In Hydroponics, Nutrients are the most crucial factors that determine the health of your plant. So, it’s extremely important to know what you are supplying to your plant.
Feeding your plants sub-par nutrients is a horrible idea, and buying them from an unreliable source can possibly injure or even kill your plants. You should use hydroponic plant nutrients that come with a proper explanation of how and when the ingredients have to be used. The packaged nutrient should have a detailed chart of the various elements it contains and the ideal application method. This is because, unlike common fertilizers, hydroponic nutrients have to be applied in a specific manner or the plants won’t be able to absorb them. You should resist exploring too many varieties of plant nutrients. Most of them contain similar combinations of essential and trace nutrients. It is crucial to systematically apply the nutrients and be patient.
Mixing the solution
The best way to mix a solution is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The manufacturer will always send mixing instructions, and this is the best place to start. Over time you can tweak the process a bit for your specific crop and situation.
Signs of Deficiency
Nitrogen (N): Plants are short, leaves tend to be pale green-yellow in color, especially on the older foliage. On tomato plants, the undersides of the leaf and stems can develop a purple coloration.
Phosphorus (P): Plants are usually stunted, and a dark green color. Symptoms occur on the older leaves first and plant maturity is often delayed. Phosphorus deficiency in some plant species can be due to conditions being too cold for uptake of this element, rather than a lack of phosphorus in the nutrient solution.
Potassium (K): The older leaves become yellowed with scattered dark (brown or black) spots, followed by tissue death. Severe deficiency will stunt the plant and all foliage will become yellowed and curled. On lettuce, the leaves may take on a yellowed, bronzed appearance starting on the older foliage.
Sulfur: Deficiency of sulfur is not common – there may be a yellowing of the leaves, first seen on the new growth.
Magnesium: Deficiency is common on tomato crops with the older leaves developing yellowed areas between the veins which stay green.
Calcium: Young leaves are affected before older leaves and become distorted, small in size with spotted or necrotic (dead) areas. Bud development is inhibited and root tips may die back. Tip burn on lettuce is a symptom of calcium deficiency but is also caused by other factors not associated with a solution deficiency. Blossom end rot of tomatoes is also caused by a deficiency of calcium within the fruit tissue (not necessary in the nutrient solution) and is more of a ‘calcium transport’ problem within the plant under certain environmental conditions.
Iron: Deficiency shows as a distinct yellowing between the leaf veins which stay green, on the new growth and younger leaves (this distinguishes it from magnesium deficiency which shows first on the older leaves). In tomatoes, iron deficiency may show when conditions are too cold for uptake, rather than be caused by an actual deficiency in solution.
Chlorine: deficiency shows as wilted leaves which then become yellowed and necrotic, eventually turning a bronze color. Roots become stunted and thickened near the tips.
Manganese: Yellowing on the younger or older leaves, depending on the plant types. Brown, dry areas may develop and leaves may drop.
Boron: Plant size is usually reduced; the growing point may die back. Root tips often become swollen and discolored. Leaves eventually become thickened, brittle, and may have yellow spotting.
Zinc: Short plants with a reduction in internodes length and leaf size. Leaf edges may be distorted or puckered, Yellowing between the leaf veins may also develop.
Copper: Deficiency is rare, but young leaves may become dark green and twisted or misshapen, often with brown, dry spots.
Molybdenum: Older leaves develop intervened yellowing, progressing to the younger leaves. Leaf edges may develop scorching or cupping of the leaves.
Cause & Effect
|Nutrients||Used For||Signs of Deficiency|
|The mixture of Magnesium Sulphate, Borax, Manganese Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, Copper Sulphate, Common Salt, Ammonium Molybdate||Photosynthesis. Respiration, Chlorophyll, nitrogen metabolism.||Wilting shoots, poor bud development, chlorophyll starts degrading|
|Mono Ammonium Phosphate||Converts nutrients into usable building blocks for the plants to grow.||Plants become prone to disease attacks. Poor root development. The plant turns blue.|
|Calcium Nitrate||Responsible for holding together the cell walls of plants.||New tissue such as root tips, young leaves, and shoot tips often exhibit distorted growth from improper cell wall formation.|
|Potassium Nitrate||Plant growth and reproduction||Brown scorching, curling of leaf tips, the plant turn yellow between leaf veins. Purple spots may also appear on the leaf undersides.|
|Iron Chelate||Plant Strength, Chlorophyll (Green color)||Plant leaves turn yellow, then white and eventually dies.|