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The Cannabis Nutrient Menu

3.March 2021 | Manuela

Hand grasping a cannabis plant in the midst of many other cannabis plants

Plants need a lot more than light and love. Cannabis is also happy to have a balanced menu. What exactly is on the menu and, more importantly, why, opens our two-part series on cannabis and its nutrients. Then, in part two, we'll look at how cannabis communicates its needs so it can place its order for us.


"Photosynthesis" - For many, the first big term in their vocabulary. In the chloroplasts of the plant, carbon dioxide and water are converted into glucose with the help of light energy. This releases oxygen, which in turn is released into the environment. The glucose is stored as starch or processed into cellulose. This is the basis of any contented plant, including cannabis. Outside of this foundation, however, the cannabis plant needs quite a bit of supporting nutrients, which are either obtained from the environment or supplied artificially in the form of fertilizer.

14 Nutrients for the Cannabis Plant

N and P and K and Ca and S and Mg. Then some Fe and B and Mo and Mn and Cu and Cl and Zn and Co. That's the alphabet salad that a cannabis plant likes to have on the menu. What are the exact ingredients and why are they important?

Nitrogen (N)
Nitrogen is the engine of plant growth. Its intervention in the metabolism has a lasting effect on the generative and vegetative growth phases. It is an important building block for chlorophyll. It is also involved in growth enzymes, alkaloids and vitamins. Growth performance and photosynthesis are dependent on nitrogen.
Phosphorus (P)
Phosphorus plays a central role in cell combustion and energy transfer in a plant. It is also an indispensable part of cell walls, DNA and various proteins and enzymes. Especially in the early development of a plant, phosphorus is indispensable. The highest concentration is thus also found in the roots and shoots.
Potassium (K)
Potassium is mainly involved in carbohydrate metabolism. There it supports the synthesis and transport of the carbohydrates obtained. Potassium also participates in various proteins and together with calcium it regulates osmosis, increases cell pressure and thus ensures stable cells.
Calcium (Ca)
Calcium, together with potassium, is responsible for the integrity of the cell structure. It promotes cell elongation and the functionality of the cell membrane.
Sulfur (S)
Sulfur is part of the chlorophyll balance, thus directly involved in light absorption and energy transfer. In addition, sulfur is also a component of some amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and proteins. A good sulfur content also ensures better nitrogen absorption. Not the best smelling player, but a real libero.
Magnesium (Mg)
Magnesium is involved in a number of metabolic processes. About one third goes into the construction of chlorophyll. Magnesium is therefore indispensable for beautiful green leaves.
Iron (Fe)
Iron activates enzymes that are essential for seed and germ formation, as well as functioning photosynthesis.
Boron (B)
Boron influences, similar to potassium the carbohydrate metabolism and thus supports the healthy growth of a plant. In addition, boron is a component of the cell walls, cell division and stretching, thus not entirely innocent in the elasticity of the cannabis plant.
Molybdenum (Mo)
Molybdenum is a part of the plant metabolism and activates various enzymes that affect the shape, color and growth of leaves.
Manganese (Mn)
Manganese promotes protein synthesis, activates important enzymes and regulates the hormonal balance of the cannabis plant. It influences the growth, development of roots and resistance to frost.
Copper (Cu)
Copper is involved in many places; in photosynthesis, protein synthesis, the activation of enzymes and in flower formation. In the first growth phase, copper supports seed and fruit formation.
Chlorine (Cl)
Chlorine is required by plants as chloride. It performs important functions in osmosis regulation and maintenance of electrical balance.
Zinc (Zn)
Zinc is involved in some enzymes and the metabolic process. Thus, it is responsible for optimal pollen and seed quality, and healthy growth. In addition, a healthy level of zinc reduces susceptibility to malformations, diseases and harmful organisms.
Cobalt (Co)
The role of cobalt in the healthy development of a plant has not been known for long. Cobalt can increase plant availability to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

The Difference Between Macro- and Micronutrients

There's more to this menu than meets the eye, isn't there? If you want to grow successfully, you should always keep these nutrients in balance. Basically, there is a distinction between macro- and micronutrients. Macronutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur and magnesium. All others end up in the category of micronutrients.

As the name implies, only small amounts of the micronutrients are needed. The macronutrients, most notably nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, also known as N-P-K, are match-deciding building blocks for a successful crop. To learn what happens when individual menu items are missing or the cannabis over-eats, read the blog post "How do I know the nutrient needs of a cannabis plant?".

Sources and Further Links

Adams, Philip. Weedology: Alles über den Cannabis-Anbau. 2018. Solothurn. Nachtschatten Verlag AG.

Lizermann, LL. Der Cannabis-Anbau: Der einfache Weg zum eigenen Homegrow. 2020. Solothurn. Nachtschatten Verlag AG.

Lore, Chuck. Cannabis: Anbau, Ernte und Konsum. 2020. Solothurn. Nachtschatten Verlag AG.

Mike, MoD. Enzyklopädie der Cannabiszucht: Fachbuch der Hanfgenetik. 2020. Solothurn. Nachtschatten Verlag AG.

Silva, J. A. et al. Essential Nutrients for Plant Growth: Nutrient Functions and Deficiency Symptoms. 2000. University of Hawaii.

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