Category Archives: Nutrients

Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro Hydroponic Nutrient Review

About Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro

Dyna-Gro is a one part nutrient solution geared towards the vegetative phase of the plant’s growth cycle. Since it is a one part nutrient solution there is not need to mix with other nutrients. Foliage-Pro is high in nitrogen, promoting excellent leafy growth. It can be used for all plants in the vegetative stage but works especially well when used to grow leafy greens like lettuce. Since leafy greens to go through the flowering or fruiting stages, Foliage-Pro is the only nutrients you will need to grow them.

How To Use Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro

Since Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro a 1 part nutrient solution so there’s no need for measuring or mixing of different nutrients. For recirculating hydroponic systems add 2-3 tsp per gallon of water or for non-circulating systems 1 tsp per gallon. If your growing leafy vegetables this is the only nutrients you will need. If you’re growing something that will flower/fruit, then you will eventually need to switch to Dyna-Gro “Grow” or “Bloom”.

In What Quantities Does Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro Come In?

Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro is sold in quantities of:

  • 8 ounces
  • 1 quart
  • 1 gallon
  • 15 gallons
  • 55 gallons

Cost

Many nutrient regimens involve mixing several parts causing a larger upfront cost. With Dyna-Gro you will only need to purchase 1 part and it’s affordable, starting at about $15 for 8 ounces or $25 for a quart.

Conclusion

While using a 1 part nutrient solution takes away your ability to customize your nutrients, you can’t beat the simplicity and minimal investment. Don’t let the ease of use fool you, in my experience, Foliage-Pro works great for vegetative growth, especially in leafy greens and herbs. Check out different varieties of lettuce I grew in my garage flood and drain system using Foliage Pro hydroponic nutrients.Hydroponic lettuce grown using Dyna Gro Foliage-Pro Hydroponic Nutrient


Understanding N-P-K Ratio Of Hydroponic Nutrients

An understanding of  N-P-K ratio is especially important when hydroponic gardening. Since we’re not just supplementing nutrients like in traditional dirt gardens, it’s critical that the correct nutrients are added in proper amounts for optimal growth. Fortunately, understanding N-P-K ratio is not complicated.

What Nutrients Are Needed For Hydroponic Plant Growth?

Before discussing N-P-K you must first understand what a plant needs to grow. Plants require different nutrient amounts throughout their life cycle but need more of some nutrients that others. Nutrients that plants require more of are called “macronutrients” and those nutrients that are required in smaller amounts are “micronutrients”.  N-P-K stands for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium. These are 3 of the 6 macro nutrients that plants require to live. The other 3, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, are provided by water and the air. While hydroponic nutrients also contain the micro nutrients, the focus is on the macronutrients. The numbers of N-P-K represent the percent of each nutrient in the solution.

For example, if the N-P-K ratio of a hydroponic nutrient is 7-9-5, then the nutrient contains 7% nitrogen, 9% phosphorus, and 5% potassium. The rest of the solution is made up of micro nutrients.

The Nutrients Hydroponic Plants Need In Each Stage

During the vegetative stage, plants need higher amounts of nitrogen for foliage production. Nitrogen is the reason for the deep green color of your plants leaves when they’re healthy. Higher nitrogen levels speed up a plant’s growth rate.

vegetative nutrients

This 7-9-5 ratio is a great all around vegetative nutrient for growing hydroponic vegetables.

During the flowering stage, plants require a higher amount of phosphorus for flower and fruit production. At this point, the plant doesn’t need to keep producing leaf growth, so you decrease the nitrogen level while increasing the phosphorus level. (Phosphorus is also needed for healthy root production so can be important in the early stages for root development also)

Flowering nutrients

This 3-12-6 ratio is good for vegetables that flower.

During the different stages of the plant’s life, you can also give your plants a supplemental boost.  For example, plants in the fruiting stage use larger amounts of potassium and can often benefit from a potassium booster supplement. Potassium also assists with cell wall strength and overall health of the plant.  This is only one example of the many supplements available to customize the N-P-K ratios and give your plants a boost.

Potassium nutrient supplement.

This 0-0-3 ratio potassium supplement boosts fruit production and overall plant strength.

There are many different types of hydroponic nutrients and supplements on the market with different N-P-K ratios. If you’re unsure what would work best for your garden I would suggest starting with a simple 1 part nutrient solution such as Dyna-Gro “Grow ” and “Bloom”, like pictured above. When you have a better understanding of N-P-K ratios and the specific nutrient needs of the plant type your growing, you can use a more customize-able nutrient solution such as General Hydroponics “Flora” series to tailor the nutrients to your garden.

3 Ways To Measure pH Of Nutrient Solution

When using hydroponics to grow your garden it is very important to measure pH level of your nutrient solution and keep it at the proper level. Without the proper pH levels, your plants will not be able to take in all the nutrients they need from the nutrient solution. When you measure the pH of the nutrient solution, it should fall somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5. It’s a good idea to measure pH of your nutrient solution daily to maintain a healthy hydroponic garden.  Here are the 3 ways to measure pH of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

 Litmus Test Strips To Measure pH

Litmus pH test strips

Litmus pH test strips.

Testing your hydroponic nutrient solution with litmus test strips can be one of the cheapest ways of checking the pH. The strips contain a pH-sensitive dye that changes color when dipped into your nutrient solution. The strip is then compared to a chart explaining what different color shades mean. Measuring pH with test strips can sometimes be difficult due to the fact that the color differences can be subtle. Since it’s hard to sometimes distinguish the exact color the strip is giving, it is less accurate of a measurement. With that being said, you can still give you a pretty good idea if the pH of your hydroponic nutrient solutions is in the area it needs to be.

 

Liquid Test Kit To Measure pH

liquid pH test kit

Liquid pH test Hit.

While a little more expensive than the litmus test strips, using a liquid pH test kit to measure your hydroponic nutrient solution is a little more accurate. Many are familiar with this type of pH testing if they have owned a pool. The liquid pH test kits work by placing a few drops of a pH sensitive dye into a small amount of the nutrient solution. The color of the resulting liquid is then compared to a chart showing what color represents which color of pH. Liquid pH test kits are easier to read so are more accurate that test strips.

 

 

Electronic Meter To Measure pH

Electronic pH meter

Electronic pH meter

The most accurate way of measuring the pH of your nutrient solution is by using an electronic pH meter. There are a variety of different pH meters ranging in sizes and prices, but as a hobby gardener, I suggest simpler pen like version. These pens come with an LCD screen that will show you the exact pH measurement. Before measuring the pH of your nutrient solution it will most likely need to be calibrated. pH meters are sometimes sensitive to elements and need to be well taken care of for accurate readings. Most pens have to remain wet or in a buffer when not in use to keep from drying out.

If your pH measurements of your nutrient solutions aren’t falling in that 5.5 to 6.5 range don’t panic. If caught early there are a few different ways to adjust the pH to the correct level without losing your garden.

How To Mix A Three Part Nutrient Solution

 

Three part nutrient solution

A three part nutrient solution from General Hydroponics

The Flora series from General Hydroponics is a three nutrient parts are FloraGro, FloraMicro, and FloraBloom. All three parts mixed together contain all the primary, secondary and micro nutrients needed for your garden. When mixing a three part hydroponic nutrient solution it’s a little more complex than just pouring in the different amounts of nutrients and stirring. There are a couple of rules to abide by when mixing your hydroponic nutrient solution. A three part nutrient solution has to be added in a certain order and certain way to prevent lock up.

Before Mixing Nutrient Solution

Before anything, make sure your reservoir is cleaned. You don’t want any debris or chemical to mix to affect your solution, system or plants. Add your clean water to your reservoir, but know how much you’re adding so you know how much of each nutrient solution to add. I recommend keeping it at whole gallons for easy measuring. There is a basic applications table or you can visit the General Hydroponics website and check out their feeding schedule. How much of each nutrient gets added to the solution depends on where the plant is at in its life cycle. Do not premix the three nutrient parts together before adding it to the water in your reservoir or you will experience nutrient lockout.

How to Mix A 3 Part Nutrient Solution

Step 1 FloraMicro

FloraMicro

FloraMicro

The first nutrient solution you should always add to the fresh water is FloraMicro. The other nutrients can be added in any order after FloraMicro, but FloraMicro should be added first. If your area has really hard water there is also a FloraMicro hard water specific. FloraMicro provides nitrogen, potassium, calcium and micronutrients to your garden. This part is the building block, providing the plant nutrients that it needs to provide strength and make different processes work. Make sure to measure out the exact amount of this nutrient you will need for the amount of water that you are using.  After adding the nutrient, mix the water around with something clean. After stirring I like to let it set for a couple of minutes before adding the next nutrient.

Step 2 FloraGro

FloraGro

FloraGro

The second nutrient solution that I add to the reservoir is FloraGro. FloraGro provides your plants with nitrogen, phosphorous, Potassium, and secondary minerals.  The part of the nutrient series provides the plants what they need for structural/vegetative growth and helps build a healthy root system. As with the first addition, make sure to measure out the exact amount of nutrients needed. After adding the nutrients mix the water and let it set a couple of minutes before moving onto the next nutrient.

Step 3 FloraBloom

FloraBloom

FloraBloom

The final nutrient in the three part nutrient mix is FloraBloom. FloraBloom provides your garden with high amounts of phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and sulfur. This part of the nutrient mix stimulates flower and fruit development. It also enhances flavor, aroma, and essential oils in your plans. When mixing in the nutrient solution, repeat the same steps as before, measuring the exact amount of nutrient need and then stirring well.

As a final step, you will need to measure the ph of your hydroponic solution. It should be somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5. Using a three-part nutrient is a great general feeding and can also be a great way to allow yourself the ability to tailor your nutrients to the different types of plants in your garden. Mixing these nutrients is a simple weekly task and between reservoir changes, plain water is used to top off the reservoir.


About Hydroponic Nutrients

As with all living things, plants need nutrients to survive. Since hydroponics doesn’t involve using dirt, which plants normally get their nutrients from, hydroponic nutrients need to be added to the water in a hydroponic system. At first glance using hydroponic nutrients may seem a little complex, but soon you learn that most of the work is done for you. Companies that make hydroponic nutrients often have feeding schedules that provide exact measurements of hydroponic nutrients to add and when to add them.

Hydroponic nutrients

I’ve had great success with “General Hydroponics” brand and I find it cost-effective. It’s used by NASA, so works for them should work for me.

What Hydroponics Nutrients Work The Best?

There is no one brand or type that works the best of the all. There are many different brands and types of nutrients to choose from. If you’re a beginner to hydroponics or just looking for a simple hydroponic nutrient regimen I recommend using single part nutrient solution.  I typically use a single part nutrient solution made by Dyna Gro. When you develop and understanding how the different N-P-K ratios, General Hydroponics offers a good 3 part solution to tailor your nutrients specifically to the type of garden you’re growing.

Choosing The Correct Nutrient Solution For Your Hydroponic Garden

Hydroponic nutrients vary by what is called N-P-K ratio. The N-P-K ratio informs you of the amount of each of the different macro nutrients contained in the nutrient solution. I explain N-P-K  ratios and what ratio will work for your garden in the article “Understanding N-P-K Ratios“.