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Nutrients: How to Choose

Nutrients: How to Choose

Alex Grady

Use the wrong nutrient at the wrong time and you can end up doing more harm than good.

Here's how you pick the right nutrient.

Your base nutrient contains the three main macro-nutrients your plants need for growth:

1. Nitrogen (N)

2. Phosphorus (P)

3. Potassium (K)


The exact balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium your nutrient contains needs to suit:

  • Your growing media
  • Your stage of growth
  • How much control you want

Note: To find out the NPK ratio (N/P/K) of your feed, check its label

By Growing Media

In Soil

Soil is full of beneficial microbes and bacteria. It’s great if you’re growing organically.

These nutrients are designed to feed the soil rather than the plant. They encourage biological activity in your soil.

Because the nutrient availability pH range is much wider, you don’t need to adjust your pH. In fact, adding aggressive liquids can harm the beneficial bacteria and microbes in your soil.

Type of feed: Soil specific, organic or mineral nutrient


In Coco (or Coir)

For healthy root growth and excellent drainage, coco’s light and airy structure is great.

What you need to remember about coco is that it tends to hold on nitrogen and calcium but releases potassium. You need a coco specific feed that has less potassium and more nitrogen.

It’s also smart to use a good CalMag alongside your nutrient to prevent deficiencies.

Type of feed: Part A and part B coco specific formula

In Hydroponic Systems

For extreme growth all round, there’s only one thing for it – a hydro system.

Hardly any growing media is used - instead, roots are submerged in an oxygen rich nutrient solution. Roots get constant, unlimited access to nutrients.

Use the right nutrient and you’ll get extreme root growth, faster nutrient uptake and giant yields. Just make sure you stay away from anything organic and biologically active. When used in an aerated system, organic and biologically active of nutrients can ferment and foam, block pumps and pipes, destroy air stones and lower your oxygen level.

Type of feed: Many options (1 part, 2 part and 3 part feeds)

By Stage of Growth

Cuttings and Seedlings:

Cuttings and seedling are very delicate, so they need a gentle formula.

And not just any formula, a very specific mix of nutrients to support early growth and rooting.

You can use a quarter strength feed, but you'll be much better off using a specialist ‘baby plant food.’ VitaLink Plant Start is a firm favourite.


Vegging and Flowering:

Plants use more nitrogen when growing, and more potassium and phosphorus when flowering. To get the right nutrients to your plant at the right time, you will either need:

  • An A & B formula to use in equal parts throughout your grow - coco only
  • One feed for vegging (Vega/Grow), another for flowering (Bloom) - soil & hydro only
  • A 3 part feed to use throughout your grow (change your mixing ratio for each growth stage) – hydro only

You have tons of options, from the bestselling Canna collection, to the innovative SHOGUN series and the super precise General Hydroponics range. Have fun and trial a few – remember, growing is a hobby, enjoy it! 

Late flowering:

To get the very best yield, swap out your main feed for SHOGUN Dragon Force during the final 2 weeks of flowering. It forces fruits to ripen and fuels flowering at a time when growth normally slows! 

How Much Control Do You Want?

If you really want control over your feed, try a 3 part feed like General Hydroponics Flora Nutrients.

You can tweak, fine-tune and perfect your formula to give plants the right nutrients, at the right time, in the right amounts.


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