Growing nutrient-rich cannabis plants isn’t easy, but it’s probably more straightforward than you think.
It takes precision to control the many variables that go into cultivating nutrient-rich cannabis plants, especially if you want to produce buds high in precious cannabinoids and terpenes.
So, if top-shelf flower is your game, the five tips below will put you on the path to higher yields, potent buds, and improved profits.
1. Choose the Best Strains
We can’t overstate the importance of starting with the right genetics to grow nutrient-rich cannabis plants. Fortunately, breeders have introduced countless quality strains that grow well in different conditions and produce excellent cannabis crops.
You should select strains that match your growing conditions. For example, conditions out West are likely to be hotter and drier than in the Midwest. And some strains grow better outdoors versus indoors.
Also, you should be mindful of microclimates within these growing situations, particularly in vertical grows and the unpredictable outdoors.
Once you’ve selected good genetics, which requires thorough research and trial and error, try to group strains with similar tolerances to different growing conditions that finish their flowering cycle within the same timeframe.
2. Grow in a PH Balanced Medium
No matter your growing medium, it’s essential to monitor pH and nutrients closely. For example, the best pH range for indoor grows in a soilless medium is between 5.5 and 6.5, while the preferred range in field soil is 6 to 6.8. Nutrient lockout will occur in growing mediums where the pH is out of balance.
When growing directly in soil, it’s essential to examine the soil structure. For example, is it sand, silt, clay, or a combination thereof? In addition, to maintain the proper pH for efficient nutrient uptake in field soil, it is essential to understand Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC).
Without diving too deeply into its science, soils have positive and negative charges which determine the plant’s ability to utilize nutrients.
- Clay and organic soils have a high CEC, while sand has a low CEC. Low CEC sand soils are more likely to develop potassium and magnesium deficiencies. Also, sandy soils leach more nutrients than clay soils, so it is advisable to provide a continual feeding of small amounts of potassium and magnesium during the grow cycle.
- Sandy soils also need to be replenished with lime to maintain the proper pH, but in smaller quantities than is necessary with clay soil. Thus, it’s best to amend both types of soil with well-rotted composted manure.
- As for soil-less mediums, growers need to be aware of the pH in premixed soils. Some soil-less mixes, most notably peat-based mixes, are generally acidic, although this can vary from product to product, depending on where it is sourced.
3. Maximize Nutrients for Indoor Growing
So what is the best fertilizer for growing weed? There are several great products on the market specifically tailored for the vegetative and flowering stages of growth. Many are fast-acting liquid fertilizers used for indoor growing, including hydroponics.
Examine the contents of the package, paying particular attention to the three major nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (NPK), and other micronutrients and amino acids.
Plants in the vegetative stage need more nitrogen but less phosphorous and potassium, for instance, after a 6-3-3 fertilizer during the first week of flowering, switch to a 3-8-7 or some type of bud booster.
Flush out fertilizer during the last week of flowering by watering until you see it dripping out the bottom of the pot.
Pre-blended products are also available with a three-step system for nutrient delivery and ingredients to balance pH in the growing media.
4. Maximize Nutrients for Outdoor Growing
A lot of the preparation and nutrient delivery is done before planting when growing outdoors in field soil. These growers will use several natural products, such as finished compost and well-rotted manure to enhance microbial activity in the soil.
These products can be used to amend either sand or clay soils.
A good understanding of soil biology is essential when growing in soil (see #2 above). It’s just as important to monitor pH and nutrients within field soil as it is in soil-less mediums.
Nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and calcium should be present in these soils before planting. If not, organic supplements, such as bat guano, should be added and commercial fertilizers explicitly prepared for cannabis.
5. Irrigation Management
Proper watering is essential to take advantage of the nutrients you are using. Under-watering could result in nutrient lockout, while over-watering will result in flushing all or some of your nutrients out of the bottom of the growing container.
There are different methods growers use, including fertigation. In addition, the nutrients are added to drip irrigation systems, allowing a continual supply of nutrients with minimal loss, or in some cases, with catch trays underneath to capture and re-use nutrient-rich water.
A continual low concentration feed is an excellent way to maximize growth in the vegetative stage and enhance bud size in the flowering stage.
To maximize nutrients and grow large, terpene-laden buds, it is imperative that you keep good records and constantly monitor pH, nutrients, and light. This is the only way to tell if you are genuinely maximizing plant nutrition or if you need to tweak the many variables, including nutrients, that go into growing quality buds.