One of the main subjects of the recent cannabis research is the importance of silicon in the plant's development. Scientists study the ways the element influences its growth and health. It appears that this nutrient is essential for proper cannabis cultivation.
For years, seasoned
marijuana growers have been wondering why cannabis plants fare better
in soil than in soilless mediums. Recently, experts have concluded
that silicon is the matter. The element is naturally present in soil
while other mediums lack it.
Silicon had never been considered an essential nutrient by scientists. However, latest studies show that it plays a great role in the plant's growth and quality. Besides, it affects the photosynthesis, resistance to droughts, nutrient deficit, and temperature change. When a plant is grown in a substrate, silicon supplementation is very beneficial.
In 2010, a company called Greenhouse Management conducted a few studies that showed that supplemented silicon treatments increased silicon concentration in the plants. The leading scientists of the experiment were Todd Cavins, Steve Marek, and Sophia Kamenidou. They also found that different plant species absorbed different amounts of silicon, so the concentration and deposition of the mineral in the tissue might vary. Moreover, it was discovered that its deposition also depended on the kind of tissue a plant had. When the herbs were supplemented with silicon, they reacted in a positive way and improved in various aspects. Among the most evident developments were thicker stems and early flowering. In addition, all specimen showed an impressive improvement in the quality of flowers that were bigger in diameter than usual.
The participants of the study believe that this improvement is caused by the reduced water loss through transpiration. Silicon forms a waxy layer on the plant and, thus, lowers the transpiration rate.
Another important property of silicon is the increase of tolerance to heat stresses. Thermal stability of lipids in cell membranes is believed to be influenced by the element, though the exact mechanism of this connection is still unknown. Current studies also examine the influence of silicon on the plant under such chemical stresses as metal toxicity, nutrient imbalance, and salinity.
Silicon provides plants with armor, so to speak. This protection helps them defend themselves against pests. As the mineral is absorbed, it accumulates in the cell walls of leaves and stems as hydrated amorphous silica that hardens the tissues, thus making it difficult for insects to break through.
If you decide to utilize this nutrient, you have to know that it comes in different forms. Hydroponic cultivation requires water-soluble forms such as silicic acid or potassium silicate. The former is more widely available but also pricier. In general, you just have to follow the instructions of the manufacturer. Bear in mind that you should not use more than 50 mg of silicon per liter.
For those who grow in soil, organic options exist. If you decide to make your own soil, you just have to replace a quarter of vermiculite or perlite with rice hulls—they have the same moisture-holding capacity. There is also an alternative way—you can add rice hulls to the compost to make it silicon-rich.