Three part nutrient formulas, have in recent times become some of the most popular hydroponic plant feeding nutrients available, even though these rapid dissolving liquid formulas have been designed and produced with hydroponics in mind, they have seen great results in Coco Peat and soil based mediums as well.
Using 3 part nutrients does have it's benefits and drawbacks though, so in this article we will discuss these to ensure that you achieve optimal results from your 3 part liquid nutrients.
Three part nutrient concentrates give the grower absolute control over their plants nutrient requirements. With 3 parts to add seperately, experienced growers can fine tune their feeding for every stage of plant development/growth. This is the number one benefit to cultivating plants with 3 part nutrients, and there are a few different formulas to consider when mixing these together for your reservoir or watering.
The main disadvantage of using a three part feeding program is that the separate solutions will need to be accurately mixed together to achieve the correct ratios required for healthy plant development. If the formulas are added in the incorrect order or ratios, there will be an imbalance within the solution. This will cause nutrient lockout which can lead to the plant showing deficiencies.
How to Mix
Before starting, make sure that your reservoir is clean without any debris or salts present, you don’t want unknown chemicals disrupting your process, affecting your solution.
- Add clean water to your reservoir first, but remember to measure how much water is going in so that you know how much of each nutrient will need to be added later. The amount of each nutrient added to the mix will depend on plant variety and current stage of growth.
- These nutrients will need to be added to the water in the correct order. Do not premix together before adding as this will cause nutrient lockout to occur.
- The first nutrient that will be added to the fresh water is Micro. Grow and Bloom nutrients can be added in any order after Micro, as long as Micro is added first. The Micro will provide Nitrogen, Potassium, Calcium, Zinc, Copper, Molybdenum, Iron, Boron, and Manganese. Be sure to add the correct amount of Micro to the solution for the amount of water used.
- After adding the Micro, mix the solution and let it stand for a few minutes.
- The next nutrient to be added will be the Grow. This will provide the plants with Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulfur and Magnesium. Grow will give plants everything that is needed for healthy vegetative growth and root development. As with Micro, be sure to add the exact dosage for plant variety and stage of growth and mix well. Let the solution stand for a few minutes before adding the Bloom.
- The last nutrient to be added will be Bloom. This will supply plants with a Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus and Magnesium. Bloom will give plants sufficient nutrients needed for healthy flower and fruit development, this formula is also know to increase the flavour, aroma and essential oil content of flowering plants.
- Be sure to once again mix the exact dosages and to let the solution stand for a little while before moving on to the next step.
- The final step will be to test and adjust the pH level of your nutrient solution, this can be measured with a Basic pH Meter and adjusted with plant specific pH Up or Down.
- Optimal pH levels for hydroponics and Coco will be in the range of pH 5.5 – 6.2, for soil pH 6.2 – 6.5
Most manufacturers supply tried and tested feeding charts with their 3 part liquid nutrients which you can use as a guide. There have been some experienced growers that have created their own formulas and have seen great success doing so. The most popular being the Lucas Formula, this was created by an experienced grower named Lucas and was originally shared through online growing forums, and quickly became one of the most well known formulas using liquid 3 part nutrients, however the Lucas formula uses only the Micro and Bloom concentrations.