Silica, also known as silicon dioxide, is the second most abundant nutrient in the soil. Although the compound is not an essential plant nutrient for cannabis, the plants contain more amounts of it than they do other essential nutrients.
In the same vein, cannabis plants do not need silica to survive, but they need it to improve everything about their growth phases; potentially increasing the quality and quantity of their flowers.
What is Silica?
Silica is most likely a word you've heard countless times without paying any attention to the meaning itself.
Soil science describes Silica as a hard, colorless, and unreactive substance that makes up sand, sandstone, and other rocks. The earth's crust is made up of 59% silica...
Silica and Silicon are sometimes confused to mean the same thing. This is not so. Silicon is identified as Si on the periodic table. It is characterized by a hard crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic sheen.
Silicon can only remain pure in an environment with zero oxygen. However, when silicon is exposed to oxygen, a chemical reaction occurs to convert silicon to silica.
Within the earth's crust, there are large amounts of oxygen and silicon. So, the formation of silica in the soil is inevitable.
Silica and Cannabis
You now have a brief understanding of silica and its formation. Now, to the main aspects of this write-up.
Silica-rich sand benefits the cannabis crop feeding regimen in so many ways. These benefits are supported by facts gotten from experiments.
Silica helps cannabis plants grow stronger, have higher resistance against fungal pathogens, pests, and environmental pollutants. In addition to this, silica improves the health of low-quality soils.
Generally, studies show that silica-rich sand has a high probability of improving the crop yield of a marijuana plant.
In-depth understanding of the benefits of silica to cannabis plants
Silica Improves Nutrient Uptake
With the help of silica, cannabis plants take in more nutrients efficiently. In soil with limited nutrients, silica ensures the plants survive, as it connects the plants' roots tap with the low levels of nutrients available. This way the plant has access to every vital nutrient it needs during its growing cycle.
The most important function of silica is in the absorption of Nitrogen, Potassium, and Magnesium; three essential
Cannabis plants require large amounts of Nitrogen for optimal leaf growth and photosynthetic activities; Potassium is needed to prevent mechanical stress and maintain cell wall structure; Magnesium provided in the right quantity promotes the growth of the plant and allows plants to convert sunlight into energy.
Silica boosts the plant's defense against diseases
Cannabis plants are susceptible to fungal diseases and parasites like powdery mildew and pythium. These diseases are capable of destroying an entire crop of cannabis if not detected early.
Luckily for cannabis farmers, the application of silica is a perfect preventive measure used to prevent these diseases.
Silica can also be used as a corrective measure for these diseases. The plants can direct large amounts of silica to the infected areas. This concentration helps strengthen other susceptible spots against infection.
Silica holds off pest infestation
Fresh cannabis tissues attract herbivorous pests like bugs, flies, and other insects. These insects like to feed on cannabis leaves and flowers.
The presence of silica helps to ward off these pests, as it does microbes. The high concentration of silica in the cell walls of the leaves creates a hardened barrier that is unable to bite or burrow into by these insects.
Silica prevents soil contamination
The health condition of the soil matters a lot for cannabis production. Over the years, the overall soil condition around the world has deteriorated due to unchecked human activities. These activities have introduced various pollutants, especially heavy metals into the soil; which leads to the uptake of these contaminants by the plants.
The presence of silica has significantly reduced the level of bioavailability of heavy metals in the soil and plants. It also helps alleviate the level of damage that could occur when cannabis is planted in these soils.
Choosing the right silica supplement
Silica supplements are grouped under two uses. There are different brands of silica supplements available in the market, but they do not work the same way. With some being more effective than others.
When purchasing a silica supplement, opt for one with a silica concentration of 8% and above. This will guarantee more silica uptake into the cells of the cannabis crop. It would also reduce the competition in the soil between the plant roots and other microbes. products with less than 8% silica concentration are not effective, neither are they sufficient enough for optimal growth of the cannabis plants.
Getting the most out of Silica supplements
As you already understand, silica is very important to the health of cannabis plants. Picking the right supplement is important, but you must also know how to apply it correctly.
It is recommended that cultivators dilute silica with a gallon of water before applying. Also, note that silica must not be added to the plant's feed until the other available nutrients have been dissolved. This will ensure all nutrients are activated when applied.
Silica is applied to the plants in the early vegetative phase, and it is halted two or three weeks after the flowering phase. Some products can be used throughout the growing phases, from planting to harvesting. This differs depending on the detailed instructions that come with the products being used.
The reason why it is always advised that silica should be stored separately away from the other nutrients is to maintain the required Ph it needs to remain soluble.
Silica application must be correctly done, else it'll render no noticeable benefit. Use products in accordance with the instructions given.
Finally, Silica comes in handy after harvest
Silica packs are used for drying and curing harvested cannabis flowers. They help to reduce the duration of time it takes for excess moisture to be removed from the buds.
You only have to place these packs in between your buds while they're drying off and you'll get to smoke your harvest earlier than expected.