Hydroponic Nutrient Solution: What It Is & Why It’s Important
What’s the most important element of hydroponic gardening? To be fair, it all matters, but one part that will present an ongoing challenge for you is getting the content of your plant’s nutrient solution exactly right. Between pH, mineral content, and the chemical content of the water you use, mixing a nutrient solution is a science. So when it comes to your hydroponic nutrient solution, you should know what it is and why it’s important. We could write about the subject forever, but here are the basics.
What Is Nutrient Solution?
A nutrient solution is just what it sounds like, the combination of water and nutrients that flows through your hydroponics system and nourishes your plants. Water is water, of course, though the water you use should be clean and clear of contaminants. Tap water will contain chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals that keep the water drinkable and usable for cooking and cleaning. Leaving water out in the sun for a day will remove most of the chlorine, but your system should have a filter to strain out the bad stuff further. Rainwater is best, so consider collecting it in a barrel.
The nutrients and minerals in the solution feed and fertilize your plants and can consist of calcium, nitrogen, potassium, phosphate, iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc, sulfur, and other nutrients. Not every mixture of nutrients contains the same elements and minerals, but these are the most common ones. Hydroponics, cal-mag supplements are available to provide your plants with a boost of nutrition.
Why Is Nutrient Solution Important?
Now you know what a hydroponic nutrient solution is, but why it’s important? You might as well ask why you must eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eating delivers the fuel you need to move and survive, and it’s the same for your plants. A nutrient solution provides the “food” hydroponic plants would get if they were growing in the soil. In some cases, certain growing mediums, like coconut coir, are very good at holding plants but make it necessary to add cal-mag supplements to your hydroponics system.
How Do I Improve My Plants’ Nutrient Intake?
Without a nutrient solution, your plants will swiftly wither and die—if they manage to grow at all. Fortunately, many nutrients are available for your plants in liquid and powder form. Simply mix them with your prepared water, and add the solution to the tank or other delivery system in your garden’s setup. Invest in any of the various devices that can measure the content and other qualities of your nutrient solution, such as a pH meter, EC and TDS meters (to measure the conductivity and mineral content), and a nutrient meter for (literal) good measure.