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Hydroponic Information on Foliar Feeding

What is Foliar Feeding?

Most hydroponic information you read regarding nutrient uptake refers to root feeding, that is applying the nutrient solution directly to the root zone. However, it is also possible to feed plants by applying nutrients to their leaves or foliage, a technique known as foliar feeding. This technique was developed in the 1950s by Dr. H. B. Tukey and S.H. Wittwer at the Michigan State University department of agriculture. Their research debunked the conventional belief that it was damaging to get a plant’s leaves wet.

Why Foliar Feed?

Hydroponics offers a great deal of control to the average grower, which has the fantastic potential to increase yield, but the increased number of factors also decreases the margin for error. A nutrient solution must contain a very delicate balance of nutrients, correct temperature, and correct pH levels for the plant to be sufficiently supplied with nutrients. Sometimes, even when it appears that all of the conditions are optimized, the plants may not receive all of the nutrients they need. In these instances, many growers choose to foliar feed to ensure that their plants get all of the nutrients they need to grow to their potential.

In other instances a plant’s roots may become damaged either through overwatering, underwatering, or disease. As it recovers from this damage, your plants will likely struggle to get sufficient nutrients because of the loss of root mass. Again, foliar feeding offers gardeners an opportunity to give their crops nutrients that they are not able to get otherwise.

How to Foliar Feed

How quickly your plant is able to absorb the nutrients through their leaves will depend upon a number of factors. Like with the nutrient solution you use on your roots, the one you will apply to your leaves should have a pH of 5.6 and should not be too cold or too hot.

The nutrient solution should be applied using a finely atomized drifting mist. This can be accomplished by using something as small as a hand pump sprayer, or something as large as a backpack leaf blower with a liquid attachment, depending upon the size of your operation. The fine mist should be thoroughly applied until it begins to “run off” of the leaves. Make certain that it applied to both sides of each leaf. To get the nutrients to stick to the leaves, and thus increase uptake, you should include a non-ionic wetting or sticking agent.

Your plant’s leaves will receive the nutrient solution through “stomata,” or pores mostly used for gas exchange. For this reason, you should only foliar feed in slightly cooler conditions. If the environment is too hot the stomata will be closed, and your plants will receive very little of the solution, or perhaps none at all.

Even if your plants appear to be receiving adequate nutrients, it is still possible your plants can benefit form foliar feeding. As always, experiment with one plant and collect as much hydroponic information as possible on foliar feeding before you try it on your entire crop. It is entirely possible to give a plant too many nutrients, and it may then suffer some of the ailments that a under fertilized plant can experience.

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The Advanced Nutrients Team

Since 1999, Advanced Nutrients has been committed to educating the community and bringing the most up-to-date knowledge to the forefront of grows across the globe. Every article you read here has been curated by Advanced Nutrients’ industry experts, so you can continue raising your bud weight… and your reputation.

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Over time, components within the nutrients settle on the bottom of the bottle. When you pour a bottle without shaking it, you can potentially be pouring out an unbalanced solution. Shaking up the nutrient bottle ensures you are pouring the right blend into your reservoir, giving your crops the nutrition they need.

Usually, it’s not a problem. But some products are incompatible with each other and can damage your plants when they’re used together. For example, bloom boosters with high PK numbers or low-grade silica products can destabilize your nutrient mix and cause nutrient lockout.

Nutrient manufacturers design their products to be used with each other. In doing so, they include specific portions of each nutrient in each product, so crops receive the right nutrition through each stage of the grow cycle. When you stick with one manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about inadvertently destabilizing your nutrient mixture. One example of why you need to stick with only one manufacturer’s products is Advanced Nutrients’ pH Perfect line. These products are designed to keep your crops’ root zone within a specific pH range. When you use them alongside products from another manufacturer, we can’t guarantee your root zone will maintain its optimal pH level.

Yes! If you’re growing with Advanced Nutrients products, you can use our easy nutrient calculator to generate the correct nutrient chart for your crops in seconds. Check out Advanced Nutrients’ nutrient calculator here. Another great resource is our library of free custom-growing recipes. Try our expert grower-tested nutrient schedules here.

You can also download our official BudLabs app to generate nutrient schedules and receive real-time notifications for specific tasks, including feeding your crops. Upgrade to BudLabs Pro to maintain profiles on an unlimited number of crops.

If you are a grower, visit this link to find the closest Advanced Nutrients Authorized Retailer. If you are a retailer, visit this link to identify our official distributors.

Our greatest passion is growing great cannabis—and helping other growers do the same. That’s why we offer complimentary cultivation support 24/7 from Monday to Friday and from 9 AM until 7 PM PST on Saturday… With the same level of advice licensed producers would pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to unlock.
Just call 1-800-640-9605 or email support@advancednutrients.com. For Spanish-speaking growers, email spanishsupport@advancednutrients.com.

Yes! If for any reason you are not absolutely thrilled with the results you achieve when you use our products, just bring the unused portion, along with your original sales receipt, back to the place of purchase within six months, and ask for your money back. Find out more about our Grower Guarantee here.

Advanced Nutrients has spent many thousands of man-hours developing a technology that automatically balances your pH for you — putting it in the “sweet spot” and holding it there for one week.

And the technology is so “smart” that it can account for many of the aforementioned variables in your grow room. Our proprietary pH buffering agents and stabilizing mechanisms became the foundation of a new system aptly called pH Perfect® Technology. Learn all about it here.