Potassium silicate will save you. this is not a sales pitch in an industry that sometimes wants to believe in a magic potion that will take care of all your problems but Potassium silicate may fit the description. Potassium silicate is a beneficial supplement for your plants; one that will make them bigger, stronger, more resilient to pests and disease and capable of yielding more. period.
Silicon is the second most common element in the earth’s crust.
It is widely regarded and agreed that plants require 17 key elements to successfully develop. These are comprised of macronutrients; nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur, and micronutrients; iron, manganese, boron, copper, molybdenum, zinc, chlorine and nickel. Plus, the obvious elements of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
With Silicon being found in such abundance in plant tissues, there is now an argument that it should be considered as a relevant macronutrient
when plants are grown without Silicon, they run the risk of being structurally weaker than plants grown with. They may be more open to attack from fungal pathogens and pests and can also be more vulnerable to any toxic metals that build up in the root zone.
If you have ever grown hydroponically and thought that your plants seemed a little weaker or more susceptible than previous crops grown in soil, it may be due to a lack of Silicon.
Hydroponic feeds do not contain Silicon in any noticeable quantity, if at all. The reason for this is that for Silicon to stay soluble, it requires a high pH – greater than 7. Unfortunately it cannot be included in a normal, hydroponic two-part feed as it would react with the other components present and this would most likely lead to a nutrient deficiency
For Silicon to be used as an available additive for your plants, it needs to be kept separate from the basic feed. You could even think of it as your third part to go alongside your usual two-part feed.
Plants can only absorb Silicon in the form of monosilicic acids, these occur naturally as mineral Silicon is broken down and dissolved into water. In hydroponic applications, the most common form of Silicon additive is Potassium Silicate.
Once absorbed, Silicon is transported to where it is required by the plants transpiration system, it is deposited as either hydrated silicon dioxide (which effectively stores water molecules within the plant) between the plant cells or as silica (a gel like substance) within the walls of the individual plant cells. Silicon “builds” the plant, acting as the cement between the bricks in the cell walls or between the actual cells themselves. It increases the structural integrity of the plant, making stems and branches thicker and stronger, and leaves greener and tougher.
The addition of Silicon to your feeding schedule can have an incredible effect on the growth, yield and overall health of your plants. So, how does it actually benefit your plants? This is how it works.
Improved Plant Cell Development – once your plant uptakes Silicon, it is permanently deposited into the cell walls within 24 hours. These deposits form a silica-cellulose framework that are stronger and can be created quicker than they could have been without the inclusion of Silicon. Overall the plant can develop faster and grow quicker when it uptakes Silicon.
Put simply, plant cell walls are like brick walls in a house. When Silicon is taken in by the plant, it is used like cement in a brick wall. So the walls are built quicker and stronger.
Once the ‘cement’ is in place, it cannot be transported elsewhere within the plant, so it’s important to continue to add Silicon throughout the entire growth cycle. This will ensure that all new growth in the plant benefits from the effects.
Balancing Uptake Of Elements – the presence of Silicon in a nutrient solution can positively affect the uptake and absorption of several macro and micro nutrients. Silicon increases Zinc uptake; an essential element in growth and photosynthesis.
Silicon increases the availability of Nitrogen to the plant as its application (in soil) will reduce the loss of Nitrogen to Ammonia (a naturally occurring process in soil). Nitrogen is key in the vegetative stage of plant development as it promotes healthy new foliage growth.
Silicon also balances the uptake of Phosphorus, reducing the risk of toxic levels being taken in by the plant. This is a particularly helpful characteristic to all you home growers that like to use a concentrated bloom stimulator (or root stimulator, for that matter!) with a high PK value.
Protection Against Metal Toxicity – Silicon is known to compete for uptake against certain metal elements that are made available to the plant. These metals include; Aluminium, Manganese and Iron, all essential for plant growth, but an excess of availability of any of the three elements can be problematic for your plants.
If there is a Silicon deficiency around the roots, then plants can uptake these metal elements to toxic levels. This can lead to problems that are not only detrimental to yield, but are also quite difficult to diagnose. So, you could go all the way through your grow, without rectifying the problem and be seriously down on yield at harvest time.
By increasing the dose of Silicon available to your plants, there will be a corresponding increase in the deposits of silica in the cell walls and Silicon will compete against the metals available in the nutrient solution, preventing toxic build ups. Therefore adding Silicon to your feeding schedule protects against metal toxicity.
Maintain Cell Integrity and Plant Strength – this is one of the more obvious effects of adding Silicon. Your plants will be visibly stronger, with wider, thicker stems and branches. The wider the stem, the more uptake and transpiration of water and nutritional elements is possible. So, in theory the plants will grow bigger and at a faster pace.
obviously, thicker branches will be able to hold more weight without the need of additional supports. If you have you got to the fourth or fifth week of flowering and realised that you haven’t put enough support in place to keep your buds stable? silica will solve this problem.
Protection Against Pests and Disease – this is a really fantastic benefit, particularly for home growers who prefer not to spray their plants with pesticides or fungicides. The protection that Silicon offers against fungal pathogens is two-fold:
1. The Silicon that has been deposited in the cell walls effectively toughens the outer ‘skin’ of the plant. This makes it far more difficult for pathogens to penetrate the plant in the first place.
2. If a plant is attacked by a pathogen, for example powdery mildew or pythium, the plant will transport and deposit any Silicon that it uptakes to the area of attack. This then stimulates the production of anti-fungal compounds that halt the infection process.
The toughened outer ‘skin’ reduces the risk of infestation from sucking insects.
Overall Increase In Weight And Bulk – Plants grown with Silicon will have leaves that are darker green, increasing their potential for photosynthesis and better growth. This, together with wider, stronger branches and stems and resilience to disease and pests will ultimately lead to bigger yields.