As a medical marijuana business person, you need the biggest buds for selling directly or for producing quality edibles. Even as a home grower of marijuana for personal use, you want to get the most out of your precious cannabis plants. That means BIGGER buds. To get the biggest buds, you have to start with healthy cannabis plants. And of course, to get the best cannabis plants out there, you have to feed them correctly, not just during the flowering stage but throughout the life of the plant. The active ingredients in medical marijuana develop at different times during the maturation of the plant, so it has different nutritional needs during each growing stage to create the most potent, biggest buds.
All fertilizers at your local garden or hardware store have the same plant nutrients in them: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These three nutrients are in various concentrations depending on what the plants need. All fertilizers have the ratios (by weight) of these nutrients on their labels so that you know what you’re feeding your plants, and they always list them in the same order: nitrogen, phosphorous, and then potassium, or N-P-K.
For this article, we’re going to talk about fertilizers and nutrient mixes that are best for cannabis plants growing in soil mediums. Hydroponics growing is fascinating and can yield big buds as well, but the required nutrients and delivery methods of these nutrients are much different.
Nutrients for Healthier Cannabis Plants
NPK – Nitrogen helps plants produce new proteins and chlorophyll, but too much nitrogen can mean that the cannabis plant produces stems and leaves instead of flowers. Phosphorus technically helps the plant move energy from one part to another, which means that it helps the plant produce bigger seeds, stronger roots, and bigger buds. Potassium makes the plant hardier and stronger, better able to withstand hardship or disease. All of these are vital for growing large marijuana buds, but you have to use them wisely.
Sulfur is another nutrient that, like potassium, helps the plant absorb other nutrients and water.
Calcium is an important secondary nutrient that helps the plant absorb nitrogen.
Magnesium is important for healthy cannabis plants because it helps with light absorption to produce more flowers or buds.
Iron and manganese are also useful in helping cannabis plants produce chlorophyll so they’ll have more energy to grow bigger buds.
The Stages of Cannabis Plant Growth
We’ll look at which nutrients to give your cannabis plants during the growth stages, but first, we have to understand what those stages are.
Germination – After being stored in a cool, dry place like a fridge for up to a year, seeds sprout when exposed to light and water. They put out a root first, and then a tiny stem with two leaves. It takes between three and seven days to become a seedling.
Seedling – This is a baby plant with a root system, a short stalk, and a few leaves. The root system is stable enough to start holding the plant upright, and the leaves look like smaller versions of adult leaves. This stage lasts anywhere from three to six weeks, depending on the strain and growing conditions.
Vegetative stage – This is the stage of fast growth, as the plant develops its root system and puts out those distinctive leaves. A healthy cannabis plant in this stage can grow up to two inches per day! This is a long stage too, from one to two months, and growers can control it with light exposure.
Flowering stage – Lasting between six and ten weeks, this is the end stage of the cannabis plant where the buds grow, mature and produce a sticky resin. For medical and recreational users, this is one of the most important parts of cannabis maturation, as the resin has the highest concentration of THC.
Nutrition During the Growth Stages
Here are some of the most common fertilizer formulations for different stages of cannabis plant growth. Remember, just like the labels on all fertilizer packages, the plant nutrient ratios are always listed as N – P – K.
An example of a general, balanced fertilizer for the whole of the plant life would be 10-10-10, and many growers feed this all the time.
Germination & Seedling – 5-10-5 – In these early stages, you want to give the cannabis plants a bit more phosphorous than nitrogen so that they develop strong root systems that can efficiently take in nutrients during the rest of the growth stages.
Vegetative – 10-4-5 – Cannabis plants need more nitrogen during their vegetative stage to support that rapid growth because nitrogen helps the plant build itself. You need potassium, too, so that your marijuana plant can be strong in preparation for flowering. Avoid high phosphorus because you don’t need to support flowering just yet. Calcium and manganese can be added at this stage as well to help cannabis plants take in nitrogen and produce chlorophyll.
Flowering – 5-20-5 or 5-25-10 – During flowering, you want to prioritize phosphorous to promote bud growth and make sure to limit nitrogen so your plant doesn’t get too tall or “leggy.” You want it to concentrate on developing huge buds, not lots of stems or leaves, and phosphorus will make your buds grow. A little more potassium can be helpful in the cannabis flowering stage to keep the roots strong. There are specific cannabis blooming fertilizers on the market if you want to purchase them. You can also add secondary nutrients like magnesium and iron.
When should you stop fertilizing?
Since cannabis is a hearty plant, you don’t have to give them a ton of nutrients all the time. It’s also not necessary to fertilize right up to the harvest. When to stop fertilizing before the harvest is a matter of great debate against marijuana growing experts, but generally, you want to taper down your phosphorus-heavy fertilizer about three weeks before harvest time and stop fertilizing entirely two weeks before harvest. This is called a “flush,” as you’re just giving the plants pure water.
Understanding cannabis plant nutrition sets the professionals apart from the amateurs because it leads to greater yields and bigger, better quality buds. Another thing that sets the professionals apart is packaging and PotPackaging.com can help you find the right packaging so that your new, larger buds get the showcases they deserve.