How to Make a Homemade Hydroponic Nutrient Solution

by Simon on August 5, 2011

If you don’t want to buy hydroponic nutrients readymade and you believe you’re experienced enough to create your own hydroponic homemade nutrients I recommend you use fertilizer salts. These are the most common type of homemade hydroponic nutrients and are very rudimentary and cheap assuming you can buy in small quantities. You can buy them in bulk from plant food suppliers, plant nurseries and agricultural agencies. Unfortunately if you buy hydroponic fertilizer salts from these suppliers you often have to buy in twenty-five to fifty pound bags, which isn’t practical or cost effective unless you are buying for a large scale commercial business or an extensive hydroponic garden.

I recommend instead you buy fertilizer salts from online sites such as eBay as these suppliers supply them in smaller quantities.

Here is a list of recommended fertilizer salts for those who want to make their own hydroponic homemade nutrient solution.

Fertilizer Salts (Most recommended):

Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts): Supplies Magnesium and Sulphur
Potassium sulphate: Supplies Potassium and Sulphur.
Potassium nitrate:
Supplies Nitrogen and Potassium.
Superphosphate:
Supplies Phosphorus and Calcium.
Calcium sulphate:
Supplies Calcium and Sulphur.
Ammonium phosphate:
Supplies Nitrogen and Phosphorus.

Here are two workable, tried and tested hydroponic homemade nutrient solutions. There are many different nutrient formulae’s, but as long as the elements are present in balanced amounts the plant should be fine – it will extract from the solution what it requires. Of course every plant is different and exists in different conditions so you should experiment with what works best for you.

The recommended quantity is the weight in ounces that experts recommend in a 100 Imperial (120 American) gallon water solution.

Homemade Hydroponic Nutrient Solution 1
Ammonium sulphate: 1-1/2 ounces
Potassium nitrate: 9 ounces
Monocalcium phosphate: 4 ounces
Magnesium sulphate: 6 ounces
Calcium sulphate: 7 ounces
Combine with trace elements and 100 gallons (120 American gallons) of water, or 1 ounce per 3.7 Imperial gallons.

In addition to the three key elements of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium there should be at least 8 trace elements present in your nutrient. These include zinc, copper, sulphur, manganese, iron, calcium, magnesium and boron, chlorine and molybdenum. Chlorine and molybdenum are already present in either the water supply or salts mentioned above and therefore should not be added to avoid toxicity.

The following provides the function of each of elements in the hydroponic solutions:

Nitrogen: Necessary for the production of leaves and in stem growth. An essential ingredient in building plant cells.
Phosphorus:
Required in the development of flowers and fruits and aids in the growth of healthy roots.
Potassium:
Used by plant cells during the assimilation of the energy produced by photosynthesis.
Sulphur:
Assists in the production of plant energy and heightens the effectiveness of phosphorus.
Iron:
Vital in the production of chlorophyll.
Manganese:
Aids in the absorption of nitrogen. An essential component in the energy transference process.
Zinc:
An essential component in the energy transference process.
Copper:
Needed in the production of chlorophyll.
Boron:
Required in minute amounts, but it is not yet known how the plant uses it.
Magnesium:
One of the components of chlorophyll, magnesium also is involved in the process of distributing phosphorus throughout the plant.
Calcium:
Encourages root growth and helps the plant absorb potassium.
Chlorine:
Required for photosynthesis.
Molybdenum:
Assists in some chemical reactions.

The trace elements that are added to these formulae must be mixed separately. One recipe is given below. You can use a mortar and pestle to grind to a very fine powder.

Trace elements Solution
Zinc sulphate: ½ teaspoon
Copper sulphate: ½ teaspoon
Iron sulphate: 1 ounce
Manganese sulphate: 1 teaspoon
Boric acid powder: 1 teaspoon

These ingredients should be grinded well and stored dry. You should use half a teaspoon per 100 gallons or 120 American gallons of water.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Should Know Better March 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

Products such as Calcium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrate SHOULD NEVER be used in hydroponic nutrient solutions!!! Calcium nitrate will create serious blockages in drippers and emitters; whilst the sodium in the sodium nitrate will negatively impact on the structure of the media and is detrimental to plants.

Superphosphate is also a poor product as it is virtually impossible to fully dissolve. Use Mono Potassium Phosphate for phosphorous content.

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Simon March 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm

These recommendations were obtained from Stewart Kenyon and Howard M. Resh in the book: Hydroponics for Home Gardener. The book has a 4 star rating on Amazon.

However I have removed Calcium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrate from the list just in case the ingredients do cause blockages or problems with the media. I have also provided an updated formula. I have left superphosphate as it was as there are other benefits to the recommended salts such as cost, storage life, and stability.

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