Plants receive the overwhelmingly large majority of nutrients from their roots. But in the 1950s, scientists working at Michigan State University discovered that plants could effectively absorb nutrients through their leaves and foliage. Since then, horticulturalists have taken advantage of foliar feeding as a means of providing nutrients that their plants might not be able to otherwise receive. But as a hydroponic grower, when would the most pertinent times for you to exchange in this fairly advanced practice? Essentially, it depends upon your goals, your plants, and the condition of your plants. Here are few of the most common reasons why growers choose to feed their plants through the leaves.
Damaged Roots – Root damage can be devastating to your hydroponics garden. Most commonly, it is caused by root rot from overwatering, but it can also be caused by disease or the presence of pests. If your roots are too severely damaged, your plant will not be able to soak up the nutrients it needs to survive, or else it simply will result in smaller yields. Many hydroponics growers who identify root damage early immediately begin foliar feeding on a regular basis. This way, your plants will still be able to receive the nutrients they need to grow to their potential as they recover.
Overcoming Deficiency – The balance of factors in a hydroponic garden is very delicate, so it can be fairly easy for your plants to suffer a nutrient deficiency. Perhaps the nutrient balance isn’t optimized, or the pH level is either too high or too low. It can also be commonly caused by having a nutrient solution that is too hot or too cold, or using a medium that does not hold the nutrient solution and moisture well enough. Whatever the cause is, you can use foliar feeding as a way to make sure that your plants are receiving sufficient nutrients while you identify the source of the problem. This technique can save you a lot of heartache and hassle should something go awry with your hydroponics system or nutrient solution.
To Give Your Plants a Boost – Something doesn’t necessarily have to be wrong with your plants for you to choose to feed them with foliar fertilizer. Many choose foliar feeding for their plants simply to give them the extra nutrients that they need to grow to their potential. This is particularly popular for smaller growers, because of all the ways you can help increase yield, this is one the easiest and most affordable. C02 generators, for example, are extremely effective in giving plants a significant boost, but they are much more costly and complicated. With foliar feeding, all you need to give your plants an extra surge of nutrients is a simple spray bottle and well-balanced foliar spray.
To make the most effective use of your foliar spray, you should make certain that the grow room isn’t too warm. If the temperature exceeds eighty degrees Fahrenheit, the foliar spray will evaporate quickly and it will not be as effective.