How Do You Use Hydroponic Nutrients? (Explained)

Growing plants hydroponically requires a different approach to fertilization than traditional soil-based gardening. Our blog post on How Do You Use Hydroponic Nutrients? Explained covers the basics of nutrient management in hydroponics, including the different types of nutrients and how to apply them.

Key Takeaways
Hydroponic plants require a carefully balanced nutrient solution for optimal growth and yield.
The essential nutrients needed for hydroponic plant growth include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum, and chlorine.
Hydroponic nutrients are specially formulated fertilizers designed to provide these essential nutrients in the correct amounts and ratios.
Monitoring the pH and electrical conductivity of the nutrient solution can help ensure that hydroponic plants are getting the nutrients they need.
Regular plant fertilizers are not suitable for use in hydroponic systems.
Changing the nutrient solution every 1-2 weeks is recommended for optimal plant growth.

If you’re new to hydroponics and want to know more about the seed germination process, be sure to check out our post on How Long Does It Take for Hydroponic Seeds to Sprout? Our gardening experts are here to help you succeed in your hydroponic gardening journey.

How Do You Use Hydroponic Nutrients?

Hydroponic nutrients are used in hydroponic systems to support plant growth. When using a hydroponic system, it is important to always remember that too much or too little of the right nutrient can cause problems.

  • Measure out your plant’s needs weekly and adjust accordingly. This will ensure your plants are getting the correct amount of nutrients at all times.
  • Apply your measurements directly into each water reservoir every week so they are dispersed evenly throughout the entire system.

Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen (N) is essential for growing plants because it plays a crucial role in the formation of chlorophyll, amino acids, and proteins.

Plants use nitrogen to produce chlorophyll, which gives them their green color. Nitrogen helps make your plants grow quickly by providing necessary building blocks that aid in photosynthesis. 

The goal is to have enough nitrogen available at all times during plant growth so that they can produce as much chlorophyll as possible before you harvest them!

“Choosing the right nutrients is essential for the success of your hydroponic garden. Our article on good hydroponic nutrients provides a comprehensive list of the best plant nutrients to use in your system, so you can achieve maximum growth and yield.”

Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus is a secondary nutrient that’s essential for the formation of DNA, RNA and ATP (the energy currency of life). It’s also required for photosynthesis, cell division and chlorophyll production.

Phosphorus deficiency can be caused by over-watering or too much potassium in your nutrient solution. 

These conditions can lead to stunted growth, inhibited flowering, and poor root function. In addition, if you’re growing plants outdoors during hot weather conditions or are growing them indoors without adequate air circulation (e.g., if they are in small rooms with no windows)

They may become deficient in phosphorus if you’re using an organic nutrient formula that contains only nitrogen and potassium because those two minerals cannot be taken up into plant roots under these circumstances.

“Healthy roots are the foundation of a thriving hydroponic garden. Discover our tips on promoting root growth in hydroponics to ensure that your plants have a strong and healthy root system, and can absorb the nutrients they need to flourish.”

Potassium (K)

Potassium is one of the major nutrients plants need to grow. It is especially important for photosynthesis and the movement of sugars through the plant. 

Potassium can be found in fertilizers such as Muriate of Potash (KCl) or Potassium Chloride.

A Beginners Guide: Hydroponic Nutrients

Calcium (Ca)

Calcium is an essential element in plant growth. Calcium is used in the formation of cell walls and helps to balance the pH of the nutrient solution. 

It also aids in increasing resistance to disease, reduces blossom end rot in tomatoes, and increases fruit set.

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the conversion of light energy into chemical energy, which can be used by plants to produce carbohydrates. 

Magnesium is needed by all plants, but only some varieties contain enough magnesium to meet their needs. In hydroponic systems, adding more magnesium can help to ensure healthy growth in plants that may be deficient.

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Sulfur (S)

Sulfur is an essential element and one of the most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust. Although it does not play any role in photosynthesis, it does help to form chlorophyll which turns light into chemical energy. 

It also plays a critical role in amino acids and proteins, as well as immunity function. Sulfur helps with the absorption of calcium and magnesium, which are two very important nutrients for plants to grow strong roots. 

Sulfur also helps plants create antioxidants that protect them from diseases, insects, and other stressors.

Boron (B)

Boron (B): Plants need boron to grow healthy flowers and fruit. Boron is also required for the formation of plant cell walls, which makes them more resistant to insect damage. 

The average boron requirement of plants grown in soil is approximately 0.1 ppm or 0.01 grams per liter, but if you’re using organic fertilizer or compost tea made from worm castings or other nitrogen-rich organic matter instead of synthetic NPK nutrients and want to maximize your yields without overfeeding your crops with excess N-P-K fertilizer solution 

Then consider adding a couple of grams per liter (1 tsp per gallon) of boric acid powder or sodium borate granules to your reservoir solution; this should provide adequate levels while still avoiding any possible buildup issues associated with excessive supplementation rates.

“Did you know that hydroponic fertilizers can also be used in soil-based gardens? Learn more about this topic in our article on using hydroponic fertilizer in soil, where we discuss the benefits of using these nutrients in traditional gardening methods.”

Iron (Fe)

Iron is a micronutrient that is required for the growth of plants. Iron is important in the formation of chlorophyll and enzymes.

Iron can become insoluble when exposed to air, so you will want to store your nutrient solution in a dark container or use an aquarium pump to recirculate your water so there is no exposure to oxygen.

Copper (Cu)

Copper is an essential micronutrient for plants. It plays a crucial role in many processes such as enzyme function, chlorophyll formation, and photosynthesis. 

Copper may be present in the soil but often it is not present in quantities that are sufficient to meet the needs of your plants. 

Therefore, it can be beneficial to supplement your hydroponic nutrient solution with copper as well as other micronutrients.

Manganese( Mn)

Manganese (Mn) is a trace element that is essential for plant growth. Manganese deficiency can cause chlorosis and necrosis in young leaves. Manganese is also important for nitrogen metabolism, photosynthesis, and respiration.

“Hydroponic basil is a popular crop among indoor gardeners, but can it also be grown in soil? Find out in our guide on planting hydroponic basil in soil, where we explore the different factors to consider when growing basil in both hydroponic and soil-based systems.”

Zinc( Zn)

Zinc is a trace mineral that is important to plant growth. Zinc is needed for the synthesis of proteins and enzymes. The highest concentration of zinc in plants is found in the leaves, fruits, nuts, and seeds of plants. 

Plants require zinc for chlorophyll production as well as cell division during germination and flowering stages. It also plays a role in photosynthesis since it controls chlorophyll production throughout the entire life cycle of a plant from germination to maturity.

Molybdenum( Mo)

Molybdenum is a trace element and an essential micronutrient for plants. It is required for the formation of nitrogenase, which is the enzyme responsible for nitrogen fixation in plants.

Molybdenum deficiency leads to reduced growth rates, yellowing leaves and chlorosis (paleness), and increased susceptibility to diseases such as Verticillium wilt or Fusarium wilt.


After reading this, you should have a better understanding of how to use hydroponic nutrients.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about hydroponic nutrients and plant growth, here are some additional resources:

BAC Fertilizers: What Nutrients Are Needed for Hydroponics?: This article provides a detailed overview of the essential nutrients needed for healthy plant growth in hydroponic systems, and explains how to ensure that your plants are getting the right balance of nutrients.

Hydro Pros: Nutrients for Hydroponics Garden: This comprehensive guide to hydroponic nutrients covers everything from how to choose the right nutrients for your plants, to the different types of nutrients available, and how to use them to maximize your plant growth and yield.

Plant Provider: Hydroponic Nutrients: When, How, and How Much?: This informative article explains the basics of hydroponic nutrient management, including how to monitor nutrient levels in your system, how to adjust nutrient solutions to meet the needs of different plant species, and how to troubleshoot common nutrient-related problems.


What are hydroponic nutrients?

Hydroponic nutrients are specially formulated fertilizers designed to provide the essential nutrients that plants need to grow in a soilless, hydroponic environment. These nutrients are typically formulated as a liquid solution that is added to the water in the hydroponic system.

What are the essential nutrients needed for hydroponic plant growth?

The essential nutrients needed for hydroponic plant growth include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum, and chlorine. These nutrients must be provided in the correct amounts and ratios for optimal plant growth.

How do I know if my hydroponic plants are getting enough nutrients?

You can monitor the nutrient levels in your hydroponic system by testing the pH and electrical conductivity (EC) of the nutrient solution. A pH meter and EC meter can help you ensure that the nutrient solution is within the optimal range for your plants.

Can I use regular plant fertilizers in my hydroponic system?

No, regular plant fertilizers are not suitable for use in hydroponic systems, as they may contain ingredients that can clog the system or cause nutrient imbalances. Hydroponic nutrients are specifically formulated for use in hydroponic systems and are designed to provide the ideal balance of nutrients for plant growth.

How often should I change the nutrient solution in my hydroponic system?

The frequency with which you should change the nutrient solution in your hydroponic system depends on a variety of factors, including the type of plants you are growing, the size of your system, and the temperature and humidity of your growing environment. As a general rule, you should change the nutrient solution every 1-2 weeks.