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The Most Common Reasons for Foliar Feeding in Hydroponics

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.


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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.

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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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