How To Mix Nutrients For Hydroponics

by Lettuce Be | Last Updated: 07/18/2021

Plant nutrition mixing can affect the rate of uptake and absorption by plants, but many hydroponic growers are unaware of this fact. Some organic nutrients can turn sediment if they aren’t mixed correctly and won’t be absorbed by your plants. Nutrient packages come in bottles, but they are usually more expensive, and you can’t tailor the nutrient supply to each growth stage. Let’s discuss the proper order in which we should mix our nutrients in this post. First, let’s cover some general safety information and the basics of making a concentrated nutrient solution mix for your hydroponic garden.

Understanding Plant Nutrients

Even though it may seem obvious, there must be clean water before you can add any nutrients. Avoid mixing nutrients without water to dilute them. The hydroponic nutrients will then undergo various chemical reactions and settle/fall out as a result. Nutrient levels won’t be right for your plants, especially during their vegetative growth and flowering stages.

For best results, use Reverse Osmosis water.

mixing hydroponic nutrient solutionsPlants do not grow well in most tap water sources. Because of this, some brands offer different nutrient packages suited to hard water that may have heavy metals. Several things that municipal water systems add to water may harm plants, such as chlorine and chloramine, which are used to make it safe for human consumption.

Also, tap water can contain particles of all types that can affect the PPM or EC. In tap water, calcium and magnesium carbonates are quite common. You may wish to investigate the type of water you are drinking and possibly invest in a water filter. Whether it be just a simple de-chlorinator and sediment filter, or a more advanced RO filter, something is better than nothing. Utilizing distilled water or water that has been reverse osmosis-treated is the best option.

With this in mind, you will be able to create a fresh slate for your hydroponic plants since you will know there is nothing else in your water except what you add.

Extra tip: Before adding chemicals, always check that your water temperature. The optimal temperature range is between 65 degrees (18 C) and 80 degrees (27 C) for water.

Mixing plant nutrients in the proper order

Today we will discuss the correct order in which you should mix crop-specific nutrients. And not only in what order but also how long you wait before proceeding to the next step after a specific nutrient is absorbed.

Different growers may feed silica or cal-mag differently, so this will be different across different feeding schedules. However, as a general guideline, here is how to mix plant nutrients.

Adding Silica

Mix your silica supplement into the plain water, and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes. Silica needs a lot of time to form bonds in water, so you don’t want to mix it too early with other essential nutrients, which will result in nutrient separation.

Growers even recommend waiting until your silica has created bonds with your reservoir water for up to 30 minutes before adding any additional nutrients. After you mix your silica, it can be not easy to do anything else, but try walking the dog or reading a bit after you mix it. Once the base nutrients are mixed, return and start mixing them.

Add The Base Nutrients

You can then add the base nutrients after your silica has been thoroughly mixed for at least 10 minutes. There may be a specific order in which you are supposed to feed according to your particular nutrient line and feeding schedule. However, the general recommendation is to mix the phosphate-containing part first (whether part A or B). These are usually B-part nutrients.

Add Cal-Mag

Adding cal-mag once your base nutrients are thoroughly mixed is optional. The use of RO water will remove the minerals, so this is an especially important supplement. This is also true if your plants are growing in coco, as coco-coir tends to squander calcium, making it hard for your plants to access it at adequate levels.

Add Other Additives

Since silica or cal-mag have already been added to your reservoir, the only liquid nutrients you need to add are supplements & additives. Additives that are commonly used include:

Measure the pH of the Nutrient Solution

You must check the pH of your hydroponic solution before mixing your plant nutrients. While some growers try to pH their fresh water before adding amounts of nutrients, this is not recommended because many of the things you add to your reservoir will alter pH.

It is possible for a concentration of nutrients to lower your water’s pH to be closer to the ideal range than tap water. You should still use a pH meter to check your pH level. Ensure it’s between 5.8 and 6.8. Your hydroponic formula won’t work otherwise, resulting in stunted growth, yellow leaves, nutrient deficiencies and drooping stems. For alkalinity, use potassium hydroxide, and for pH, use nitric acid or phosphoric acid. Use a pH-raising liquid solution if necessary.

Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about the importance of the relationship between pH and plant nutrients.

Mixing Plant Nutrients For Commercial Growing

An automatic doser can save a lot of time and money for a commercial grower who maintains large nutrient reservoirs in commercial greenhouses. They automate pH and nutrient monitoring, freeing you to do something you enjoy instead of being stuck in a grow room.

Need Help Choosing the Right Nutrient?

After learning about the best practices for mixing plant nutrients, you can feel more confident in doing so. Those who haven’t purchased nutrient mixes may wonder what ones are right for them. When it comes to your first time planting, you are better off with a simple two or three-part nutrient blend that includes only the essentials, like silica, rooting stimulants, and cal-mag. You can contact our expert growers if you still have questions or concerns, and we can help you choose the right hydroponic recipe.

Related FAQs

What is the best way to provide nutrients for hydroponic plants?

Mixing your nutrients is both more economical and allows for a wider range of flexibility.

What is the difference between premixed and mixed nutrients?

A premixed nutrient package provides everything your plant will need, but your individual water may require slightly different nutritional levels.

What should I do before mixing?

Before anything, make sure your water reservoir is cleaned.

How many nutrients do you add?

We recommend keeping it at whole gallons for easy measuring of correct quantities. Calcium nitrate, potassium sulphate, potassium nitrate, monopotassium phosphate, and magnesium sulphate are essential nutrients.

What’s the best place to store nutrients?

If you’re having trouble determining where to keep your nutrients, consider storing them in your bloom/flowering room. You will save money by maximizing the shelf life of your nutrients and not having to return to the store early because they went bad by storing your nutrients properly.

How often should I feed my crops?

How frequently your crops need to be fed depends on the type of grow setup you have, your crops’ stages of growth, and the size of your nutrient reservoir.

What are the risks of using booster products?

For example, bloom boosters with high PK numbers or low-grade silica products can destabilize your nutrient mix and cause a nutrient lockout.