- PLANT NUTRIENTS
Frequently Asked Questions
What is hydroponics?
In practice all this really means is all the nutrient minerals that a plant needs to live and grow are added to the water in the form of a complete nutrient package. Once the nutrients are in the water, there is no longer any need for the root environment to have any other properties other than good oxygen, moisture content and drainage for good root development. This effectively means that all of the plants nutritional requirements are met by the introduction of water based feed rather than from the rooting media. Growing hydroponically generally delivers 30%-50% extra yield with much faster growth rates than alternative growing methods. A typical crop turnaround period (from cutting to harvest) is between 12-14 weeks.
Is growing in hydroponics easy?
There are hydroponic systems tailored to every level of ability, each one capable of delivering great results. Call the EastWestHydro technical team on 888-464-1849 to find out which system is best for you.
What's the best medium for flood & drain?
Debatable. Rockwool is the preferred method in the States and Clay pebbles are preferred in Europe. Both work very well. It's up to you.
What is the best type of hydroponic system?
The one that suits you best! This is an entirely subjective choice as each person will prefer a different set-up and have different requirements (i.e. number of plants, height of system). Call the technical line on 888-464-1849 to discuss your personal requirements.
Are grow lights safe?
Very, as long as you buy from a reputable retailer and use a timer unit where applicable. Bear in mind that with HID lighting the lamps become very hot when in use, so make sure children and pets do not have access to them.
What’s the difference between a budget grow light for $140.00 and a high end one for $300.00?
Believe it or not, it’s normally just the reflector. High end reflectors have been optimized to spread the light and lamp heat out over a wider area, budget reflectors tend to concentrate the light directly under the lamp, which occasionally be too much for these plants and cause heat stress. However, in reality the very high end reflectors tend to be used for higher value crops and research, most budget versions are fine for growing chillis.
I’ve seen it mentioned that you should use ventilation in indoor growing areas where HID lights are used, why is this?
If you use HID lights in confined spaces heat build up can be a problem, especially with 600W versions and above. In this case it makes sense to use a small extractor fan of some kind to remove some of the hot air and keep the air in the area fresh and full of CO2, this can become depleted quite quickly in indoor growing areas.
I’ve seen a lot of talk about digital grow lights on the internet, are they as good as all the websites make out?
No, not really, claims they use less electricity are thoughtless at best, if you see a website using this as a selling point be very careful when dealing with the company, they are either ill informed or unethical. Certain Digital ballast used in conjunction with certain lamps can produce higher outputs, but you’ll always end up using more electricity to do so – it’s a straight forward law of physics.
What is Ebb & Flow?
Sometimes known as flood & drain, ebb & flow systems periodically flood the entire root zone with nutrient solution before it dries out. This is done with a timer on a pump from a main nutrient tank usually located directly below the flood tray. The root zone is flooded for short periods of time (between 10-15 minutes). The interval between floods will depend on plant size and medium used (rockwool or expanded clay pebbles).
What is Flood & Drain?
Sometimes known as ebb & flow, flood & drain systems periodically flood the entire root zone with nutrient solution before it dries out. This is done with a timer on a pump from a main nutrient tank usually located directly below the flood tray. The root zone is flooded for short periods of time (between 10-15 minutes). The interval between floods will depend on plant size and medium used (rockwool or expanded clay pebbles).
What is a Run-to-Waste system?
As opposed to a recirculating system, run-to-waste systems do not run the nutrient solution back to a main tank after circulation. The nutrient solution is used once and collected in a separate tank never to be used again. 10% run-off (the amount of waste nutrient in comparison with your start quantity) is sufficient for good results. Try to keep your waste to minimum. In third world countries, run-to-waste systems where no run off waste is achieved are very popular for water conservation.
What is a recirculating system?
As opposed to a run-to-waste system, the nutrient solution is returned to a main nutrient tank for recirculation.
Nutrient & Management
How do I know whether to use hard or soft water feed?
Officially, hard water is anything over pH 7. In practical terms, for growing plants hydroponically hard water feeds should only be used for very hard water generally with a pH above 7.8 and a cF value above 8-9. Soft water feed should be used in all other cases and the water will need to be pH adjusted with either nitric or phosphoric acid.
How do I test and adjust my pH?
Electronic pH pens are available. Many people still like to use manual indicator kits which are easy to use and foolproof. These kits are are the cheaper option. Water should be de-chlorinated (left to stand to allow the chlorine to evaporate) for 12 hours before testing.
Why do I need to test my pH?
When growing hydroponically, the nutrients are more available to the plants if the pH is between a range of 5.4-6.7.
Do I need to adjust my pH for my soil garden?
Simply, No! The nutrient availability pH range in a soil environment is much larger so pH adjustment is not necessary.
Should I use Nitric acid or Phosphoric acid for adjusting my pH?
This is your choice. It's just another option for you. Generally, Nitric acid is used in the vegetative stage and phosphoric in the flowering stage.
How often should I change my nutrient solution in my hydroponic system?
When the plants are young, every two weeks should suffice. With small nutrient tanks you may want to do it more often. When the plants are bigger, (eating and drinking more) it's best to change the solution every week to ensure optimum results.
Should I adjust my pH every day?
In recirculating systems (NFT, Flood & Drain) the pH will fluctuate on a daily basis. This is normal. Do not adjust the pH every day, rather every two or three days to avoid build-up of phosphoric acid in the system.
Do I need to introduce oxygen to my nutrient solution?
Although not necessary, addition of oxy-plus (liquid oxygen) can often be of benefit in increasing yield and helping the plant perform in demanding environments.
What is the best way of introducing oxygen?
Both the use of liquid oxygen and air pumps and air stones are good ways of introducing oxygen. Use of air stones will also help keep the nutrient solution moving maintaining consistency and reducing stagnant water.
Do I need a nutrient heater?
These can be useful, especially in the colder months. They will prevent the nutrient solution from getting too cold when the lights are off. This will not be a problem when the lights are on. Maintain nutrient temperatures between 20-23 degrees Celsius.
Should I be using PK 13/14?
PK 13/14 is a phosphorous/potassium boost for mid to late flowering. This product should increase yield and weight of fruit and flowers. Add to your bloom feed.
Do I need an airstone in my nutrient tank? Why?
Most good hydroponic systems maintain enough oxygen content in the nutrient solution due to their design. This makes addition of airstones non-essential although they can be beneficial in keeping the solution moving at times when it is not in circulation around your system. This keeps the solution evenly mixed and always well aerated.
What's the best lamp to use for vegetative growth?
For early vegetative growth, fluorescent tubes work well but light loving plants need more light progressively as they get bigger. Generally, High output and Halide lamps are the most popular although Sodiums work well too. Call the technical line on 888-464-1849 for more detailed advice.
What are the benefits of a Light Rail?
Your garden can be made larger using the same amount of light and electricity effectively increasing your yield per Watt.
How close should I have my 250w/600w light to my plant?
It may depend on factors like size and height of growroom and whether you have an extraction system. As a rough guide, with young plants, approx 4ft is a good start point. When the plants are big and strong, you may be able to get your light 2ft or even closer without burning. It is important to keep your plant healthy so always err on the side of caution.
How close should I have my 1000w light to my plant?
When the plants are young, 4-5ft. When they are big and strong (2ft plus tall) 2-3ft.
Should I be using a heat shield with my light?
As well as acting as a heat shield, they are designed to produce an even spread of light over your garden. They reduce hot spots under the lamp without reducing yield. It could be argued that everyone should be using them. Certainly people with multiple light sources should use them.
What are the advantages of open-ended reflectors?
Many reflectors on the market today are of gullwing type design with two wings and open ends. These reflectors are very popular and tend to work very well as most of the heat generated by the lamp itself comes out of the end of the tube. This design allows the heat to escape and allows the light to be closer than many closed end reflectors.
I want to put a timer on my light system. How should I do this?
On fluorescent systems, a standard digital or mechanical timer will suffice. On H.I.D. (High Intensity Discharge) lights such as 250W and larger Halide and Sodium systems, a normal timer would blow without the use of a JCO relay. These relays are used in conjunction with a normal timer and allow you to switch up to three or four lights on the one timer system.
How often should I change my bulbs?
For high output Sodium and Halide lamps, you should change your lamp at least every 9 months. This is because the performance of your bulbs steadily diminishes from three weeks after initial firing. From this point it is a straight line down in terms of performance versus time. Due to the low price of lamps these days, you often lose more yield than the cost of a new lamp if you leave replacement longer than this.
My growroom smells what should I do?
We recommend carbon filters for complete odor elimination. These connect to the extraction system in your growroom. Contact EastWestHydro technical team on 888-464-1849 for further advice on size requirements and installation.
What's the ideal room temperature for my growroom?
When your lights are on, the ideal temperature for your growroom should be 24-27 degrees Celsius (in the shade) for most light loving plants. When the lights are off, the temperature should be between 21-24 degrees Celsius.
How much air exchange do I need in my grow chamber?
There are many factors which can affect your requirements (i.e. headroom) so please call our technical team on 888-464-1849 to find the best solution for your exact requirements. As a rough guide, 20 plus air changes per hour are necessary. The less headroom you have and the more lights you have, the more air exchange per hour you need.
How often does my carbon filter need changing?
Carbon filters generally last at least a year. Most of the larger sizes will last at least 18 months after which time a cheap refill may be obtained over the counter.
Should I use Mylar or Black & White sheeting?
Both have very high light reflective properties. Mylar reflects more light but also reflects more heat as it is ultimately a heat reflective material with virtually 100% heat reflection. Therefore Mylar can be a problem in small growrooms or rooms without good air exchange making them a bit too hot in summer.
Do I need an extractor?
You may not need extractor, but you will always get better results with one and it will pay for itself very quickly in extra yield and better quality.
How good are the carbon filters?
The filters sold at EastWestHydro are 100% effective. Guaranteed. Beware of other inferior filters - remember, we only supply the best.
Why don't you sell Ozone generators?
We are as yet unconvinced as to the safety of this equipment as ozone is hazardous to humans when inhaled.
My temperature gauge says my room is too hot, but my plants seem fine. What should I do?
If the plants are healthy and are growing every day, then there's probably not too much to worry about. All temperature readings should be taken in the shade. Are you using an extractor? Call the technical line on 888-464-1849 for advice.
Do I need an input fan on my growroom?
In a one light situation with one extractor, an input fan is generally not required. In a two or more light situation, it is usually of benefit to install an input fan as it will help cool your room, although this is not always essential. Call the technical line on 888-464-1849 to find out if an input fan could help in your growroom.
What is the ideal night-time growroom temperature for my light loving plants?
For optimum growth rates, it is best to keep night temperatures between 21-24 degrees Celsius. Below 21 degrees Celsius may affect your yield although not your plant health.
Is air movement necessary in my growroom?
If using high output lights some air exchange will be necessary. Either natural venting or forced venting with an extractor.
Would I normally have to run my extractor all the time?
When using high output lights (250 Watt and above) to achieve optimum results run your extractor all the time whilst your light is on.
How can I quieten my extraction system?
Acoustic ducting is available from EastWestHydro and will significantly reduce the noise made by the air entering and leaving the fan which is the primary source of noise with most fans. Silencers are also available and for larger gardens, acoustic fans rubber mounted inside acoustic boxes are also available.
I have a 250w light. Do I need an extractor?
Not essential, although better results will always be achieved using one. In tight confined spaces, it may be essential. Call the technical team on 888-464-1849 to discuss your situation and requirements.
My leaves are curling up. What's happening and how can I stop this?
Leaves curl up at the margin and tip in an attempt to retain water. If they are curling up, this would indicate slight environmental problem: Either your light is a little too close to the plant or your oscillating fans are drawing too much moisture from the leaves. To remedy this problem, move your light up and make sure oscillating fans are not blowing too heavily on the leaves.
My leaves are curling down. What's happening and how can I stop this?
Similarly to upwards leaf curling, the plant is trying to retain moisture by reducing its leaf surface area. A downward curl would indicate that your nutrient solution is too strong. To remedy this problem, reduce feed strength, move your light up and make sure oscillating fans are not blowing too heavily on the leaves. Be patient and call the technical team on 888-464-1849 if the problem persists.
My big bottom leaves are losing color. What's wrong, and how can I stop this?
This would be quite normal in a high light situation. The large leaves at the bottom of the plant will lose colour as they get old and younger leaves nearer the light will take over as the main leaf engines of the plant.
I have rusty spots/marks and light coloring on my leaves. What is wrong?
Check for bugs, especially on the undersides of the leaves. If no bugs are present it could be an environmental or nutrient problem. Take immediate demands off the plant (move light up, check nutrient strengths, and pH. Relieve stress) and call the technical line on 888-464-1849 for further advice.
My new shoots are all light coloured. Is this a problem?
It could be. Check your nutrient solution or make a new solution. If this is OK your light may be too close or your night temperature too cold. If problems persist, please call the technical line on 888-464-1849.
My plants have stopped growing. What should I do?
Check everything! It could be anything from light heights to feed strengths. Take the demands off the plant and call the technical line on 888-464-1849.
What's the best medium for rooting cuttings?
Small rockwool cubes are the most popular medium as they tend to give 100% results although other mediums can be experimented with such as coir in net baskets in an attempt to reduce rooting time by using a looser medium.
How much light do I need to root my cuttings?
A fluorescent tube or two is generally all that is required over a propagator. This is ideal as the cuttings will not get too hot and they provide enough light to root all cuttings. Too much light when the cuttings have no roots will force them to keel over in the propagator.
My cuttings will not root. What's going wrong?
Call the technical team on 888-464-1849 as there are a whole host of reasons why this may be happening. One of our experts will be more than happy to help you. Make sure your cubes are not too wet and the cutting is firm in the cube (not wobbly!). Ideal humidity is 75-85% RH. Ideal temperature is 21 -27 degrees Celsius.
Do I need a propagator to start my cuttings?
Yes. You will have too many problems maintaining a high humidity without one.
Do I need a propagator to start my seeds?
A propagator is only needed to crack the seed shell. Once the tap root emerges from the crack, they can be put straight under the light in cubes or pots. Cracking the shell may alternatively be done on tissue paper negating the need for a propagator.
Can I root my cuttings in rockwool and then plant into soil?
Once cuttings are rooted into small cubes, they can generally be transplanted into almost anything or any kind of system including directly into a pot of soil.
How do I increase my yield?
The most important factors in a successful garden are 1. Good stock 2. Lots of light 3. Good air exchange. These are the first three things that need to be addressed. If you are happy with these you are now an experimental gardener! Please feel free to try different feeds and booster products in an attempt to find what works best for your plants and your garden. All products sold at EastWestHydro are tried and tested and we recommend all of them. Check the home page for news of new products. A good active hydroponic system will always increase yield.
What is cloning? What are cuttings?
Cloning is a form of plant propagation that has been around for a very long time. It's basically taking a growing portion of a plant - a stem with some leaves attached, and helping it to become a brand new plant that is genetically identical to the plant from which the clone was taken. This is often easy to do because plants often clone themselves in nature. It's called asexual reproduction. The methods currently used today include taking cuttings, layering, division, grafting, budding and tissue culture. Gardeners often trade cuttings and divisions as a way of sharing plants with their friends.
A stem cutting is a terminal growing point on a plant. It is 4 to 6 inches long and is cut off at a node. A node is the point on a stem where a leaf is attached. The bottom leaves are removed from the nodes and the lower end is inserted into the rooting medium. Some plants are excellent material for cuttings; others never survive. Both woody and herbaceous plants may be used for cutting materials.
Can all plants be cloned?
Most plants can be cloned, although it takes different methods to do so. The kind of cloning performed most often in greenhouse situations is to take cuttings.
How do I take cuttings?
The biggest requirement for taking clones is a healthy parent, or stock plant. A parent plant should be in excellent health and should posses the characteristics wished for in the new plants. It should be at least two months old and it should still be in the stages of vegetative growth. Besides that you need
- Extremely sharp, sterile razor blade for cutting off leaves and foliage
- Rooting Hormone or solution
- A Tray and Clear Plastic Dome
- Growing media, such as Rockwool or other hydroponic media.
- Prepared nutrient solution
- Spray bottle
- Heating Mat
First, you'll want to prepare the humidity tray by soaking the growing media with your prepared nutrient solution. You will use this same nutrient solution to water the clones in a few days. Once your media is wet you should polk holes in the media with a pencil if it does not already have holes. Place the tray on a propagation heat mat, and cover with the plastic dome to warm the rooting medium. After you have prepared your tray, you are ready to begin to take cuttings.
Generally the gardener cuts a short piece of a growing stem with several branch points on it. These branch points are call internodes. Usually these point will only have leaves coming out of them . The point at which the stem is actually growing is called the Apcial Meristem. The goal of cuttings is to cut that apical meristem and grow roots on it. It will then become the top of your future plant to be.
Using your sterile razor you should cut the stem off with a precise and clean cut, cutting through cleanly without causing any extra damage. The cut should be made at a 45 degree angle. For absolute best results, make a first cut and then make the second cut at a 45 degree angle under water. You should strive for clones that will have one or two internodal spaces under the growing media. Cut off this extra leaf matter and dip the cut part in rooting hormone or solution (follow directions on the bottle for correct dilution rates etc.) Immediately place the cutting into the previously soaked growing medium. The cutting should be about 1/2" deep in the growing medium (when doing this be VERY careful not to bend the stems!)
As you continue to take cuttings, be sure to keep them moist by spraying them frequently with the spray bottle - get the undersides of their leaves. If you are worried about wilting clones, you should check on No-wilt which prevents transpiration and helps prevent wilt.
What kind of light should I use for indoor cloning and seed starting?
Seedlings and clones require bright light for healthy growth. Most growers use special spectrum fluorescent lights for these early stages of plant growth. These can burn in the same kind of fixture you find at the hardware store, but the bulbs themselves provide more lumens of the correct growing spectrum than do ordinary hardware store bulbs. They are slightly more expensive, but they will result in a much healthier start for your plants.
Fluorescent lights should be placed no more than 6 inches above the dome. Some growers choose to use H.I.D. lights, but these should be hung higher up from the plants so as not to fry them (3, 4 feet away should do the trick.)
Most clones and seedlings benefit from 16 to 18 hours of light.
What temperature should I keep my clones at?
Keep seedlings in a well-ventilated, cool location. The temperatures should be about 70 to 75 degrees F in the air around the plants, but the bottom heat from the propagation mat should be supplying heat of about 80 degrees. Bottom heat encourages root growth. The humidity level should be kept at or near 90%. These conditions encourage compact, but dense growth.