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As your plant goes through different stages of growth, it has new nutrient needs to help it flourish. It focuses on three macronutrients, often referred to as NPK: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. This adjustment of nutrients is called a nutrient cycle, and it can help you grow better than over. Read on to learn about this method and how you can apply it to growing your cannabis plants.
What Is a Nutrient Cycle?
A nutrient cycle refers to the changing macronutrient ratio your plants need at different stages of growth because each has different jobs in plant development:
- Nitrogen: As the primary source of plant protoplasm (the living part of the cell), nitrogen provides the energy needed for plants to thrive. It is a key component in synthesizing amino acids, chlorophyll, nucleic acids, proteins, and enzymes.
- Phosphorous: Crucial for overall plant health, phosphorus is especially important when it comes to fostering robust root development—the foundation of successful cannabis seedlings. It plays a key role in ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) formation, which is the primary energy unit for plants.
- Potassium: Potassium is essential for comprehensive growth, activating numerous vital enzymes responsible for protein synthesis, sugar transport, nitrogen and carbon metabolism, and efficient photosynthesis. In particular, it supports flower response, fostering the development of abundant and thriving blossoms.
Fertilizers are formulated with specific nutrient ratios, and you’ll find that specific product’s ratio as a list of three numbers on the bag. For instance, a fertilizer labeled as 10-20-10 would contain 10% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus, and 10% potassium by weight.
It’s crucial to pay attention to the ratio of your fertilizer so you can tailor nutrient management to meet the specific needs of cannabis plants at various growth stages. You’ll discover this ratio changes, and that standard bag of fertilizer won’t cut it anymore.
Note: In addition to macronutrient needs, there are micronutrients that help your cannabis thrive. These nutrients are less frequently found or identified in fertilizer mixes, and you might have to add them yourself.
Nutrient Cycle Timing for Your Cannabis Plants
Germination, seedlings, and early flowering
Germination: Week 1
During seed germination, the plant relies on cotyledons—the first above-ground parts—to provide energy for growth in the first 10 days. These cotyledons store carbohydrates and minerals to fuel initial growth. For successful seedling growth, ensure they receive full direct sunlight and use Harvest Hero Enhanced Perlite Mix to boost potassium and phosphorus levels, fostering strong roots, stems, and leaves. Additionally, remember to keep the soil consistently moist during the germination phase. Your plants require:
- Potassium and phosphorus are the most important nutrients during this stage. They promote strong and healthy roots, stems, and leaves.
- Oftentimes, your soil or soilless media choice provides the nitrogen your cannabis needs during the germination stage.
Seedlings: 2-4 weeks
In the seedling stage, your cannabis plant starts growing its distinctive fan leaves. These initial leaves usually have one ridged blade, and as they develop further, they gain more blades. When the new leaves have around five to seven blades (sometimes even more), your plant progresses from the seedling stage to the vegetative stage.
- For a time, your plant can receive the nutrients it needs from the cotyledon, also known as the embryonic leaf. That means you can use minimal or no added fertilizer in the early seedling stage.
- Did you start with rooted cuttings? If so, there’s a chance your plant will be deficient after propagation. You’ll want to use a 1-1-1 (N-K-P) fertilizer to support continued root development.
- If you do need to supplement fertilizer, a fish emulsion is a great choice. You can repeat this process once a week.
- If your seedling appears to lose its dark green color, you can use a seaweed solution to supply additional energy and minerals.
Vegetative/Early flowering: 4-9 weeks
During the early flowering stage, your plant utilizes this period to grow larger and sturdier, preparing to support the forthcoming abundance of harvestable flowers. Your early flowering plant needs:
- Your plant needs a source of plant-available silica during this time to support healthy growth down to the cellular levels. Diatomaceous earth is a top choice because it is made of almost entirely plant-available silica and helps prevent soil compaction. Harvest Hero Enhanced Perlite Mix can be used to supply this silica along with the phosphorus and potassium your cannabis needs to develop strong, healthy plant tissues.
- Apply a nitrogen fertilizer at this stage to give plants the energy needed to grow, helping plants synthesize amino acids, chlorophyll, nucleic acids, proteins, and enzymes.
- Your plant will benefit from full-strength fish emulsion and full-strength liquid seaweed during this time. You can mix the two together to save time and prevent overwatering.
Mide-to-late flowering (10-13 weeks) and late flowering (14 weeks to harvest)
Your cannabis plant is now in the last stages of growth, and you’re getting closer to enjoying the fruits of your hard work! First, female plants will develop pre-flowers, which mark the start of the resinous buds. In the middle of this stage, the plant stops making new buds and focuses on thickening up the existing ones. As the stage nears its end, the trichome density increases, making your plant feel sticky to the touch. Your plants need:
- In particular, your plants require the macronutrients phosphorous and potassium. This supports the growth of large, fragrant buds and produces high concentrations of cannabinoids.
- As for micronutrients, calcium, magnesium, and a few others help produce strong sturdy plants with heavy buds and a healthy root system. You can use calcium nitrate (15-0-0) at the rate of ¼ teaspoon per gallon of water. We recommend spraying the calcium nitrate solution weekly for the first 4 weeks of the flowering cycle.
- You can also use a weekly spray of full-strength seaweed solution.
Support Your Cannabis Plant’s Phase 1 Nutrient Cycle with Harvest Hero.
Our innovative Enhanced Perlite Mix mix features a unique, proprietary blend of perlite, diatomaceous earth, and essential nutrients that help support the critical vegetative growth stage of your cannabis plants with essient nutrients. In fact, in an NC State test to see how cannabis plants were impacted by this 3-in-1 mix, Harvest Hero Enhanced Perlite Mix resulted in:
- Improve Soil Conditions for an Increase in Flower Bud Dry Weight.
- Improve Soil Conditions for an Increase in Plant Diameter.
- Improve Soil Conditions for an Increase in Phosphorous Accumulation.
- Improve Soil Conditions for an Increase in Potassium Accumulation.
- Improve Soil Conditions for an Increase in CBD Yields.
- Improve Soil Conditions for an Increase in Nitrogen Accumulation.
- Improve Soil Conditions for an Increase in Plant Height.
Start your nutrient cycle today with Harvest Hero’s Enhanced Perlite Mix to grow bigger and better than ever.