When and How to Use Foliar Feeding for Cannabis Plants

Understanding cannabis feeding to give your plants the nutrients they need is crucial to cultivating the happy, healthy flowers you love. And, at Growers Choice Seeds, we’re more than just a seed bank: we aim to be your go-to guide for all things growing.

That’s why, today, Growers Choice is taking a closer look into foliar feeding for cannabis plants, what it is, and whether or not it’s an effective technique. Let’s get started.

What is Foliar Feeding?

When it comes to cultivating cannabis, there are various techniques you can choose from to feed your plants the proper nutrients they require to ensure optimal plant health, with foliar feeding being a preferred choice. With this method, growers fertilize plants by applying a liquid fertilizer solution directly to the leaves instead of to the soil. The foliar feeding technique is based on the idea that plants can absorb essential nutrients through their leaves, allowing for a quick remedy for certain nutrient deficiencies.

Regarding cannabis, specifically, many growers find the foliar feeding method to be quite successful because of the plant’s general physiology compared to other forms of feeding. The leaves of the plant do a great job absorbing micronutrients through the stomata and epidermis, allowing the marijuana to get the nourishment it needs quickly. In other types of feeding that involve the roots, it can take longer for the nutrients to disseminate through the entire plant. 

However, only use foliar sprays as needed when your plants are suffering from nutrient deficiencies or nutrient lockout. Over-usage can actually lead to imbalances, so you have to be careful with your application, as this is not an everyday technique. Additionally, reduce or stop foliar feeding once female plants enter the flowering stage to avoid contaminating the buds. If you have to apply foliar spray during flowering, do so very sparingly and avoid getting the solution on the buds directly.

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What Are the Advantages of Foliar Feeding?

Foliar feeding is a popular choice among cannabis cultivators for various reasons. A big advantage of this type of fertilization is the efficacy and swiftness of it all: foliar feeding can quickly address things like nitrogen deficiency by allowing plants to absorb essential nutrients directly through the pores in their outermost layer (the epidermis). This direct absorption allows for a faster response than root feeding, especially in serious situations where your plants’ health requires immediate care.

One of the main benefits of foliar spraying is that this method acts as a type of preventative measure throughout the cannabis plant’s life cycle. Essentially, regular fertilizer application works to help maintain ideal nutrient levels which can bolster your plant’s health and overall resistance to stress and adverse weather conditions. In the long run, this helps to promote a more stable, healthy growth cycle for your marijuana plants.

When you foliar feed cannabis plants, you get the benefit of providing a preventative measure against insects. Certain sprays, such as neem oil, are renowned for their effectiveness against a wide range of insects. When organic pesticides are added to foliar feeding routines, growers can provide their plants with essential nutrients while simultaneously protecting them from pest and disease threats that can prove harmful.

Foliar Feedings vs. Conventional Watering

Foliar feeding differs quite a bit from conventional plant watering simply based on the nutrient uptake itself. We must stress that foliar feeding is not a replacement for watering or fertilization: it’s simply a method for giving your plants the nutrients they are missing.

With foliar feeding, you will spray the leaves of your marijuana plants directly with a diluted solution of nutrients. Your plants will absorb this spray primarily through the stomata, which are the tiny openings on the leaves. This kind of nutrient uptake is known for its quick, effective results. Although leaves absorb smaller amounts of nutrients, the efficiency is high at approximately 95%.

With conventional plant watering, your marijuana is going to absorb the water through the plant’s root system. You will water the soil around the plant rather than dousing it directly onto the leaves. What’s important to remember about these two techniques is this: foliar feeding is more efficient for quickly addressing deficiencies, while conventional watering ensures nutrient and water availability through the soil. In conjunction, both can be important for growing viable plants.

How to Foliar Spray Cannabis Plants

Now that you know what foliar feeding is, it’s time to learn how to use these sprays on your actual cannabis plants. While the technique sounds relatively straightforward, it’s crucial to understand how to correctly apply foliar spray to get the best results.

Before we walk you through how to use foliar spray, it’s important for you to first establish when you’re going to use it. Most cannabis cultivators will apply their foliar spray either early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid direct sunlight, as this reduces the risk of burning the leaves and ensures that the stomata are open for ultimate absorption.

Prepare and Test Your Solution

Once you’ve established when you want to use foliar feeding for your plants, it’s time to prepare and test your spray’s solution.

First, start by diluting the nutrient solution or organic pesticide (like the neem oil we mentioned earlier) according to the product’s instructions. For homemade solutions, you must ensure they are weak enough to prevent nutrient burn but strong enough to be effective. Also, you’ll want to make sure the pH levels of the solution are between 5.8 and 6.5, as this is the best range for cannabis.

Before applying widely to your plants, you should test the foliar spray on a few leaves first. Then, wait around 24 hours to check for any adverse reactions like leaf burn or discoloration. If you don’t see anything negative, it’s time to fully commit to the application. Before spraying, growers can use a surfactant or wetter to aid the foliar spray in spreading across the plant more efficiently.

Apply the Spray Solution & Monitor

Next, you’ll take a foliar spray bottle (or garden sprayer) to apply your solution directly—and evenly—to the leaf surface of your cannabis plant. You’ll want to make sure you’re covering both the top and underside of leaves for optimal absorption levels. However, the entire plant should not be dripping with solution, as this is too much and can cause fungal growth or root disease.

After doing this, you need to continue to monitor your plants for any adverse reactions. Healthy plants should show signs of improvement within a few days if you apply the foliar spray to address nutrient deficiencies or pests.

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Choosing the Right Sprayer for Foliar Feeding

Before you start the foliar feeding technique for your favorite strains like Candyland, you have to figure out which type of sprayer is going to be most efficient for your plants. To do this, you have to consider factors like the size of your grow setup.

Essentially, the larger the setup, the more comprehensive a sprayer you’ll need. A simple spray bottle is not going to be large enough for dozens of plants, as this will just create more work than is necessary. Instead, larger grow setups should consider garden sprayers that cover larger areas more efficiently and evenly. But, if you just have a few plants, a regular spray bottle should be just fine.

When selecting the right sprayer, you have to make sure you maintain its cleanliness and hygiene to ensure the best results. For example, after each use, you’ll want to thoroughly clean your sprayer with water and, if necessary, a mild detergent. This prevents residue buildup and ensures that the nozzle and spray remain free from clogs.

Understanding the Ins and Outs of Foliar Feeding With Growers’ Choice Seeds

At Growers Choice Seeds, we want to make sure all of our customers have a full understanding of what it means to grow cannabis from feminized seeds. As an online seed bank, it’s our job to provide you with the most high-quality cannabis seeds possible to get your growing started on the right foot.

We encourage our customers to experiment with various growing techniques with our strains and offer both autoflowering seeds like Tangerine Dream and photoperiod feminized seeds like Bay 11, depending on your growing preferences. You can even choose between popular indicas, sativas, and hybrids including Strawberry Banana, Orange Crush,  and so many more.

Truly, no matter what kind of seed you want to grow, or what kind of feeding technique you choose to go with, Growers Choice Seeds is here to help you have the best cannabis cultivation experience possible. Thanks to evolving cannabis growing techniques and a rapidly increasing industry, you’ll have plenty of fun trying out these methods at home with our premium feminized seeds!

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Foliar Feeding FAQs

When is the best time to foliar feed?

The best time for foliar spraying is during the vegetative stage of the plant and early in the flowering stage, if necessary.

As for the time of day, early morning or late evening when the temperatures are cooler and the sun is not directly overhead is ideal. During these times, plant stomata are more likely to be open, which helps offer better nutrient absorption. Plus, the reduced light and cooler temperatures help minimize the risk of leaf burn from the solution or the sun.

Is foliar feeding cannabis effective?

Yes, foliar feeding cannabis is a very effective technique during cultivation for optimal growth. This technique is popular among cultivators because it provides a quick, straightforward way of reaching those nutrient requirements.

Foliar feeding is particularly useful for delivering micronutrients that might not be easily accessible to the plant when added to the soil, too. However, foliar feeding cannabis plants should complement—not replace—regular soil or hydroponic feeding regimes.

What is the proper technique for foliar feeding?

Cannabis growers should use a spray bottle or large pump sprayer to carefully spray both the top and undersides of the leaves of their plants. It’s important to not oversaturate the plants, so ensure the solution isn’t dripping off the leaves. Growers should also use a nozzle that produces medium-sized droplets for increased efficiency and to cover larger areas. 

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure you are safely treating your plants and wear protective gear such as gloves and a mask if needed. Also, make sure that the solution is in the proper pH balance range of 5.8-6.5 and spray during the appropriate time of day.

Can foliar feeding replace regular root feeding?

No, foliar feeding cannot replace regular root feeding; in fact, it is not a “replacement” for any technique. Foliar feeding is an effective way to quickly address nutrient deficiencies and nutrient lockout by providing plants with a fast-acting dose of essential nutrients. Therefore, it is supplementary and has limitations.

Can you foliar spray during flowering?

While you can foliar feed cannabis plants during the flowering stage, it should be done with caution. Although it’s possible to apply foliar sprays during early flowering, it’s generally recommended to minimize or avoid spraying once buds begin to form.

Wet foliage and buds increase the risk of mold and bud rot, which can devastate your crop. If foliar spraying is necessary during early flowering, do so sparingly and ensure that the plants have enough time to dry thoroughly before lights out or nightfall.

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