Establishing a Hydroponics Grow Schedule
When growing plants hydroponically, individuals must understand what kind of schedule is to be expected. The following provides a general overview of a hydroponics growing schedule. Review this information before planting the first seed to increase the odds of a successful harvest, as knowing which tasks to carry out at which time ensures the plants have every opportunity to thrive.
Week One-The Vegetative Phase
Obtain 400 Watt MH lamps and set these lamps at 50 percent power, maintaining a distance of 40 inches between the lamp and the plant. This ensures the plant obtains the required amount of light without sustaining damage. The lights need to remain on for 18 hours each day.
Growers often question why MH lamps should be chosen rather than HPS lights. MH lamps provide more light coming from the blue or white portion of the spectrum. Plants need this type of light during the early growth stages, as they are small and need to adjust to the amount of light they are receiving.
Keep daytime temperatures around 73 degrees and allow the thermostat to drop to 64 degrees Fahrenheit at night. However, the water temperature should remain at 70 degrees Fahrenheit throughout with a pH level of 5.8, and the humidity level needs to be at 80 percent.
Complete setup of the system and run it for a minimum of 24 hours before proceeding. Make certain the above conditions are present throughout this time. One problem many growers encounter involves the water temperature.
In the event the water temperature keeps dropping below the desired amount, install a fish tank heater to warm it. Water that is too warm harms plants also, so bring the temperature down by adding water. The pump generates heat, and this must be accounted for as well when setting up the hydroponics system.
Experts recommend checking the grow room temperature and humidity daily to ensure the right environmental conditions are being met for the plants to thrive. To keep humidity levels up, spray plants daily with a plant spray. Additionally, waterproof floors in the grow area add moisture to the space when they are sprayed. For floors that are not waterproof, install a covering that allows the floors to be sprayed in an effort to keep humidity levels up.
Plants require large quantities of nitrogen during the first stages of the vegetative phase. Choose a fertilizer accordingly to make certain the plants aren’t deprived of this critical nutrient during this time. Nitrogen assists with root growth as well.
Never add the plants until the total dissolved solids (TDS) and pH level are properly balanced. Check these when monitoring the humidity and temperature every day, as TDS values decline when plants use nutrients. When TDS levels drop, pH levels rise.
Assess root health every day, looking to ensure the roots are growing and their length corresponds with the height of the plant. Roots that are brown suggest root rot or dirty water, both of which are detrimental to developing plants.
Week Two -The Vegetative Phase
Plants need 100 percent light during the second week of the vegetative phase. The light must sit approximately 20 inches from the plants to ensure they obtain the illumination they need without being damaged, and this light should remain on the plants 18 hours every day. However, the placement of the plants serves as only part of the equation.
The grow space temperature remains critical. If it goes above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the plants sustain damage. Keep the temperature in the space at 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and decrease it to 64 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Maintain a humidity level of 80 percent during this phase of the growing process, and keep the pH level at 5.8. Topping the plants should occur during this phase as they are maturing and can handle the process, but have time to grow more after the topping is done.
Analyze TDS levels when the leaf tips begin browning, as this often suggests nutrient burn. TDS levels need to come down to 35 percent to prevent this from happening. Furthermore, don’t ignore the water level. If it begins dropping, add extra water.
Point a fan directly over the plants to provide them with a breeze, as this helps to encourage stronger stems and better overall health. Carefully watch the plants. When the leaf tips start touching, the flowering phase needs to begin. Otherwise, the plants become too big for only one lamp.
Week One-The Flowering Phase
During the first week of the flowering phase, plants need 100 percent light coming from a 600-watt HPS lamp. Keep this lamp 20 inches away from the plants to protect them from damage, and allow the light to remain on 12 hours each day.
Reducing the time the light is on tricks the plants into thinking the season is changing and the flowering phase needs to begin. Although it won’t be obvious, the plant begins physically changing. Continue providing it with a large quantity of nitrogen to support this growth and do so for the first three weeks, at which time phosphorus should be prioritized because plants need phosphorus to produce flowers.
When altering the nutrients, flush the system with fresh water. Check the pH and TDS levels and readjust as necessary. Examine the plants at this time. If the leaves are damaged or discolored, determine why. It could be pests, problems with the nutrients, or another cause completely, but don’t overlook the roots during this examination either.
Maintain a daytime temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit and decrease the thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. To ensure the heat is distributed throughout the area, aim a fan between the plants and the lamp. The grow space should have a humidity level of 70 percent, and the pH level of the water needs to be at 5.8 for the best results.
Week Two-The Flowering Phase
Maintain the lighting conditions from the first week during the second week of the flowering phase, and the same is true of the humidity level and pH level. However, daytime temperatures need to reach 79 degrees Fahrenheit and reduce the thermostat to 67 degrees at night.
Don’t top the plants during this phase, but prune them and remove any unnecessary side shoots. This allows the plant to devote its resources to the production of buds.
Plants grow quickly during this phase, so monitor the distance between the plants and the lamp to prevent the burning of the top leaves. Any plants that become too tall may be super cropped. Pinch the stem between the thumb and index finger and bend gently, as this helps make the stem stronger.
Week Three-The Flowering Phase
Grow room conditions remain the same during week three of the flowering phase with one slight change. Humidity in the grow room needs to drop to 60 percent at this time.
Flowers begin appearing at this time and plant growth slows. Plants take in water at the maximum capacity during this phase, so make certain water remains available at all times. Continue monitoring the pH level, temperature, and TDS at this time, and smell the water to determine if it is fresh.
Look for leaf discoloration and roots that are off white or white. Flush the water weekly and wait a few days before adding additional nutrients. Give the plants time to use the remaining nutrients before adding more.
Week Four-The Flowering Phase
Maintain the existing light conditions during week four of the flowering phase. Temperatures at this time need to hover at 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 67 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Decrease the humidity level to 50 percent and bring the pH level of the water down to 5.5 at this time.
Buds begin appearing regularly at this time, and growers notice the smell emerges. Change the fertilizer at this time to one that provides plants with more phosphorus than nitrogen. Although plants don’t grow in height during this phase, they do produce buds. If you plan on super cropping the buds, now is the last time to do so safely.
Week Five-The Flowering Phase
Again, very few changes need to be made to the grow space during week five. The one change growers must implement involves the pH level of the water. It needs to increase to 5.8 at this time, and plants require ample light so the light needs to be moved closer to the plants. The best way to determine the proper location of the lamp is to put your hand under the light. If your hand feels uncomfortable, your plants will be uncomfortable too.
Week Six-The Flowering Phase
All conditions remain the same in week six. Growers must ensure plants have all they need to thrive at this time, as plants are consuming excessive amounts of nutrients, water, and carbon dioxide. Run a fan to distribute fresh air, and monitor the buckets to ensure they always have enough water. Plants may use up to a gallon of water every day, and this is one gallon for each plant., so be sure to have plenty available at all times. Check the environment daily, as the growing conditions can and do change rapidly at this time.
Week Seven-The Flowering Phase
Maintain the existing growing conditions while decreasing the pH level to 5.5. Buds appear very large at this point, and more potassium is required to keep them this way.
Week Eight-The Flowering Phase
During week eight, the only thing changing is the temperature. Set the thermostat to 76 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The buds continue to grow at this time, working to become denser and produce more buds. Keep the TDS level slightly lower to allow the plants to use the remaining nutrients. This clears the way for plants that are clean and chemical free at the time of harvest.
Leaves at the base of the plants often start to yellow and die at this time, and this is completely normal. Watch for leaf discoloration and mold. Mold must be removed and discarded immediately.
Week Nine-The Flowering Phase
During the last week of the flowering phase, right before harvest, reduce the temperature to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 64 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Decrease the pH level to 5.5 at this time as well.
Plants need nothing more than water at this time because they are working to use the remaining nutrients. Carefully monitor the plants and address rot and pests immediately. They will destroy your hard work faster than anything else.
It’s harvest time. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and do so knowing the results are from the time and hard work you put in. When you do so, you appreciate the crop even more.