micro nutrients for cannabis

Macronutrients And Micronutrients In Cannabis

Growers can’t see the microscopic world of the root zone and how their cannabis plants eat. Thankfully, science shines a light on this mysterious process. Learn about the different nutrients cannabis plants need, why they need them, and how they access them.

An overview of macronutrients vs micronutrients in cannabis plants.

  • 1. Macronutrients vs micronutrients
  • 2. Mobile vs immobile nutrients
  • 3. Ionic nutrients
  • 4. Macronutrients from air and water
  • 5. Macronutrients from soil
  • 6. Micronutrients
  • 1. Macronutrients vs micronutrients
  • 2. Mobile vs immobile nutrients
  • 3. Ionic nutrients
  • 4. Macronutrients from air and water
  • 5. Macronutrients from soil
  • 6. Micronutrients

Cannabis plants require a varied diet in order to survive, thrive, and produce a rewarding harvest. The herb relies on a fine balance of minerals and elements to fulfil key physiological roles throughout the growing cycle. These nutrients include members of two main categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.


Cannabis plants require macronutrients in large amounts, similar to how protein, carbs, and fats make up the cornerstone of the human diet.

Plants rely on heavy quantities of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). The demand for these nutrients—or the NPK ratio—changes depending on the stage of growth. Vegetating plants have a higher demand for N and less of a need for P and K. In contrast, plants require much less N and significant amounts of P and K during the flowering stage.

These three elements make up the key macronutrients within the soil. However, plants obtain three additional macronutrients through the air and from water: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

Plants also require a fairly long list of micronutrients to remain healthy, disease-free, and productive. Although they only need these molecules in small quantities, things can go seriously wrong if they miss out. You can compare this to the human need for vitamins. We don’t need much, but our health takes a big hit if we become deficient.


Cannabis nutrients feature mobile and immobile characteristics—terms that define their transportability. Plants can shuttle around mobile nutrients to areas where they are needed most. Thus, deficiencies in mobile nutrients show up in older leaves first as plants prioritise the health of the newer growth.

In contrast, immobile nutrients remained locked in place. Deficiency symptoms will manifest in newer growth due to their lack of access to these nutrients. We’ll cover which nutrients feature mobile and immobile properties in the list below.


Cannabis plants aren’t capable of chomping down organic matter and extracting the minerals from it. Instead, microbes do this hard work in an organic farming environment. They break down manure and compost and liberate the nutrients locked within.

In contrast, synthetic fertilisers douse the soil in nutrients that can be readily absorbed by plants in non-organic settings. In any case, plants can only uptake nutrients as ions. These electrically charged particles either feature a positive charge (cations) or a negative charge (anions). For example, plants take up nitrogen in the form of the cation ammonium or the anion nitrate. They can only access phosphorus in the form of two anions, and potassium in the form of the cation K+.

To put it simply, nutrients must be broken down—or supplied in a refined form—to enter plant roots. These nutrients don’t enter through a passive process such as diffusion. Instead, they enter via active transportation utilising ATP (the cellular currency of energy) and membrane-bound proteins. This process allows ions to move from the root zone into the root tissues.


Cannabis plants obtain three of their macronutrients rather self-sufficiently. These elements are either taken in from the air or produced as a byproduct of photosynthesis.

Cannabis plants need a long list of nutrients to survive and thrive. Learn the difference between micronutrients and macronutrients, and why each are important.

Cannabis Nutrition: What are Micronutrients

These nutrients, also known as “trace elements” because of the very small amount of them needed, are essential to the cannabis plant’s growth, just like macronutrients.

And although the amount needed can be 10x lower (or more) than macronutrients, they are crucial in the plant’s development.

1. What Are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are the minerals essential for plant growth used in lower quantities. Even though they’re needed up to 10x less than macro, micronutrients can also cause symptoms associated to nutrient deficiencies and are extremely important for a plant to grow healthy and produce dense buds.

Micronutrients can be found in tap water. So depending on your source of water, you won’t need to add them individually. Although there’s no way to know exactly unless you measure it with a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter. They are vital for a cannabis plant although they are needed in lower amounts than macronutrients.

Their role is to “support” macronutrients in achieving the needed structure and preparing the plant to successfully go through the flowering stage.

Note : Filtering the water removes every mineral in it, so you will need to add micronutrients to top your feeding solution.

2. Micronutrients

Trace elements are a group of minerals that are needed in almost untraceable amounts. The most common ones are a group of more than 20 and have different roles in a plant’s life cycle. They are:

Boron (B)

In combination with Calcium, Boron is essential in the flowering stage, responsible for the division of cells and an important element in the structure of cell walls.

Chlorine (Cl)

Chlorine is needed in very small amounts and is responsible not only for helping in the opening and closing of the plant’s pores (allowing her to “breath”) it helps the plant to keep the leaves firm and strong.

Copper (Cu)

Copper works as an activator of enzymes. It helps speed up photosynthesis and supports the vascular tissue of cannabis plants.

Iron (Fe)

This mineral is not only responsible for producing energy but it’s also a component in the production of chlorophyll, giving the plant that rich green color.

Manganese (Mn)

Manganese is directly related to the health of your plant. This mineral help fight off disease by protecting roots against pathogens and helps with the absorption of nitrogen.

Molybdenum (Mo)

Molybdenum is used in very tiny quantities and it helps in the formation of proteins.

Zinc (Zn)

Zinc is also needed in tiny amounts but is very important to cannabis. This mineral helps in the building of growth hormones and is connected to the space between internodes.

3. Recommended Amounts Of Micronutrients

Although they’re needed in super small amounts, the lack of any of these nutrients can cause severe deficiencies and growth problems.

Note : These numbers represent the ppm value for all the cannabis life cycle and should be adjusted according to the signs your plant gives.

4. Overfeeding and Underfeeding

Even though micronutrients are needed in lower amounts, not providing or providing too much of them can cause deficiencies , just like with macronutrients. This is because even though they’re less used, they’re also vital for cannabis plants and they directly support macronutrients in their processes.

It is essential you are aware of which minerals are present in your feeding solution and the amount they’re in.

You should measure your solution and add the missing minerals if you want to grow a 100% healthy plant.

5. In Conclusion

Even though they’re called “micro”, they are just as important as macronutrients. Every grower must make sure their plants receive every mineral they need to grow happy and healthy.

Providing only macronutrients without controlling the micronutrients will result in a weak plant, more susceptible to bugs and pests.

If you want to grow a plant to its full potential, you should provide the proper mix of both micro and macro nutrients.

These nutrients, also known as “trace elements” because of the very small amount of them needed, are essential to the cannabis plant’s growth,