Hydroponic Grows: How Many Plants Are Too Many?

Hydroponic Grows: How Many Plants Are Too Many?

How much room… is enough to go big?

While a rather simple question on its face, when it comes to cultivating productive crops, yielding sticky high THC nugs – it’s a key question to ask.

As a general rule of thumb, cultivators generally need a few crops under their belt before they truly get the feel for the optimum space-to-yield requirements, a tricky proposition for today’s indoor hydroponic cultivators, and one that is key in mastering in order to attain full maturation and sticky sweet buds.

While many cannabis strains are genetically chosen for their predisposed phenotype; shorter, taller, higher THC, or more CBD cannabinoids – some choose strains meant to attain greater flower yields. And with electricity as expensive as it is, that’s only understandable.

If you own your own solar farm – and power rained down from the skies – your electricity bill would matter. But electricity doesn’t, and your bill does. So the ultimate goal for the experienced cultivator is to make sure that your current crop yields as much as possible…on a per watt basis.

The feng shui of your hydroponic grow tray absolutely matters. In addition to choosing the right genetics to satisfy your end goal, along with the proper placement of plants – allowing for a suitable distance is critical for your ladies to hit their maximum potential. Cultivators generally try maintain an optimal number of flowering nodes in a given grow zone, under an HPS light source as a means of assuring they capitalize on their grow rooms potential yield. Sure, in a 4’ x 4’ hydroponic grow tray you can throw a few rockwool grow cubes in there – and absolutely harvest some outrageous flower – but with each light costing you approximately $100 a month in electricity… the question remains, at what cost?

On the opposite end of the spectrum – 10 pounds of good intention in a 5 pound sack – (over planting your grow tray) will net you low density nugs, that lack flavor and THC content.

So back to the original question… How much room is enough to go big? The art of hydroponic cultivation is a combination of understanding the nutritional requirements, the environmental needs and the right planting density… Which absolutely goes back to the genetics you’ve decided to cultivate. What are the characteristics of the strains you’ve chosen to grow? Are they tall, short, bushy, gangly? And when switch from vegetation to flowering does the plant snap straight into producing buds – or does she stretch and put on more height? These factors will determine how long to vegetate your plants before switching them to their flower cycle – in addition to the optimum spacing for the highest yield.

In different states (particularly those with medical marijuana laws) there are different restrictions as to the number of plants legally allowed to be cultivated. So, to make up for quantity of plants they go for quality – and feed for size. Growing monster plants producing multiple pound yields. But that’s a different scenario, and a different discussion.

For a lot of different Indica dominant strains – i.e. cannabis cup winning OG’s – these general guidelines seem to provide great results. In the average hydroponic 4’ x 4’ cultivation tray under, their primary HPS light source: starting with well rooted clones

vegetation phase – 6 to 8 days – 25, 1 gallon pots

vegetation phase – 10 to 15 days – 15, 2 gallon pots

vegetation phase – 15 to 30 days – 10, 5 gallon pots

vegetation phase – 20 to 40 days – 4, 10 gallon pots

vegetation phase 30 to 60 days – 2, 20 gallon pots

Other variables in your ultimate yield will include how you manage your grow room. Do you prune, Fim, SOG, or SCROG? However you cultivate, making sure the plants have proper room to spread there medicine giving arms, assuring a good growth medium, uncrowded roots and plenty of space for your plants to fire up high quality nugs.