Demystifying Liquid Fertilizers
You have decided you want to give your plant proper food. But when you go to your grow store, there is a huge amount of choice. Here are some tips to get the best fertilizer for your plant and your growing style.
You want to look for a "base nutrients" formula. Starting around the late 1700’s, scientists started work to observe the requirements for plant life. In the 1930’s William Gericke demonstrated a tomato could grow without soil when given the chemicals plants require for life. These are the essential elements for plant life and they are present in hydroponics fertilizers found at your grow store. Other fertilizers do not focus on providing essentials, rather they focus on correcting deficiencies or working in concert with a grow media that has some of the elements in it already.
Base nutrients come in three general categories: one part, two part and three part. Two and three part nutrients are the traditional formulas and have always been superior to standard fertilizers for ensuring complete nutrition for plants. Standard fertilizers are not able to contain all elements together because some will “bind” and will not be able to be taken in by plants.
Three part formulas generally come as separate liquids: Grow, Bloom and Micro. Check the manufacturers instructions, but most often the routine is that micro is used in a fairly consistent quantity throughout the grow cycle. The grow and bloom are both used during the entire cycle, but grow is heavy during veg and light in bloom, and the bloom formula is light during veg and heavy in flower. Examples of three part formulas are: Remos Nutrients, and General Hydroponics.
Some growers like the added control and the ability to add the micro-nutrients into solution after pH has been adjusted (to not damage the micros).
Two part formulas are a little more convenient and usually come in two bottles, one set for grow a+b, and one set for bloom a+b. These, like the three part formulas are added into water to dilute and prevent the chemicals from mixing in concentration. The usual routine is to mix some amount of A (bloom or grow) in water and stir. Then mix an equal of B (bloom or grow) and stir. Examples of two part formulas include: TripTonic A+B, House and Garden Soil A+B, and Canna Coco A+B.
One part formulas break the rule of keeping some chemicals separated. Combining technology and organics, one part formulas are the simplest to use and still produce amazing results in the grow. The drawback is that these formulas are not usually good for hydroponics. Use these in soil, and soilless (including coco) grows. Examples of one part formulas include Neptunes Harvest Tomato, Rose & Flower; Grotek Solotek Grow and Solotek Bloom and General Hydroponics Flora Nova Grow and Flora Nova Bloom.
In summary, all hydroponics base nutrients work well to provide the essential elements for plant life. The choice depends on what works for you