pH for cannabis is crucial. Get the cannabis pH wrong and you will struggle to grow healthy THC rich plants. Read on for more cannabis pH info. Learn how to germinate marijuana seeds on your FIRST try! Reach 100% seed germination rates by using our step-by-step tutorial. Marijuana pH and water For marijuana growers, whether using soil, soilless or hydro methods, pH levels can make a huge difference to your success and yields. In this article we will take a closer
Understanding how pH affects cannabis plants
The need to maintain the right pH for cannabis growing is one of the most important fundamental cultivation parameters. pH is a measure of acidity/alkalinity. It affects many aspects of cannabis cultivation. Get the pH wrong and your plants won’t be able to absorb the necessary nutrients even if they are present, a phenomena known as nutrient lockout.
|●||What is soil pH?|
|●||How does pH affect cannabis plants?|
|●||Understanding cannabis pH fluctuations|
|●||What’s the ideal pH level for cannabis plants?|
|●||How to test soil pH for cannabis?|
|●||Cannabis pH problems symptoms and cure|
|●||Choose from the most resistant cannabis seeds|
What is soil pH?
The pH scale varies from ph 0 to pH 14. pH 0 is highly acidic and pH 14 is highly alkaline. pH 7 is half way between, it is neither alkaline nor acid. Therefore pH 7 is defined as neutral. Very acidic or very alkaline conditions can be hugely destructive to plant cells and tissue. That’s why many biological processes take place around neutral pH levels.
In the case of cannabis, pH is typically around 6-7 when grown in soil. In other words, a slightly acidic cannabis soil ph is preferred for optimised mineral/nutrient absorption by the cannabis roots. In the wild, cannabis plants will thrive in moist, nutrient rich soil with a slightly naturally acidic pH.
When grown in other methods/systems such as hydroponics, cannabis pH range may need to be even more acidic. Using hydroponics, water pH for cannabis is typically in the range 5.6 – 5.8. Just for comparison, Orange Juice has a pH around 3, milk has a pH around 6 and battery acid has a pH of 1.
How does pH affect cannabis plants?
Now you know a little more about pH for cannabis you may be curious to know why/how the pH of your chosen grow medium has such a crucial role in the health, development and quality of your cannabis plant.
All cannabis growers will be aware that cannabis relies on nutrients and minerals to grow. That means a good, usable supply of the main N, P & K macro nutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) within the soil nutrients. Carbon (C) Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O) are macronutrients which are absorbed via air and water.
In addition to the main ‘macro’ nutrients, there are also vital micro nutrients which are required to maintain and support the complicated cannabis plant biochemistry. The micro nutrients include elements such as Magnesium, which is vital for photosynthesis, as well as Boron, Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Copper and others.
Micro nutrients, by definition, are only required in small quantities. But the presence of these micro nutrients is essential to the long term and short term plant health. Without them, you won’t be able to produce high quality cannabis. That’s why ph for weed is critical.
If the soil pH for cannabis is outside the preferred range the various biochemical pathways required for nutrient absorption and mineral assimilation simply don’t work. That means nutrient lockout. The nutrients may well be present in the soil, but the wrong pH for cannabis means that they can’t be absorbed and used.
|Cannabis nutrient deficiencies and excesses chart|
Understanding cannabis pH fluctuations
Maintaining ideal environmental conditions for your cannabis plants is the best way to ensure optimised harvest quality levels as well as generous harvest quantities. That’s why good cannabis growers like to maintain the best pH for cannabis. Many experienced cannabis growers monitor the pH of their cannabis grow medium. This allows them to check that the cannabis ph level is OK. It also allows the grower to catch any pH drift early, before it has had chance to cause too much damage.
When cannabis pH levels fluctuate it restricts the ability of the plant biochemistry to fully utilise the key nutrients essential to plant and bud growth. Resin production and THC levels will be reduced. To the cannabis grower, this will seem like the plant is struggling to grow/yield well. The plant may look discoloured. The growth may look inadequate and the buds won’t have the same quality.
What’s the ideal pH level for cannabis plants?
If you’re growing in soil, the best pH for cannabis is between pH 6.0 – pH 7.0
A cannabis pH chart is sometimes provided by the nutrient supplier. It shows the various minerals and nutrients and how they are best delivered at an optimum pH for the plant. Note that in soil-free cannabis cultivation, e.g. cannabis hydroponics, slightly more acidic conditions nearer pH 5.6 – 5.8 are often used.
Few soil growers are particularly worried about the specific pH level. So long as it is between pH 6-7 the conditions will allow good plant growth, assuming that the soil quality and other environmental conditions, lighting etc are also well controlled.
To some extent soil is ‘self buffering’ and provides a certain degree of tolerance and flexibility. Therefore you may not need to worry about precise daily pH checks on the pH of your local water supply (and final nutrient solution) in the same way that hydroponic growers might. Soil is forgiving, but can only self-buffer to a certain level.
Organic growers may have a little more latitude than most when it comes to cannabis pH. Although there is nothing wrong with growing cannabis in soil using concentrated liquid nutrients, many people prefer to forget about their pH meter and take a more organic approach.
Not only can this seem simpler, many cannabis connoisseurs think the best taste and aromas are produced from organic soil-grown weed. If this sounds appealingly simple, you are not alone! Dutch Passion recommend slow-release organic nutrients such as those from BioTabs.
These slowly release nutrients throughout the grow and also support a healthy root zone of beneficial bacteria and microbial life. This means, especially when growing in large soil containers, that you may only need to consider light general purpose bloom nutrients towards the end of bloom.
Note that many soil growers feel that allowing a certain natural variation between ph 6-7 is also healthy for the plant since it may allow certain minerals to preferentially absorb at different pH levels. Few soil growers are determined to maintain pH for cannabis at precise levels and many never bother checking the soil pH at all.
One of the beauties of soil cultivation is that you have more pH latitude and flexibility than you would with other grow methods. For some cannabis growers, keeping life simple in the grow room is one of the most important issues. Growing organically in soil is a great way to do just that.
How to test soil pH for cannabis?
How to test soil pH cannabis? A simple pH probe is a useful and affordable investment. Just dip the probe below the moist soil surface and check the pH reading. You can also use paper pH strips. Simply take put some soil in a glass and mix with an equal volume of neutral water. Pour through a coffee filter and check water pH with a paper pH strip.
Don’t worry about getting the best pH meter for cannabis. A basic, affordable model should do the job. When you buy your pH meter also invest in some buffered pH reference solutions (e.g. pH 4.0 and pH 7.0) which can be used to check the performance/accuracy of your pH meter. When your pH meter can no longer be accurately calibrated to the reference solutions it’s time to get a new one.
Cannabis pH problems symptoms and cure
Knowing the best pH for cannabis is one thing. Maintaining it consistently can take some effort and checking. Cannabis pH problems will often arise if the nutrients/water pH is wrong. This could happen if there has been e.g. a mistake with nutrient preparation or nutrient additives.
One extreme measure for soil growers who feel that they have lost control of soil pH is simply to flush the soil with a large amount of water. If you have a 15 litre container of soil, perhaps you will flush with 20 – 30 litres of water. If you think there is a pH problem, don’t delay, flush your soil with water before the plant is damaged.
Another option, perhaps for those with a little more practical experience with additives, is to use ‘pH Up’ or ‘pH Down’ to adjust pH levels in soil/water. If you are growing with a suitable hydroponics system you may be able to add ‘pH up/down’ additives drop by drop to your nutrient reservoir to correct the pH. Ensure that the ‘pH up/down’ additives have sufficient time to thoroughly mix in with the water in order to avoid false pH readings which will compound your problems.
|What’s wrong with my cannabis plant?|
How to tell if pH is too low
If pH is too low, indicating excessively acidic conditions, you will also see leaf discolouration as well as reduced growth/vigour. Outside of the optimum pH you will eventually see mineral deficiencies. A quick pH check is always worthwhile.
It’s important to find the root cause of the sudden pH issues. Has there been a dramatic shift in local water pH? Are your nutrients being correctly made up? Are you using pH adjustment additives excessively? pH adjustment additives will raise the pH (‘pH up’ makes it more alkaline) or reduce pH (‘pH down’ makes it more acidic). Incorrect use of these can be disastrous for your plants.
Many cannabis growers make up their nutrient solutions the day before and allow them to stand overnight. This allows the pH to equilibrate and stabilise. It also allows any chlorine smell (from mains water treatment) to disappear as well as allowing the nutrient solution temperature to equilibrate with room temperature.
Many soil growers, if they do need to test pH, do so on nutrients which have been prepared the previous day. One other useful tip is to stir and mix your nutrients thoroughly after using pH up/down in order to ensure that your pH readings are accurate and represent the real pH of the full solution.
How to tell if pH is too high
If pH is too high conditions are too alkaline for optimised cannabis growth. Elements like Iron are difficult to absorb when the pH is too high. Nutrient lockout and deficiencies will occur and the first signs of this will be on the cannabis leaves. The normal healthy vibrant green colour will often be replaced by yellowing leaves. Vigorous plant growth stops and plant health struggles until the correct pH for cannabis is restored.
How long does it take for cannabis plants to bounce back from high pH? This is a difficult question to answer with precision. High pH cannabis symptoms will depend on how severe the pH issue is and how long it has been present. Your plant could bounce back within a few days if you flushed the soil with plenty of water. Or, in the worst circumstances, your plant could be permanently stunted or die if left to sit in a very high pH feed for too long.
How to adjust pH levels
How to adjust soil pH for cannabis? Delicate use of pH additives to nudge pH up or down is not uncommon with cannabis growers. If pH control is something that worries you, take a look at organic soil growing. This minimises the need to worry about pH. The self buffering action of the soil naturally takes care of pH, up to a certain degree.
If you prefer to grow hydroponic cannabis (soil free) you will be in complete control of nutrient preparation and will need to be much stricter about pH control. That will require regular calibration and checking of your pH meter as well as the requirement to keep a spare pH meter for the inevitable day when the pH meter fails or starts to deliver incorrect readings.
Some organic growers find that pH can be gently and steadily adjusted using certain natural methods. pH can be reduced with the addition of compost teas, manure/compost, pine needles (these are slightly acidic). These natural additives may help with beneficial microbial action in the soil too. Lemon juice (mildly acidic) is a natural pH reducer. Lime/Limestone (mildly alkaline) is a natural way to increase pH.
Choose from the most resistant cannabis seeds
There are no particular cannabis strains which are particularly good at growing in extreme pH levels. Instead, focus on maintaining optimised environmental conditions for your plants. Perhaps that may be organic soil growing where pH concerns are minimal. Or it may be in a hydroponics system where pH stability and full pH control is essential in order to maximise the quality of your harvest.
|Optimising your cannabis grow room conditions|
If you’re growing organically in soil, the pH for cannabis is something that you may rarely concern yourself with. That means that you can choose freely from the Dutch Passion collection of autoflower seeds, feminised cannabis seeds or regular seeds. All will grow easily and deliver proven, high quality results.
Autoflowering cannabis seeds are particularly recommended for growers looking for the easiest grow experience. They grow from seed to harvest under 20 hours of daily indoor light, taking around 11 weeks. Grow them in large containers of soil e.g. 25-50 litres, with slow release BioTabs organic nutrients and you may only need to add tap water throughout the grow.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
An in-depth guide on how to germinate cannabis seeds. Discover different techniques on how to germinate marijuana seeds to ensure a successful cannabis crop.
Everything has a beginning.
Cannabis seeds, like all seeds, must undergo the germination process before it can grow into a weed-yielding beauty.
Countless cannabis germination guides litter the internet. However, none go as in-depth as our seed germination tutorial. Read along to learn how to germinate marijuana seeds like a pro.
You’ll discover everything you need to know about the art of germinating marijuana seeds. From the necessary equipment to different germination methods and everything in between, we’ve got you covered.
The Chemistry Behind Cannabis Seed Germination
Cannabis seeds require the right conditions to sprout.
Without the proper temperature, moisture level, or oxygen saturation, weed seeds will not germinate. Although you can readily germinate seeds outdoors, nothing beats controlled germination indoors.
Let’s take a look at the three primary elements that influence the germination rates of marijuana seeds.
Water is the key player in the process of germinating marijuana seeds.
The outer-layer of the cannabis seed acts as a protective casing that provides a two-fold defense — prevent damage to the inner embryo and prevent minimal moisture from premature germination.
However, if the marijuana seed is saturated with water, it will eventually absorb the moisture and kick-off the germination process.
Once the embryo activates through water saturation, it requires oxygen to jump-start the respiration process. Oxygen fuels respiration, which unlocks food stored within the embryo.
After the respiration process, the embryo consumes the food stores, which in turn produces energy. Energy is the necessary product that propels the germination stage onwards.
Even if cannabis seeds have access to water, oxygen, and energy, it’s all for nothing unless it has access to warmth.
As long as cannabis seeds experience 72-78°F during the initial germination process — they’ll burst forth from the ground and spread their primordial leaves under the sun or artificial light.
The three most important elements for successful weed seed germination
Why It’s Important to Germinate Weed Seeds Indoors
At its core, the germination process lays the foundation of cannabis plants.
Overall, marijuana plants will underperform without proper germination techniques compared to those that experienced ideal conditions during the germination process. Therefore, it’s always best to harness an indoor environment when germinating marijuana seeds.
What to Look For Before Germinating Marijuana Seeds
Before you begin the germination process, there are a few things you must look for.
Let’s take a brief look at each.
Damaged Marijuana Seeds
Ordering feminized or autoflowering cannabis seeds online is the best way to acquire top-shelf genetics.
The seeds, however, may experience a few bumps on the road during the shipping process. With this in mind, you must look over each seed to ensure there isn’t any damage.
As long as each weed seed is undamaged, the germination process will be smooth.
The Cannabis Seed’s Age
Next, it’s a good idea to write down the date on each seed pack once received.
By doing so, you’ll have a clear understanding of a seeds’ age. Like all things, cannabis seeds lose their luster as the years go by. Cannabis seeds may remain viable for decades. However, germination rates decrease over time.
Therefore, you should only germinate seeds that are properly stored for a maximum of 6-months.
The Cannabis Seeds Color
Lastly, you must check the cannabis seed’s color.
Cannabis seeds come in different sizes and exhibit various markings across the outer seed coat. However, the seed’s color is an excellent indicator that represents seed maturity.
In other words, light green to pale white seeds are immature and are likely unviable. Therefore, always make sure that your cannabis seeds are light to dark brown color before germination.
Take a close look at the seeds that you receive for damage or discoloration
Should You Use a Seedling Heat Mat?
Many new cannabis cultivators ask if they should incorporate a seedling heat mat into the equation.
Although seedling heat mats are excellent tools to ensure fast germination, they are not always necessary. Seedling heat mats work by producing a gentle warmth that won’t rapidly dry cannabis seeds during the germination process.
However, they may be overkill if you utilize them during hot days, such as those during the summer months. Alternatively, they are essential during colder months during the winter. Therefore, you can choose to harness a seedling heat mat based on the time of year that you choose to germinate marijuana seeds.
Three Easy Methods To Germinate Cannabis Seeds Indoors
Now that you have a broad understanding of germinating marijuana seeds let’s get some weed seeds poppin‘ with a few different step-by-step tutorials.
You’ll have a better idea of which germination technique to choose once you’re done reading this section.
1. How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds in Soil in Five Easy Steps
If you want to germinate weed seeds au natural — there’s no better option than using soil.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to germinate cannabis seeds in soil:
- Feminized or autoflowering cannabis seeds
- Eco-friendly “starting” container
- Heat mat (optional)
As you can see, the list above isn’t extensive in the least. In other words, germinating marijuana seeds in soil is incredibly affordable.
First, fill an eco-friendly starting container with soil.
The golden rule? Don’t pack down the soil. Remember, the soil you choose must exhibit a loamy consistency. Hardpack soil does not allow proper water drainage and oxygen circulation, which, as you learned previously, are critical components for the seed germination process.
Furthermore, if you choose to use a heat mat, place the eco-friendly containers on top to warm the medium adequately.
Label each container.
The last thing you want to do is forget what seed you placed into each container — especially if you’re germinating multiple cannabis strains at once.
Now, it’s time to sow the cannabis seed.
Create a small hole that’s roughly 0.25-inches (6mm) deep. Gently place the seed inside the hole and cover it. It does not matter which direction you put the seed — believe us when we say that the seed and gravity will sort things out.
It’s important to note that each eco pot should contain a single cannabis seed.
Gently pour a small amount of water into the area where you buried the cannabis seed.
At this point, you must ensure that the cannabis seed never dries out. Once the germination process begins — there’s no turning back. Therefore, allowing cannabis seeds to dry will guarantee inadequate germination or premature death.
Ultimately, you must monitor the soil and continuously apply water until the seed sprouts.
The final step is patience.
The moment the seed is planted, most beginners ask: how long does it take to germinate cannabis seeds, or how can I germinate my seeds fast?
Healthy cannabis seeds typically break the surface within 2-4-days. Older seeds, however, may take upwards of 12-days to sprout.
The germination phase is an incredibly vulnerable moment for cannabis seeds. Therefore, Do not — we repeat — do not dig up the seed to “check on it.”
This is what you can expect after you successfully germinate your cannabis seeds in soil
2. How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds Using Paper Towels In Five Easy Steps
One of the most popular germination techniques is the paper towel method.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need for this low-budget method:
- Feminized or autoflowering seeds
- Dinner plate
- Paper towels
- Spray bottle
- Heat mat (optional)
Now that you’ve gathered the necessary supplies let’s get crackin‘.
Place two to three sheets of paper towels on top of a clean dinner plate. If you decide to use a heat mat to increase the temperature, place it under the dinner plate.
Label the dinner plate with the name of the cannabis strain of choice.
Place up to 10-seeds per plate.
You must make sure that a minimum of 1-inch adequately separates the seeds.
Spray water on the seeds until the paper towels are completely saturated. Once done, place a new layer of 2-3 paper towel sheets on top of the seeds. Use the spray bottle to soak the new paper towel addition.
Remember: the paper towels must always remain saturated with water. If allowed to dry, the cannabis seeds will fail to germinate.
The germination process should occur within 24-48-hours. After 48-hours, gently peel back the upper paper towel section. If the seeds germinate, you will see cracked-open seeds with an emerging radicle.
At this point, it’s time to move the germinated seed to its new home with a pair of tweezers. This final step requires extreme care because the radicle is fragile, and if broken, the embryo within will die.
Be careful when you use the paper towel method and make sure to label each plate
3. How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds Using Rooting Cubes in Five Easy Steps
Germinating weed seeds with rooting cubes is the ideal method for beginners and professionals alike.
Overall, rooting cubes provide the ease of the paper towel method and the soil technique’s efficiency. Let’s take a look at everything you need to when germinating marijuana seeds with rooting cubes.
- Feminized or autoflowering seeds
- Rooting cubes
- pH 6.0 water
- Rooting tray
- pH meter and pH up or down
- Heat mat (optional)
First and foremost, place the rooting cubes in the rooting tray. If you decide to use a heat mat, place the tray on top.
Next, label each rooting cube or tray with the appropriate name of each cannabis strain.
Use a pH meter and pH solution to achieve a pH of 6.0.
The amount of water you pH depends on the number of rooting cubes. Start with one cup of water if you are germinating less than ten seeds.
Germination cubes require a pH of 6.0 because they are typically made from peat moss, rockwool, or other soilless-based mediums. Therefore, a pH of 6.0 will ensure the best possible results once the seed germinates.
Each rooting cube is equipped with a pre-made hole.
Place one cannabis seed per hole. You may tear off a small piece of the substrate to cover the opening. Once done, saturate the rooting cube with pH 6.0 water.
You must make sure that the rooting cube never dries out. Remember, cannabis seeds must remain moist until they sprout to the surface.
Once again, patience is the final step when you learn how to germinate cannabis seeds with rooting cubes. Overall, cannabis seeds may emerge from the rooting cube within 2-4-days. However, germination may take as long as 7-days.
There are a lot of rooting cubes to choose from, but the germination process remains the same
How to Germinate Old Cannabis Seeds
Now that you understand how to germinate healthy cannabis seeds let’s quickly discover how to germinate old marijuana seeds.
As you become infatuated with the world of cannabis, you’ll soon begin to stack an extensive seed collection. Don’t worry; we’re all seed hoarders at heart because there are so many incredible cannabis genetics out there.
Eventually, however, you’ll notice that you have more than a few old cannabis seeds. Luckily for you — all is not lost.
Here’s our tried and true technique to give your old seeds a boost during the germination process.
Cannabis Seed Scarification
Scarring cannabis seeds is incredibly simple.
All you need is a nail file or a piece of sandpaper. Use the file or sandpaper across the surface of the seed in question. You do not need to use an immense amount of force, but instead, a few good scrapes to scar the seed’s outer shell will do.
The point of seed scarification is to allow water to penetrate the seed coating easily. By doing so, the embryo receives a jump start that initiates the germination process.
Once the seeds are scarred, you may choose one of the three above mentioned techniques to complete the germination process.
A few readily available tools to get your cannabis seed scarification done
The Best Way To Germinate Marijuana Seeds
Now that you’re done reading this guide on seed germination — which method will you choose?
The soil, paper towel, and rooting cube methods are all tried-and-true and provide excellent germination rates. Remember, cannabis seeds are an investment, and you must use the best germination method possible to ensure a healthy cannabis crop.
You have one chance to germinate each seed the right way, and by using this guide, you’ll make each seed count.
Marijuana pH and water
For marijuana growers, whether using soil, soilless or hydro methods, pH levels can make a huge difference to your success and yields. In this article we will take a closer look at pH values and discuss why you need to know about them and how that knowledge can help you become a better grower.
What is pH?
So, let’s start at the beginning. pH is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a given substance. Technically it is about the concentration of hydrogen ions. A pH of 7.0 is totally neutral, 1.0 to 6.9 is acidic and 7.1 to 14.0 is alkaline. When using a pH scale it is important to know that the decimal points really count. The pH scale is a logarithmic scale which means that for every one point of pH, the concentration changes by a factor of ten. For example, an increase in pH from 7.0 to 8.0 is actually a tenfold increase, so be aware!
Why is pH Important in Growing marijuana?
- The optimum pH for marijuana in soil is around 6.3 – 6.8
- The optimum pH for marijuana in soilless or hydro is around 5.5 – 6.1
pH in Soil
When growing marijuana in soil you are less likely to run into pH problems, especially if you are using especially mixed soils that feed the plant throughout its life, without having to add any liquid nutrients. It is said that the soil acts as a buffer, this means that it helps slow the change of pH values as opposed to hydro systems where changes in pH take effect much more quickly.
- The same thing happens when you grow marijuana in soil in containers. When you add water the pH of the soil changes and the whole range of nutrients become available to your plant as the soil slowly dries out again;
- This means that some nutrients that are otherwise dormant in the soil become available when it is wet.
- If you are using tapwater, make sure you let it sit in a bucket or reservoir for a few days to allow it to dechlorinate. Then check the pH to make sure it is within your required range.
pH in Hydro
If you grow marijuana in a hydroponics system then pH management is a much more important issue. With no soil to act as a buffer changes in your pH values take effect much more quickly. With hydro grows allowing your pH to fluctuate within a prescribed range is important as it allows all of the nutrients in the solution to become available to the plant in turn. Luckily, this happens naturally as the pH of the solution in your hydroponic reservoir will drift over time. When making up the nutrient solution for your hydro set up, always mix the separate components in the water. Never mix them together directly. This can cause them to chemically react with each other and may change their desired properties. Mix your nutrients gently. Overly vigorous mixing adds oxygen to the solution and this will temporarily raise pH levels. Some growers like to shake their solution vigorously to add oxygen which is good for the roots. If you like to do this, do it after you have checked and adjusted the pH. Make your mix in a clean reservoir and check the pH. Let the mix stand for an hour and check the pH again. The pH of nutrient solutions often changes quite quicklywithin the first hour so you should recheck and adjust as necessary.
Making adjustments to pH
If you are topping up your solution, or adjusting the pH in your reservoir, try not to subject the plants to drastic changes in pH. Large swings in pH will stress them. Make changes slowly. Do not mix nutrients or pH regulators directly into the plants’ reservoir. Make a mix in a separate container first then add that to your reservoir so that changes take place slowly. Remember that pH drift is not only normal, it’s desirable. Allow the pH in your reservoir to change gradually, but make sure you keep within the range of 5.5 to 6.5.
Although many soil growers don’t bother, a pH tester is a crucial piece of kit for the serious marijuana grower. There are a couple of options that are available to you. Digital Meter – This is by far the easiest, most popular and most accurate method for checking your pH levels. Digital pH meters are easy to work, just insert the probe and read the pH levels off of the digital read out. pH Strips – Cheaper to buy initially, but more expensive in the long run, and more hassle. pH strips turn a specific color depending on the pH. You then compare the color to an index and that gives you the pH value. If you are trying to measure the pH of your soil you will need to make up a soil solution in water. You should measure pH periodically as part of your plant maintenance program. With experience you will need to measure less often as you get your set up dialled in. Special care should be taken to measure pH when you seriously change the nutrient regime you are following, when flipping to 12/12 for example.
So, having checked the pH levels of your nutrient solution you find that it is out. How do you adjust it? The best answer is to buy proprietary pH Up and pH Down solutions. There are lots of forum posts by people who add vinegar or baking powder to adjust pH. Whilst there is some convincing evidence of this working, we recommend using proprietary solutions for reliable results.
pH Up is a strong alkali formula for raising pH. The one from General Hydroponics is made from a base of Potassium Hydroxide and Potassium Carbonate.
pH Down is an acid based formula for lowering pH. General Hydroponics up/down is made from a base of Phosphoric Acid.
As explained above, adjust the pH of your solution a little at a time. Try to use only either Up or Down. If you overshoot with one and then have to readjust with the other you can end up unnecessarily stressing your plants. Mix up a little of the required pH adjuster in a separate jug. Then add them a little at a time to your reservoir. Allow time for the whole reservoir to even out and settle. Better to get it right with 3 slight adjustments than have it wildly swinging up and down.