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Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK)
Beginners can just jump to flowering nutrients for pre-flowering, but eventually you’ll want to learn how to mix your NPK ratio.
There are two main types of nutrients: vegetation and flowering/bloom nutes. The main difference is the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus. Look at any nutrient bottle and it will give you three numbers like 9-3-6 or 3-12-6. This is called the NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) ratio. These are the three main nutrients that make up the nute solution. Each number represents the percentage each nutrient takes up in the solution.
See how the first set of numbers has a 9 instead of the 3 that is in the second series? That’s because that set of numbers comes from vegetation nutrient solution. The second set with the really high 12, that tells you that there is a way higher amount of phosphorus compared to the first set. The second set is taken flowering solution.
Now when you put your plant into pre-flowering you can start giving bloom nutes, as the added phosphorus will help trick the plant into thinking winter is coming. And you know it’s about time it came! For your first grow that’s all you really need to know about NPK.
I find and a lot of other growers do, that bloom nutes have too little nitrogen for pre-flowering and the early flowering phase. We feel this way because we see our bottom leaves turning yellow a little too fast for our liking. I personally combat this by slowly switching from veg to flowering nutes by mixing them.
After switching to 12/12, with each new feeding I replace a few of my veg nutes with my bloom nutes, if I start to see yellowing, I pull back until I see no yellowing bottom leaves even though I’m only giving bloom nutes. I find that I make the full switch to bloom around 3 weeks after switching to 12/12.
There is a lot of debate about the best ratio for each growing stage, and you’re more than welcome to get caught up in the debate or not.
Once pre-flowering is over your plants will be done growing in height. It will get a little taller as the buds fill out, but the stems stop. For pre-flowering, focus on giving the right nutrients and watch the height.