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Best Hydroponic Nutrients for Cannabis?

In other words, why are some hydro nutrients better than others for growing cannabis? What kind of hydroponic nutrients need to be avoided when growing marijuana? Do you need expensive nutrients to get good results, or will cheap nutrients get the job done?

With all the different bottles of marijuana nutrients out there, how do you know which one is best for your hydroponic setup?

When it comes to choosing hydroponic nutrients for growing weed, there are a few considerations that are really important!

Best Hydroponic Nutrients

  • Made specifically for hydroponics
  • No organic matter (nutrients are provided via minerals)
  • Mineral nutrients are “chelated” (easier for plant to absorb at a greater range of pH levels)
  • Contains rich sources of micro-nutrients (to make up for what might have been found in the soil)
  • Optimum NPK ratios (more info below)

Worst Hydroponic Nutrients

  • Made specifically for soil
  • Contains a lot of organic matter (guano, worm castings, fish emulsion, blood meal, etc) – this stuff can completely mess up your reservoir and cause unexpected and unwanted bacteria/root problems. If it seems cloudy with lots of material floating in the water, don’t use it for hydro!

You can learn a lot about nutrients by looking at the label!

Optimum NPK Ratios for Hydroponic Cannabis Nutrients

N-P-K stands for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium, which are the three most important plant nutrients. These are what the 3 numbers listed on the front of all nutrient bottles stand for (Potassium is represented by “K” because chemists use the symbol K in the periodic table for potassium).

In order to get the best results growing cannabis in hydroponics, it’s important to give the right ratio of these crucial nutrients so the plant gets what it needs at the right time. For example, if you give too much Nitrogen in the flowering/budding phase, it actually surpresses bud production and reduces your yields even if the plant is completely healthy! You don’t want that!

So what are the optimum NPK values for growing cannabis in hydro?
(N-P-K are the 3 numbers on the front of nutrient bottles)

Optimal Hydroponic Cannabis N-P-K Nutrient Ratios
Life Stage N P K
Vegetative/Grow High Medium to High High
Flowering/Bloom Low High High

Additionally, hydroponic nutrients should always include….

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Sulfur

Nice but not necessary micro-nutrients (contained in most water sources, but if using RO or very soft water you want these in your nutrients to prevent possible deficiencies)

  • Boron
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Zinc

The main difference between NPK ratios for hydro and soil are….

  • Hydro nutrients usually contain more micro-nutrients (in trace amounts), to make up for what the plant would have been able to find in the soil
  • Hydro nutrients tend to contain higher levels of Nitrogen, which is abundant in soil but not in most water sources.
  • Hydro nutrients tend to have lower levels of Phosphorus, because Phosphorus is more “available” to the plant in a hydroponic setting. In soil, there are microorganisms (as well as clay “colloidal” particles) which can ‘steal’ some of it, and soil nutrients compensate by adding more Phosphorus.
  • Hydro nutrients rarely use organic sources of nutrients. Soil nutrients often contain organic material, which can can make it easier for bad stuff to grow in a hydroponic reservoir. Organic sources of minerals also usually need to be broken down by microorganisms before the plant can absorb them, which doesn’t happen as well in a soilless environment.
  • Hydro nutrients are often made up of chelated minerals which have been specially treated so they are easier for the plant to absorb.

What are Chelated Nutrients? Manufacturers actually “wrap” the nutrients inside an organic molecule that is less affected by pH, making it easier for the plant to absorb even if the pH is too high or too low.

When set up right with good nutrients, DWC / Hydroponics can produce some incredible yields!

Optimum pH of 5.5-6.5 Recommended DWC Nutrients & Supplements

These hydroponic nutrients systems are not just great as far as cannabis yields and quality, they won’t break the bank either! There are lots of great nutrient systems out there, but the truth is that you don’t need incredibly expensive nutrients to get incredible marijuana!

The following nutrient systems have proven to thousands of growers, big and small, that they have everything needed to produce star-quality cannabis!

General Hydroponics Flora Trio Lineup

These plants grown using just the GH Trio + Hydroguard (formally known as Aquashield)
Feel free to check out the complete grow journal (over 1 lb harvest!)

General Hydroponics Flora Duo Lineup

General Hydroponics FloraDuo (Bottle A & Bottle B) ​

Hydroguard (formally known as Aquashield) – prevents and treats root rot.

House & Garden DWC Kit Lineup

Warning: H&G Products have been difficult to find online lately

The House & Garden line-up is expensive yet remarkably effective. Aqua Flakes A + B, Roots Excelurator, Algen Extract ​

Hydroguard (formally known as Aquashield) – prevents and treats root rot. No need for extra Cal-Mag with the Aqua Flakes line as it already comes with plenty!

Botanicare KIND Hydro Lineup

This is actually the hydroponic nutrient lineup I plan to use for my next grow. Right now I’m using the General Hydroponics Flora trio (which I’ve used for more than half a decade with amazing results), but I’ve decided I want to try something new and KIND is what I’ve decided to go with. I’ve heard/seen so many great things about it and Botanicare is a great company that takes feedback from cannabis growers and is happy to answer any questions if you contact them through their website.

Botanicare KIND Trio For Hydro (Base, Grow, Bloom) ​

From a grower who wrote in: “I use the Botanicare KIND lineup – it seems to get good results, not too expensive, and works very well in hydro.” Another grower told us, “As far as favorites go, I’ve been pretty pleased with Botanicare KIND, it’s ‘pretty good’ when you follow the chart, but once you start tinkering with it based on what you see with your plants, it’ll really shine since it was developed to be played with.” Apparently a lot of growers like tinkering with this trio as another grower said, “Botanicare KIND is like the opposite spectrum [of the Botanicare Pure Blend series]. The Base is just Nitrogen and Calcium. Grow and Bloom both have most of the minerals in them, along with things like seakelp! The Bloom is also 0-6-6. Grow at 2-2-4. So quite literally you can call the shots on Nitrogen and Calcium. That level of control hasn’t been around a great deal in our market. For the savvy grower this is a pretty nice tool.”

If you think you have the best hydroponic cannabis nutrients, tell us about your results!

Ever wondered what makes hydroponic nutrients "good" or "bad" for cannabis? Learn about the different types of ingredients that go into hydroponic nutrients to learn which ones work great for marijuana, and which ones to avoid!

Best Hydroponic Nutrients for Weed in 2020

We reviewed hundreds of nutrients available on the market today as of July 2020 and created a simple list to help you pick the best nutrients for your grow.

When it comes to a hydroponic or soil grow, these nutrients are the best in market when it comes to growing your cannabis or weed grow with the most trusted, reliable, and affordable nutrient brands in the market. We also compiled a list of frequently asked questions for cannabis growers to understand the what to look for with nutrients and how the process actually works.

Have a question about any of these nutrients? Ask us in the comments!

Best Cannabis Nutrients For Growing Weed

  • 1 Best Nutrients for Weed: Quick Product Comparison Chart
  • 2 Things To Consider Before Buying
  • 3 Reviews of the Best Hydroponic Nutrients for Growing Weed 2020
    • 3.1 General Hydroponics Flora Grow
    • 3.2 Runner Up: Advanced Nutrients Bloom/a>
    • 3.3 Fox Farm – Big Bloom, Grow Big, Tiger Bloom
    • 3.4 Humboldt’s Secret Base A & B
    • 3.5 Dyna-Gro DYFLO008 Foliage Pro
    • 3.6 Orga Grow Holland
    • 3.7 CANNA Coco A&B
    • 3.8 House & Garden Aqua Flakes A&B
    • 3.9 Botanicare Liquid Karma
    • 3.10 General Hydroponics GH Gardening Flora
  • 4 Frequently Asked Questions
    • 4.1 What Should I Know About Nutrients?
    • 4.2 What Do Cannabis Plants Need To Grow And Thrive?
    • 4.3 What About Micronutrients
    • 4.4 Growing Cannabis Plants Using Hydroponics
    • 4.5 Growing Cannabis Plants In Soil
    • 4.6 Nutrients For Each Stage Of Growth
    • 4.7 Guarding Against Feeding Problems
    • 4.8 Getting The pH Balance Right
    • 4.9 Growing Healthy Plants

Best Hydroponic Nutrients For Weed 2020: Product Comparison Chart

Things to consider before buying

There are a couple of things you absolutely need to consider before choosing the best nutrients for growing weed:

1) Nutrients: It’s imperative when researching nutrients and buying products that you ensure you look at the labels. Almost all nutrients in the market should have a label and should indicate the three core nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK). For example if a bottle indicates the following numbers: 3-1-3, this shows the different levels (Nitrogen, 3), (Phosphorus, 1), and (Potassium, 3). To be “complete”, a hydroponic nutrient needs to go beyond NPKs and have all of the essential elements for plant growth:

  • – Nitrogen (N)
  • – Potassium (K)
  • – Phosphorus (P)
  • – Magnesium (Mg)
  • – Iron (Fe)
  • – Calcium (Ca)
  • – Sulphur (S)
  • – Zinc (Zn)
  • – Chlorine (Cl)
  • – Boron (B)
  • – Manganese (Mn)
  • – Copper (Cu)
  • – Molybdate (Mo)

2) NPK Ratios:

When thinking about starting your grow, you’ll want to understand the amount of nutrients you’ll need to shower your plants with. You’ll find differing opinions everywhere you research, but from our experience as well as the guidance from very well respected growers, the table below is a good illustration of the amount of nutrients you should provide your plants throughout each stage.

Vegetative Stage Flowering Stage
High Nitrogen Low Nitrogen
Medium Phosphorus Medium to High Phosphorus
High Potassium High Potassium

Remember to keep your nutrient ratio balanced – it’s important to understand where phosphorus or potassium is needed for healthy growth, otherwise, you risk your plants dying unexpectedly.

3) Hydroponic or Soil: You’ll want to understand the use cases for nutrients when it comes to hydroponic or soil grows. Hydroponics setups without soil is used by large-scale growers that are primarily indoors. Many of the cannabis/weed related nutrients are sold for hydroponic set ups. One important point to note is that if you are using organic nutrients, it is not recommended to use organic nutrients with hydroponic setups – it can ruin your water/grow with bacteria. All of the liquid nutrients below can be used for hydroponic growing and soil grows. Again – it is perfectly fine to use these hydroponic nutrients in soil and vice versa, these are all perfect for all types of grow when it comes to your cannabis.

Reviews of the Best Hydroponic Nutrients for Weed in 2020

Editor’s Choice: General Hydroponics Flora Grow

Average Amazon Review: 4.6 stars

# of Amazon Reviews: 903 +

Runner Up: Advanced Nutrients Bloom, Micro & Grow

Average Amazon Review: 4.5 stars

# of Amazon Reviews: 260+

Fox Farm FX14049 Liquid Nutrients

Foxfarm offers many different types of soil mixes including a soil conditioner if you are in need. This product is complete with micro-nutrient and macro-nutrient formulations and have a nice blend of natural fertilizers. This product is easily mixed with water for easy growing.

At Productiongrower, we love this product because it’s the perfect one for intro hydro gardeners as well as more experienced ones. It is a convenient 3-pack of the top liquid fertilizer products for hydroponics. It’s easy to use since you use them in sequence all season long. You should start with the Grow Big for abundant green growth and then switch over to the Tiger Bloom when you start to see your first buds grow. Lastly, use the Big Bloom throughout each growing cycle to heal and nourish the root systems.

Average Amazon Review: 4.5 stars

# of Amazon Reviews: 726+

Humboldt’s Secret Base – Most Reliable

Average Amazon Review: 4 stars

# of Amazon Reviews: 36+

Dyna-Gro DYFLO008 – Low Budget Choice

Average Amazon Review: Not Reviewed Yet

# of Amazon Reviews: Not Reviewed Yet

Orga Grow Holland

Average Amazon Review: 4 stars

# of Amazon Reviews: 10+

CANNA Coco

Average Amazon Review: 4 stars

# of Amazon Reviews: 52+

House & Garden Aqua Flakes

Average Amazon Review: 4.6 stars

# of Amazon Reviews: 7+

Botanicare Liquid Karma – Best Longevity

Average Amazon Review: 4.4 stars

# of Amazon Reviews: 110+

General Hydroponics Flora Nectar Sugar Cane

Average Amazon Review: 4.6 stars

# of Amazon Reviews: 121+

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Know About Nutrients?

If you’re growing cannabis for the first time, selecting the right nutrients for your plants can be a challenge. There are lots of options on the market, so how do you make the right decision?

The key to choosing nutrients lies in understanding precisely what cannabis plants requirement and in being aware of how they absorb nutrients and utilize them. When you have this knowledge at your fingertips, you can make a confident decision about which products to buy without wasting your money.

What Do Cannabis Plants Need To Grow And Thrive?

Cannabis plants require a number of collective elements known as “macronutrients”. These include a number of mineral and non-mineral elements. Some come from the water, some from the air and some from the soil in which the plants are grown.

These nutrients come from the soil:

  • – Phosphorus
  • – Nitrogen
  • – Calcium
  • – Potassium
  • – Sulfur
  • – Magnesium

These nutrients come from the water and air:

  • – Oxygen
  • – Hydrogen
  • – Carbon

When you buy fertilizers or nutrient solutions, you’ll see 3 numbers on the packaging. This will show the composition of potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen inside the product. The nitrogen content will be listed first, followed by the phosphorus content and finally the potassium content.

What About Micronutrients?

Cannabis plants also require micronutrients. These are required in much smaller amounts. These minerals include:

  • – Zinc
  • – Manganese
  • – Iron
  • – Molybdenum
  • – Cobalt
  • – Chlorine
  • – Boron
  • – Silicon
  • – Copper

Although cannabis plants don’t need a lot of any of these elements, they’re still essential to the plant’s growth and overall health.

Growing Cannabis Plants Using Hydroponics

If you’re going to use hydroponics to grow cannabis, you’ll need specific nutrients for your plants. You won’t be using soil, therefore, you’ll be using a substrate such as coco coir or rockwool. Be aware that lots of cannabis potting soils are soilless blends and therefore, you could be growing your plants hydroponically even when you’re using potting soil.

It’s because of this that most nutrients which are sold for growing cannabis plants are those for hydroponic growing techniques. These are made from concentrated mineral salt. Sometimes they come in powder form but usually, they are liquids.

There are two types of nutrient solution available for hydroponic growing – Bloom solutions which have a high phosphorus level to aid flower development, and Grow solutions which have a high nitrogen level to support vegetative growth.

When you apply hydroponic nutrients, you need to take a lot of care. This is because giving too much to your plants can damage them, or even kill them. Start at around 25% of the recommended level then work up gradually to the full strength.

Growing Cannabis Plants In Soil

When you grow cannabis plants in regular soil, you will need specific nutrients. Soil is different from hydroponic soilless blends because it contains organic non-inert matter such as manure, worm castings, compost and humus. These contain a lot of micronutrients and macronutrients. Lots of these substances’ nutrient value is insoluble, however, and therefore have to be processed by fungi and microbes living in the soil in order to be useful to the cannabis plant. It is less common to see non-organic nutrients for growing cannabis plants in soil since they build up rapidly in soil, causing damage to the soil-life and preventing nutrients and water from being taken into the roots. On the other hand, organic nutrients and fertilizers for cannabis plants are more commonly seen. These contain fewer nutrients which are immediately soluble together with elements which have benefits for organisms naturally in the soil. Therefore, if you’re going to grow your plants in soil, using organic nutrients and fertilizers is always advised.

There are a number of affordable organic fertilizers which you can use. These include fish and blood meal which offers plenty of nitrogen, bat guano and bone meal which supplies phosphorus, kelp meal and wood ash to supply potassium, Epsom salts which supply sulfur and magnesium, and dolomite lime which supplies magnesium and calcium. You can buy the majority of these in a garden center. All you need to do is mix them into your soil before you pot your plants. When you do this properly, watering will be all that’s required, along with adding carbohydrates occasionally. Some soil blends can also be bought which contain the ideal mix of those ingredients for greater convenience.

Nutrients For Each Stage Of Growth

Every stage of the life of your cannabis plants requires nutrients which are slightly different.

During its seedling stage, your plant probably won’t need any extra nutrients if you’re growing in soil as long as that soil is rich. If you’re growing using an artificial medium, you might want to use seedling nutrition and root boosters.

In the vegetative phase, your plants will require high levels of potassium and nitrogen as well as a moderate amount of phosphorus.

When your plants reach their flowering stage, you’ll need to reduce the nitrogen levels drastically, but increase the amount of phosphorus and maintain the potassium level. When you choose a Bloom fertilizer, the nutrients will be perfectly balanced for this stage of growth.

Guarding Against Feeding Problems

When you’re growing cannabis, caution is always recommended. If you use too many nutrients, you could damage your plants. Only add nutrients to the water every alternate watering and half the doses if you’re in any doubt.

If you notice any changes in your plant’s color or appearance, your plant is experiencing a feeding problem. Nutrient imbalances are signaled by yellowing and drooping leaves, leaves with irregular dimensions or shapes, burnt edges and brown spots.

If you adjust the nutrient balance and still experience a problem try flushing pure water through the soil for several days before starting again with a half dose of nutrient mix.

Getting The pH Balance Right

If the pH level is wrong, the plants can’t get the nutrients they need to grow and thrive, even if you add the right mix of nutrients to your water. Therefore, monitoring your pH levels is vital.

Growing Healthy Plants

When you’re growing cannabis plants for the first time, erring on the side of caution is always important. However, follow this advice and you should find that, as long as you use the right nutrients for the medium you are using, your plants meet all your expectations.

Updated: July 16, 2020 Written by Max Anderson

We reviewed hundreds of nutrients available on the market today as of July 2020 and created a simple list to help you pick the best nutrients for your grow. When it comes to a hydroponic or soil grow, these nutrients are the best in market when it comes to growing your cannabis or weed grow with the most trusted, reliable, and affordable nutrient brands in the market.