If you’re growing a hydroponic garden, you of course need nutrient solution. Let’s assume that you already know that. What you may not know, however, is how much nutrient solution you need to use for your indoor garden. It depends on a few different factors, and our guide will provide you with the info you need to balance the nutrients in your hydroponic system.
Size of the reservoir
Getting the nutrient level wrong in your indoor garden can make a huge difference in the results you get from your plants, especially if you’re trying to harvest them. Too little fertilizer, and they can’t reach peak growth. But too much and you could fry them.
One of the main factors that goes into how much hydroponic solution to use is how big your reservoir is. But you don’t fill the whole thing with fertilizer. You’ll need to fill most of the reservoir with water first. If you’re using regular tap water, allow the chlorine to dissipate before you add fertilizer and test the pH. You should fill the reservoir full enough that when it starts pumping water through the system, the water and hydroponic solution combo is full enough to continuously move through the pump. The reservoir should never be completely empty.
In general, you will need between about 1 to 2 cups of pre-mixed liquid nutrient solution per 16 gallons of water. Here’s a handy fertilizer chart to guide you. But remember, your fertilizer needs may vary from the chart, and different factors may interfere with your plants’ abilities to absorb nutrients.
Stage of plant growth
Another big factor in determining amount of hydroponic solution to use is the stage of growth that your plants are in. They need different amounts of nutrients at various stages in the life cycle. You can make your own unique mixes for this purpose. Or you can buy pre-mixed nutrient solutions and determine the amount you will need for your plants’ stages of growth. It’s fine to use multiple prepared solutions to get just the ratio you want.
When going with a prepared hydroponic solution, follow the instructions on the label to determine appropriate amounts for your reservoir. Generally, you will provide fewer nutrients early in the life cycle. When your plant hits the big part of its growth, then is the time to increase the amount of nutrients. And if you see signs of nutrient burn, cut back. It’s always better to start with a little less than to overdo it.
Type of plant
As if you didn’t have enough variables to think about, you’ll also need to determine the right nutrient ratios and amounts for the particular plants you are growing. Tomatoes and peppers, for instance, require quite a bit more fertilizer than most leafy greens. Usually you can find suggestions from the nursery where you purchase your plants.
Nutrient dosing is not an exact science. Too many factors are in play to say there is a precise amount that leads to perfect plants and huge harvests. So don’t worry about perfection. If you’ve got a question about how much hydroponic solution you need for your particular plants, come into Indoor Cultivator for a chat.