Hands scientist analysing plant needs

Nutrients and medicinal cannabis

Medicinal cannabis usually has a fairly short production cycle. This means growers are able to go through 3-4 production cycles a year with smaller plants or do one annual cycle with larger plants. This also means the cannabis plant goes through different stages of growth rather quickly. During the different stages the plants have different needs. Let’s have a look at the nutrient needs of medicinal cannabis plants during the different phases of the plant’s growth cycle.

The most well-known macronutrients are of course nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. However, there are more macronutrients that a grower needs to provide to get the most out of his medicinal cannabis plants. The right combination of nutrients, as well as adequate daylight management and control of pH & EC-levels helps your plants to grow and develop high quality buds.

Vegetative growth stage

Cannabis plants have a rapidly developing root system. During this stage growers aim to produce strong and healthy plants with a vast root system as well as adequate plant mass. It’s all about getting a high number of qualitative buds in the end.

In addition to enough daylight hours the cannabis plants mainly need nitrogen and potassium during this stage. Nitrogen is essential for the plants during the early growing phase. This nutrient helps the plant convert all the daylight it is getting into energy that goes into the development of roots and foliage.

Secondary nutrients

In addition to the main nutrients listed above, medicinal cannabis plants also require some secondary elements and nutrients that help control factors such as the smell and taste of the buds, as well as factors that influence overall plant health.

Calcium for example helps the plants fend off illnesses and pests by strengthening the structure of the cell membranes. It also benefits the absorptions of other nutrients and helps the crop to distribute them throughout the entire plant. It’s important to ensure that your pH range stays within the desired 5.5-6.5 range to make sure this secondary nutrient can do its job well.

Sulfur helps the plant develop a strong an vigorous root system and benefits overall plant growth, making it extremely useful to the plant during this early growth stage.

Magnesium is also important for medicinal cannabis plants as it benefits growth by aiding multiple internal plant processes.

Nutrients in BVB Substrates products

Next to the composition of the substrate mixture itself, we also tailor the precharging with nutrients to the needs of the grower. Depending on your growing strategy and needs we will look at both macro and micro elements and determine what exactly you need. Ask our Sales Advisors if you’d like to know more about the precharging of our substrates for medicinal cannabis.

Flowering/budding stage

When the plants enter this stage growers will make sure to shorten the daylight hours. Plants will then start to create and grow the flower buds.

During this critical stage the plant needs a specifically balanced amount of nutrients, as any added nutrition will directly influence the creation of the buds.

Phosphorus is essential to the plant as soon as it starts developing buds and the first flowers start to bloom.

Potassium is important in smaller amounts during both stages. It helps your plants to take up nitrogen from the air and release oxygen. In a way it helps the plant “breathe”. In addition potassium also helps the plant to get a stabile structure as it benefits osmosis.

Secondary nutrients

As described above calcium, magnesium and sulfur are of great importance to your cannabis plants. Although sulfur is most important during vegetative growth stage it also benefits the plant metabolism which is important during the entire growth cycle.

Flushing of nutrients in medicinal cannabis

Plants store certain nutrients in their leaves and buds. Usually this is a good thing, but as the buds will be consumed, the storage of nutrients can actually influence the taste of the cannabis negatively. This is why cannabis growers sometimes flush their plants during the final stages of growth. This means they stop adding nutrients to the irrigation water, to make sure the plant uses up the nutrients that are still stored inside or in the substrate and plant itself first.

Flushing can be done with any of BVB Substrates’ growing media in this way as well. Mind that our peat-based growing media provide a larger water and nutrient buffer than for example coir. This means you can save a lot of water and fertilisers throughout the growing stages. It does however also require a different growing strategy. Do you consider to switch from coir to peat-based mixtures? Make sure to talk to our sales advisors to create the most effective strategy!

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