Maintaining a hydroponics garden, while rewarding, comes with a few challenges. This includes the occurrence of…
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Regardless of profession, you can’t help but feel a sense of fulfillment once you start reaping the fruits of your labor. This statement is especially true in the world of agriculture, wherein every successful harvest can become a source of pride or profit depending on your goals. Hydroponic farming is no exemption. Growing plants in a hydroponics system, as well as similar systems, require vigilance to prevent wilting due to lack of nutrients. However, many new practitioners of the technique want to know which hydroponic nutrients work best and the benefits they provide to a garden.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about hydroponics nutrients, including why they are important, which ones are essential, and when to apply them in your hydroponics system.
Do hydroponic gardens need nutrients?
In traditional gardening, healthy soil supplies plants with the essential nutrients they require to grow. However, hydroponics is a 100% soilless system, thus eliminating soil as a source of nutrients for the crops within the grow bed. Plants grown hydroponically need manual intervention from gardeners to receive proper amounts of nutrients.
These hydroponic nutrients, mixed with your garden’s water supply, ably make up for the absence of soil that usually provides nourishment for plants in a standard garden system.
Nutrients needed in hydroponics
Nutrients are at the core of any hydroponics system. To ensure your plants have access to these nutrients, you need to use water-soluble fertilizers, a.k.a. Hydroponic nutrients solution. Otherwise, they won’t be as effective.
As a grower who has complete control over your entire hydroponics system, including the selection and implementation of the fertilizer that you’ll use, it is vital that you know the composition of the said nutrients. There are over twenty elements needed to make your plants grow, and are classified into three main groups.
Four of these elements are readily available from the surrounding air and water. Nitrogen, Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen are essential to your plants’ survival. They aid your plants in getting moisture and inducing respiration as well as photosynthesis.
These are the nutrients that your plants require in large quantities, making them essential minerals you must take care of first.
- Nitrogen – considered the most important element among all the nutrients. It takes care of the vegetative growth of plants, including their leaves, stems, and colors. It also aids in the formation of chlorophyll, amino acids, co-enzymes, and proteins used to form new cell walls.
- Phosphorus – like Nitrogen is one of the vital nutrients for plants. It is the essential component of plant DNA and vital in tissue formation and cell division.
- Potassium – is required by plants for their active development and reproduction. It is a critical component of essential processes in your plants like photosynthesis, enzyme activation, starch formation, and protein synthesis.
- Calcium – necessary for cell development and formation. Calcium-deficiency causes leaf tips and edges to turn brown, and eventually die.
- Sulfur – a component of two of the 21 amino acids required to create protein. It also aids in the formation and activation of certain enzymes and vitamins.
- Magnesium – an essential chemical component of chlorophyll. It helps generate oxygen through photosynthesis and is often used in large quantities to hasten the growth of your plants.
These are the nutrients required in smaller quantities yet still play a crucial role in the development of your plants.
- Zinc – is very important in nitrogen metabolism and the formation of chlorophyll and other engines.
- Boron – used with calcium in the synthesis of cell membranes’ structure and functions. It also helps with seed production and pollination.
- Iron – helps in the formation of chlorophyll and a component of numerous enzymes associated with nitrogen fixation and energy allocation.
- Manganese – helps with the formation of oxygen in photosynthesis and growth process catalysis.
When to add nutrients in hydroponics systems
Hydroponic nutrients contain all the substances needed by your plants to develop healthily. Since different crops have different nutrient demands, part of your task as a grower is to know the specific nutritional requirements of your growing plants.
Generally, the strength of the hydroponic nutrient solution should increase every week as your plants grow. To determine how often you’d need to add, you should check the nutrient levels of your plants daily.
If you’re still a beginner, it’s best to follow the general directions that come with the product before trying to experiment with changing the ratio of the nutrients.
Selecting the right hydroponic nutrients for your plants may be confusing at first, as achieving optimal nutrition for them depends on a broad array of variables — including your personal preferences and convenience.
It’ll probably take time to find the best system that works for you, so it’s best to keep equipping yourself with relevant information to be informed beyond the essentials.
Knowledge is indeed power, so keep learning and enjoy every bit of the process of growing your plants.