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How Do I Use Nutrients and What Do They Do?

So you're growing and you're looking to make the most out of your plants. Well, we get it, and we got you. BCNL not only offers seven-days-a-week customer service, but we also have an assortment of custom nutrient packages that can help you get where you need to.

We'd never steer you wrong, but in the event that you want to have a better understanding of the potential hurdles you may face when it comes to dealing with nutrients or nutrient deficiencies, you're at the right place.

Below, you'll find possible plant symptoms and what they might mean, as well as what each nutrient does for your plant (and what happens when there's not enough of it.

Nutrient and Deficiency Table

To use the table, match up the plants symptoms with those on the table. Nutrients that are shaded red are the problem.

Nitrogen (N) - Pale plants, red stems, smaller growth. Rapid yellowing of lower leaves progressing up the plant. Add any chemical fertilizer containing N. Treated plants recover in about a week. Change the ratio of base nutrients, cutting back on flower and increasing Grow and Common.

Phosphorus (P) - Slow or stunted growth, red stems. Smaller leaves that are dark green. Lower leaves yellow and die. Add chemical fertilizer containing P. Affected leaves will not show recovery, but new growth will appear normal. Our nutrients are generally fairly high in P and K, so deficiencies are extremely unlikely. However, if it is an issue, extra Super B+ would be recommended. The quality of the medium also has bearing when it comes to the availability of P—if it’s too high in Calcium, it can lock up the P. In this case giving Super B as a foliar would benefit your plant since it’s more readily available. Common is a better choice.

Potassium (K) - Affected plants are usually tallest and appear to be most vigorous. Necrotic spots form on lower leaves. Red stems. Leaves appear pale or yellow. Add chemical fertilizer containing K. See above.

Calcium (Ca) - Lack of Calcium in the grow medium results in the grow medium becoming too acidic. This leads to Mg or Fe deficiency or very slow stunted growth. Adding more Common is the immediate choice, but FHD has released a new product Calnesium which is a better choice for Ca deficiency since it also contains Calcium Chloride in order to keep the nitrogen values from getting too high and causing other problems.

Sulphur (S) - Plants suffering from S deficiencies exhibit yellowing of new growth. Bud Boom is a good source of Sulphur.

Magnesium (Mg) - Lower leaves yellow and may even turn white while veins remain dark green. Blades die and curl upward. Use Bud Boom, but Calnesium would be a better option.

Iron (Fe) - Leaves on growing shoots turn pale and veins remain dark green. pH imbalances make iron insoluble. Foliar feed with chemical fertilizer containing Fe or rusty water. Flower is the best option for BCNL growers, however Calnesium has additional Iron and would be our first choice.

Manganese (Mn) - Necrotic and yellow spots form on top leaves. Mn deficiency occurs when large amounts of Mg are present in the grow medium. Foliar feed with any chemical fertilizer containing Mn. Flower and Grow both contain Mn.

Boron (B) - Growing shoots turn grey or die. Growing shoots appear burnt. Treat with one teaspoon of Boric acid (sold as eyewash) per gallon of water. Flower and Grow both contain B.

Molybdenum (Mo) - Yellowing of middle leaves. Foliar feed with chemical fertilizer containing Mo. Flower and Grow both contain Mb, but Calnesium contains an additional source. This deficiency should be extremely rare.

Zinc (Zn) - White areas form at leaf tips and between veins. Occurs in alkaline grow mediums. Zn deficiency can be treated by burying galvanized nails in the grow medium. Flower and Grow both contain Zn, but Calnesium contains an additional source. 

*Calnesium is Future Harvest’s version of Advanced Nutrients "Cal Mag."

Nutrients Explained and How The Plants Use What You Give Them

It’s not only important to know how to grow, when to feed, when to water, how much light you need, air, pests, etc., but it's also crucial to know why the plants grow. What is it that the plants like that make them perk up and say "hello"? Your relationship with your plant is like any other: you have to listen to them and know that they want (and give it to them).

Primary, Secondary, and Micro Plant Nutrients

Plant Nutrients: 16 chemical elements are known to be important to plant growth and survival. The 16 chemical elements are divided into two main groups: non-mineral and mineral.

The non-mineral nutrients are: hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), & carbon (C). These nutrients are found in the air and water. In a complex process known as photosynthesis, plants use energy from the sun to change carbon dioxide (CO2 — carbon and oxygen) and water (H2O — hydrogen and oxygen) into starches and sugars. These starches and sugars are then utilized by plants as food.

In their natural environment, plants obtain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from the surrounding air and water. So it follows that when managing an indoor hydroponic garden, among other environmental conditions, one must carefully control the lighting, water, and ventilation systems to provide adequate amounts of these essential materials which are otherwise lacking in such artificial environmental conditions.

Mineral Nutrients: The 13 mineral nutrients that come from the grow medium are readily dissolved in water and absorbed through a plant’s roots. Depending upon grow medium composition, there are not always enough of these nutrients available in the root zone to facilitate healthy plant growth. This is why plants generally respond so well when nutrient fertilizers are added to the grow medium.

The 13 mineral nutrients are divided into two separate groups: Macro-nutrients and Micro-nutrients.

Macronutrients themselves are further divided into two separate groups: NPK, or primary nutrients, and secondary nutrients, which are required in smaller amounts, but are no less important to plant function and development.

The primary nutrients are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). The percentage of NPK amounts found in chemical and organic fertilizers are usually displayed with three bold numbers on the product label. These three mineral nutrients are required in large quantities and benefit plants in the following ways:

Nitrogen (Grow and Common have Nitrogen [N])

  • Necessary for formation of amino acids, the building blocks of protein 
  • Essential for plant cell division, vital for plant growth 
  • Aids in production and use of carbohydrates 
  • Directly involved in photosynthesis 
  • Necessary component of vitamins 
  • Increases foliage and plant vigor 
  • Affects plant energy reactions

Phosphorus (Super B+ has Phosphorus [K])

  • Facilitates photosynthesis, respiration, energy storage and transfer, cell division and enlargement
  • Improves quality of fruits, vegetables, and grains
  • Helps plants survive harsh winter conditions 
  • Promotes early root formation and growth 
  • Increases water-use efficiency
  • Stimulates plant metabolism 
  • Vital to seed formation 
  • Hastens maturity

Potassium

  • Carbohydrate metabolism and the break down and translocation of starches
  • Activates enzymes and controls their reaction rates 
  • Increases disease and cold resistance 
  • Improves quality of seeds and fruit
  • Essential to flower development
  • Increases water-use efficiency
  • Essential to protein synthesis
  • Important in fruit formation
  • Improves winter hardiness
  • Increases photosynthesis

The Secondary nutrients are calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S).

Calcium (Common and Calnesium have Calcium [C])

  • Increases fruit set
  • Regulates plant respiration
  • Stimulates microbial activity
  • Involved in nitrogen metabolism
  • Essential for nut development in peanuts
  • Utilized for Continuous cell division and formation 
  • Aids translocation of photosynthesis from leaves to fruiting organs

Magnesium (Bud Boom and Calnesium have lots of Magnesium [Mg])

  • Improves utilization and mobility of phosphorus
  • Activator and component of many plant enzymes
  • Influences earliness and uniformity of maturity
  • Key element of chlorophyll production 
  • Increases iron utilization in plants
  • Aids in seed germination

Sulphur (Bud Boom is a good source of Sulphur [S]) 

  • Aids in seed production
  • Integral part of amino acids
  • Helps develop enzymes and vitamins
  • Promotes overall growth and maturity
  • Promotes nodule formation on some plants 
  • Necessary in chlorophyll formation (though not a constituent)

Micronutrients are elements that are essential for plant growth and are needed in only very small (micro) quantities. These elements are sometimes called minor elements or trace elements, but use of the term micronutrient is encouraged by the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America.

The micronutrients are: Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Chloride (Cl), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo) and Zinc (Zn).

Even though plants require micronutrients in far lesser quantities than macronutrients, they are just as important for plant development, overall health, and crop yields. Most of the micronutrients serve as plant activators and as such are critical to many plant functions.

The following is a brief summary of the functions which micro nutrients perform:

Boron (Flower and Grow both contain Boron [B])

  • Essential for germination of pollen grains and growth of pollen tubes
  • Essential for seed and cell wall formation
  • Affects nitrogen and carbohydrates
  • Necessary for sugar translocation
  • Promotes plant maturity

Chlorine

  • Interferes with phosphorus uptake
  • Controls water loss and moisture stress
  • Enhances maturity of small grains on some grow medium

Copper

  • Intensifies color
  • Increases sugar content
  • Catalyzes several plant processes
  • Major function in photosynthesis 
  • Major function in reproductive stages
  • Indirect role in chlorophyll production
  • Improves flavor of fruits and vegetables

Iron (Flower and Calnesium have Iron [I])

  • Acts as an oxygen carrier
  • Promotes formation of chlorophyll
  • Reactions involving cell division and growth
  • Activator for enzymes that control respiration

Manganese Flower and Grow both contain Manganese [Mn]) 

  • Essential in phosphorous and magnesium uptake
  • Functions as a part of certain enzyme systems
  • Increases the availability of P and Ca
  • Aids in the utilization of nitrogen
  • Aids in chlorophyll synthesis

Molybdenum (Flower and Grow as well as Calnesium, contain Molybdenum [Mo])

  • Aids in the formation of legume nodules
  • Needed to convert inorganic phosphates to organic forms in the plant
  • Required to form the enzyme “nitrate reductas” which reduces nitrates to ammonium in plants
  • Fun fact: The name is from Neo-Latin molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek "Μόλυβδος or molybdos," meaning lead, since its ores were confused with lead ores

Zinc

  • Necessary for chlorophyll production
  • Necessary for carbohydrate formation
  • Necessary for starch formation
  • Increases leaf and fruit size
  • Aids plant enzyme system
  • Aids in seed formation

In addition to the 13 nutrients listed above, plants also require Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen, which are extracted from air and water to make up the bulk of plant weight.

BCNL Nutrients Explained

Grow, Common, Flower 

  • A complete blend of high quality Macro and Micro nutrients essential for maximum plant growth. 
  • 99% sediment free meaning it won’t clog up drip spears, emitters, spinners or any of your irrigation.
  • We don’t use urea or fillers giving us a very clean high quality nutrient line.
  • Very concentrated formula giving you very good value for money. 

(Advanced Equivalent: Sensi Grow, Bloom) 

Prop o Gator 

  • Is an all in one root stimulator that will help give you a healthy substantial root mass. 
  • It will stimulate your roots while also providing a food source for your plants. 
  • The key to having a healthy plant is to have healthy roots.
  • Prop o Gator provides a mix of organic and synthetic nutrients to give your plant the best start possible. 
  • It will allow your plant to take in as much nutrients as it desires to grow to its maximum potential. 

(Advanced Equivalent: Voodoo juice) 

Super B+ 

  • Enriched with Vitamin B1 Thiamine which has many positive effects on plant growth, assisting with rooting, growing, flowering, and fruiting. 
  • It keeps the plant stress free to allow for a healthy and vigorous growth. 
  • When using vitamins with a good quality food source it has been proven to significantly increase yields. 
  • Our Super B+ is enriched with sea kelp which will promote vigorous growth and increased yields. 

(Advanced Equivalent: B52’s/Organic B) 

CarboBlast 

  • Is an extra energy supplement for your plant. 
  • By providing an extra energy source means the plant doesn’t have to rely on its own energy so heavily. 
  • This will allow the plant to produce essential oils and fragrances a lot more easily. 
  • Carbohydrates can help speed up the plants metabolism which will help to increase yields. 
  • Plants can often run out of energy so providing this extra boost means they won’t stall. 

(Advanced Equivalent: CarboLoad) 

BudBoom 

  • Is a fantastic finisher that will help increase the size and density of your fruits. 
  • It is a PK additive containing Sulfur and Magnesium which help in the final stages of fruit development. 
  • BudBoom will also help to ripen and increase the flavour of the fruits produced. 
  • Helps with the production of essential oils. 

(Advanced Equivalent: Big Bud)

Plantacilin 

  • The active ingredient Bacillus Subtilis a beneficial bacteria that will help protect your roots. 
  • It will help maintain healthy roots whilst defending against diseases such as root rot and pythium. 
  • Breaks down plant material into simple sugars that the plant can use for food. 
  • Will produce anti-microbial compounds to combat pathogens. 
  • Use Planticilin as a preventative before disease occurs will help to protect the plant. 

(Advanced Equivalent: Tarantula)

BudStart 

  • Will increase the size and number of new flowering sites on a fruiting crop. 
  • It will increase early flowering sets by expanding them and elongating them. 
  • With the added PK boost, it will help to create a more vigorous start in the production of flowers. 
  • BudStart will increase yields and decrease production time. 
  • To be used in the early stages of flower around week 2. 

(Advanced Equivalent: Bud Blood) 

Ton O Bud 

  • Is a fantastic middle flowering enhancer. 
  • It is a PK boost that will significantly increase the size of the flowers on the plant. 
  • It is designed to pack on bulk to the fruits in the middle stages of flower. 
  • This will in turn help to increase yields and will massively increase flower sets. 
  • It will increase the amount of fruits while also maximizing the amount of nodes between flower sites. 
  • Making them tight and dense this will help increase the fruit size and mass. 

(Advanced Equivalent: BigBud) 

Royal Gold 

  • Also known as the miracle molecule. 
  • It can be used in both grow medium and hydroponic systems, to help accelerate plant growth and increase yields. 
  • Fulvic Acid increases the permeability of plant cells, increasing nutrient uptake. 
  • It will help to chelate essential nutrients, which plants may not be able to assimilate easily. 
  • The nutrients will piggyback the fulvic acid and will be transported to all cells that need them. 
  • Our Royal Gold has a high Fulvic content making it very concentrated and of extremely high quality. 

(Advanced Equivalent: Fulvic Acid) 

Quick Roots Cloning 

  • This unique formulation will surround the stem with nutrients to help give the plant the best possible start. 
  • It helps to stimulate the plant to promote root growth very early on. 
  • Quickroots is ideal for Propagation of the most hard to root plants. 

(Advanced Equivalent: Juicy Roots)

Veg Boom Plus 

  • Helps treat plants to increase cell division, cell differentiation and cell growth. 
  • It will increase the amount of branches the plant produces in vegetated growth. 
  • It will also decrease the amount of time needed for vegetated growth. 
  • Helps plants to grow bigger and healthier quicker than normal.
  • It can be used as a foliar spray or direct application in to your reservoir. 
  • It can also be used in the first 2 weeks of flower. 

Bud Boom Plus 

  • Will increase the amount of fruiting sites on the plant, whilst also adding weight to the fruits. 
  • It will help the plant to grow vigorously whilst stimulating fruit richness. 
  • It can be used as foliar spray and for direct application into your reservoir. 
  • It is best to be used in beginning and middle stages of the flower. 

(Advanced Equivalent: Overdrive) 

Need some nutrients? Consider our Gold Package (three cycles), which contains...

  • Grow 1L 
  • Plantacillin 250mL 
  • Common 4L 
  • Bud Start 250mL 
  • Flower 4L 
  • Ton O Bud 500mL 
  • Super B+ 1.5L 
  • VegBoom Plus 500mL 
  • CarboBlast 1.5L 
  • BudBoom Plus 1.5L 
  • BudBoom 1L 
  • Royal Gold Fulvic Acid 1.5L 
  • Quick Roots Gel 2oz 
  • Prop O Gator 1L

Now that you know what each nutrient does and what deficiencies in them might look like, take a look at how to read BCNL nutrient charts and have total control over your plants.

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