There are several nutritional problems that occur when you don’t make it a point to prepare and maintain a really appropriate hydroponic nutrient solution. Many other factors such as temperature, humidity, aeration and pH level can also trigger the deficiency or the toxicity of nutrients in your solution. However, it is not that difficult to avoid and rectify various nutritional problems; particularly if you are knowledgeable enough about hydroponic nutrient, its preparation as well as maintenance.
Now, do you know how to check nutritional problems in your hydroponic plants? Here are some of the most common problems that manifest in different nutrients along with their symptoms:
Deficiency of Nutrients
- Nitrogen – When there is a shortage of Nitrogen, especially in the form of Ammonia or Nitrate, plants tend to have yellowish leaves while some parts turn purple.
- Phosphorus –Triggers stunted growth, and plants turning dark green. The leaves can droop and curl backward. You can expect poor fruit/flower production and root growth.
- Potassium – You can notice that older leaf margins appear burned out and the plants become prone to fungus.
- Calcium –Causes crinkling of leaves and the development of brown spots on the bottom of the fruit that eventually leads to decay (roots and shoots die off).
- Sulfur – A shortage of this nutrient is usually uncommon but when it occurs, young leaves tend to turn yellow with purple bases which then trigger premature leaf death.
- Iron – Plants become pale and there is yellowing between the veins.
- Magnesium – Older leaves curl and there is yellowing between veins
- Boron – Brittle or twisted stems are the most common symptom of Boron deficiency.
- Copper –Leaves turn yellow-spotted and pale or distorted.
Toxicity or an Excess in Nutrients
- Nitrogen –Results in delayed fruit ripening and plants are becoming susceptible to bugs or pests.
- Phosphorus – Can compromise the availability of Copper and Zinc, resulting in purple leaves.
- Potassium – Toxicity results in Magnesium deficiency.
- Calcium – Though toxicity in this nutrient is usually hard to spot, it results in Magnesium and/or Potassium deficiency symptoms.
- Sulfur – Slows down the growth of plants and the leaves grow smaller.
- Iron – Deficiency is quite common while toxicity is rare and very difficult to spot.
- Magnesium – An excess in this nutrient rarely transpires, and thus symptoms are not easy to determine.
- Boron – You will notice that leaf tips turn yellow and die off when there is an excess in Boron.
- Copper – Excessive Copper will reduce the availability of Iron.
Once you have determined that there is a problem with any of your nutrients, it is best to flush or drain your system so you can begin with a fresh batch of corrected hydroponic nutrient formulation. But of course, you need to identify the problem and figure out the best way to deal with it aside from flushing the solution in your system. Your plants may be having some problems absorbing the nutrients or it can also be that your plants are becoming uncomfortable with the growing environment.
Keep track of your plants’ ability to absorb all the nutrients that you give them by consistently monitoring and testing the pH level. Remember, most nutritional problems tend to manifest when your plants are becoming less efficient in absorbing the nutrients. They are either consuming more of a particular nutrient or are not getting any. Your solution can turn acidic over time and this can trigger either the depletion or toxicity of the nutrients. Be consistent with the necessary routine maintenance.
Learning about hydroponic nutrient is not as tedious and complicated as it seems. It can be confusing at first. But you will eventually enjoy preparing and maintaining your own water-nutrient solution if you just take some time in getting all or most of the information that you need. Make sure that you understand the basics as well as the dos and don’ts of preparing the right hydroponic nutrient solution. If you have some more questions, you can check out some forums and many other relevant websites.