Bloom Boosters Guide and How To.
(from Grozine Vol. 2 Issue 13)
During my career in agriculture since graduating, I have worked with some of the biggest hydroponics and specialty plant fertilizer supplements manufacturers currently on the planet. All of them offered base fertilizers and all of them offered supplements (and most of them were pretty good). One of the biggest selling products among any of those companies was in the category often labeled Bloom Booster or Flowering Additive.
There are literally hundreds of formulas from almost as many manufactures out there, yet this still tends to be a misunderstood area, even veteran indoor or specialty crop growers.
Q What is a Bloom Booster?
It is a formula you can add at different times and in different rates during the reproductive phase of growth, ie flowering fruiting and budding—even early flower and ripening are distinct phases in some types of crops.
Q-Do my plants need Bloom Boosters?
Nope, they are not essential. A bloom booster is intended to Supplement your crop’s diet of base nutrients, ie the NPKs and Essential Micro elements supplied by your choice of fertilizer, whether synthetic or organic.
Q-Should I use a bloom booster?
For soilless growing and some hydroponics systems, we recommend that you do to maximize yields and harvest quality potential. The right supplements applied at the right times can make some pretty dramatic differences-even in otherwise healthy and vigorous crops. Once you gain some experience we recommend you use a few different types in the average 9 week bloom cycle.
The quick answer is like this:
Bloom boosters give your plants that “extra” that they tend to use in higher quantities at critical times; especially when gowers get aggressive with cultivating modern crops. Just like you can opt to have Pre, During and Post work-out nutritional supplements when you are pushing yourself for gains during exercise. Further, if your crop is being maintained “lazy” you are likely to see less benefit, although most boosters will have some positive benefit on just about any crop in flowering; how MUCH benefit depends on some specifics, listed below.
Timing of Application:
Type of Bloom Booster:
Early or Pre Flower
-these types of formulas usually contain stimulators, naturally occurring or otherwise that encourage a rapid and more pronounced flowering response.
-scrutinize products marketed as bloom boosters for the early or pre flowering phase carefully; while there’s some good ones to be had, this is the category where PGRs (synthetic plant growth regulators) have surfaced from time to time.
-most crops don’t need any extra “P” or “K” at this time, rather they would benefit from additions of calcium, magnesium and iron while maintaining a slightly lower nitrogen load.
-this is when most bloom boosters start to get added to your regular crop fertilizer feeding program.
-in programs where only one type of bloom additive is used, applications begin moderate and increase through until the end of peak flowering in the bloom phase.
Tip: Over-applying “P” (phosphorous), a common ingredient in bloom booster formulas, especially early on can cause problems with iron and calcium. A boost can be great; but everything is best in moderation, yes?
Peak Bloom and Budding
-where growers tend to see maximum benefit and returns for applications.
-often associated with biggest plant mass gains in cropping cycle; plants are hungriest (most varieties) at this time.
-increased P + K, carbohydrates, amino acids, enzymes and biologicals can help fatten up blooms and keep your plant putting more energy into reproductive growth for longer
-plants are feeding less on external nutrients, rather, they are trans locating stored energy into a final burst before maturity
-bio stimulants that help keep plants revved up and freely moving energy and nutrients are ideal.
-increased potassium will help promote heavier and denser buds, flowers and fruits; higher K levels encourage ripening and hardiness.
-elevated sulphur levels can improve essential oil contents during ripening
TIP: ultimately, plants should be fed pure water for a period before harvest to assist in reusing grow mediums (if that’s in the cards) and to ensure they do not taste of excess fertilizers (bitter). Biological enzymes can help recondition the growing media and help to digest away and unused fertilizer residues.
Using this basic framework, you can better target your crop for specifically which products and when in your efforts to gain bigger yields and reap better quality from what you choose to grow. Note that like with your base fertilizers, there can be some distinctions as to what will work best for your growing style or medium, for example if you grow in soil or a re-circulating and highly aerated hydroponics system.
Reading labels carefully is always a good practice-but so is asking around because nutrient manufactures have some limitations about what they can say about their product following most current labelling laws for plant fertilizers and supplements.
Thanks: Christian Long & Daniel Wilson www.cch2o.com
As with any supplement addition it is always a good idea to ease in. Most boosters, especially high P/K formulas, are very concentrated.Depending on your base nutrient make-up and cultivation style it can be easy to over do it or cause a lock-out in just one feeding. A good rule would be to take the manufacturers recommendations and cut them down by 50-75% to start. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate the plants response before increasing the strength.
Do the Math
If using a booster at full strength you may want to decrease your overall ratio of base nutrients to supplements. This will allow you to stay within the range your plants are used to feeding at without giving them an overdose of additional minerals they may not need.
If your plants are in peak bloom and feeding at 1200ppm and you add a
booster at full strength jumping the ppm’s to 1800 you have effectively
increased your overall nutrient strength by 50%. Cutting your base
nutrients down by 25% before adding a booster at full strength will
result in a smaller overall increase and again reduce the chances of a
lock-out or irreparable crop damage.
Erik Biksa has been writing about and discussing hydroponics growing, related technologies and cropping methods since 1999 in a variety of professional publications and platforms globally Erik has travelled the world learning and teaching modern growing techniques and technologies and is appreciated by many growers for his informative yet hands on approaches. Presently, he is the Editor at Grozine Hydroponics Mag.