Silicon (Si) is the second most abundant mineral element in native soil, is nearly a third of earth’s crust, and provides massive benefits to plants. And yet, silicon isn’t considered an essential plant nutrient, so it’s missing from most hydroponics, natural and organic base nutrients. Only a couple of manufacturers add silicon to commercial soil, peat-based soilless, or coco coir root zone media.
Here’s why you should add silicon to your feed program and use it as a foliar spray:
- Scientific research proves beyond doubt that silicon helps marijuana plants resist and survive severe biotic and abiotic stresses, including drought, heat, powdery mildew, excess nutrients salts, and insects.
- If you use high quality silicon supplementation (more about that later), it’s easy to provide soil-fed and foliar-fed silicon to your marijuana plants.
- Silicon as H4SiO4 is taken up by plant roots and deposited into leaf epidermal cells, resin glands, and other plant parts.
- These silicon deposits are hydrated amorphous silica, also known as SiO2 polymerized silicic acid. They are an internal armor against attackers such as spider mites, aphids, and fungi that seek to pierce plant cell walls.
- Silicon’s internal armoring also helps deter attacks by hungry rabbits, deer, and other mammalian chompers.
- When silicon is applied along with specific fungicides and other protective agents, it enhances their effectiveness.
- Silicon treatment increases leaf cuticle thickness, density of leaf coating, and trichome density.
- Buds produced by silicon-enhanced plants have sturdier, larger resin heads and are more resistant to gray mold, powdery mildew, and storage cannabinoid and terpenoid potency decline.
- The one properly-engineered hydroponic silicon product we found contains potassium, which is a bud boosting major nutrient.
Obviously, you should be providing silicon to your cannabis plants. But how you do it determines whether it works or not.
That’s why it’s useful to revisit our “controlled experiments” article to see how we used research and experiments to find a quality silicon product. This is how we worked the silicon issue…
- We saw several brands of silicon products in hydroponics stores. Their manufacturer’s hype claimed these products would provide the silicon benefits listed above.
- We researched agricultural databases and found 100% objectively-verified proof that silicon is a valuable agricultural supplement.
- We did controlled experiments with hydroponic silicon products by feeding and/or spraying the products on half the clones in a grow room or greenhouse and leaving the other half untreated.
- Most tests showed no difference between treated and untreated clones. Treated clones in one greenhouse test were marginally more resistant to powdery mildew and biting/sucking insects such as spider mites, but not enough to make it worth using silicon.
- Some silicon products we tested caused negative interactions with calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients elements in root feeding, and harmed leaves via foliar spraying.
- We contacted silicon product manufacturers Botanicare, Cutting Edge, Grow More, General Hydroponics, Alchemist, and Dyna-Grow, asking for documentation about their silicon product design, testing, ingredients, and effectiveness. Some manufacturers did not respond to our request, or responses were vague, misleading, not supported by original research done by manufacturer.
- Note that three of the silicon products brands are owned by Scotts Miracle-Gro through their front company Hawthorne. These products tested low quality and had no benefits. And as we’ve explained in previous articles, Scotts Miracle-Gro is a corporate felon, environmental criminal, distributor of carcinogenic, ecologically destructive Roundup poison, and has long been part of a corporate consortium assisting American drug warriors spraying poison on marijuana and coca plants in foreign countries. As a matter of principle, we recommend boycotting all Hawthorne companies.
- We concluded that unless we were to spend way too much money buying bulk amounts of agricultural silicon from industrial suppliers, we would not do silicon supplementation in our marijuana growing.
This was a disappointing conclusion, because science proves silicon benefits growing marijuana plants. Fortunately, we later heard about a highly-effective silicon product for growing marijuana. It’s called Silica Gold and is manufactured by TPS Nutrients, an innovative North American nutrients design and manufacturing company that has rave reviews across their entire product line. This stellar product delivers silicon through roots and as a foliar feed.
We’re testing the comprehensive TPS feed program and will report back to you in a few weeks about their revolutionary approach to feeding marijuana. Our initial interactions with TPS personnel show us their approach to creating nutrients is more professional, scientific, real-world, and effective than competing nutrients brands.
For example, when we asked all the other companies why marijuana growers should use their silicon products, they failed to answer, or provided generic, empty responses.
In contrast, our TPS query was immediately answered by Craig Allen, the head of product development and technical support for TPS, as follows:
“We designed Silica Gold with the primary goals of cell wall strengthening and protecting plants from stressors,” Craig explained. “Our research showed we had to engineer a uniquely stable silicon matrix that when fed to roots and/or foliar sprayed helps plants create hydroxyproline rich glycoproteins that form the foundation of their cell walls.
I want to emphasize the benefits of our stable silicon matrix. There are two forms of silicon in Silica Gold. We extract silicon from a wide variety of silicon rich plants for organo-silicates and bind them with organic anthocyanins in order to reduce oxidative stress, which therefore reduces decomposition of orthosilicic acid. Organo-silicates make up approximately 30% of the soluble silicon in Silica Gold.
But we don’t stop there. We microchelate a potassium salt of silicic acid with a pure and very very small fraction of another plant supplement. This helps complex the orthosilicic monomers so they better migrate to intracellular spaces in your plants. This form makes up the other 70% of soluble silicon in Silica Gold.
Our research showed it’s best to accelerate the building of hydroxyproline rich glycoproteins, so we extract organic building blocks for those proteins and include them in Silica Gold.
Combined with our unprecedented array of diverse organo-silicates and silicic acid, our protein building blocks help your plants absorb and utilize silicon at a steady, optimal rate. We also include two types of surfactants so the product’s components are absorbed faster through roots and leaves. Now you easily see why Silica Gold is so effective at strengthening and protecting plants.”
Let me first note that in our many years of experience interviewing nutrients manufacturers, we’ve rarely gotten the high level of detail, science, and transparency Craig provides. One of our main complaints about most hydroponic nutrients companies is that their technical support people aren’t helpful enough or at all. Many of them don’t even know the science behind their products.
Because silicon is very useful when foliar-sprayed, we asked Craig for his expert advice about foliar spraying.
“Silica Gold as a foliar is best absorbed by plants when the foliar spray is between pH 5-6. Additionally, use it to fight powdery mildew, gray mold, and pests by using the higher pH that occurs naturally when you follow our foliar dosing instructions. Probably the best tactic is to foliar spray Silica Gold twice a week, once with the spray between 5- 6pH and a few days later at the higher pH. We recommend using Silica Gold as a foliar spray solo, not mixing it with other components at a rate of 10-20mL per gallon,” Craig explained.
The good news is that TPS is very helpful to growers at every level, from the small-scale home grower all the way to the licensed professional marijuana grower, and now you know how to use silicon to boost, armor and protect your marijuana plants using Silica Gold. Look for our larger article about the entire TPS line-up, coming soon.
We are so glad that our long search for a legit silicon product for marijuana has finally paid off, and you will be too!