Are you thinking about giving liquid plant fertilizers a try? Here’s what you need to know before you take the plunge.
What are bottled – or liquid – nutrients?
Liquid nutrients are favored by growers who want to have full control over what types and quantities of nutrients their plants get. They’re essential for full-on soil-less hydro gardens, but if you’re thinking of switching to only liquid nutrients, we strongly recommend you have a bit of growing experience under your belt.
While dry powdered or granular nutrients are sprinkled on top of or mixed into the soil as a top dressing, and then watered in, liquid nutrients come in heavy concentrations and must be mixed with water prior to adding.
Compared to powdered nutrients, liquid fertilizers are much more concentrated, giving more bang for you buck.
Once you get some practice with using bottled nutrients, you will be able to tweak the contents to perfectly suit your plants’ needs at every stage of growth and figure out what is needed to harvest bigger, better, juicier crops.
Good bottled nutrient brands will have a chart to guide you in the correct use of their products, and they will have these listed on their websites for easy access. This way, you won’t need to feel overwhelmed starting out.
Liquid nutrients are more expensive than traditional or powdered fertilizers.
It can be easy to overfeed and burn your plants unless you use a reliable TDS meter.
You cannot add them straight to your soil!
Another disadvantage to liquid nutrients is they have the potential to “gas off” or evaporate right out of the water and into the atmosphere. (This is called “volatilization.”) To avoid this, buy bottles that are as fresh as possible and store them correctly in a cool, dry location away from light.
Having said all that, if you have a serious case of the “gardener’s disease” and you have a good idea of exactly what you want out of your plants, then giving liquids a go is the best next step towards becoming a horticultural master.
Tips for using bottled nutrients:
- It can be a little too easy to underfeed or overfeed your plants. Keep a close eye on your plants for the signs – each plant is a little different in what it prefers to dine on, and they will let you know what they like.
- Keep a dedicated notebook or journal handy to write down exactly what you feed your plants and when. Then you can tweak it until you’ve discovered your own perfect personal recipe.
- Any nutrients you add to the water will affect the pH. If you’re not familiar with using liquid nutrients, or you’re trying out a different brand or recipe, it’s wise to test your pH before you add them. Then let the solution sit and rest for a good 15 minutes or so, then test again and adjust.
- It’s really a bad idea to add nutrients to the water every time. Excess salts from feeding build up in your soil over time, and a good drink of nice clean H2O will flush out the excess and protect your plants from getting burned.
- Unless you are trying some demented experiment to exterminate all life in your garden, please do not add bottled nutrients straight into your soil!
- Wise growers should have a good, reliable digital TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter on hand at all times to make sure nutrient levels are exactly where they need to be.
- Beware of cheap or knock-off brands that have no reputation and/or can’t guarantee the quality or consistency of their products. There’s nothing more discouraging to a beginner than starting out with bad product!
How do I know I’m getting good liquid nutrients?
Look online, check the reviews, and looking for a brand that has an excellent reputation is the best way to find out if you’re getting a good liquid nutrient.
At St. Joe Hydro, we only stock the best. Here are our recommendations and a brief explanation on why we love them:
While their brand name might sound generic, their products are not. Based out of good ol’ Sonoma County, CA, Cutting Edge Solutions makes all of their unique blends right on-site – no middle men, no shipping half the work in from somewhere else. This ensures exceptional quality control of their products.
The company features two complete nutrient base-line: both a 3-part conventional feeding regimen and a natural, organic 3-part feeding regimen.
Their products focus on giving you the best for optimal nutrient uptake, root health, pest resistance, and terpene production.
An industry pioneer, Technaflora was one of the first companies to put out consistently reliable liquid nutrient mixes, and they still do so today.
One of the reasons their products are so good is because they not only tested their products on their own grows, but they listened to their clients and customers over the years, and worked hard to develop bottled mixes that THEY needed.
To promote their products and educate the public on the use of liquid fertilizers, the company started hosting rock concerts, giving birth to the Technaflora’s Rhythm and Roots Tour, which is held in various locations in both Canada and the US.
World-class favorites for their huge family of horticultural products, they’d be silly not to include liquid fertilizers in their line-up! We offer FoxFarm’s Big Bloom, Grow Big, Cultivation Nation, and so many more right here in our shop.
Born and raised in famous Humboldt County, CA in the early 80’s, they started off offering organic potting soils that were not sterilized in any way, paving the way to commercially provide one of the first brands of living soil.
So whether you grow medicinal or edible plants, we’ll help you pick out just the right FoxFarm product for you!
If we were forced to only sell one brand of liquid nutrient only, we’d have to go with Nectar for the Gods. Supplied by Oregon’s Only, their superior line of bottled nutrients is loaded with all the vitamins, enzymes, acids, minerals, humates, and oh so much more.
The company doesn’t bother to bog down their customers with noisy ads and pretentious claims boasting their products will produce the “biggest” or the “tallest.” Instead, they think about the needs of you, the gardener. They – and we – encourage you to give their blends a shot and taste for yourself the difference these nutrients will do for your plants.
The Base Line
Liquid fertilizers are the best way to go if you want to get very detailed with how you wants your plants to produce. Mixing these highly concentrated nutrients into your water on a set feeding regimen will let you have complete control over every stage of growth.
Also known as bottled nutrients, this method is not for the inexperienced grower. You will need to know how to “read” your plants to know if they need more or less food, and what type of food they want and when.
Having a reliable TDS (total dissolved solids) meter and a grower’s log will go a long way to help you determine the exact recipe you need to get the results you want.
If you are looking for a local source of high-quality liquid nutrients, St. Joe Hydro offers four tried-and-true brands: Nectar for the Gods, Technoflora, FoxFarm, and Cutting Edge Solutions. We also have feeding charts available to use as a guide, and we are always available to answer your questions and support you on your journey to becoming a horticultural master.
Come on in to the store today! We can’t wait to meet you and talk plants!