Primary Nutrients (N-P-K)

Last Updated: July 30, 2018

Definition - What does Primary Nutrients (N-P-K) mean?

As with most plants, in cannabis cultivation, the term primary nutrients refers to the three nutrients that are required by plants in larger quantities than other nutrients. Sometimes the primary nutrients are referred to primary macronutrients, or simply macronutrients.

The primary nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These are the most prevalent elements that make up hydroponic nutrients and other garden fertilizers. Deficiency of any one or more of the primary nutrients limits plant health, yield, and growth.

MaximumYield explains Primary Nutrients (N-P-K)

While most commercial fertilizers and nutrients contain additional elements on top of the primary nutrients, the primary nutrients are found in the highest quantities. However, this does not mean primary nutrients are more important than the other essential nutrients like calcium, sulfur, silicon, or magnesium.

Each of the primary nutrients has its own effect on cannabis plants. Nitrogen is essential for building proteins, producing carbohydrates, and for plant cell division/growth. Phosphorus helps with root growth, seed formation, and plant maturity, while potassium assists with disease resistance and boosting flowering.

Cannabis plants are very hungry plants. No matter what strain you're growing, your cannabis plants need a constant supply of nutrients practically at all times. The key to successful cultivation is matching your plant's feeding schedule with their stage of growth. For example, seedlings require a lot less nutrients than plants in the vegetative stage that are moving into the flowering stage.

In addition to the primary nutrients, there are secondary nutrients, or secondary macronutrients, that marijuana (and most other types of plants) require. The secondary nutrients are calcium, magnesium, silicon, and sulfur. These plants are required by plants in smaller quantities than the primary nutrients, but in higher does than the six micronutrients that include chlorine, molybdenum, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and boron.

No matter if they are primary or secondary, plant nutrients are bought and sold mainly in powder or liquid form. Some nutrients don't mix so well with others for long periods of time, so in cannabis cultivation there are one-part, two-part, three-part, and sometimes four-part nutrient solution brands available for plants. In these systems, bottle 'A' contains different nutrients than bottle 'B'. A feeding chart is often followed to take the guesswork out of the application timing and frequency.

It should also be noted that nutrients are further divided into 'Grow' and 'Bloom' formulas. This is because the nutrient requirements for cannabis plants change throughout their life cycles.

This definition was written in the context of Cannabis
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