There are few things worse to a hydroponic gardener than to step into your grow room and see burnt tips, yellowing, and curled edges on your leaves. These are all signs that your plants are not getting the appropriate amount of the nutrients that they need to thrive. Plant deficiency can strike even when your nutrient solution is well balanced because some factors may be preventing sufficient uptake.
Fortunately, there are a few important measures that the hydroponic grower can take to make sure that they never suffer from a nutrient deficiency.
Monitor pH Levels – There are lots of things that can cause a hydroponic nutrient solution to drift outside of the ideal range of about 5.6. Usually, if a nutrient solution is left unmonitored for too long, it can start drifting outside of this range because it gets too dense in raw, use nutrients. Other times, it might start becoming too acid or too alkaline when you add new hydroponic nutrients or transfer your plants to a new medium.
Since pH levels can change very rapidly, it is important to check your pH level daily. The longer your nutrient solution spends outside of this ideal range, the greater the chance that your flowers or vegetables will suffer a plant deficiency. Use a pharmaceutical grade pH adjustment product designed specifically for hydroponics to make the necessary adjustments. This way you have less of a chance of accidentally over compensating your pH adjustments.
Keep Temperature Levels Stable – Your nutrient solution should be fairly cool to temperate, somewhere in the range of sixty six to seventy one degrees Fahrenheit.
You should be particularly aware of this if you happen to live in an unusually warm or cold part of the world. If you feel it is necessary to prevent plant deficiency, take extra steps insulate your grow room against outside elements.
You should also avoid placing your reservoir directly on the ground in your grow room, as the floor can be very cool, which can transfer to the reservoir and cause a plant deficiency.
Keep an Eye on the Phosphorus – Phosphorus is one of the most essential nutrients in your nutrient solution. However, it is all too easy to suffer form excess phosphorus, which can create deficiency in several nutrients such as iron.
This means that, though popular, you should stay away form products such as PK 14/15. These have far too much phosphorus relative to potassium and can cause the kind of phosphorus buildup that can wreak havoc on your plants.
Use Humates – Humates such as Fulvic and Humic acid are a fantastic and fairly inexpensive way to ensure uptake. These are materials that are found in natural, fertile soil and when added to your nutrient solution, they can chelate the materials into something that can provide true bioavailability to your plants.
Generally, the key to preventing nutrient deficiency is keep accurate measurements. If you are able to frequently and accurately measure your nutrient solution’s conductivity, pH level, and temperature, you will be able to react to less than ideal conditions before they create plant deficiency.