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Identifying Deficiencies in your Hydroponic Nutrients

One of the major advantages of hydroponic gardening is that you have total control over the kind of and amount of nutrients that your plants receive. But this can also be one of its major drawbacks, as you have to be extra cautious in how you change your hydroponic nutrients to create optimal growth. Here are the most common symptoms of a few vital nutrient solutions.

  1. Nitrogen – If your plants are deficient in nitrogen, your leaves may turn a pale green, or perhaps even yellow in cases of more extreme nitrogen deficiency. You may also notice stunted growth or a slight purple tint on stems and the undersides of leaves. If your nutrient solution contains excess nitrogen, your roots may become stunted and cause a delaying in flowering.
  2. Phosphorous – Too little phosphorous may result in darkly hued leaves, small roots, very small flowers, and leaves that have a red or purple appearance. Signs of phosphorous deficiency may not be the result of a lack of phosphorous in the nutrient solution. It may be the result of the nutrient solution being too cold, which may decrease uptake.
  3. Potassium – Not enough potassium in your hydroponic nutrients will create leaves that have edges that look blackened or “burned.” They may also develop brown, dead spots. These signs typically show on the older leaves first. The fruits and flowers of a potassium deficient plant may also be lighter in weight than normal.
  4. Magnesium -This deficiency will first reveal itself in the yellowing around your leaf edges. The worse the deficiency, the yellowier the edges, and the more of the leaf will be affected. This is most commonly seen in tomato plants.
  5. Calcium – Calcium deficiency usually affects newer leaves before it will affect older leaves. These leaves usually have dead spots, and may look mangled and very small in size.
  6. Iron – A plant that is receiving too little iron will typically have yellowing on its younger leaves. In more severe cases, the leaves will become extremely pale, or almost white. Like with phosphorous deficiency, iron deficiency may be the result of too cold water rather than any actual deficiency in the solution.
  7. Manganese – Manganese deficiency has many similarities in appearance to iron deficiency, except it may affect the older leaves first rather than the younger leaves. If your nutrient solution is too rich in manganese, it might actually cause an iron deficiency because of decreased uptake.
  8. Copper – Plants do not need very much copper, and therefore copper deficiency is very rare. However, it is entirely possible to have too little copper, and it may result in weak, distorted, or mutated young leaves. Too much copper may decrease branching and create roots that are have greater girth and are darker than usual.
  9. Boron – Not enough boron may create roots that appear “fleshy” and look darker than normal. It may also make fruits and roots that deteriorate easily. This deficiency may also create an iron deficiency.
  10. Molybdenum – Too little of this hydroponic nutrient may make the edges of the leaves of your plant darken and curl. Even a slight deficiency may create smaller than usual flowers.


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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.

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