Whether your marijuana is for personal use or you are looking to make some extra money on the side, you always want to have the biggest buds.

The buds are where you’ll find the “meat” of the marijuana plant, and you’ll certainly be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor for much longer with bigger buds. But, achieving big buds isn’t always a matter of plant genetics or complete luck. You have to put in a lot of effort, and you have to understand precisely what the plant needs at each stage of its life.

Bigger buds may not be the only reason why you are thinking about your plant’s needs, though. If a plant starts to show signs of malnutrition, it is going to need some help. It may be time to add nutrients.

Nutrients help plants thrive

Nutrients help plants thrive
Nutrients help plants thrive – Image powered by Leafly.com

Marijuana plants require nutrients to thrive. In many cases, plants can absorb these nutrients from the Earth. In other scenarios, growers need to supplement these nutrients through the use of fertilizers. Therefore, knowing how to utilize nutrients correctly can be integral to the growth of your cannabis plants.

Many things can act as fertilizers to some degree, but it is often easiest to purchase packaged fertilizers at a local garden center. Most fertilizers are sold as hydroponic solutions. Some are designed for soil, while others are designed for hydroponic growing. Every option will have nitrogen to aid leaf growth, potassium to facilitate the development of the flower and phosphorus for root growth. These are represented by their elemental symbols of N, P, and K respectively. In fact, on most commercial fertilizers, you’re going to see an NPK ratio listed on the bag (e.g., 20-20-20). This tells you exactly how much of each element is in that particular fertilizer.

NPK aren’t the only nutrients found in fertilizers, however. There are also micronutrients such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, and many more. Although these help with specific processes inside the plant, they are not quite as vital as the three core nutrients.

Timing is important

Timing is important

Different fertilizers work better at different times in the plant’s life cycle. At the very beginning of the sprouting stage, you probably won’t need any strong fertilizers and can probably just get away with using peat plugs or potting soil. In fact, you shouldn’t need to add nutrients until you reach the vegetative stage.

During the vegetative stage, plants need an added boost of nutrient content to ensure that they are growing and producing at the right rates. For plants that are in a vegetative state, it’s essential to use a fertilizer that has an even NPK distribution of 20-20-20. This will provide them with an equal amount of each of the three core nutrients.

During flowering, you are going to want to change the fertilizer just a bit. Cannabis thrives when it has a lot of nitrogen, and it uses extra nitrogen during the vegetative stage. This need for nitrogen reduces during the flowering stage, and extra potassium and phosphorus become necessary. At this point, the plant would do better with an NPK ratio of 10-30-10. The phosphorous helps with the production of buds and flowers to ensure an optimal yield.

The cannabis plant gradually stops needing all nutrients as flowering ends, and it matures.

The important thing to remember is that nutrients act like multivitamins for marijuana. In fact, you could say that the plants “eat” the nutrients to thrive. Without proper nourishment from fertilizer or the soil, a plant will not produce the desired outcome. You will see the effects of a lack of proper nutrient intake. Plant leaves will start to show burnt tips, and the amount of growth will appear to cease. If you want the best crop, it is important to ensure your plants are getting the proper nutrients starting with the macronutrients.

The Macro Nutrients

The most vital elements for every plant on Earth are the so-called Macronutrients. Topping the list are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. They are an inseparable part of all kinds of fertilizers; however, the amount of each nutrient varies according to the type of fertilizer. Different types of plants require different ratios of these nutrients. Keep in mind; the cannabis plant has needs that are similar to a tomato.

Each element has different atomic characteristics – leading to a particular effect on a marijuana plant. Understanding each of these elements can help growers safely address deficiencies in their plants.



To begin with, Nitrogen, has the symbol ‘’N’’ in the periodic table, an atomic number of 7 and an atomic mass of approximately 14. It helps with photosynthesis and is responsible for chlorophyll production.

Photosynthesis is impossible without the existence of chlorophyll, and this is why Nitrogen’s role is so important in the life of marijuana plants. Stimulating the growth of leaves and stems while also increasing the plant’s size and vigor are also effects of Nitrogen. Nevertheless, when there is a deficiency of N, the growth rates are reduced, and the leaves become yellow faster. The older leaves are the first to suffer, as are the lower leaves of the cannabis plant. Cold soil temperatures can also cause a nitrogen deficiency.



The second element is Phosphorus or P on the periodic table with an atomic number of 15. It has an approximate atomic mass of 31. The primary benefit of this element includes promoting seed germination, as well as seedling and root growth. Phosphorus is an essential element for the development of the terpene resins and floral clusters. It also participates in the formation of sugars and starches.

The overall vigor of the marijuana plant depends on Phosphorus. Therefore, a Phosphorus deficiency is signified by a reduction of the rate of growth and the quick drying of smaller leaves. They become purplish, and their edges are seared. What’s more, the excessive levels of Phosphorus can also cause Potassium-deficiency.



The last crucial macro element is Potassium or K on the Periodic table of elements. Its atomic number is 19, and it has an atomic mass of approximately 39. Potassium is vital for healthy plant metabolism during the flowering period, and it helps in the formation of the clusters of marijuana flowers.

Potassium keeps the plant vigorous, healthy and growing. Its deficiency can cause reduction if growth rates and problems with the leaves. It can cause them to have tips and edges which are brown in color with curled margins.

The Micro Nutrients

The basic Macro Nutrients are not enough for a marijuana plant to grow normally. Micronutrients also have critical functions, such as maintaining vigor and health. These Trace-elements include Calcium, Magnesium, Sulphur, Manganese, Boron, Zinc and Copper. They are included in most fertilizers but in smaller quantities.



Calcium is one of the major microelements. It bears the symbol ‘’Ca’’ on the Periodic table of elements. Its atomic number is 20, and it has a mass of 40 approximately. Calcium is vital because it is a part of the cell walls. It provides strengthening of the stems and branches and helps in the formation of the root and its tip’s growth. A deficiency of Calcium causes distortion of the leaves. The leaves’ margins are hooked, and the roots do not finalize their development; their tips are weak.



Magnesium is also an important element. It has the symbol ‘’Mg’’ on the Periodic table, the number 12 and an approximate mass of 24. Magnesium stimulates the formation of chlorophyll and most of the reactions with enzymes. The structures of the leaves and the veins in them are healthy due to this element. When Mg is deficient, the effect is different in each plant species. Cannabis plants, for example, suffer from yellowing of the leaves, the disappearance of leaves, and withering, which starts from the older or lower leaves. Excessive levels of Magnesium can cause Calcium deficiency.



Sulfur or ‘’S’’ on the periodic table has the number 16 and an atomic mass of approximately 32. It consists in the proteins of marijuana plants and is important for their production. It also participates in the formation of chlorophyll and the growth of the plant. The deficiency is presented by slower rates of growth along with smaller deformed leaves that are round and roll upwards. Soon they become stiff and die off.



Manganese (or ‘’Mn’’, atomic number- 25 and an atomic mass of approximately 55) is responsible for the production of enzymes and chlorophyll production vital for the photosynthesis. Its deficiency has various results which depend on the species. On a cannabis plant, chloroplasts become yellow, and the stems are still quite green. On the surface of some leaves, there may be white or grey spots. It also causes Iron deficiency with similar symptoms.



Boron (B, Z=5, A=10) helps with the movement of sugars and reproduction as well as water consumption by cells. It participates in the formations of stems and stalks and prevents Ca from becoming insoluble. Boron also aids in the production, coloring, and formation of leaves and their structures. Its deficiency causes death to the tips and malformations of the marijuana buds. Boron deficiencies also cause Mg and K deficiencies.

Other Micro Nutrients

Your plants are least likely to experience deficiencies of Zinc and Copper, but they are still essential to the health of your marijuana plants. Zinc gives the plant strength, by fortifying the stems, branches, stalk, and leaves. A zinc deficiency will look similar to a manganese or iron deficiency.

Copper deficiencies, on the other hand, appear in younger leaves. Healthy leaves can quickly start to curl or wilt and eventually they will die. Without this nutrient, a plant has trouble forming new growth. When it has too much, it is unable to process iron properly.

How to use nutrients

Using both macro and micronutrients requires attention to details. You’ll need to follow a feeding schedule and only give plants the bare minimum of what they need. Many times that means feeding your plants a lot less than the recommended dosages. A good place to start is ¼ of the recommended amount, and then slowly move up to ½ based on how the plant responds.

If you give a marijuana plant too many nutrients, it could experience nutrient burn. And, if you start with the full amount, you are very likely to burn your plants. Whereas nutrient burn won’t kill your plants, it will damage them. You will not get the best yield if you burn your plants.

Tips for the Best Cannabis Growth

Nutrient burn is one way to ruin a perfectly good harvest, but it’s not the only way. Here are some more nutrient tips that will help give you the best results.

Tips for the Best Cannabis Growth

Mixing nutrients

Leave nutrient mixing to the experts. If you do it yourself without prior experience, you risk coming up with a solution that contains incompatible nutrients that will lead to plant death instead of a performance boost.

Administering growing and flowering feeds

Avoid changing the leaf growth feed to the flowering feed the moment you notice the flowering cycle has started. It takes a bit of time for the cannabis to respond optimally to light stimuli. Therefore, that extra nitrogen is necessary for two or three weeks after the beginning of the flowering cycle, which is when growth will have adequately slowed down.

Mixing organic feeds

You may prefer to use organic nutrients. Ready-made organic feeds are available, but you can do your own mixing if you have the right knowledge and patience. Keep in mind, sometimes it takes months to get the perfectly balanced home-made organic feed.

Controlling plant growth

Mediums without nutrients are ideal for controlling the amount of nutrients your cannabis receives, and the rate at which it receives them. They do not contain standard potting compost, and you’ll need to add what’s needed to the plant’s water. You should not use these mediums with slow releasing nutrients or manure unless you are a pro.

Nutrient problems

If your plants are looking sickly, and you’ve already checked your nutrients, you should check other factors such as the pH of the nutrient solution, medium or water. Underfeeding, overfeeding and overwatering are common causes of wilting and plant death. Other factors include disease, fungus, pests, lack of sunlight and extreme temperature.

Dilute it first

Indoor growers should dilute their solution a bit before using it on their plants. That’s because indoor plants do not generally respond well to large infusions of nutrients. It is definitely possible to go a little bit overboard with your fertilizer. If you can scale back each of the nutrients by about 20%, then you should be okay.

Take the Guesswork out of Nutrients

Even when you know how to use nutrients, it can be hard to know which one to buy. There are many options, but you must remember both the needs of the cannabis plant and the grower.

When choosing nutrients, it helps to keep these aspects in mind:

Take the Guesswork out of Nutrients

Price: The highest price doesn’t always mean the best fit. Pay attention to quality.

Medium: Different mediums require different nutrients. Buy nutrients that are designed for your growing medium.

Reputation: Talk to other growers about what nutrients they use. Look for nutrients that are designed for tomatoes if seeking help in stores.

Even if you are able to find suitable nutrients, you need to remember that cannabis plants have unique needs. It can be hard to hit the right balance of nutrients during vegetative state and flowering state. For the simplest solution that is already designed for growing huge marijuana buds, I recommend Marijuana Booster. It focuses on providing the ideal nutrient blend for bigger buds.

Download my free Grow Bible for more tips on growing huge buds!

In addition to the standard macronutrients, it also includes plenty of micronutrients such as boron, manganese, and calcium. Marijuana Booster is essentially the perfect mixture of nutrients to help marijuana grow to its fullest capacity with huge buds dripping with THC. It also comes with a feeding and watering schedule to help you along the way.

Growing the best marijuana means understanding how nutrients work, knowing when to use them, and administering them in the correct amounts. Marijuana Booster can help you safely grow the biggest buds with the least amount of effort. If you like big buds as much as I do, you’ll want to invest in the perfect blend of macro and micronutrients.

The founder of I Love Growing Marijuana, Robert Bergman, is a marijuana growing expert that enjoys sharing his knowledge with the world. He combines years of experience, ranging from small-scale grows to massive operations, with a passion for growing. His articles include tutorials on growing... [read more]


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  1. By Susan

    ,29 Jan 2014
    Hello Robert,My name is Susan Saunders from the UK can you confirm that you posted some feminised purple haze seeds to me on Friday 24/01/14 on behalf of Dennis as he was going to let me know as I haven't […]Read More
  2. By Susan

    ,07 Feb 2014
    Hi Robert, Just a line to say I have received my order from you today 07/02/2014. Its a pitty I cannot say the same for my plantfood to grow my pips in.( I am most disappointed). Thank you so much […]Read More
  3. By Richard Davis

    ,01 Mar 2014
    I have had nothing but good results from everything I have read on your site. Also all of the seeds I have gotten have turned out rather nice. Thanks and keep up the good work and keep sharing the knowledge.
  4. By luis rosario

    ,12 Jul 2014
    Thank u so much for the ebooks. First timer and have 3 beautiful babes all females from random seeds. They r sativasi think from them being 24in tall. My ? Is can I start to flower them now? I have […]Read More
  5. By What is a Marijuana Plant?

    ,18 Sep 2015
    […] hydroponics system, as long as the grower is careful to provide it with all the water, light, and nutrients it […]
  6. By Maximizing The Taste And Smell Of Your Marijuana – TheJointBlog

    ,14 Jun 2016
    […] restricting nutrients can have a strong (and positive) effect if it is done correctly and at the right time. The best […]
  7. By Maximizing The Taste And Smell Of Your Marijuana

    ,11 Jan 2017
    […] restricting nutrients can have a strong (and positive) effect if it is done correctly and at the right time. The best […]
  8. By Joseph

    ,07 Jul 2017
    I'm growing 3 plants outside. All plants turned out to be female. They are in A 3.5 gallon pale. What should be there final transplant size? Also what is the best soil I can use for the final transplant. Thank […]Read More
    1. By Clifford Allen

      ,27 Oct 2017
      I have used felt pots with fantastic rooting results, large pots large plants
  9. By Joseph

    ,07 Jul 2017
    I forgot this in my question. When my plants showed they are all female. The plants within then go into the flower stage correct? What nutrients should I begin feeding my girls at this stage. Also can I keep them […]Read More
  10. By latewood.ILGM

    ,11 Jul 2017
    Joseph, I am worried that you have 3 plants mature enough to be determined female in one 3.5 gallon pot. Separating the root is going to stress the plants individually and seriously limit your yield. Nutrients? Look in our ILGM […]Read More
  11. By Gary Baier

    ,13 Sep 2018
    My girls are in fox farms oceans first dirt do I need to add any nutrients at any point in it's full grow ?so need to know 👍
    1. By STEVEN

      ,06 Jan 2020
  12. By latewood_ILGM

    ,25 Sep 2018
    Gary, When using Foxfarm soil you do not need t add nutrients until you induce flowering. Just monitor the plant throughout vegetative phase in order to make sure your plant is still getting good nutrition. This is done by watching […]Read More
  13. By Robert

    ,06 Feb 2019
    Very informative and on the money. Plan on using Botanicare to grow trees.. thanks Robert
  14. By Timothy

    ,07 Feb 2019
    Nice article. Wish you would have put up a good super soil recipe and encourage people to grow organic ..im not one of "Those"types just tried super soil last year after many years and the taste was Incomparable. the smell […]Read More
    1. By Stella

      ,07 Mar 2019
      Super soil mix? Is there a recipe?
  15. By fo

    ,08 Feb 2019
    Wow that was great thanks for the info
  16. By james

    ,05 May 2019
    Dear ILGM Would like some infor regarding autoflowering plants
  17. By Rob

    ,04 Jan 2020
    Think if your doing 20-20-20 that's why you have so may pics of nutrient burn. If need 20-20-20 than why are ALL HYDROPONIC nutrients lower than 10. Must have got the 20-20-20 idea from miracle grow not experize. Long time […]Read More

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