An Introduction to Autoflower Nutrients
While autoflowers don’t require any additional nutrients to that which normal cannabis plants require, the feeding schedule does tend to differ slightly for most growers.
The fact that autoflowering strains tend to be smaller, means that you’re going to likely be feeding less nutrients than you are used to. It is easy to over-feed nitrogen in the vegetative stage when using a soil mix in combination with a synthetic fertilizer. This is something that I’ve had to deal with on numerous occasions thanks to being too liberal with my feeding cycles.
Some individuals may choose to feed their autos the same schedule as their regular plants, however many others opt for a light handed approach with nutrients and sometimes cut the feeding to around 70% of their regular mix.
The Risks of Over-Feeding
New growers often enter into horticulture with the idea that the more you feed, the more the plant grows. Unfortunately, this is far from reality and over feeding can certainly cause as many problems as under feeding. When your plant is receiving too little of a nutrient it is called a deficiency, where as if it has excess, it is described as a toxicity.
Here are a list of common toxicities from over feeding or nutrient lockout:
- Nitrogen Toxicity
- Potassium Toxicity
- Phosphorous Toxicity
Finding The Balance
As with many facets of life, it’s about finding the balance. A plant that has too little will suffer, as will a plant that is provided with too many nutrients. The best way to know what the balance is, is to listen to your plants. It won’t do your plant harm to wait until you see the first signs of a deficiency before you increase your feed. In fact, it’s a lot safer to wait for signs of deficiency and then to feed than it is to feed excessively and then try to bring the soil back down to healthy levels.
Going Organic Can Help Your Plants
While both synthetic and organic nutrients are capable of growing quality cannabis, there are some benefits to organic grows which extend outside of the pros that one tends to hear repeatedly. I’m personally not one to tell those using synthetic to go organic, because both are perfectly acceptable and one’s own personal decision to make. With that said, synthetic nutrients do sometimes bring additional challenges to the grow room.
The excessive salts can often build up in your medium, causing nutrient lockout and subsequent deficiencies. These can be tough to diagnose, because you may be feeding in excess, yet the plant may show signs of not enough nutrients being fed, and in these cases a heavy flushing of the medium will be needed.
Organic fertilizers tend to be slower releasing, and instead of providing your plants roots directly with the nutrient, you’re instead feeding the soil with microbes, creating an symbiotic relationship between the soil and the plant. The result is that it is often harder to over-feed with organic nutrients.
In conclusion, take it easy when providing feed to your autoflowers, they often need less than you think they do. Start off slowly and only once you start seeing signs of nitrogen being depleted etc, then look at providing additional nutrients. If you’re growing organic, you have a little more margin for error on feeding.