Silicon usually isn’t directly ranked among the micro nutrients required for plant health. As a major inorganic component of all soils, adding it is often seen as unnecessary. However, most cannabis nutrient lines contain a silica compound. Is this just because these lines focus on hydroponic grow methods or is there another reason to care about silicon?
It turns out, supplementing silicon has been widely studied and plant specific testing has been conducted for many crops. According to this research, there are numerous benefits to boosting silicon in plants. Early studies focused on drought resistance and the increase in dry harvest weights of corn, rice, and wheat. Researchers found that increasing silicon increased plants’ water uptake efficiency by 30%, which provided broad, if difficult to quantify, resistance to drought. They also noticed that plants were better able to handle both heat and cold stress without showing signs of damage for moderate exposure. Given the heat stress potential of most indoor grows, this last benefit alone puts silicon on the top of my nutrient list.
Another study focused on the synergistic effects between silicon and nutrients in soil. When looking at the soil substrate, there’s a direct correlation between silicon content and plants’ ability to uptake ionic compounds. In short, having beneficial levels of silicon in the soil helps plants absorb necessary minerals. However, the benefit has a great deal to do with available nutrients in the growth medium to begin with. So, we can assume that the greater the health of your growth medium and nutrient mix, the greater impact silicon can have on nutrient uptake.
Next, the plant specific studies mentioned earlier overwhelming conclude that fertilizing with silicon increases dry yields of field crops. On average, corn yields increased 18%, and other crops such as rice and soybean showed yield increases 20 to 30%. The exact function by which silica improves yields is yet known, and further study is needed. The takeaway for cannabis growers is that, given the varying types of plants that produce more when fed, there’s good reason to believe using it in our grows will likewise increase our yields. At the very least, we need to begin independent testing of our own to study these effects.
Finally, silicon provides increased overall structural rigidity and strength throughout the whole plant and this effect is directly linked to pest and disease resistance. As with crop yields above, plant specific studies have been conducted to prove this phenomenon. However, plants differ in the ways they transfer materials once past the root zone. Therefore, we don’t have an exact model for how much silicon increases strength and resistance in Cannabis. What we do know is that in all the plants tested, adding silicon led to stronger cell walls and inter-cellular connections within the plant as a whole, as opposed to just in a specific portion of the plant. This total plant hardening leads us to why it helps with pest mitigation. Silicon helps create a thicker exterior cell wall making the plant far more difficult to penetrate either through plant rust or pests. If an insect can’t bite through the leaf, stem, or stalk of the plant it can’t harm the plant.
Unlike many nutrients that seem to be mysterious or and lacking science to back up their efficacy, silica compounds are proven drivers of greater plant health and higher yields. What i hope you've taken away from this blog today is simple, silica is awesome. Go out do some research and find the right silica nutrient line for your particular grow medium.