Which micronutrients are important for cannabis?
The role of macro and micronutrients in growing cannabis
Cannabis plants need to feed to survive, so they take up minerals from the soil through their roots. Some of these minerals need to be available in large quantities, while others are only needed in traces. Find out why all of these minerals are important to the development of the cannabis plant.
Cannabis plants are living, breathing organisms, and just like us, they need food to grow. Every time we eat a meal, our digestive system extracts the nutrients we need to survive. Plants, too, depend on a certain set of nutrients in order to function properly. They breathe in carbon through their leaves and absorb whatever they need from the soil.
Plants get their nutrients from their roots. They do this through a process called active transport. In biology, substances naturally flow from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration; a principle known as diffusion. However, organisms can use cellular energy (in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP) to reverse direction. Since one's own energy is actively used to achieve this, one speaks in this case of active transport.
In order for a cannabis plant to be able to absorb minerals from the soil, it must transport hydrogen ions into the roots, which from there are conducted into the soil through the root hairs. These ions displace the minerals from the soil particles and transport them to the roots with the help of molecular pumps.
MACRONUTRIENTS VS. MICRONUTRIENTS
Cannabis plants use this fascinating process to deliver a whole range of nutrients to their roots. Your diet is made up of two main categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. In a way, this is similar to our own food intake. We need macronutrients, which we absorb in large quantities in the form of protein, carbohydrates and fat. We are also dependent on essential micronutrients such as vitamins and trace elements, which we only need in small quantities.
Cannabis plants need three minerals in large quantities: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These three minerals are usually declared on fertilizers as the N-P-K ratio. However, calcium, magnesium and sulfur must also be available to plants in relatively large quantities, and to a much greater extent than is the case for most micronutrients, but to a much lesser extent than NPK. For this reason, they are called secondary macronutrients.
That brings us to the micronutrients. Plants only need them in small amounts, but they are just as important. Micronutrients include boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.
Cannabis plants need access to all of these minerals. If only one is missing, the plants show signs of deficiency. If you, as a producer, do not meet these needs, the yield suffers.
In this article, we're going to go into each and every one of these nutrients in detail. You will learn why each one of them is important and what role they play in the physiology of the cannabis plant.
Nitrogen is an important macronutrient in plants. This element is considered to be the most important component for plant growth. What is so crucial about this nutrient?
Nitrogen is part of the chlorophyll molecule, the compound that gives plants their green color. The molecule is created in the chloroplasts of the plant cells and is required to absorb sunlight. Plants would not survive long without chlorophyll. Once the sunlight has been absorbed, the plants use this energy to produce essential sugars.
Nitrogen is also a major component of the plant protoplasm. Protoplasm is the living content of a plant cell that is held in place by a plasma membrane. It's a busy area full of essential nutrients like amino acids, sugars, water, lipids, and nucleic acids.
As one of three macronutrients, phosphorus is of course essential for plant development. The mineral is required for normal plant growth and maturation and plays a crucial role in photosynthesis, respiration and energy storage.
The element is an important part of ATP, the cellular energy currency. ATP is the result of photosynthesis and plants use the molecule for many chemical reactions.
Phosphorus also plays an important role in plants at the genetic level: it helps to form DNA (molecules that contain the genetic code of a plant) and RNA (molecules that copy and transmit the code in DNA).
Potassium, the last primary macronutrient in our range, fulfills numerous key physiological functions. Potassium helps plants regulate CO₂ uptake by opening and closing the stomata; small holes that are on the stems and leaves. By controlling these pore-like structures, it enables carbon dioxide to be absorbed and oxygen to be given off. Since plants use CO₂ during photosynthesis, potassium is also of crucial importance in this process of energy production.
The mineral is also used by plants to activate enzymes that are important for the production of ATP.
Calcium plays an important structural role in plants. The mineral contributes to the integrity of cell walls and membranes. It also takes on the function of an intracellular messenger substance that enables plants to react to developmental disorders and environmental problems.
Since calcium is a structural component, its deficiency can become very obvious. When plants are calcium deficient, old leaves begin to die off and the plants take longer to bloom. Newly formed tissue such as root tips and young leaves also show distorted growth.
Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients for photosynthesis. This alkaline earth metal is the powerhouse behind the process and is located at the heart of the chlorophyll molecule. Plants would not be able to capture light energy without magnesium.
Plants use magnesium for more than just energy processes such as metabolizing sugar and stabilizing cell membranes.
Sulfur is another important structural mineral in plant physiology. It helps in the formation of proteins, molecules that are used to make hormones, enzymes, membrane channels, and pumps.
Along with calcium, boron is an important structural component of the cell walls. The element is also directly involved in plant growth as it is fundamental for cell division. Boron is vital during reproduction, which is especially true during the flowering phase.
Cannabis plants require small, yet optimal, amounts of chlorine to stay healthy. The nutrient helps keep their leaves firm and strong. In addition, chlorine supports photosynthesis and plays a role in opening and closing the stomata.
Copper takes on the function of an activator in cannabis plants. The metal activates key enzymes that catalyze and accelerate chemical reactions. Some of these enzymes are involved in the synthesis of lignin, a structural material that, among other things, forms the supporting tissue of vascular plants.
Without a sufficient supply of iron, plants change their color from a rich green to a sickly yellow. This is because the nutrient is involved in the production of chlorophyll, which gives the plants their glorious green color. Plants also need iron to form enzymes, produce energy and reduce nitrate and sulphate levels.
Manganese contributes to essential survival processes and also helps ward off disease. It is closely related to photosynthesis, respiration, and nitrogen assimilation. The nutrient is also needed in the extension of the root cells and helps protect the roots from pathogens.
Plants only need molybdenum in very small amounts. However, its importance should not be underestimated. Without molybdenum, plants would have problems producing proteins. The nutrient is also part of two enzymes that convert nitrate into nitrite and nitrite into ammonia in order to synthesize amino acids. In addition, molybdenum is required in the conversion of inorganic phosphorus into organic forms.
If you want your cannabis plants to have healthy growth and optimal size, you need to meet their zinc needs. Fortunately, plants don't need a lot of zinc. This little is used to build enzymes, proteins and growth hormones. In addition, zinc is of crucial importance for the lengthening of the internode.
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