Making Hydroponic Nutrients at Home — Step by Step Guide With Recipes!

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Added 01 March 2022

Managing a hydroponic garden is a fun hobby. It gives you opportunities to try many new things yourself — perfect for those looking to test their DIY skills. A critical aspect of maintaining a hydroponic garden is fertilizers. You have two options for nutrients — either you buy commercial premade nutrients or make your own. 

Of course, buying commercial nutes is an easy option, but there's no fun in that. On the other hand, making your own nutrients sounds intimidating. However, it's easier than you think.

If you are a beginner at all this, you may take a while to understand the basics. But once you do, you will be mixing your own nutrient solutions like a pro!

In this article, we will explain everything necessary to make effective nutrient solutions that are perfect for your cannabis plants.

Why should you mix your own nutrients?


But why should you make or mix your own nutrient solution in the first place rather than simply purchasing premade bottled nutrients? There are several reasons. 

For one, it puts you in total control of what you feed your plants. You can prepare to match your cultivars' exact requirements.

If you've ever bought commercial nutrients, you know how expensive they can be. Mixing your own will solve that problem as well. So, apart from getting to play your Chemistry professor's role, you can also save lots of money long term. All you need is some basic understanding and some preparation.

Basics of mixing nutrients

Mixing nutrients

Like every other plant, cannabis needs nutrients to thrive. It pulls the required nutrients from the soil when growing in soil, but it's slightly different in hydroponic mediums. Although there are no differences in the type of nutrients needed for the plant, there will be changes in how the plant intakes the nutrients.

So what kind of nutrients does your cannabis plant need?

Nutrients are typically divided into two types for all plants. Collectively they are known as macro and micronutrients.


Macronutrients can be divided into primary and secondary macronutrients. There are three types of primary macronutrients —nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. So when you see fertilizer bags mention NPK, these are the three primary nutrients they refer to. 

Macronutrients play a significant role in overall plant development. Let's take a look at the nutrients one by one:


Nitrogen, the first macronutrient, plays a significant role in plant growth. It is responsible for healthy stems and leaves or any part of the plant you can see, which means that cannabis plants need lots of nitrogen during the vegetative phase. 

For instance, when you see a fertilizer displaying 3-2-1, it means it's made up of three parts of nitrogen, two parts of phosphorus, and one part potassium. You can use nitrogen-rich fertilizers for a quick boost of growth during the vegetative phase; however, don't overdo it. It may cause toxicity, resulting in the leaves becoming dark green and appearing like claws. 


The second macronutrient is phosphorus. It plays a big role in stimulating root growth and helps in the flowering process, so the plant needs adequate phosphorus during the pre-flowering and flowering stages.

Any fertilizer rich in phosphorus will have the middle number in NPK higher. So, for instance, a fertilizer with the number 18-24-6 is high in phosphorus. While a phosphorus deficiency can produce weird splotches on certain leaves, toxicity will have symptoms resembling a calcium or magnesium deficiency. 


The third macronutrient is potassium. Potassium regulates photosynthesis and also strengthens the plant's cell tissues. It mainly helps the plant during flowering, so it requires sufficient potassium during the flowering phase. A potassium fertilizer will have higher potash levels, which is the third number in NPK. 

Secondary macronutrients include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.


Calcium helps in the formation of the plant's cell walls and also stabilizes them. Additionally, it maintains root vigor and transports minerals from one part of the plant to another.


Magnesium is an essential macronutrient since it forms the core of the chlorophyll molecule. It also helps the plant absorb phosphorus and transports it from one place to another.


Sulfur plays a role in chlorophyll formation and promotes photosynthesis. It also helps supply and metabolize nitrogen and improve its efficacy.

As you can understand by now, all nutrients play a part in a healthy plant's growth and development. A lower dose of any of these nutrients disturbs the plant's balance that shows nutrient deficiencies. Conversely, excess amounts of any nutrient will create toxicities that prevent healthy growth.

Therefore, you cannot use nutrients randomly during any stages of plant growth. Instead, it's best to go with an all-purpose fertilizer that contains balanced nutrients. 

Apart from the macronutrients, the plant also needs some micronutrients.


Micronutrients include iron, chlorine, zinc, copper, manganese, boron, and molybdenum. 

Although cannabis plants requires small quantities of these nutrients compared to macronutrients, they are vital for plant growth and development during all the stages including vegetative, pre-flowering, and flowering phases. In addition, these micronutrients help the plant maintain its vitality to fight off pests and diseases and weather various harsh conditions, so you must supplement them in small quantities to ensure the plants grow well.

A proper combination of all these nutrients guarantees good growth. Of course, other factors like temperature, humidity, and genetics will also matter, but you already have an edge if you supply good nutrients.

Another essential element a cannabis plants needs is carbon dioxide but since it's in a gas form you can't include it in your fertilizer recipe. The plants intake carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but you can supplement it in your grow room through CO2 generators if necessary. This step is optional.

How to make your own hydroponic nutrient solution at home?

We will get down to business now that we got the basics squared away.

The easiest way to make a DIY hydroponic solution is to purchase a standard fertilizer. It tends to work out cheaper than commercially bottled nutrients, especially if you have a small garden. Of course, it will work even if you have a bigger garden, but you can mix the nutrients from scratch to save more money. 

However, for small gardens, mixing the nutrients from scratch is not feasible since you won't be able to use so much fertilizer anyway.

But what's a standard fertilizer? Standard fertilizers are just regular fertilizers used for most plants. To prepare a hydroponic nutrient solution, you'll have to ensure they are soluble in water. You can find this in your local nursery stores or online. It's best to buy standard fertilizers that also contain micronutrients. Or, you could purchase separate bags and mix them according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

That said, do not mix fertilizers randomly without instructions, as it may be completely unusable if done incorrectly. For example, calcium nitrate mixed with magnesium sulfate will produce calcium sulfate with very low solubility. As a result, the fertilizer will contain globs of particles, and you'll have to discard it!

Thus, please read the manufacturer's instructions before mixing them.

To mix a standard fertilizer, measure a gallon of water. This is the starting point. You can increase or decrease the amount later based on the instructions from the manufacturer.

Before mixing nutrients, remember that although all plants require the same micro and macronutrients, the ratios will differ depending on genetics. Therefore it will help if you understand your plants' requirements before making the solution.

The next step is to grab some supplies. Grab your micro and micronutrients along with calcium and magnesium, buckets, bottles, etc. As mentioned already, you can also make them from scratch, and we will provide another recipe for that.

Filtered water

The most important ingredient here is water. It should be clean and devoid of any contaminants because you will be mixing the salts in the water. The salts will break down and offer nutrition to your plant's roots. Using clean water will guarantee a clean nutrient solution that helps the plant grow to its maximum potential. Filter your water if it contains unwanted substances. Your best bet is to use clean, filtered bottled water.

If you regularly grow many plants, investing in a water filter might be a great idea since it gives you a blank page to start whenever you mix nutrients. 

grab supplies

Next, get some buckets to make different solutions. For example, if the standard fertilizer comes in parts A and B, you'll need three different buckets, just like commercial nutrients. In addition, make sure you get a weighing scale to help you measure the exact quantities of the salts.

You'll also need gloves since some of the salts may not be safe to touch with bare hands. Finally, of course, you'll need some cups to weigh the salts.

Typically, you can mix about one tablespoon of the fertilizer per gallon of water unless the manufacturer states otherwise. Then, stir everything as much as you can and let the solution rest for a while.

Note that you will have to adjust the pH and EC just like you would with commercial nutrient solutions while watering your plants.

Many growers are unaware that the way they mix their nutrients affects plant absorption.

If you're mixing various nutrients, you must combine them in the proper order. Otherwise, some of them can precipitate and also become insoluble in water. It's great if the manufacturer provides detailed instructions on mixing the nutrients, but if they don't, you're on your own. However, this doesn't mean that you have to mess it up. With a little bit of research and reading this article, of course, you'll be able to do it on your own pretty easily.

It's essential not to mix nutrients without using water. We don't know how some chemicals react with one another. The goal is to create an effective hydroponic solution, not make a mess!

Last but not least, make sure you use clean water that doesn't contain contaminants. Tap water may contain chlorine and other substances, so it's best to go for filtered water.

Order to mix nutrients

Unless your manufacturer specifies otherwise, you can use this order to mix nutrients. Or, if you've bought nutrients from different manufacturers and have no idea how to start, you can use this order.

1. Start with silica supplements if you have them. Mixing your silica supplement first allows it some time to form bonds in the water. You must let the solution rest for a while before adding nutrients because mixing silica with other nutrients early may trigger separation issues. Therefore wait for about one hour to be on the safer side before adding other nutrients.

base nutrients

2. Next, add the base nutrients to the solution. For example, if your nutrients are available as parts A and B, it's time to mix both the parts in the water. Add them one by one. Also, wait until the first one dissolves and then add the next. 

Try to mix nutrients that have phosphate at first. This won't make a major difference but will help with blending. Parts A and B can contain some phosphate, so don't worry about this part.

3. Add magnesium

add magnesium

If the nutrients you have mixed in do not contain calcium and magnesium already (most nutrients don't include them), add magnesium in the recommended doses (you'll see a recipe below). If you're using RO water, it is especially important to add both calcium and magnesium because the water tends to strip these minerals.

4. Add calcium

add calcium

Add calcium once the nutrients have dissolved. 

5. Add final additives

Add additives

If you wish to add additional supplements such as humic and fulvic acids, enzymes, growth enhancers, or vitamins to the plant, now is the time to do so.

5. Check the pH and EC

check ph and EC

Once you have mixed the nutrients, let it sit for a while. Check the pH after a while to ensure it's in the acceptable range. Generally, hydroponic plants grow well, with the pH ranging between 5.5 to 6.5. In addition, check and adjust the EC. If you've made some adjustments, check back after a while and remix everything.

If you are short of time and don't want to research standard fertilizers, here are two recipes for your DIY hydroponic nutrient solution.

Jack's Nutrients

Jack's Nutrients is a well-established reputed company supplying fertilizers for decades. Made in the USA, their concentrated formulas are perfect if you want to make your nutrient solution at home. In addition, since the fertilizer is water-soluble, you can use them for your hydroponic plants as well. 

Jack's 321

Although you can use these nutrients for any plant, you can go for Jack's 321 specifically for cannabis. 3-2-1 stands for the amount of fertilizer in grams for every gallon. 

Here's how you can mix Jack's 321 to get the best results for cannabis.

​To mix up the perfect blend of Jack's 321, you will need:

3.27 grams 5-12-26 or Part A fertilizer

2.5 grams 15-0-0 or Part B fertilizer

1.1 grams Magnesium Sulfate or Epsom salt

Since this combination of fertilizers suits almost every plant, cannabis will do reasonably well. As mentioned, use clean and filtered water before you start. Make a note of both pH and EC at the beginning. Doing so will allow you to subtract it from the final readings (after mixing in the salts) to figure out the exact percentage of nutrients in your solution. However, many growers skip this step and start with filtered water. 

Since the pH will change after you mix in the salts, you don't need to adjust it at first. Note that the company mentions that the order of combining these ferts is essential. Ensure you always start with Part A (5-12-26) first. Wait until it dissolves completely in water, and then add the Epsom salt. Once the Epsom salt dissolves fully, you can finally add the calcium nitrate.  

Wait until everything is mixed entirely, and wait for the nutrient solution to cool off a bit. Then, recheck the pH and EC and adjust pH Up or Down. Since you've added the concentrated salts to the water, it's no longer a concentrated solution, and you're free to add them to your reservoir if the pH and EC are suitable. 

Masterblend Fertilizer

Masterblend is another company that specializes in producing fertilizers meant for all plants. For cannabis, you can use the 4-18-38 nutrient hydroponic set available in most stores in the USA. You can order them online as well. The final concentration of nutrients per gram amounts to 2-2-1 or two parts of nitrogen, two parts of phosphorus, and one part of potassium. 

Before starting, the company cautions not to mix the nutrients without using water. Also, wear gloves since these are concentrated fertilizers in powder form. However, since the set contains a combination of macro and micronutrients necessary for cannabis to grow, you don't need to add anything else. 

To make a perfect nutrient 1-gallon solution, you will need:

2.4 grams 4-18-38 or Part A

1.2 grams Epsom Salt 

2.4 grams 15.5-0-0 or Part B

For 5 gallons, you will need:

12 grams Part A

6 grams Epsom salt

12 grams Part B

To start with:

  1. Get some clean water as mentioned already. You must first add Part A to the water.
  2. Wait until it dissolves.
  3. Add Epsom salt.
  4. Again, wait for it to dissolve, and, finally, you can add Part B or calcium nitrate. Remember to add the calcium only at the end. 

Do not forget to wait until the solution cools down and adjust the pH and EC levels. If you need more nutrient solution, you can calculate and adjust the weight depending on what you need. For example, since you need 12 grams of Part A to prepare 5 gallons of nutrient solution, add 24 grams to make 10 gallons of solution. 

How to make a nutrient solution from scratch?

If you go down the rabbit hole of making your nutrient solution from scratch, you'll need to be prepared with basic knowledge. 

Firstly, note that it's best to go with standard fertilizers like those mentioned above or any other fertilizer you want if you regularly grow around 8 to 10 plants. This way you won't waste money. However, if you frequently grow a large number of plants or grow commercially, making a nutrient solution from scratch will often be the cheapest. You will need minute quantities of micronutrients, but you'll have to buy them separately. For example, less than a teaspoon of micronutrients are required to make a gallon of solution. Therefore, purchase a bag of all micronutrients separately instead of mixing them yourself.

In addition, it's best to purchase calcium separately and add it at last. Moreover, most fertilizers do not contain calcium, so you'll have to buy both calcium and magnesium separately. In addition, remember to add calcium at the very end to prevent the fertilizer from becoming insoluble in water. If the manufacturer states otherwise, follow the recommended instructions but don't feed the plants until you've adjusted the pH and EC beforehand.

You can warm your filtered water just before adding nutrients to help with the mixing process. However, it shouldn't be boiling. Also, add the nutrients one by one to prevent lockouts. It's in your best interest to wait until they dissolve one by one before adding the next nutrient. Over time, you will be able to make some adjustments to this process, but consider the factors mentioned here if you're still a beginner.

Here's how you make your nutrient solution from scratch. Note that the recipe below will make a gallon of solution. It's also assumed that you have a separate bag of all micronutrients.

Vegetative phase

Monopotassium phosphate - 1.39 grams

Potassium sulfate - 0.46 grams

Potassium nitrate - 2.09 grams 

7% chelated micronutrients - 0.40 grams

Magnesium sulfate - 2.42 grams

Calcium nitrate - 6 grams

Flowering phase

Monopotassium phosphate - 1.39 grams

Potassium sulfate - 1.70 grams

Potassium nitrate - 2.80 grams 

7% chelated micronutrients - 0.40 grams

Magnesium sulfate - 2.40 grams

Calcium nitrate - 8 grams

As always, check the pH and EC before using these nutrients on your plants. Testing pH and EC before adding the nutrients at the beginning will help you understand how concentrated your solution is. In addition, it will help you prepare these recipes again in the future. 

You can mix some organic nutrients in the solution if you prefer. It's possible to do so with both standard and made-from-scratch fertilizers. For instance, kelp can be used instead of trace nutrients, but since you don't know the exact amount of trace elements, you can start with ½ teaspoon and scale it up a bit if your plants show deficiencies. 

You can also use humic acid, fulvic acid, seaweed, or any enzymes you choose. Make sure you add them separately because it's never a good idea to mix everything without water. You can add organic products during both the vegetative and flowering phases. 

Summary: Making hydroponic nutrients at home - Step by step guide with Recipes!

Now that you have a general idea, you can fine-tune the recipes; however, don't stray too far from the original recipes because your plants will start displaying deficiencies. Note that the company provides the recipes for both standard fertilizers, but you can add tiny amounts of phosphorus because some users state that their plants have performed better. 

Other than that, stick to the original recipes, and happy growing!




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I use mora leaf 20/20/20 10/45/10 0/33/50 4/25/35 and add mag call and some organics