There seems to be quite a bit of dispute among cultivators as to whether foliar feeding cannabis plants during their vegetative cycle is helpful or not. And along with the quarrel over spraying your ladies being a good or bad thing, there’s a significant amount of misinformation circulating throughout the blogosphere as well. So, we thought we’d share a few of the facts about foliar feeding with our green thumbed readers in hopes of clearing the air in respect to the processes value.
What is foliar feeding?
Foliar feeding is a cost effective and direct method of nourishing your beloved cannabis plants via applying liquid fertilizer directly to their leaves. But to better understand foliar feeding, it’s important to know how cannabis plants take advantage of the food you’re spraying on them.
Cannabis plants are proficient at absorbing indispensable elements through their leaves. Said absorption takes place through the leaves’ stomata. Stomata are microscopic structure openings on plants that are normally located on the outer leaf skin layer, also known as the epidermis. Somewhat similar as to the way the skin on our bodies absorbs moisture through its pores. The aforementioned structure openings consist of two particular cells, identified as guard cells that encircle a minuscule aperture called a stoma.
As for the stomata’s physiological role, their key task is to permit gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor and oxygen to move swiftly into and out of the plant’s leaf, which is important considering that the leaves are the cannabis plant’s main “food manufacturing” organs. The plant’s leaves formulate food from carbon dioxide and water in the presence of light during a process referred to as photosynthesis. As the plant’s stomata opens in the presence of sunlight, carbon dioxide distributes into the leaf while being converted to sugars during the photosynthesis process taking place inside the leaf of the cannabis plant. Hence the term foliar feeding.
Best time to spray?
The most advantageous time of day to foliar feed your plants in the vegetative cycle is as soon as possible after your grow room’s light power up for the day. Waiting until mid day is considerably less effective, holding off until towards the end of the day’s light cycle will result in unabsorbed moisture that could perhaps source fungal infections. Make sure to amply spray the underside of the leaves in order to ensure maximum absorption.
What to spray?
Most seasoned cannabis cultivators are aware of the rule of green thumb when using liquid fertilizers and nutrients on their crops, reduce the manufacturer’s recommended feeding ratio by at least half until you’ve worked out how hard you can hit your plants with said plant food.
That proverbial rule is especially imperative to follow when foliar feeding. Overloading your plants with nutrients and fertilizers can prove to be harmful and should be avoided at all costs. Learn before you burn. Your plants that is. The most effective method of foliar feeding involves misting your plants daily but lightly in the first two weeks of vegetative growth using a solution of 25 percent strength fertilizer/nutrient per gallon of water. You can also add one-quarter teaspoon of liquid dish soap per gallon of solution to help with absorption. It’s best to use an inexpensive dish soap free of perfumes if you can find it.
For the third week of foliar feeding, boost the solution mixture to approximately 50 percent strength fertilizer/nutrient of the manufacturers recommendation per gallon, spraying your plant’s leaves every 2 to 3 days. If done properly and not overfed, you will see nothing but beautiful, lush growth. But if you’re overdoing it, your plants will let you know via their appearance. Make sure to keep alert for any yellowing, discoloring, wilting of the leaves, or burn marks, because this is the best way to tell how your plants are responding to the feeding process. If your plants are looking ugly do to overfeeding, merely switch to plain water in order to help flush away any residual salts that have built up from the fertilizers and/or nutrients until they begin to look healthy.
Whether foliar feeding your cannabis plants is truly beneficial or not is absolutely debatable. But until science says “Nay”, I’m breaking out the spray! Mist on, believers of the spray bottle!
by Erik G.