Plant Nutrition and Growth Enhancers

How To Mix a 3-Part Hydroponics Nutrient Solution

Don't miss our quick video guide to mixing a three-part hydroponics nutrient solution using GH Flora Series.

Check out the video first - it's under three minutes!

We use General Hydroponics Flora Series to show you how to mix your own hydroponics nutrient solution so that it is ready to feed to your plants.

Hydroponic nutrient products are generally available in the form of a concentrated liquid or a powder at your local indoor gardening store. These days the most popular choice among hobby hydroponic growers are concentrated liquid products—probably because most folks find them easier to measure out and work with over the powder products. However powder products are a great option too because they are less bulky and therefore cheaper and more efficient to ship.

Don’t confuse hydroponic nutrients with regular garden fertilizer products. They are not the same. Only nutrients specifically designed to work in a soilless environment will work in hydroponics. Regular garden fertilizer products are designed for use with soil, not hydroponics. Don’t be tempted to try organic nutrient products in this situation either. Unless the label says it’s suitable for hydroponics, it probably isn’t.

Okay, so how do you go about creating a hydroponic nutrient solution that’s ready to feed to your plants? Well, obviously the first thing you’re gonna need to do is mix the nutrient concentrate with water. Manufacturers of liquid hydroponic nutrients generally offer products in the form of ‘one-part’ , ‘two-parts’ and ‘three-parts.’ By splitting the concentrated mineral solutions into different components manufacturers are able to offer products in higher concentrations. Remember, one-part, two-part and three-part hydroponic nutrient products basically contain all the same stuff – it’s just a matter of presentation and usage. Some growers (beginners and experts alike) prefer the ease-of-use of a one part, for example. Other growers enjoy the ability to experiment and adapt afforded to them by the multi-part products.

In the video, we’re using a three-part liquid advanced hydroponic nutrient system called Flora Series, manufactured by General Hydroponics.

Unsurprisingly it comes as three bottles – labeled ‘GROW’ , ‘MICRO’ and ‘BLOOM.’ Generally speaking, you need to use all three parts whatever stage your plants are at – just at different ratios and concentrations.

Fill a clean container, keeping track of the amount of water you put in. Don’t fill it up too full or you’ll make a mess when stirring it later. Here we’ve got two gallons.

Start with the purest water you can. Good quality water is critical to success when growing using any method, but it’s especially important for hydroponics. Fill a clean container, keeping track of the amount of water you put in. Don’t fill it up too full or you’ll mak a mess when stirring it later. Here we’ve got two gallons.Now, quality water is the most often overlooked component of any garden—but it’s especially important for hydroponics.

Remember, a hydroponic nutrient solution is a precise blend of different minerals at various ratios. If the levels of any given element become too high it can cause ‘lock-out’ meaning that other essential elements become unavailable to your plants. So, if you plan to use tap or well water, you should ideally get it tested first to see what’s in it. At the very least, take a conductivity meter and test your source water to get an overview of the total amount of dissolved solids in it.

The first part we’re going to add is the Micro. Shake the bottle vigorously then check the seal is intact if opening for the first time. The Micro component contains elements such as Calcium, Boron, Copper, Iron, Manganese and Zinc—as well as some Nitrogen. The water we’re using here is quite hard (around 300 PPMs) so we’re going to use a hard water formulation of the Micro part which contains reduced levels of Calcium to counteract the increased residual levels in our water.

Consult the manufacturer’s label for dosage instructions. Here, we’re going to make a mild general purpose hydroponic nutrient solution for vegetative growth. The instructions say 1 teaspoon per gallon of each part. As we’ve got two gallons of water, that’s two teaspoons of Micro, two teaspoons of Grow and two teaspoons of Bloom.

Using a clean measuring cup, measure two teaspoons (or 10 milliliters) of Micro. Pour into the water. Stir well. Next, take the Grow component. This contains ammoniacal nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, phosphate, potassium and magnesium. Shake and measure two teaspoons into the measuring cup. Be sure to wash the measuring cup in between each use. It’s absolutely vital that the different parts never come into contact with each other in their concentrated form—otherwise they won’t form a solution properly—that’s why they’re kept separate! Pour this into the water and stir well again.

Finally, take the Bloom component. This contains phosphate, potassium, soluble magnesium and sulfur. Shake, measure out a teaspoon per gallon, pour into the water, and stir once more. There—you now have a hydroponic nutrient solution containing all the elements your plants need for growth and bloom.

Oh—but hang on a second—there’s one important final step! In order to optimize the availability of all these elements, you need to check and, if necessary, adjust the pH of your nutrient solution. Don’t worry—it’s real easy to do. First, you’ll need to measure the pH. Here we’re using a calibrated digital pH meter. Insert it into the nutrient solution to take a reading.

Our target is anywhere between 5.5 and 6.5. This is the best range to ensure the broadest spectrum of availability. As you can see, the pH is too currently too high so we’re going to have to add some pH adjuster to lower the pH.

Don’t add pH adjusters directly to your nutrient solution. The sudden drop or rise in pH can actually damage your nutrient solution by causing elements to precipitate out of it. Instead, make a dilute solution by adding a pipette’s worth of pH adjuster to some water like this. Always wear gloves as pH adjusters are corrosive and can damage your skin. Making up a dilute solution not only makes this process a lot safer but it’s also easier to fine-tune the pH of your nutrient solution.

Keep adding, bit by bit, stirring, and re-testing the pH until it falls within the desired range.

Finally, ensure your nutrient solution is at the right temperature. Around 64 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. It should feel tepid
(neither warm or cold) to the touch. Plants don’t like taking icy baths any more than you do. If your nutrient solution is too warm,
dissolved oxygen levels will be too low. Ideally, use a nutrient solution thermometer to regularly check its temperature.

And that’s it! You can now feed your hydroponic nutrient solution to your plants.