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The Role of Enzymes In Growing Cannabis

Added 12 May 2022

A lot goes on in your grow medium. It is a rich environment where the roots thrive with many other microorganisms, minerals, and other essential living organisms that contribute to a healthy plant. It is an ecosystem under the surface.

Every organism in the grow medium works together to help your plant grow beautifully. As you can understand, a lot depends on the growing medium. However, it can also damage your plant if it's not good. 

One of the things that help your plant grow better are enzymes, which work behind the scenes to keep your plant healthy and improve its growth. They work as catalysts to break down nutrients and minerals for the roots to absorb, but there's more to them.

Your plant can grow big, absorb more nutrients, and fight off pathogens thanks to enzymes. But these complex proteins work in a complex manner and offer many more benefits. 

How do enzymes help cannabis plants, and how can you add them to the root zone? Find answers to your questions in this article.

What are Enzymes?

Enzymes

Enzymes are microscopic proteins. They act as supercharged catalysts that aid biosynthesis (chemical reactions) in the plant and the substrate. Substrate, in biological terms, refers to the molecule upon which the enzymes act to boost the reaction efficiency of biosynthesis.

Essentially, enzymes bind with the substrates to form or break molecular bonds, creating compounds that are easier for your plant to uptake easily. Think of enzymes as a compound that makes the process faster while consuming less energy, aiding nutrient uptake.

Enzymes are complex 3D-shaped proteins featuring active sites that bind with the substrate. This bond forms an enzyme-substrate complex that causes the chemical reaction, which causes the substrate molecule to break apart or come together. Later, the molecular products are released, and enzymes return to their original state.

The process of enzymes binding with substrates is called the lock-and-key principle or induced-fit principle. The latter results from recent scientific studies that state both enzymes and substrates change structurally for the reaction.

For instance, let's take cellulose as a substrate and cellulase as the enzyme. Cellulose forms the primary structural material for plant cell walls, and it occurs in tandem with other compounds like hemicelluloses and lignin. It consists of over 3000 glucose units, forming a complex carbohydrate.

Fun fact: Around 33% of all vegetable matter is made up of cellulose, making it the prominent organic compound on the planet.

However, it is a sturdy compound, making it hard for the plants to break down and consume. 

Cellulase enzyme comes into play here to break cellulose quickly, converting it into compounds like sugar, which the roots can absorb easily for energy.

What Role Do Enzymes Play in Cannabis?

enzymes lead to healthy plants

Enzymes are present in our body too. For instance, enzymes in our intestines bind with substrates of food and break them down into material that our body can easily absorb and convert to energy. So, thanks to enzymes, we can digest our food.

Enzymes work in a similar way for plants, including the cannabis plant. Enzymes help break down essential nutrients into more minor compounds that your plant can absorb easily. It also supports the degradation of dead root cells so that the roots can absorb the nutrients efficiently. The result of an enzyme-rich growing medium is a healthy plant with fat, juicy nugs.

But that's not all — enzymes are a game-changer for cannabis plants. They ensure an ideal environment in the root zone by synergizing the area to break and rebuild nutrients and minerals. This cascades into other benefits for the plant, too.

Below are some of the top benefits of enzymes for cannabis.

Enzymes Ensure a Healthier Root System

healthy roots

Enzymes facilitate chemical reactions in the root zone that degrade organic materials, preventing harmful pests and bacteria from thriving around the root system. 

The microorganisms in the root zone signal enzymes to synthesize phenolic secondary metabolites, further helping the plant fight intrusive pathogens like bacteria and pests.

By clearing out extra organic matter from the rhizosphere, enzymes also clear old growth materials around the roots. This helps the roots grow proficiently and improves oxygen flow to them.

They Allow You to Recycle the Grow Medium

recycle growing medium

Once you have harvested and discarded an old plant, you may have to throw your old growing medium devoid of helpful organic matter and nutrients. However, enzymes can help you recycle the medium.

Using the proper enzymes, you can cleanse your old grow medium, rebalance the organic and nutrient balance, and use it for your next plant.

They Improve Nutrient Uptake

As mentioned earlier, enzymes act as supercharged catalysts to break down complex materials into soluble molecules that your plant can easily consume. 

For example, the amidase enzyme helps microorganisms convert nitrogen and carbon compounds within the growing medium into ammonium, which your plant can easily absorb.

They Cater to Your Plant's Needs

As your plant grows and transitions into the next growth stage, its nutrient requirements also change. The enzymes adapt to the new demands and naturally readjust their duties to get what it wants at the right time.

For example, enzymes create soluble potassium, phosphorus, and sugars when the plant enters the flowering stage, leading to cannabinoid-rich flowers.

Enzymes Lead to a Faster Plant Growth

Enzymes lead to better plant growth above the surface with improved root health and nutrient uptake. As a result, you also enjoy better yields with bigger buds. 

What Kind of Enzymes is Suitable for Cannabis?

enzymes for cannabis

Interestingly, there are over 3000 types of enzymes in the world. And each of these enzymes is responsible for a specific reaction with a substrate. 

For example, sucrose synthase metabolizes sucrose into glucose, and phosphatase converts phosphorus into a more soluble form that is more transferable to the plant.

Still, all the enzymes known to us are categorized under six names:

  • Oxidoreductases that are responsible for oxidation-reduction, where one atom takes an electron from another atom
  • Hydrolases that break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, by adding a water molecule 
  • Transferases that aid the transfer of a chemical from one molecule to another
  • Lyases that form the double bond between atoms 
  • Isomerases that rearrange molecules structurally
  • Ligases that form a bond between two substrates with the help of an energy source 

However, the enzymes that involve hydrolysis (digestion) of large molecules like protein, starch, or cellulose are essential for growing cannabis (or any other plant). The enzymes act on these molecules and break them down into simple sugars that the plant can absorb easily. 

These agriculturally-relevant enzymes include the following:

  • Amylases that catalyze starch into individual soluble sugars
  • Proteases that splits proteins into amino acids
  • Lipase that breaks fats and oils into glycerol and fatty acids
  • Cellulase that catalyzes cellulose, like decaying organic matter, into sugars 
  • Beta-glucanase that turns vegetable gum into dextrins or soluble sugars
  • Pectinase breaks down the pectin and other carbohydrates that come from the plant

And since enzymes are specific catalysts, your plant requires multiple enzymes for good growth and bud development.

What are the Optimal Conditions for Enzyme Reactions?

enzymes for cannabis plants

Whether enzymes are present in the grow medium already or you have added them, they would be ineffective if the environmental conditions are not right. Therefore, you need to ensure the environment is suitable for the enzymes to grow. Otherwise, your plant may face various problems as it grows.

Here are the three primary conditions that must be optimal for enzyme activity.

Correct pH Range in the Grow Medium

You can narrow down almost every nutrient-related problem to incorrect pH in the growing medium. Similarly, enzyme activity can also be hampered by pH imbalance. This makes correct pH levels one of the essential aspects of a healthy cannabis plant.

Fortunately, enzymes are resilient proteins that can survive slight pH fluctuations. However, this doesn't mean that you ignore pH because they aren't invincible. While each enzyme has its own unique optimal pH level, most enzymes work best when the pH levels are as follows:

  • 6.0 to 7.0 in soil-based plants
  • 5.5 to 6.5 in hydroponic plants

You must ensure the pH levels are balanced in the growing medium for healthy enzyme activity, especially if you're applying enzyme solutions to the growing medium.

You must invest in a good pH meter if you want to grow healthy cannabis plants, whether you're growing in soil or hydroponically. 

Right Temperatures

Natural temperature fluctuations, including ones that occur at dusk or dawn, won't affect plant enzymes. However, you must avoid excessive heat at all costs as it can damage the enzymes. Extreme heat can also cause heat shock in your plant. Heat stress is unavoidable if you reside in hot locations with high temperatures. However, you can manage by improving air circulation and installing air-conditioners to ensure the plants are happy. 

Many studies have shown that enzyme reactions are directly proportional to root zone temperatures. The lower the temperature, the slower the enzyme activity. Consequently, higher temperatures boost enzyme activity. 

Typically, enzyme activity peaks at 45°C and becomes denatured beyond 60°C to 70°C.

High temperatures can change the enzymes' shapes, turning them denatured. A denatured enzyme does not function properly — it can no longer bind appropriately with the substrates.

Correct Timing

Timing is everything when growing a cannabis plant, even for suitable enzyme activity. According to many growers, the best time to administer enzymes to the root zone is when the plant is entering its flowering stage. You can administer enzymes with the nutrient solution.

This gives enzymes enough time to populate the root zone with microorganisms and minerals, leading to better bud development. If you add enzymes too late, there won't be enough time for the microbial population to develop adequately.

Water Presence

Water is essential for enzyme activity as it provides a medium for enzyme reactions to occur and is also used as one of the reactants in many cases. So, if the growing medium is too dry, the enzyme activity can be affected. On the other hand, in a draught medium, the enzyme activity can be almost inactive.

So, you must follow a rigorous watering schedule to ensure the growing medium is moist enough for enzymes to thrive. 

Substrate and Enzyme Concentrations

With an increase in substrate concentration, the enzyme activity also increases until all the active sites are busy synthesizing substrates. Then, the enzyme activity becomes stable post saturation regardless of how much more substrate is added.

On the other hand, adding more enzymes to the growing medium can consume more substrate amounts. 

How to Use Plant Enzymes?

molasses

If you are growing cannabis in soil rich in organic matter, enzymes are already there to do the work for you. However, in hydroponic growth setups or soil with low organic matter, you have to add enzymes directly to the growing medium to facilitate the breakdown of compounds. 

If you want to add enzymes to your plant's root zone, you need to mix and apply the solution directly to the growing medium. You can also integrate some enzyme solutions with the nutrient solution. Foliar spray is often ineffective, according to many growers.

However, the administration of enzymes may vary with the product you use. Therefore, always refer to the manufacturer's usage recommendation for the best advice.

Homemade Enzymes vs. Off-the-Shelf Enzyme Solutions

You can administer enzymes directly to your plant in two ways. First, you can make your own enzymes or purchase enzyme solutions from your local gardening store. 

If you are growing hydroponic cannabis, you should stick to off-the-shelf enzyme solutions because the growing medium is devoid of any enzymes due to a lack of soil. In addition, commercially bought enzymes give you accurate, consistent doses that pair well with other aspects of the hydroponic system.

On the other hand, homemade enzyme solutions are easy and cheap, but they don't offer precise ratios. This is why these are best suited for soil-based cannabis plants. 

You should also start enzyme administration early, especially if you're cultivating a hydroponic plant. Lack of microbial activity in the root zone can lead to slime buildup, which is harder to reverse than just giving adequate enzymes to your plant.

If you want to purchase enzyme solutions, you have to do some trial and error because many solutions are available in the market. Then, find the one that works best for your plant and hydroponic setup. This is time-consuming, but finding the correct enzyme for your plant is crucial for optimal growth and bioactivity at the root zone.

Some of the more popular enzyme solutions you can start with are Humboldts Secret Plant Enzymes, Hesi PowerZyme, Cannasym, Hygrozyme, and SLF-100.

DIY Enzyme Solution at Home

If you want to boost your soil, you can make your own enzyme. 

Use the step-by-step guide below to make your enzyme solution.

1. Gather the required ingredients:

Molasses

Fresh vegetables (scraps and peels also work)

Freshwater

2. Get the equipment ready:

A measuring jar

Two containers with a sealable lid

3. Blend 1 part molasses with 3 part vegetables and 10 part water

4. Close the container and ensure it is airtight to avoid contamination 

5. Leave the container in a cool location away from direct light for up to three months

6. And once a week, burp the container by simply opening the lid for a few minutes

7. Once the solution turns dark brown and has a vinegary smell, you can bet your enzyme solution is ready

8. Then, collect the liquid into the second container and filter out any particles 

9. You can discard the leftover particles or use them as fertilizer

10. The liquid in the second container is your enzyme solution

You should mix the liquid well with the soil for the best results. You can add this solution to your nutrient cycle, but ensure it enters deep into your soil.

We don't recommend using it as a foliar spray because it is ineffective. Enzymes reside in the root zone, which is where the enzyme solution should be.

Beneficial Microorganisms for Enzyme Supplementation

For growers who want to take a more accessible or natural approach to supplement enzymes to the plant, you can use microorganisms. Adding beneficial organisms into the nutrient solution or grow medium can significantly increase enzyme levels and activity in the root zone. 

One of the most popular beneficial microorganisms for enzymes is mycorrhizae fungus, which produces some hydrolytic enzymes. Enzymes created by this fungus make the availability of organic iron, phosphorus, and nitrogen better.

Another terrific microorganism to supplement enzymes is Trichoderma, which releases chitinase enzymes that break down chitin. The primary component of fungal cell walls, chitin, can help protect your plant from fungus infections. This is why Trichoderma is added to ward off pathogens by many gardeners. 

The cellulase enzyme is also released by Trichoderma, which synthesizes cellulose. This enzyme further protects your plant by stimulating metabolism and boosting the plant's defenses. It doesn't harm the plant, but its stimulations strengthen the plant against other pathogens.

So, if you don't want to make your own enzyme solution and don't want to spend the time finding the best off-the-shelf solution, you can simply add beneficial microorganisms to your plant. 

Can You Pair Enzymes with Other Micronutrients?

You can add various plant-boosting additives that can supercharge enzymes' potential. These micronutrients and supplements synergize with enzymes and boost their activity. Following are some supplements that you can use.

Molasses

Molasses is one of the most overlooked supplements for the cannabis plant — it has the potential to enrich the growing medium and even ward off intrusive pests. 

Molasses is a thick liquid, dark brown or black, a byproduct of the sugarcane refining process. 

You can use molasses throughout the plant's vegetative and bloom phases, making it a valuable ally. 

Various microorganisms in the grow medium also love feeding on molasses, and the more microorganisms in the growing medium, the more enzymes. This is why molasses is also a terrific way to increase the growth of enzyme levels. More on this below.

Chelated Minerals

Minerals that are bound to chelates are called chelated minerals. These minerals are less prone to runoff or drainage.

Chelated minerals are valuable for hungry plants, but only in their organic form. If you simply saturate the growing medium with inorganic chelated minerals, your plant won't be able to absorb them at all. 

This is why you can administer organic chelated minerals with enzymes. In addition, this compound can improve the roots' efficiency at nutrient uptake, further aiding enzymes' activity.

Amino Acids

Lastly, you can administer amino acids to your plant with enzymes. Amino acids are essential for plant nutrition, and amino acid fertilizers can help your plant peak at flower development, protein synthesis, and resin production.

Additionally, amino acids also make the cells stronger, improve the metabolic process, and help transport nutrients.

Coenzymes

Coenzymes are nothing but compounds that improve enzyme activity in the root zone. They are tiny molecules that don't act as catalysts themselves but help enzymes carry out molecular reactions more efficiently. 

These non-protein molecules bind with apoenzyme, forming an active enzyme called a holoenzyme. Some of the best coenzymes you can add to the soil to improve enzyme activity are water-soluble enzymes like B1, B2, and B6.

Summary: Enzymes to Grow Cannabis

Enzymes play a crucial role in your plant's development and nutrient uptake. It makes the root zone healthier by preventing pest or bacteria infestation and aiding the microbial diversity. It improves the roots' nutrient uptake and leads to faster, vigorous plant growth. 

It is an essential catalyst that your plant needs to grow big, bushy buds that we all love. But many growers often overlook enzymes while growing their plants. If you're growing soil-based plants, you should consider an enzyme boost. 

For a hydroponic setup, you should look up the best enzyme solution for your plant. Find the right manufactured enzyme and add it to your nutrient solution. Your plant will thank you and reward you with heavy, aromatic buds.

There are a variety of enzymes available, but make sure you choose something suitable for your plants. In addition, watch the pH regularly, or the enzymes will be ineffective. 

 






Comments

JuanHaze_Arg
JuanHaze_Arg

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: wait a lot for this information :muscle: is always good to read and learn

JuanHaze_Arg
JuanHaze_Arg

@deFharo, thank you very much friend!

deFharo
deFharo

@Juanhaze_ARG, I added :grin: :+1: enzyme content

deFharo
deFharo

I use molasses and honey. I use honey throughout the vegetative growth stage, because it contains a lot of enzymes, vitamins and minerals, as well as sugars.
The enzymes present in honey (natural, non-commercial or pasteurized honey) are:
Invertase: Converts sucrose to glucose and fructose
Diastase: Hydrolyzes starch to dextrins and/or sugar
Glucose oxidase: Converts glucose to glucolactone; this in turn produces gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide.
Catalase: Converts hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen
Acid Phosphatase: Removes inorganic phosphates from organic phosphates. Phosphatases are also used by microorganisms in soil to trap nutrients containing phosphates. It contains amylases and proteases... and also contains other components:
Sugars; organic acids (citric, lactic, phosphoric...); vitamins (C, B1, B2, B3, B5); folic acid; minerals (phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, silicon, iron, manganese, iodine, zinc, gold and silver); essential amino acids and sterols, phospholipids, flavonoids and polyphenols.

JuanHaze_Arg
JuanHaze_Arg

@deFharo, you really know about organic farming! He gave me good information

Chucky324
Chucky324

Good article. Thanks. My preferred enzyme is Enzymes Komplete .ca - check it out.
Chuck the Canuck.