Hydroponic Nutrients: An Indoor Gardening Guide

What are Hydroponic Nutrients and Why Do You Need Them?
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Why do you need hydroponic nutrients? Growing your plants hydroponically means you won’t be using soil to grow your plants. This means you won’t be getting the nutrients that would be found there. Hydroponics can be excellent for plant growth. But it will require a mineral nutrient solution to give your plants the elements and minerals they require.

What Are Hydroponic Nutrients?

Hydroponic nutrients are simply plant nutrients that are designed for use in a hydroponic system. Plants require 16 elements to grow. Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen are available in the air and water that they receive. You’ll need to add the rest need as a nutrient solution.

The main elements plants will need to be given are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. These are the elements that N-P-K refers to on bags of quality plant fertilizer. They’ll also need Calcium, Magnesium, and Sulfur as secondary nutrients. Additionally, they’ll require Iron, Copper, Manganese, Zinc, Molybdenum, Boron, Chloride, and Sodium as micronutrients. Hydroponic nutrient solutions contain different amounts of these elements.

Hydroponic nutrients are a liquid form of these elements that can be added to the water in your hydroponic system. Nutrients are readily available to the exposed root system. So, your plants spend less energy extracting nutrients from the soil. This means they can spend more energy on vegetative growth and fruit and flower production. Different plants have different nutrient needs, so it’s important to know what elements your plants require. Choose a hydroponic nutrient solution that will work best for what you’re growing.

Can You Grow Hydroponics Without Nutrients?

Growing plants in a hydroponics system removes the need for soil. However, without soil, your plants will have no access to the elements they require to grow. Your indoor garden will not grow without these vital elements and must receive them in the form of hydroponic nutrients. These are mixed into your system’s water supply. Many of these nutrient solutions are liquid, but they can also be found in water soluble powder forms.

What Are the Best Hydroponic Nutrients to Buy?

Different nutrient solutions are better for different types of plants and for different stages of their growth. Hydroponic nutrient manufacturers have done the research for you and offer premixed solutions designed for the various plant needs. All-purpose hydroponic nutrient solutions are also available that are sufficient for most plants during any stage of their growth.

Aero Garden Liquid Nutrients (All-Purpose Hydroponic Nutrient Solution)

hydroponic nutrients AeroGarden liquid nutrients

For a very small indoor hydroponic garden, an all purpose liquid hydroponic nutrient solution could do the trick. A one-part solution may not be as customized as others, but it will provide your plants with the basic nutrients they need and will be easy to use for a small garden.

General Hydroponics Grow, Bloom, Micro

hydroponic nutrients (flora, grow, boom, micro)

You could also go with a three part set of solutions designed for Grow, Bloom, and Micro stages. These will provide the ideal combination of nutrients during each specific stage of growth. These types of hydroponic nutrients offer instructions about how and when to use them.

General Hydroponics Grow and Bloom

hydroponic nutrients general combo fertilizer

For larger or commercial gardens, powdered hydroponic nutrients tend to be a little more cost effective because you’re paying for a concentrated form without all the additional water and weight that would come with a liquid solution. These types of nutrients may not be as convenient as the liquid types but they will have a longer shelf life and will save you money over time.

How Long Do Hydroponic Nutrients Last?

In your hydroponic system, your nutrients will need to be replenished every 7-14 days. Top up your systems with fresh water daily. Keep in mind that as plants consume the water and nutrients, the nutrient strength in the reservoir will fluctuate as well. Changing the nutrients more often will ensure your plants are always getting sufficient nutrients and that your solution is at the correct pH level.

In terms of shelf life, powdered nutrients will last much longer than liquid nutrients. If stored properly in a cool, dry place, dry nutrients could last indefinitely. Liquid nutrients however, could have a shelf life ranging anywhere from 1-4 years depending on the manufacturer and which specific ingredients are in that solution. It’s best to check with the manufacturer if you think you’ll be storing your liquid nutrients for over a year.

Can I Make My Own Hydroponic Nutrients?

Buying pre-made hydroponic nutrients is definitely the easiest way to keep your indoor garden well fed, but you can also mix your own hydroponic nutrients in order to customize the mineral levels and have complete control over what you’re feeding to your plants. The main thing is to understand the needs of your specific garden before you start. Once you know exactly what minerals should be in your nutrient solution, you can get to work.

A hydroponic nutrient solution consists of water, essential elements, and minerals. You can use fertilizer salts to obtain most of these elements. When mixing your solution, you’ll need to investigate the ratios needed for the specific plants you’re growing, and well as the nutrient strength (PPM) you will require. Concocting your own nutrient solution can be a little complicated so for those new to hydroponics, it’s usually best to start with pre-made solutions otherwise you may be endangering the lives of your plants.

Understanding which basic nutrients all plants need to survive will allow you to understand how and why hydroponic nutrients work. Understanding the specific nutrient needs of your indoor garden will help you decide on what type of hydroponic nutrients you should be using. Having a basic idea of the life cycles of your plants will also help you know when to use grow specific nutrients and when to use nutrients designed to maximize their bloom.

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