Calcium and magnesium: two important nutrients for our plants

When growing plants there are two important nutrients that often we forget: calcium and magnesium. If we provide plants correct doses of both nutrients, we get better results.

Calcium builds strong stems and leaves. When calcium is taken up by the plant it forms pectin, the glue that binds cell walls together, so a steady supply of calcium is necessary throughout the plants life cycle to strengthen its vascular system. If the plant has a healthy vascular system, it is also able to take up water and all the other essential minerals more efficiently, resulting in a stronger, more disease –resistant plant.

Maintaining adequate levels of magnesium throughout the crop cycle is also essential. Magnesium is the central element in chlorophyll, essential for absorbing light energy and converting it to high-energy sugars. Magnesium also activates more than 300 known enzymes in plant cells, including the enzymes that load sugars for transport throughout the plant. It is especially important when the energy need of the plant are highest, such as during periods of rapid vegetative growth or during heavy fruiting and flowering.

When plants are suffering a deficiency of either of these two nutrients, there are some symptoms that appear in plants. A Calcium deficiency normally shows up in new growth at the growing tips of the plant, causing deformed leaves and reduced root growth. If there is a magnesium deficiency, part of the leaves will turn yellow, because of the lack of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plant leaves and the central element of magnesium. Magnesium deficiencies are fairly common in indoor gardens, due to the powerful HID grow lamps that indoor gardeners often use. As the light become more intense, plants need more magnesium to efficiently use the light energy.

Calcium and magnesium supplements for plants

calcio y magnesioThere are different kinds of calcium and magnesium supplements for our plants. If we add these products, we will give plants the nutrients they need for growing healthier and to the max. Calcium and magnesium supplements may be derived from carbonates, nitrates or sulfates, and it can be added in standard concentrates, powdered supplements or organic supplements.

It is important to be careful with supplements derived from nitrates during flowering, because an excess of nitrates during this stage may delay or event prevent flowering. That’s what happens with standard concentrates, derived from nitrates.

Calcium and magnesium are 98% water soluble and available to the plant, just make sure the powdered supplement is thoroughly diluted with water and mixed well. They should be added to water before any other fertilizers or additives. Powdered supplements contain some nitrates, but not nearly as much as liquid concentrates.

Organic supplements are derived from calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. One of the benefits of calcium and magnesium carbonate is that they contain no nitrate. Therefore, it won’t interfere with flowering. The down side of going organic is that calcium and magnesium carbonate are only sparingly soluble, so in some ways, organic calcium and magnesium may actually change clean water into hard water. The result is the potential for limescale in the root stem. To avoid this, if you choose to use an organic calcium or magnesium product, always use an amino acid supplement with it.

However, added high doses of calcium and magnesium supplements can cause deficiencies too in our plants, like limescale in the root stem, damaging roots and avoiding the plant capacity to absorb necessary nutrients. So it’s important to quantify the doses of nutrients we added to our plants, according to the type of plant or growing stage.

Saturation of calcium and magnesium happens when we add these supplements to water without knowing the exact doses of calcium and magnesium that our water already contains. We can use our EC meter to measure the total quantity of dissolved mineral salts in our water but that still will not tell us what the percentage of calcium and magnesium are.

To simplify this process, most growers prefer to use Reverse Osmosis water (RO). That way, they can start to irrigate with pure water (0,0 EC), without dissolved salts, that means without calcium and magnesium. By starting with pure water, growers can then add the exact quantities of nutrients and supplements their plants really need. Learn more about reverse osmosis.

Grow it to the Max, with GrowMax Water!   

Tricks to irrigate plants during holiday

Summer is here and it’s time to take a deserved break. It’s time to pack your bags and go to the beach, to the mountains or, ultimately, anywhere without stress. But, what we do with our plants if no one can water them while we are off? There are a few tricks for watering plants while we are gone that keep them hydrated until we come back.

We must avoid our plants dying and try to keep our plants as healthy as we do during the rest of the year. One easy solution would be to ask a friend or neighbor to irrigate them twice a week, but during holidays it’s difficult. If we go on holiday for a short time (a week) we can prepare the plants and keep them ready until our return. If we are planning a longer trip, there are also some tricks to prevent lack of water in our plants.

Prepare our plants before we go

If we are going to be away of home only for a week, we can leave them without any irrigation system. However, it’s important to follow some advice before we leave so that upon our return home we see little damage in plants and they are easy to fix with our usual care.

First of all, we have to water them well before leaving to maintain the maximum humidity for as many days as possible, but without flooding the plants and also never put them into a bowl full of water directly in contact with roots, because they will rot.

We have to put the plants in a cool place where sun and heat don’t affect them constantly. This way, they will benefit more from the environmental humidity and they won’t get sun dried. If you have indoor plants, you must put them in a room with dim light and some ventilation.

If we cut back the biggest leaves, dry leaves and branches before going on holidays, it will also help our plants to keep better humidity and they will be stronger without constant water.

Automatic systems to irrigate

apsersorjpgIf we stay away of home for more days, we have to find alternatives to irrigate the plants. But also following the steps explained in the previous paragraphs before leaving. If we have outdoor plants in our garden or terrace, it will be useful to install automatic irrigation systems.

A sprinkler system or drip irrigation installation in the garden or terrace will allow us to program watering for all the plants during our absence. They are also useful during the year. But if we don’t have the budget, or they are indoor plants or in a balcony, we can use home remedies that will help to maintain plants hydrated.

Homemade systems to irrigate plants

botellaWe can easily create a watering system with a plastic bottle. It consists of a drip irrigation system that will provide constant water to plants but without flooding them. We have to open a hole in the cap (just as big as a water drop), fill up the bottle and put it upside down, staked in the soil of the pot, and the water will be provided gradually to the plants roots. The bigger the bottle, the more water that will be provided.

We have to put one bottle in each pot or near each plant, so we guarantee all the plants will have enough water and will be hydrated during our absence.

There is a similar homemade system, but using little clay cones. They are dispensers that we have to screw in the bottle, and then stake in the soil with the bottle upside down. As in the previous system, water will be provided to the plant drip to drip, but there is a difference: the clay. This material has microporous qualities that guarantee that water will be better dosed.

Plants always need quality water

With these tricks to irrigate plants during our holiday, we avoid problems caused by lack of water. In summer, plants suffer more problems due to high temperatures, so irrigating them when we are off  on holiday is important for taking care of them. However, water quality, water without chlorine, is also very important for their care. That’s why we shouldn’t forget to always use clean water, treated by filtration systems. These systems can also connect directly with the installations of automatic irrigation systems.

Now we can pack our bags and start a happy holiday, knowing that our plants will be well hydrated and healthy for the days or weeks that we will be gone.