Without the right nutrients, plants will not thrive. Cannabis, specifically, needs three specific nutrients in large quantities– nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients make up what growers call the NPK ratio. This combination of nutrients helps to fertilize the flower and optimize growth and health. Additionally, cannabis plant growth benefits from a number of other macro and micronutrients during the vegetative stage.
Top Three Nutrients in Weed Cultivation – NPK
While there are a number of important nutrients to assist in marijuana growth, possibly the most important is nitrogen, along with phosphorus and potassium. This is where experts developed the acronym NPK, which you’ll see on a variety of cannabis fertilizer labels in stores and online.
Nitrogen plays some key roles during the vegetative stage in weed growth. It’s directly responsible for the production of chlorophyll, along with amino acids, which acts as a protein for the plant, increasing yield and elevating its strength and hardiness. Without the proper amounts of nitrogen, we wouldn’t see the levels of growth that we do at the Smokey Okie’s facility.
Phosphorus fuels many processes in the vegetative state, chiefly photosynthesis – the energy production and transfer process that is necessary in order for the plant to grow. Phosphorus is especially important in the beginning and ending periods of the vegetative stage, during seeding and flowering. Finally, phosphorus also helps to fuel the reproduction process so that plants can reproduce and we can develop new strains and varieties of weed.
Potassium (K) promotes a health “cardiovascular system” for the cannabis plant. It helps to move all the necessities – water, nutrients and carbohydrates – through the plant and among the plant tissue.
Seem complicated? Like maybe you need to have a PhD in chemistry and botany to get optimum growth from your marijuana? Don’t worry; it’s simpler than it sounds. Even novice growers can easily feed marijuana plants with NPK and other beneficial nutrients. There are a number of easily accessible fertilizer options that are loaded with nitrogen and other crucial nutrients that are essential during the vegetative state.
At Smokey Okie’s, we run a hydroponic growing facility. This means that our plants receive their nutrients from the water, as opposed to the soil. The way in which you choose to grow your marijuana will inform and direct your methods of cultivation and the nutrients you select. Whether you are growing outdoors or indoors, in soil or hydroponically, there are specific nuances to growing that will be specific to your plants.
Pro-Tip: How to Read Cannabis Fertilizer Labels
If you are interested in experimenting with weed growth, but feel like you may have a black thumb, it’s important to educate yourself around the simple things, like reading fertilizer labels. Knowledge is power, so let’s take a minute and discuss those rules of thumb so you can have a green thumb.
You’ll see a lot of containers that are labeled generically with “Cannabis Nutrients” or “Cannabis Fertilizer” but all fertilizers are not created equal, so understanding the nutrient nuances and sourcing the best products will increase your overall growth and success.
The good news is that you’ve already learned the basics of NPK and their important role in the health of your marijuana plants and it’s NPK that drives the numbers on the fertilizers. Cannabis fertilizer labels have three numbers that explain the percentage levels of each of the “big three”. For example, if the label reads 6 – 17 – 13, that means that the mixture contains 6% nitrogen, 17% phosphorus and 13% potassium, with the remaining percentages going toward other nutrients.
So reading the label is easier than you think, but the levels of NPK needed to optimize growth will vary depending on the strain and variety of plant. However, in general, during the vegetative stage, nitrogen and potassium levels should be very high to support proper seeding and phosphorus should be a medium level comparatively. This is because the vegetative stage is when the growing occurs, so dense nutrients and a lot of light are necessary in order to keep the plant healthy.
Coming Up Next
If you are finding this series helpful to your growing processes, stay tuned to our blog because our next installment will be a deep dive into how you can determine the length of vegetative stage that is best for your cannabis. Because just like nutrients, timing is essential to success with marijuana growth.
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