A Beginners Guide: Hydroponic Nutrients

Plants have always needed soil to grow. That is, until Hydroponics was discovered. Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants, indoors, without soil. This is done using Hydroponic Nutrients, solutions that contain the essential nutrients plants require to prosper, thereby providing the materials lost through the lack of soil.

What to Know:

Before getting started in hydroponic gardening, it’s important to know several things. First, there are few nutrients that all plants always need. Most plants require different mixes of different nutrients, so make sure you know what you’re planning to grow in your garden before you buy a bunch of hydroponics supplies. Second, there are two forms of hydroponic nutrients, dry and liquid. We’ll tell you the differences shortly. Third, hydroponics takes time. Although interesting and fun, hydroponic gardening is still gardening, and still needs a lot of patience.

The 16 Essential Nutrients

Nutrient Type

Name

#

Purpose

Primary/Macronutrients

 

Carbon

C

Forms the backbone of most plant biomolecules.

Hydrogen

H

Necessary for building the plant and making photosynthetic sugars.

Nitrogen

N

Major ingredient in protoplasm, amino acids, proteins, and chlorophyll.

Oxygen

O

Required to break down glucose into Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).

Phosphorus

P

Helps build membrane development and functions.

Potassium

K

Assists the plant stomata function and critical metabolic processes.

Secondary Nutrients

 

Calcium

Ca

Helps build cell walls and roots. Regulates transport of other nutrients.

Magnesium

Mg

Helps build chlorophyll and activates enzymes.

Sulphur

S

Essential for chloroplast growth and functions, assists photosynthesis, and develops proteins.

Micro/Trace Nutrients

 

Boron

B

Affects flowering/fruiting, pollen germination, cell division, and active salt absorption.

Chlorine

Cl

Needed for osmosis, ionic balance, and photosynthesis.

Copper

Cu

Assists photosynthesis, cell wall creation, and grain production.

Iron

Fe

Creates chlorophyll and assists photosynthesis.

Manganese

Mn

Assists photosynthesis and creates chloroplasts.

Molybdenum

Mo

Assists with nitrogen metabolism.

Zinc

Zn

Necessary for DNA transcription and required in many enzymes.

What to Buy?

So now that we know what we’re looking at, we have to know what to get. As mentioned earlier hydroponic nutrients come either as dry powders, or pre-dissolved liquids. While the instinct may be to go for the liquid, it’s important to understand some things:

Concentration:

Concentration is the volume of the presence of nutrients you’re buying. Denser materials have more concentration, so naturally, the dry powder has more nutrient content than the liquid solution. This means that your shipping costs will be lower, and storage will be more efficient due to diminished size.

Shelf Life: 

Dry nutrients can be stored longer than liquid fertilisers and are easier to store.

Ease of Use:

Being a power, dry nutrients are typically easier to measure and to clean up if there’s any spillage.

For these reasons we typically recommend dry nutrients, which leads to a few more things to consider:

Solubility:

Ideally, you want as high solubility as possible, as less soluble materials won’t dissolve well and thus leave behind a lot of waste when you feed your plants. This waste can then clog your hydroponic supplies.

Purity:

There are three things you don’t want messing with your hydroponic nutrients, PGRs (Plant Growth Regulators), heavy metals, and Pesticides. Some PGRs can be harmful if not added in exact quantities, and when they are automatically included in nutrients it can be difficult to ensure correct ratios. Heavy metals, even the ones that are also essential nutrients, can damage plants in excessive quantities, and pesticides can damage plants and render them inedible if you’re growing for consumption.

pH and EC:

pH measures the acidity and alkaline levels of your solution. Certain hydroponic nutrients will only be present in certain pH conditions. EC (electrical conductivity) measures the conductivity within your nutrient solution. Too high an EC will result in your plant undergoing osmotic stress, while too low and your plant will suffer nutrient deficiencies.

We’re Here to Help:

Benchmark Bioponics is the only licensed available brand representing the father of Bioponic technology, Dr Luther Thomas, today. We have been operating with Dr Thomas’ brand since 1990, and since 2002 have been proud to continue his legacy by offering the finest hydroponic nutrients in Australia. Contact us here or call us on (03) 9570 8213.