Quick Guide to Using Nutrients for Houseplants in Water

It’s almost like magic how we can throw plants in water and watch them grow for months without any additional help besides replacing water. After a while, that magic fades, and your plant will need help to continue growing strong and healthy—liquid nutrients are essential to facilitate that. 


The science can be confusing at first, and it definitely took us a while to wrap our heads around it all. Fortunately for you, we have developed our own nutrient solution that works to help your plants grow their best in water. Check it out here or at the end of this article.


But if you’re still interested in learning more about the values of nutrient support, here’s some of our knowledge on how nutrients work for hydroponic growing.


Solid vs. Liquid Nutrients

Solid nutrients are usually cheaper than liquid nutrients and are great for plants that need many nutrients. Traditionally, fertilizers work best for soil components. 

Liquid nutrients are essentially solid nutrients that are dissolved in water. When growing plants in water, it is crucial to support your plant’s growth with nutrients to avoid later health problems. Since water doesn’t have nutrients (unlike soil mixes), plants need another way of gaining that extra support when they sprout new growth.They are soluble in water and make measuring is easier when it’s already in liquid form, but liquid nutrients can be on the expensive side since shipping costs are higher and can lead to higher retail price.

For the indoor plants that we grow, liquid nutrients are more compatible because the plants don’t require a lot of nutrient support to grow and flourish.

Nutrient Density & Profile

Every plant has a different set of nutrient needs. Generally, most nutrient profiles are measured by three primary macronutrients (NPK) required by all plants: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). These three primary components work together to help your plants through different stages of their growth. 


Nitrogen (N) is the group leader as it gives plants that extra boost to grow new leaves and stems. You can see this in effect with the younger, more actively growing parts of a plant. Next, Phosphorus (P) ensures a healthy root system because it supports energy transport within the plant. Lastly, Potassium (K) supports many plant processes that are essential to energy production. For example, it regulates the amount of chlorophyll present in leaves—which helps maximize its energy production capacity.


An ideal nutrient profile should also include micronutrients such as Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca), Sulfur (S), Iron (Fe), Boron (B), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), and Molybdenum (Mo). Nutrients are generally measured by parts per million (PPM) for plants. Water quality and nutrient strength can be monitored and controlled with various plant tools like conductivity or PPM meters.


Organic (Natural) vs. Inorganic Nutrients

There is no right or wrong decision in choosing between organic or non-organic compounds. Of course, there are differences in makeup. On the one hand, naturally sourced nutrients are derived from plant or animal materials like leaves, compost, etc. Whereas inorganic nutrients have chemical compounds containing artificial minerals or synthesized chemicals of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). 


At Modern Botanical, our essence as a company is to support natural sources for everything we do. Our liquid nutrients come from organic compounds like bat wanna (bat poop). Organic nutrients tend to have more nonessential biomass, which opens the risk for algae to grow faster because they can degrade in water. For this reason, our hydroponic nutrient solution went through additional removal of the organic materials to lower that risk.


For us, and hopefully for you too, it is not about having the organic label; it’s more important to have quality, sustainable, natural compounds that make up the nutrients. 


Modern Botanical Nutrients

We’ve taken a lot of the complicated science out of our nutrient solution to make things easier for plant parents like yourself. The strength of our nutrients is set for two drops of nutrients per MOBO vase. This will get you to an appropriate amount of PPM given the size of our glass containers.


You can grab our hydroponic liquid nutrients here!


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