David's Simple Path to Nutrients and Additives

  • Posted on
  • By David Ittel

We carry a large selection of the best plant nutrient lines available.  I have experience with most, but not all of the nutrients.  They all work well and each brand has a number of our customers who are loyal users.  It's my opinion that there are way too many nutrient brands on the market with each having their own line of additives.  Brew and Grow is regularly approached by new fertilizer companies to carry their lineup. This creates unwanted noise and confusion in the marketplace.  Despite the claims, I have not run across any real improvements to what's already available. It's common practice for these new companies to anonymously use chat rooms to plug their product. I would be very suspicious of anything you read online. You have to realize that additives are a major moneymaker for the industry.  I'm sorry, but I'm just too lazy to open up half a dozen additive bottles or more to get the better results promised by some company who next week will have a brand-new additive that you'll just have to buy to get even better results.  There is one additive I've always recommended and that is adding more quality light.  Too many indoor gardens are under lit, but even light quantity can be overdone. You have to be able to deal with the additional heat and the potential for added stress to the plant.


When I am asked what nutrient line I would recommend, I play it safe when I answer.  I tell people that General Hydroponics and Canna are the two companies that continue to dominate and have dominated the worldwide marketplace for many years.  With so many happy customers, from so many countries, it makes sense to put these two at the top of the list for consideration when choosing a nutrient line. I have grown extensively with both and find them very easy to use.  They both have extensive research backing their product lines, with plant scientists and chemists on staff. 


I'll start with General Hydroponics since they have been around the longest.  Their Flora Series three-part liquid nutrient system is made from pharmaceutical grade minerals. It was the original product line for plant nutrition offered by General Hydroponics.  It can be used with soil mixes, soilless mixes, and all hydroponic systems.  Thirty years ago, these three bottles were all you needed to successfully grow a crop. By manipulating the amounts of Flora Micro, Flora Gro, and Flora Bloom added to water, you can customize the nutrient for every stage of plant growth. General Hydroponics now has feeding schedule guidelines using multiple additives to optimize plant growth.  If a customer wants to keep it simple, they can use the tried and true 1 2 3 method. During the vegetative stage you would use 3 teaspoons (15 ml) of Flora Gro, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of Flora Micro, and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of Flora Bloom per gallon. During the transitional stage you would use 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of Flora Gro, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of Flora Micro, and 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of Flora Bloom per gallon. For flowering or fruiting you would use 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of Flora Gro, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of Flora Micro, and 3 teaspoons (15 ml) of Flora Bloom per gallon. It's recommended that the Micro is added to the water first followed by the Gro and Bloom.


General Hydroponics has added a one-part nutrient called FloraNova and a two-part nutrient called FloraDuo to their lineup.  Both of these are liquids and can be used as part of a feeding schedule that includes additives. Their dry Maxi Series, MaxiGrow and MaxiBloom, can also be used alone or as part of a feeding schedule. Like the original Flora series all of these can be used with soil mixes, soilless mixes, and all hydroponic systems.


General Hydroponics has a large selection of additives. I do not have much experience with them. They have a new product called Armor Si which is a silicate supplement and I like silicates. If you are interested in trying their additives I would start with it, along with Diamond Nectar, Floralicious Plus, and Liquid Koolbloom.


General Organics, a recent product line developed by General Hydroponics, has ingredients that are entirely vegan.  It contains natural plant extracts, sea kelp, and mined minerals.  They have two one-part base formulas, BioThrive Grow and BioThrive Bloom. I would recommend following their feeding schedule for best results.


Canna is a company whose products are also easy to recommend, because of their excellent reputation for quality and innovation. Extensive research conducted in their laboratories has resulted in the top-selling product line for our industry in Europe. They have custom tailored four different base nutrients to function with specific types of growing media. All four base nutrients can be used as stand-alone fertilizers, but using Canna's additives will improve health and yield.


Canna's vegetative growth nutrient, Canna Terra Vega, and flowering nutrient, Canna Terra Flores, were designed for use with pre-fertilized soil or soilless mediums. They are suitable for indoor or outdoor use in beds or drain to waste fertilizing of containers.  Canna has a potting mix, Canna Terra Professional Plus, that was developed to be the purest soilless mix possible.  It was formulated to obtain the best results possible with CANNA TERRA nutrients.  Canna Terra Professional Plus has all the nutrition required for the first week of a plant's growth.


Canna Coco A&B nutrients were developed for use with Canna Coco Natural Plant MediumCanna Coco Natural Plant Medium is a high quality, easy to use coco.  Canna Coco A&B nutrients do not have a Vega and Flores option.  The unique properties of coco allow the one Canna formulation to give outstanding results in both the vegetative and flowering stages of plant growth.  Coco substrate properties make it a perfect choice for a drain to waste method of irrigation.  Canna Coco A&B nutrients also work well with all Simple Path growing media.


Canna Substra Vega and Canna Substra Flores are used for non-recirculating or hand watered systems commonly referred to as drain-to-waste.  Since the solution only makes one pass through the root zone, the plants are always receiving fresh nutrients. This method is the most popular with our customers and the one I have used for over 40 years. Common growing media used in this method would be rockwool and potting mixes such as Sunshine #1 and Sunshine #4.


Canna Aqua Vega and Canna Aqua Flores were specifically developed for use in hydroponic recirculating systems using inert growing media such as Growstone, rockwool or Hydrocorn.  Ebb and flow, deep water, NFT, aeroponic and drip systems that recirculate would all use Aqua nutrients.


Canna has a conservative number of additives to achieve best results in comparison to many companies.  Four is the maximum number of recommended additives you would have to add to your Canna base nutrient and that's only for one week during flowering. During the rest of vegetative and flowering, only 2 or 3 additives are used.


The first Canna additive is Canna Rhizotonic, an algae-based root stimulator and health promoter. The second is Cannazym, a blend of 12 enzymes combined with vitamins and plant extracts. Cannazym breaks down dead root material, activates microorganisms, improves absorption of nutrients and increases resistance to pathogenic organisms.  Canna Boost is the third additive used and the one most critical for optimum success. All the other components of the nutrient program are enhanced by the use of Canna Boost, which helps increase the efficiency of plant metabolism and reduces plant stress. It is a powerful fruiting and flowering stimulator that assures excellent yields and better flavors. The fourth and final additive, Canna PK 13-14 provides the right ratio of phosphorous and potassium during the transition from vegetative growth to flowering. It is used for only one week to provide the plant extra fruiting and flowering elements, while Canna Boost provides the energy for the plant to utilize them.


The BioCanna organic line from Canna has two organically certified base nutrients, Bio Vega for vegetative growth and Bio Flores for fruiting and flowering.  The line works well with just two additives, Rhizotonic and the Boost, a naturally fermented plant based product, enhanced with mineral components.  BioCanna works extremely well with Canna Terra Professional Plus potting mix.


A final thought on additives that work; beneficial organisms for the root zone is one. The fulvic and humic acids have a lot of good research behind them, as do silicates, plant hormones, amino acids, enzymes, and carbohydrates. There are also various formulations of nutrients that are good to treat plant deficiencies. Since these products can be very expensive, try to determine if they are worth the money by doing side-by-side comparisons. Test against Maxicrop - it's inexpensive and chock full of various plant-healthy components. If you find something that beats Maxicrop, and you are confident of the safety of its ingredients, then you have found something worthwhile.


These are my thoughts on a simple path to gardening.  There are any number of ways to grow your garden. - DAVID