What Is A Hydroponic Fertilizer And Why It Is Important
Hydroponic fertilizer is a special fertilizer developed for efficiently growing plants in water without soil. Hydroponic fertilizers contain all nutrients necessary for easy absorption of the nutrients by the plants. As opposed to soil cultivation, plants in a hydroponic system are supplied with a hydroponic nutrient solution that is dissolved in water directly to the roots.
To ensure your plants grow successfully in a soil-free environment, you need special hydroponic fertilizers with the correct concentrations of all nutrients required in its cycle. Too low or high concentrations of nutrients may result in poor plant performance. Hydroponic fertilizers are available in solid or liquid form, and some are non-organic or organic.
What Is The Best Fertilizer To Use In Hydroponics?
The best fertilizer for your plants needs to have all the macronutrients required at every growth phase. Additionally, it would help if you weighed the concentration of the nutrients to make sure it is fit for your plant and won’t harm them, whether organic or not. The fertilizer you go for needs to have the three macro hydroponic nutrients, which are Phosphorus (P), Nitrogen (N), and Potassium (K).
Nitrogen helps the leaf grow, richens its color, and provides proteins. Phosphorus nutrients help synthesize the plant’s DNA and RNA, helping correct the development of its stems, roots, flowers, and fruits.
Potassium helps synthesize proteins and carbohydrates. Other nutrients that your fertilizer ought to have are; carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), sulfur (S), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), boron (B), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), molybdenum (Mo), and chlorine (Cl). There are two types of hydroponic fertilizers: powdered and liquid fertilizers.
They are mainly used for commercial hydroponics. Powdered fertilizers come in different ratios of potassium, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus, and the one you go for depends on the plant types you are cultivating.
Powered fertilizers are more customizable to the different plant species and can be bought in bulk. You can mix your nutrient ratios for your plants and growing conditions with powdered fertilizers. Mixing your nutrients concentrations requires you to know more about your plants and the nutrients they require.
Putting work into tweaking your powdered nutrients will help you get higher yields and be more knowledgeable in growing hydroponic plants. One of the advantages of powdered fertilizers is that they are easier to store than liquid fertilizers as they can be kept in the same state for a long time. Check out these cheap hydroponic nutrient solution powder mixes on amazon.
Hydroponic Liquid Fertilizer
Liquid fertilizers are convenient for home growers or starters. They are easy to measure and come up with the right amount of powder for your solution. You will have to use different hydroponic nutrient solutions at every stage of your plant’s growth. With hydroponic liquid fertilizer, you don’t need additional elements for your plants.
You make liquid fertilizer by adding water to a certain amount of the liquid fertilizer before adding it to your reservoir. You need not use a scale as quantity is often estimated per gallon of water. An advantage of liquid fertilizers is that they form less residue in the system’s pipes and trays.
Can I Use Regular Fertilizer For Hydroponics?
Regular fertilizers are less inexpensive than hydroponic nutrients, and growers are faced with the challenge of whether it is okay to use them in their systems. You can use regular fertilizers in your system, but scientifically, they don’t produce the optimal results for your plants.
Regular fertilizers are deficient in many elements that hydroponic nutrients contain and may cause problems to your plants. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are the primary elements that your fertilizer should contain, but regular fertilizers lack increased levels of these elements.
How Do You Make Hydroponic Liquid Fertilizer
Most fertilizers contain the three primary nutrients Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus. While growing plants hydroponically, other minerals such as iron and calcium are added to the hydroponic liquid fertilizer to enhance plant growth.
You may choose specialized fertilizers that have been appropriately premixed, although they are expensive; hence many growers prefer to create liquid fertilizers at home and save costs. The homemade hydroponic nutrient solution is not preferred for large-scale use because large-scale production consistently requires monitoring nutrient levels.
You can make many formulations at home, but the one below is proven beneficial. Below are some simple steps to create a fertilizer mix rich in Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
What You Need
- 2 ½ gallons of water
- 1½ teaspoon of Nitrogen fertilizer
- 1½ teaspoon of Phosphorus fertilizer
- 1½ teaspoon of Potassium fertilizer
- 2 ½ tablespoons of unscented Epsom salt
- Have all the water into a 4–5 gallon bucket. You may use aquarium water that has other nutrients too.
- Add the fertilizers to the water and stir well, leaving no lumps. Make sure the fertilizer contains other micronutrients such as zinc and iron.
- Add the unscented salt to produce magnesium sulfate, which is critical to plants growth.
- Stir well until everything dissolves well.
- Your hydroponic nutrient solution is ready to be used in your new system.
- Before using it, flash the current system and filter any residues in your solution.
Hydroponic liquid fertilizers are best for starters and home growers as they are easy to measure. Liquid fertilizers leave less residue in pipes and trays; hence cleaning your system becomes easy. Powder nutrients are best for commercial use as you can fine-tune the amounts of elements you want for your plants.
Regular fertilizers are safe to use, but they negatively affect plant growth as they lack the increased nutrients that hydroponic plants require. Since specialized fertilizers are expensive, you can formulate different hydroponic nutrient solutions at home. While making a homemade liquid solution, ensure to study the nature of your plants so that you may add the necessary elements that your plant needs for optimal growth.
Your choice of the best hydroponic fertilizer to use is dependent on the type of plants you want to grow, whether on a small-scale or large scale.