The Basics of Plant Nutrition

What are Nutrients?

In nature, plants get nutrients from organic debris that collects at the roots. This can be anything from decaying tree bark to bird droppings. Complex interactions involving live bacteria, enzymes, and microbes break down this organic matter so the plant can absorb it. 

This process is almost impossible with potted plants because potting mixes are sterilized, killing the bacteria needed to transform the organic matter. So potted plants rely on the grower to provide the nutritional elements they need to grow. 

The Real Food Plants Need to Grow

Don't confuse "Plant Nutrients" with "Plant Food". The real "food" plants use to grow is the light, water, and air. See box at right. Nutrients, on the other hand, are the minerals absorbed at the roots.

If you're not giving your plants the proper food they need to grow (light, water, air), your choice of nutrients won't matter. 

Plant Food or Plant Nutrients?

Plants manufacture their own "food". Using the power of the sun, they mix air, light, and water to make carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are the real "food" that stimulates new growth. This process is called "photosynthesis".

On the other hand, "Plant Nutrition" is the mineral elements collected by the roots that enhance photosynthesis. These nutritional elements cannot compensate for lack real food plants use for growth (air, light, and water).

So, before you give your plants that extra shot of energy with more nutrients, make sure they're getting the "real food" they need for healthy new growth.

  1.   Adequate light
  2.   Correct watering
  3. Good air circulation

Orchids vs Houseplants

Orchids are much more finicky about nutrients than houseplants. In nature, houseplants live on the forest floor where nutrients are abundant. Their roots grow in a combination of soil, decaying leaves, animal droppings, etc. These plants have the luxury of picking and choosing from an "all you can eat" smorgasboard of available minerals. 

Orchids, on the other hand, grow where moisture and nutrients can be scarce. To survive in this harsh environment, they have adapted to living comfortably on a slim diet of nutrients.

So, instead of depending on your fertilizer to get healthy plants, make sure your orchids are getting the real food they need - light, water, and air. Plant food helps, but it's secondary.

More harm is done from too much fertilizer than not enough. In fact, I've never seen an orchid die from lack of fertilizer.

Nutrition for Orchids Isn't Complicated

A complete and balanced nutrition program for orchids is easy with hydroponics. Because hydroponics doesn't rely on the growing media for any nutritional value, everything your plant needs is packed into the fertilizer - in a form the plant can use immediately. Simply add the nutrients to the water and they're absorbed by the plant's root system. No complicated biology necessary.

Orchids have a definite rythum or pattern to their growth habits. The key to a successful nutrition program for orchids is making adjustments to match those rythums.

1. Start by using a basic "Grow Formula" that has everything your plants need for growing healthy roots and leaves. Apply every watering. (See Dyna-Gro Grow 7-9-5.)

2. Then, when flower spikes appear, switch to "Bloom Formula" to encourage bigger and brighter flowers. Apply every watering. (See Dyna-Gro Bloom 3-12-6)

3. After the flowers fade away, eliminate fertilizer altogether
until you see new growth again. Your orchid is taking a well deserved rest.

It's that simple.

Note: Orchids have internal calendars that determines when they bloom. Don't try to force your plants to change their schedule - it won't work!  Seasons vary with each type of orchid. Some plants bloom in summer, others prefer winter. What those orchids you see in the store that are constantly blooming? Commercial growers go to great lengths to trick them into blooming. No one buys a plant that doesn't have flowers!

Know Your Fertilizer

Why Hydroponics?

Basic Grow Formula
Dyna-Gro Grow 7-9-5
click here to buy

Basic Bloom Formula
Dyna-Gro-Bloom 3-12-6
click here to buy
Other nutritional supplements you might want to try.

Bloom booster
A unique supplement to be added to Grow or Bloom formulas as a bloom booster.
click here to buy
Silicon Solution
Plants use Silicon is a benefitical element to reduce stress. Add it to your nutrients to build stronger plants and flowers that resist heat drought.
click here to buy
Don't forget about the roots! Give the roots a boost with KLN Rooting Concentrate.
While most nurtrient solutions focus on leaves, stems and flowers, KLN promotes vigorous roots. Even mature plants benefit from an occasional KLN treatment.
click here to buy