Hydroponic Garden Fertilizer
Using the Right Fertilizer for Hydroponic Gardening
With the right hydroponic garden fertilizer, you can grow a wide range of healthy veggies, pungent herbs and fragrant flowers in a variety of hydroponic set ups. Popular hydroponic systems for growing your own at home include DWC (deep water culture), RDWC (recirculating deep water culture), aeroponics and recirculating drip systems.
These systems use little if any growing medium at all; meaning the roots receive their nutrition directly from nutrient solutions rather than substrates; making it especially important to choose the right type of fertilizer.
Above: Hydroponic melons
When roots uptake water, minerals and oxygen for growth with no soil to get in the way, gains can be tremendous–plants can grow bigger and faster, provided certain conditions are being met.
The chemistry of traditional garden fertilizers tends to use sources like urea and ammonium forms for important elements like Nitrogen and Phosphorous. While good in soil, these substances are chemically reactive in hydroponics, meaning they create pH imbalances that contribute to poor quality plants and even nutrient burn.
Using fertilizers like Cultured Solutions that are specifically made for water culture avoid common issues and grow better plants in hydroponics. These formulas use ingredients that are best suited to growing in water and avoid harmful additives like harsh dyes that can stain roots or adulterate plants’ natural colorations.
Using hydroponic garden fertilizer doesn’t have to be complicated—you can grow a wide variety of plants using the same hydroponic garden fertilizer dilution rates and components. For example, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and other fruiting plants will all do pretty great on the same feeding program. More serious growers will tend to dial in their feedings to be more crop specific; but it doesn’t mean you have to for success.
The main distinctions you should keep in mind for best use of a suitable hydroponic garden fertilizer are simply whether the application is for leafy or reproductive growth (flowers, fruits, seeds, etc). For vegetative growth a “Veg” formula is recommended and if fruits and flowers are part of the crop cycle, feeding shifts to using a “Bloom” formula. It’s really as simple as that.
More experienced hydroponics growers may supplement their hydroponic garden fertilizer at select times using Calcium-Magnesium supplements and Bud Booster supplements. When plants are young or experiencing rapid cell division (start of flowering) they can often use more calcium, magnesium, iron and nitrogen; exactly what the supplement supplies. During heavy flowering or fruiting load, crops benefit from a boost of Phosphorus and Potassium; easily supplied by adding a small proportion of a Bud Booster to the basic diet supplied by your hydroponic garden fertilizer.
Stay tuned for future articles where we’ll discuss some more specific recommendations for feeding your hydroponic garden.