By SD OG Grower
We all want tighter flowers and larger yields, no matter what we’re growing! Everyone has a friend who says they know the best additive to use to make tighter plants, harder flowers, or even stop the plants vertical growth by using Plant Growth Regulators (PGR). Sure, these things or products can stop the growth, or even make a flower harder, but is it really the right and best way to accomplish this? Does it leave your plants with the best organic sweet taste you’re looking for?
The answer is NO! You will never get a superior tasting quality fruit or product by using PGRs! It’s like putting chemicals or hormones into your body; it’s not good for you in the long run! And it sure as hell does not make a plant any healthier, more nutritious, better tasting, or more potent in any way! It will stunt the growth of your plants or make the flowers harder just like it claims it will. But if you read the ingredients or label of some of these products, you will notice that the warning sign on the label says: FOR USE ON ORNAMENTAL PLANTS ONLY, NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION! Anything that says this and has a warning sign on it is something I DO NOT WANT TO USE ON MY PLANTS!
Products like Gravity, Bushmaster, Phosphoload, and Dr. Nodes, just to name a few, are all NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION! But they do work and do what they say. It’s just that these ingredients the PGRs are known to cause cancer among many other toxic effects it has on the human body! That’s why it says for ornamental flowers only!
Many of you may be saying, what, these products work great and make denser plants and harder flowers with less stretching. My bro told me he uses it and it works great.The truth is that it’s not the nutrients or the additives you use; it’s not one single issue, but rather a combination of factors that affect the plants stretching and flower density. Im not trying to knock these products; I just think more growers need to be educated on what they’re putting in their plants and what factors naturally affect the way a plant grows; basically, how to grow the right way.
Lighting and environment are two of the most important factors affecting the way plants grow and develop fruit and flowers. Nutrients do play a vital roll, but only if the lighting and environment are in the right range so that the nutrients can work properly and to their fullest capabilities. Lighting is one of the most overlooked factors in a grow room, and by being educated on the qualities of your bulbs and the right bulbs to use, it could make a big difference in your garden! Getting the most out of your light will help you produce better plants and heavier yields.
All lighting is not the same. A MH or metal halide bulb is blue in color, and a HPS bulb is orange/reddish in color. The color of the bulb is measured in kelvins. A 3000K bulb is a reddish, orange spectrum or color around 3000K. A MH bulb is blue/purplish in color, or around 6500K. The different metals they put in the bulbs is what makes them burn different kelvins. The different kelvins greatly affect the plant. Plants respond more to wavelengths in the light, not the intensity of the light, like what our eyes see and judge the light by. Everyone has been taught or just assumes that a HPS is better for flowering simply because it has more lumens or more intensity. But the fact is that the color or kelvin of the light and wavelength frequency is much more important. A HPS has more lumens, but also causes the plant to stretch because the plant simply does not understand or absorb a lot of the light.
A MH blue 6500K light has much more absorbable, useful light in it that the plant can understand. Sure it has a lot less lumens and can cost a lot more, but it creates the development in our plants that we really want. The wavelengths and spectrum of the light is much more complete, covering a wider range of what the plant needs to produce the best quality flowers and fruits.
A common method for growing is to use T-5 fluorescents for veg, and then switch to a HPS 1000W for flowering. Plants do grow well under the correct T-5 bulbs, such as GEs T-5 Starcoat 6500K, but they need to be as close to the plants as possible, within 6 max! Unlike an HID light that needs to be 12 or more away from the plant and air-cooled in order to not burn the plant, the intensity of a fluorescent light is very weak and not intense enough for full development. Light diminishes very quickly, so the penetration is not very deep into the canopy with T-5 fluorescents. Keep the plants under T-5s for the first 2 weeks or so in veg, and then the key is to transplant them into larger pots and veg them for another 7-10 days under a 600W, 6500K MH blue bulb. Ushio makes a really good and affordable MH conversion bulb that comes in 600W and 1000W for the right spectrum your plants are looking for. The plants need to be gradually introduced to larger wattage lights, and not go from a T-5 fluorescent straight to a 1000W HPS for flowering. It’s like us going into kindergarten; we need to start there and work our way up to elementary, then high school, gradually. It’s the same with a plant; start with T-5 lights for veg, then try going to a 400W or 600W 6500K MH bulb. By doing this, you’re naturally simulating the natural sun that starts in spring and gets more intense as the summer progresses, which eventually diminish in the fall when many plants naturally start flowering. If we looked at the spectrum of the sun (only visible and readable with a light meter) through these seasons, we would notice it starting off dominantly blue in color around a 6500K and turning more of an orange/reddish color towards the end of summer and into the fall more of a 3000K spectrum or color. We can never duplicate the sun as it is a combination of colors changing all the time with the seasons; and where the sun is in the sky and how it cuts through our atmosphere determines and affects the spectrum of light that hits the plants outside. A good quality blue, 6500K spectrum bulb actually has much more useable, absorbable light than any HPS light. Higher lumens do not mean it’s a better quality bulb. However, most growers have been told, or simply believe, an HPS bulb is the best choice for flowering. WRONG!!! It is the opposite of what our brain naturally wants us to believe.
Simply look at the spectrum chart or graph on any HPS bulb compared to a 6500K MH blue bulb, such as a Hortilux Daylight Blue, or a Ushio MH conversion. These bulbs will produce a better quality flower or fruit. The plants stretch for the little bit of useable light that a HPS does have. But if you try and flower with one of the MH bulbs I mentioned, you will notice that the plant does not stretch nearly as much and stacks a whole lot better. This means tighter, closer spaced internodes, which equals better stacking of the flowers. Until recently, it was a pain in the ass to run different bulbs and wattages; but now, by using the Solis-Tek 1000W digital ballast, you can run anything! It allows you to run any wattage bulb, MH or HPS, on the same ballast simply change out the bulbs. Start with T-5 fluorescents for a couple of weeks, then transplant into larger pots and put them under a more intense HID light, such as a 400W or 600W MH Blue 6500K bulb for about 7-10 days. This will make the plants much stronger and healthier with tighter internodal spacing, which, in-turn, creates better produce, better quality, and heavier harvests.
So if you look at a spectrum chart or graph, you can easily see that MH blue 6500K bulb has a lot more useable light than a HPS. So why wouldn’t you use this for the whole cycle, or also flowering? The plants will be tighter and better developed, and will stay much more compact and not stretch for the light nearly as much as they would under a HPS.
Using products high in auxins, such as Nitrozyme, a high quality Ascophyllum Nodosum Seaweed and marine algae extract that does wonders for plant health, will keep your plants from stretching and help them stay more compact and produce better flowers. Using quality nutrients, like Canna, Aptus, and Gro High Cal, will definitely help your plants produce the best quality produce because of the quality of ingredients used in them. Quality nutrients like these will keep your plant from developing any deficiencies and, more importantly, give them the quality nutrition and minerals that are highly absorbable and available to the plant. Using cheap salts, such as those found in your Wal-Mart type of home and garden nutrients, will affect the quality of your plants and the way they grow and develop. You can never yield and harvest top quality produce if you don’t have a quality nutrient! Additives such as Full On and Canna Boost can greatly help the development of your plants and the quality too, but lighting is everything because it’s the start of the energy source for your plants. Light is the lifeline for your plants!
Using the best reflective material on the walls also greatly improves lights efficiency to the plant. ORCA Grow Film is one of my favorites; also, any of the diamond-infused silver materials, such as C.A.P. diamond-infused mylar reflective materials, improve light reflectivity. Capturing as much light as possible and directing it to the plant makes for more energy to the plant and larger yields. Also, changing your bulbs out every 4 months is advised. They may say warranted for 12 months, but the efficiency has diminished by about 30% or more after 4 months of use. So I recommend changing your bulbs out every 2 harvests or 4 months. Use a light meter to determine the breakdown and loss of light over the 4 months and you will clearly see the benefits of new bulbs every 4 months.
If you want larger, healthier compact plants, try using a MH 6500K blue bulb. Reflect the light back to your plants and capture and direct that energy you’re paying a pretty penny for, and use proper high quality nutrients. Your standard home and garden nutrients are not going to get you the best product possible. Just like McDonalds, the quality of nutrition will never make your body as healthy as it should or could be. They cant, because they use low-grade quality salts. Canna, Gro High Cal, and Aptus all use pharmaceutical grade salts, ensuring the highest quality produce possible. The best fruits and flowers come from the best nutrients, best lighting, the correct spectrums, and the proper environments. Without just one of these, you’re missing an important piece to the puzzle, and they all need to be on point in order to produce the best products possible!