When fresh, human urine contains a high percentage of nitrogen and salt. Your plant will need nitrogen to boost yield. If you are considering this option, you will have to dilute the urine. It is recommended that you dilute the urine to a 1:20 ratio in water. This might not exactly be the choice you might want to consider.
5. Vermiculite and Perlite
Vermiculite and Perlite are sterile inorganic products used as fertilizers in farming. They have been proven to improve the harvest yield of many marijuana strains. Perlite is porous and hard. It is produced by overheating volcanic glass at very high temperatures. Vermiculite, on the other hand, is spongy and soft. It is formed when mica is overheated to high temperatures. Together, these products make an incredible pair in providing an optimal germination environment for marijuana. The combination absorbs water for the root and aids early sprouting. In addition to its water absorption properties, the vermiculite-perlite combination provides a rich deposit of magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
6. Worm Casting
Earthworms have long been known to improve soil aeration and nutrient composition. Soils rich in earthworms are typically considered to be fertile for plant cultivation. If you live in areas where the soil has a rich earthworm population, you can decide to make a worm casting from your marijuana plants. Worm casting is the leftover remains when an earthworm digests organic components of the soil. The casting is rich in macronutrients needed by marijuana. However, it is not advisable to add worm casting directly to your marijuana. It is added to compost tea and then to the soil.
Preparing eco-friendly and organic fertilizers requires considerable skill and time. You can decide to use premixed or inorganic fertilizers. These types of fertilizers are readily available in agrochemical stores and require no special skills for application. Many times, the composition and instruction for use are contained in the product labels.
Final Thoughts on Fertilizers for Your Marijuana
Selecting the right fertilizer for your marijuana plants can significantly boost your yield and return on investment. To achieve maximum effect, you must understand the right quantities to apply per stand, the right time for application, and the right nutrients your plant needs. Your choice might also depend on your marijuana strain and farming budget. If you get these parameters right, you are sure to get an improved yield during your next marijuana growing season.
Disclaimer: This content is meant for educational purposes only. It has been compiled with research from external sources. it is not meant to substitute any medical or legal advice. Please see your local laws for the legality of cannabis use.