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Foliar Feeding Cannabis

Written by Neal Brown . Updated: March 5, 2021

How to Foliar Feed Your Marijuana Plants

All commercial and home growers, in Oklahoma or Illinois, should be feeding their marijuana plants. Under normal circumstances, that means mixing a liquid plant food or fertilizer with water and introducing it to the soil, where the plants will uptake the nutrients they need to grow and thrive through their root systems. Foliar feeds work a little differently.

With foliar feeds, growers apply a less concentrated fertilizer or plant food directly to their plants’ leaves. It’s important to get it right, though, because applying any kind of moisture at the wrong time of day or the wrong point in the season can actually harm the marijuana plants. This article will offer a comprehensive introduction to everything growers need to know to foliar feed correctly, including when to feed, how much to dilute the fertilizer, and how to avoid issues like nutrient burns.

How it Works

During foliar feeding, cannabis plants absorb nutrients through microscopic openings found on the undersides of leaves called stomata. In nature, the stomata’s primary purpose is to absorb CO2 and release the byproducts of respiration: water and oxygen. In a controlled grow, these openings can also provide a more direct path to the leaves for beneficial nutrients.

Stomata don’t just regulate gaseous exchange and, in this case, uptake nutrients. They also open and close depending on the temperature, light levels, and humidity level to regulate the plant’s water levels.

When plants dry out, their stomata close to prevent them from losing more moisture. That can be a problem since plants can’t absorb CO2 through closed stomata. They will be unable to process the nutrients they need to grow until the plant’s internal water levels balance out, but misting them with a heavily diluted plant food can encourage the leaves’ microscopic pores to open back up.

A chronic plant’s stomata also close at night, typically around 15 minutes after the sun goes down or the lights go off. These factors influence when growers should foliar feed their cannabis plants and what other steps they should take to ensure their plants’ ongoing health.

Benefits of Foliar Feeding

Foliar feeds can’t replace standard plant foods and fertilizers. That doesn’t mean they don’t substantially benefit marijuana plants, though. There are several ways that foliar feeds can encourage healthy growth and address potential problems.

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