Growing cannabis can be a rewarding experience, especially when you see your plants flourish and produce bountiful yields.
Attaining peak health and potency is significantly influenced by furnishing them with the best nutrients available, a crucial component for nurturing their growth and overall vitality.
Just like humans, these plants require specific nutrients to grow, develop, and thrive.
In this article, we'll discuss the pros and cons of each, along with some popular brands to consider. From cannabis nutrient basics to advanced discussions about synthetic fertilizers, we'll cover it all.
Now let's find the best cannabis nutrients for your plants!
The Best Nutrients for Cannabis in Each Category
We understand that navigating the world of cannabis nutrients can be overwhelming, so we've made it easier for you by selecting our top picks in each category:
Understanding Plant Nutrients and Fertilizers
Fertilizers play a crucial role in providing plants with the essential nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. These nutrients are vital for various plant functions, such as photosynthesis, cell division, and the production of flowers and fruits.
By supplying the right nutrients in the right amounts, you can encourage robust plant growth and ensure that your cannabis plants reach their full potential.
List of all 17 Essential Nutrients
There are 17 essential elements that marijuana plants need to thrive, which can be categorized as macro, secondary macro, and micronutrients:
Carbon (C) - Not classified
Hydrogen (H) - Not classified
Oxygen (O) - Not classified
Nitrogen (N) - Macro
Phosphorus (P) - Macro
Potassium (K) - Macro
Sulfur (S) - Secondary Macro
Magnesium (Mg) - Secondary Macro
Calcium (Ca) - Secondary Macro
Iron (Fe) - Micro
Manganese (Mn) - Micro
Zinc (Zn) - Micro
Copper (Cu) - Micro
Boron (B) - Micro
Molybdenum (Mo) - Micro
Chlorine (Cl) - Micro
Nickel (Ni) - Micro
While some of these elements, like carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, are readily available in the air and water, the others must be supplied through the growing medium or nutrient solutions.
The Difference Between Macro, Secondary-macro, and Micronutrients
Macronutrients (also known as primary nutrients) are the nutrients that plants require in relatively large amounts. These include nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). You will see these values on nutrient packaging that look like this (3-1-2, 1-4-3, etc.) where nitrogen phosphorus and potassium are commonly referred to as NPK ratios.
Secondary macronutrients, (also known as secondary nutrients) such as calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S), are also needed in significant amounts but not quite as much as the primary macronutrients.
Micronutrients (also knows as trace nutrients) are required in much smaller amounts but are still essential for healthy plant growth. Cannabis micronutrients include iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), chlorine (Cl), and nickel (Ni).
Amino Acids, the building blocks of proteins, play a crucial role in plant growth and overall health. They aid in nutrient absorption, stress resistance, and many other vital functions within the cannabis plant; most nutrient brands carry an amino acid supplement.
The Ideal NPK Ratio for Cannabis Plants
This ratio varies depending on the growth stage of the plant. Generally, cannabis plants require different nutrient ratios during the vegetative and flowering stages.
Vegetative stage: During the vegetative stage, plants need higher amounts of Nitrogen to support foliage growth. A suitable NPK ratio for this stage would be around 3-1-2, meaning 3 parts Nitrogen, 1 part Phosphorus, and 2 parts Potassium.
Flowering stage: In the flowering stage, cannabis requires more Phosphorus and Potassium to develop buds, while the Nitrogen requirement decreases. An ideal NPK ratio for the flowering stage is 1-3-2, meaning 1 part Nitrogen, 3 parts Phosphorus, and 2 parts Potassium.
Both macro, secondary macro, and micronutrients play important roles in various plant processes, and an imbalance or nutrient deficiency in any of these nutrients can negatively impact plant growth and yield.
Pro Tip: Mixing Fertilizers
When you mix two fertilizers, you can find the new amounts of each nutrient (N, P, and K) in the final mix by following these easy steps:
Multiply the nutrient amounts in the first fertilizer by its volume.
Do the same for the second fertilizer.
Add the results from steps 1 and 2 for each nutrient.
Divide each total by the combined volume of both fertilizers.
Now you have the new amounts of N, P, and K in the final mix. It's like mixing two different colors of paint to create a new color!
For example, if you mix 1L of a 3:4:6 fertilizer with 1L of a 5:2:6 fertilizer:
Multiply the nutrient amounts in the first fertilizer (3:4:6) by 1L:
N1 = 3 1 = 3 P1 = 4 1 = 4 K1 = 6 * 1 = 6
Do the same for the second fertilizer (5:2:6):
N2 = 5 1 = 5 P2 = 2 1 = 2 K2 = 6 * 1 = 6
Add the results for each nutrient:
N_total = N1 + N2 = 3 + 5 = 8 P_total = P1 + P2 = 4 + 2 = 6 K_total = K1 + K2 = 6 + 6 = 12
Divide each total by the combined volume (2L):
N_final = N_total / 2 = 8 / 2 = 4 P_final = P_total / 2 = 6 / 2 = 3 K_final = K_total / 2 = 12 / 2 = 6
So, when you mix 1L of a 3:4:6 fertilizer with 1L of a 5:2:6 fertilizer, you get 2L of a 4:3:6 fertilizer mix.
Nutrients for Different Growing Mediums
When growing in soil, look for nutrient solutions specifically designed for soil-based growing, such as slow-release granular fertilizers, organic liquid fertilizers, and organic amendments. These will provide essential nutrients to your marijuana plants while improving the overall soil quality.
Happy Hydro's top picks for soil:
Roots Organics Nutrients: Superior-quality nutrients preloaded with all essential elements, ideal for effortless cannabis cultivation.
Gaia Green: An excellent choice for soil amendments, providing a wide range of organic fertilizers to nourish your plants.
House & Garden Soil: Enhance your soil with this premium nutrient line, specifically formulated to support healthy growth and development in soil-based marijuana cultivation.
Recommended nutrients for coco coir growing:
For coco coir, opt for nutrient solutions designed for use in soilless mediums.
House & Garden is a top choice, but any synthetic cannabis fertilizers will work, such as Dyna-Gro, MaxiBloom, or Jack's 444 for more affordable options, and NPK Industries, Canna, and Advanced Nutrients for higher quality options.
Be sure to pair these with a cal-mag supplement like Botanicare CalMag. You'll need this product for extra calcium and magnesium since coco coir tends to hold onto these essential elements.
Buffering & preparing coco coir with Calmag:
To ensure proper nutrient uptake, you can go a step further and buffer your coco coir with a Calmag supplement before planting to prevent a nutrient lockout.
All you have to do is mix up some pH-adjusting solution with water (5.8 is typically the ideal pH for coco) and add CalMag to it. From there, you'll water your coco with it thoroughly, buffering it with calcium and magnesium.
Peat Moss, Rockwool, and Hydroponics
Recommended nutrients for peat moss-based growing, rockwool, and hydroponics:
For these growing mediums, similar nutrient solutions to those recommended for coco coir will work well. Choose from options like Dyna-Gro, MaxiBloom, Jack's 444 for affordable choices, or NPK Industries, House & Garden, Canna, and Advanced Nutrients for higher quality selections.
Buffering Rockwool with Calmag and pH Balancing:
Before planting in rockwool, it is essential to prepare the medium properly to ensure optimal nutrient uptake and prevent nutrient lockout.
Start by soaking the rockwool in a solution containing Botanicare Calmag to buffer it and provide the necessary calcium and magnesium.
Additionally, adjust the pH so it's between 5.5 and 6.0, to ensure proper nutrient availability. This pH-balanced buffering process will create an optimal environment for your cannabis plant.
Using Bloom Boosters on your Cannabis Plant
Bloom boosters are nutrient supplements that can enhance flower production and overall plant growth.
Brands like Humboldt County's Own, FoxFarm, Advanced Nutrients, and Terpinator offer a variety of bloom boosters to improve your marijuana plants' performance during the flowering stage.
These can help with trichome and resin production, increase bud size, and increase aromas and flavors but you should be careful as it's easy to overfeed with them.
Cloning, Seedling Nutrients, and Rooting Compounds
Starting off with healthy cannabis clones and seedlings is essential for a successful grow.
Providing them with the right nutrients and rooting compounds helps to establish a strong root system, which is the foundation for a healthy plant.
Let's dive into some products that can help your young plants thrive.
Cloning and Seedling Nutrients
General Hydroponics RapidStart: This product is designed to enhance root growth and branching in seedlings, cuttings, and transplants. A strong start means a healthier plant in the long run.
Botanicare Rhizo Blast: This concentrated supplement is formulated specifically for boosting root growth in seedlings and clones. It's a fantastic option for supporting early plant development.
Olivias Cloning Solution: Boost your cuttings and clones with this nutrient-rich solution, promoting rapid root growth and a strong foundation for healthy plants.
Superthrive: This unique vitamin and hormone solution supports overall plant health, root growth, and stress resistance. It's an excellent addition to any grower's toolkit for maintaining healthy plants.
Clonex Rooting Gel: This popular product is designed to promote rapid root development and minimize plant stress during cloning. It's a reliable choice for successful cannabis propagation.
Olivia's Cloning Gel: A pioneering product from Olivia's Solutions Inc., a company with 30 years of experience in the hydroponic industry. Their innovative formula combines a safe, natural root stimulator with essential NPK nutrients for rapid root development and reduced plant stress during cloning.
Rooting Media and Plugs
Rapid Rooter Plugs: Composted organic seedling and cutting starter plugs, expertly designed for exceptional root growth. Rapid Rooter Plugs provide an excellent medium for initiating the growth of your cannabis plants.
Rapid Rooter Trays: A turnkey solution that includes Rapid Rooter Plugs, making it easy to start your cannabis plants. These trays offer convenience, simplicity, and a streamlined process for successful cannabis propagation.
Root Riot Plugs: Similar to Rapid Rooter Plugs, Root Riot Plugs are another organic option for seedling and cutting starters that promote optimal root growth in your cannabis plants.
- Root Riot Trays: A comprehensive solution, Root Riot Trays come with Root Riot Plugs, providing an all-in-one system for efficient and effective cannabis plant propagation.
Both Rapid Rooter and Root Riot offer highly comparable products, and the choice between them typically comes down to budget or brand loyalty.
Tips for Successful Coning and Seedling Growth
- Maintain proper humidity, temperature, and light conditions: Ensuring the right environment for your cannabis seedlings and clones is crucial for their survival and growth.
Monitor nutrient levels and pH for optimal growth: Regularly check your growing medium's nutrient levels and pH to maintain the best conditions for your plants.
Regularly inspect plants for signs of stress, pests, or diseases: Keep a close eye on your young plants and address any issues as soon as they arise.
Water Quality and Treatment
Water quality is a crucial factor in the success of your cannabis grow. Poor water quality can lead to nutrient lockout, stunted growth, and a variety of other issues that can negatively affect your plants.
In this section, we'll discuss some common water-related challenges and solutions to help you maintain optimal water quality for your cannabis plants.
Using Reverse Osmosis Systems for Filtration
Reverse osmosis (RO) systems are an excellent way to improve water quality by removing unwanted minerals and contaminants. RO water is particularly beneficial as it allows for precise control of nutrient levels and water quality.
Our Top Pick for RO Systems:
Hydrologic stands out as a top choice for reverse osmosis systems, providing high-quality, low-ppm water crucial for thriving plant growth.
Synthetic nutrients, such as House & Garden, are designed to work seamlessly with this purified water, making them an ideal option for growers who rely on reverse osmosis systems to optimize their cannabis cultivation efforts.
Adding Calcium and Magnesium After RO Treatment
While RO water is great for cannabis cultivation, it does remove some essential nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium. These nutrients are crucial for plant health and must be replenished after RO treatment.
Our Top Pick for CalMag:
Liquid Synthetic Nutrients
Synthetic nutrients are chemically-derived, man-made solutions specifically formulated with synthetic mineral salts to provide the essential elements needed for healthy cannabis plant growth. They offer a range of benefits that make them a popular choice for many growers.
These highly concentrated nutrients offer precise control over nutrient levels, allowing you to tailor the nutrient regimen to your plants' needs. This can be particularly helpful when dealing with nutrient deficiencies, as synthetic nutrients are highly plant-soluble and quickly absorbed by your plants, making them ideal for fast, effective deficiency correction.
In addition to their efficient uptake, synthetic nutrients are versatile and compatible with various growing mediums, including hydroponics, coco coir, and soilless mixes. This makes them an excellent option for growers seeking a nutrient solution that adapts well to different cultivation methods.
Happy Hydro's Top Pick: House & Garden
Our top pick for liquid synthetic nutrients is House & Garden. This well-respected brand offers a range of high-quality nutrients designed for optimal plant growth and performance.
Many commercial operations use House & Garden as their marijuana nutrients because of how consistent and well it works.
Other popular synthetic nutrient brands:
In addition to House & Garden, there are several other popular synthetic nutrient brands that cater to the needs of cannabis cultivators. Here are some other options worth considering:
Advanced Nutrients: This brand offers a wide range of nutrient solutions specifically formulated for cannabis cultivation. Their products are designed to enhance growth, yield, and overall plant health.
General Hydroponics: A well-established brand in the hydroponics industry, General Hydroponics offers a variety of nutrient lines suitable for different growing mediums and methods.
Humboldt Nutrients: With a focus on quality and performance, Humboldt Nutrients provides a range of synthetic nutrient solutions designed for high-yielding cannabis plants.
Dyna-Gro: Known for their easy-to-use, one-part nutrient solutions, Dyna-Gro offers products that cater to both beginners and experienced growers.
Canna Nutrients: Canna offers a comprehensive line of synthetic nutrients and additives tailored to the specific needs of cannabis plants, ensuring optimal growth and performance.
Powdered Synthetic Nutrients
Powdered synthetic cannabis nutrients are a popular choice for many growers, as they offer precise control over nutrient ratios, are easy to store, and often more cost-effective than liquid alternatives.
These nutrients dissolve in water, making them readily available for your plants to absorb and utilize. If you're looking for hydroponic nutrients, these are a great option!
Happy Hydro's Top Pick: NPK Industries
At Happy Hydro, we've carefully considered the options available, and our top pick for powdered synthetic nutrients is NPK Industries.
They are one of the best nutrients for cannabis because of how economical and versatile their lineup is.Their product range offers high-quality and reliable nutrient formulations, ensuring that your plants receive the necessary nutrients for optimum growth and yield.
Other popular powdered synthetic nutrient brands:
Jack's Nutrients: Known for their comprehensive and versatile nutrient formulations, Jack's Nutrients is a go-to choice for many professional growers.
Greenleaf Nutrients: Focused on providing growers with clean, efficient, and easy-to-use nutrient products, Greenleaf Nutrients is a favorite among those looking for high-quality powdered nutrients.
General Hydroponics: A well-known brand in the industry, General Hydroponics offers MaxiBloom and KoolBloom as part of their powdered nutrient lineup. Both products are designed to support vigorous growth and bloom phases in your cannabis plants.
Organic Soil Amendments
Organic soil amendments play a vital role in cannabis cultivation by improving the overall quality and structure of the soil.
These fertilizers, made from natural organic compounds, add essential nutrients, beneficial microbes, and organic matter to the soil, enhancing its fertility and water-holding capacity.
By using organic fertilizers, growers can create a rich, living soil that supports healthy cannabis plant growth and development.
Happy Hydro's Top Pick: Gaia Green
Our top pick for organic soil amendments is Gaia Green. This reputable brand offers a wide range of high-quality amendments made from natural, sustainable sources.
Gaia Green products are designed to provide essential nutrients and improve soil health by feeding beneficial microorganisms, making them an excellent choice for cannabis growers looking to optimize their soil-based growing systems.
Other popular soil amendment brands:
Fox Farm: A well-known brand in the organic gardening community, Fox Farm offers various soil amendments and fertilizers to support healthy cannabis growth.
Down to Earth: This brand offers a diverse range of organic soil amendments, including nutrient-rich fertilizers and mineral supplements, to support healthy plant growth.
Nature's Pride: Focused on sustainability and quality, Nature's Pride provides organic soil amendments designed to enhance soil fertility and plant performance.
Roots Organics: With a commitment to organic growing practices, Roots Organics offers a selection of soil amendments and fertilizers tailored to the needs of cannabis plants.
Liquid Organic Nutrients
Happy Hydro's Top Pick: Botanicare
Our top pick for liquid organic nutrients is Botanicare. This brand offers a wide range of high-quality, organic nutrient solutions designed to meet the specific needs of cannabis plants.
Not to mention, they've been making high-quality nutrients since before I was born and sell the number 1 cal-mag supplement in the world!
Other Popular Organic Nutrient Brands:
All-In-One Nutrient Solutions
All-in-one nutrient solutions are a convenient and effective way for cannabis growers to simplify their nutrient management.
These solutions contain all the necessary macro and micronutrients your marijuana plants need, taking the guesswork out of nutrient dosing and ensuring that your cannabis plants receive the right balance of nutrients for healthy growth.
Happy Hydro's Top Pick: SoHum Living Soil
After careful consideration, Happy Hydro's top pick for all-in-one nutrient solutions is SoHum Living Soil. And the reason is, it contains all of the nutrients plus the soil too, making it the most convenient and cost effective.
This award-winning product has been recognized by High Times for its exceptional quality and performance, making it an excellent choice for cannabis growers looking for an all-in-one solution.
The Advantages of Using SoHum Living Soil:
SoHum Living Soil is an organic, handcrafted blend that provides all the necessary nutrients for your cannabis plants in a single product. This simplifies the cultivation process and reduces the risk of over or underfeeding your plants.
Some key advantages of using SoHum Living Soil include:
Ease of use: No need to measure or mix multiple nutrient products – simply add water and let the soil do the work.
Organic ingredients: Made with OMRI certified organic ingredients, SoHum Living Soil promotes a healthy growing environment for your cannabis plants.
Consistent results: The balanced nutrient profile ensures that your plants receive the right amount of nutrients throughout their growth cycle, leading to consistent and reliable results.
Other All-in-One Nutrient Solutions
While SoHum Living Soil is our top recommendation, there are other all-in-one nutrient solutions available on the market. Here are some other options:
Jack's All Purpose 20-20-20
Peters Professional 20-20-20
Gaia Green All Purpose 4-4-4
Most Other Brands
You'll see that I put "most other brands" for number 5 because most brands produce all-in-one versions but recommend using additional additives.
Also, since cannabis is grown in two stages, it's common to use an all-in-one in veg and a different all-in-one for bloom nutrients.
Beneficial microbes play a crucial role in cannabis growth by promoting a healthy root system, improving nutrient uptake, and supporting overall plant health.
These microorganisms are soil bacteria and fungus that form symbiotic relationships with the plant roots, helping to break down organic matter and making nutrients more available to the plant.
In addition, beneficial microbes can outcompete harmful pathogens and pests, protecting your plants from disease and damage.
Popular Beneficial Microbe Brands
Mammoth Microbes is a leading brand that offers a variety of microbial products specifically designed for cannabis cultivation. Their flagship product, Mammoth P, is a highly concentrated blend of beneficial bacteria that work to unlock phosphorus and other nutrients.
Xtreme Gardening focuses on harnessing the power of beneficial microbes to create high-quality products for growers. Their Mykos mycorrhizal inoculant is a popular choice for growers looking to enhance root growth and increase overall plant vigor.
Great White offers a range of microbial products, including their popular Great White Mycorrhizae. This product contains a blend of beneficial fungi that work to improve root growth, nutrient availability, and overall plant health, making it an excellent choice for cannabis growers.
Fish Sh!T is an organic soil conditioner that contains a diverse mix of beneficial bacteria and fungi. This product enhances nutrient availability and promotes root growth, making it a popular choice among cannabis cultivators.
Nutrient Scheduling and Usage
When do you stop giving cannabis nutrients?
The ideal time to stop giving cannabis nutrients depends on the growth stage of your plants.
In most cases, you should cease nutrient feeding one to two weeks before harvesting, allowing the plants to use up the stored nutrients.
This process, called flushing, helps improve the taste and quality of the final product.
Should I use nutrients every time I water?
Using nutrients every time you water your plants isn't necessary, and it may even cause nutrient buildup or burn.
Instead, alternate between feeding and plain water to ensure a balanced nutrient intake.
Keep an eye on your plants, as they'll show whether they need more or less nutrients, and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
Troubleshooting and Prevention
How to fix cannabis nutrient burn:
Nutrient burn occurs when plants receive too many nutrients, causing the leaves to turn yellow or brown at the tips.
Different strains have different nutrient requirements so it's important to pay attention to your plants.
To fix cannabis nutrient burn, start by flushing your plants with plain water for a few days, allowing them to rid themselves of excess nutrients.
Then, slowly reintroduce nutrients at a reduced strength to avoid overfeeding.
Do nutrients affect the taste of marijuana?
Yes, nutrients can affect the taste of marijuana. Overfeeding or using poor-quality plant nutrients may result in a harsh, chemical-like taste.
Flushing your plants before harvest ensures a cleaner, smoother taste by allowing the plants to use up excess nutrients.
Using high-quality nutrients and following a proper feeding schedule also contributes to a better-tasting final product.
As we've seen throughout this article, the right nutrients can make a world of difference in your cannabis cultivation journey.
It's crucial to choose nutrients that align with your growing medium, indoor or outdoor environment, and water quality. By doing so, you'll be setting the stage for healthy, vigorous plants that can reach their full potential.
Every grower is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Take the time to research specific brands and products to find the ones that best suit your needs and preferences. And as always, Happy Growing!