Control over all of the factors that determine how much energy your plants will expend on any part of their growth is one of the reasons that hydroponics gardening is so successful
The reasons that resources are wasted by the plant are varied but include the following factors:
If the plant is growing too tall it wastes a lot of resources. The taller the plant grows, the more energy it uses on building extra and more substantial stems, as well as on transporting water upwards to the topmost foliage. Control the height and you avoid that waste.
Allowing the plant to grow too bushy will result in excessive, elaborate networks of branch and leaf systems being produced. In order to give your plants the best possible chance of thriving, they must be able to absorb their optimum nutrition from the surrounding medium in the easiest manner If there are a lot of extra branches and leaves then your plants have to use more resources to maintain those systems. Judicious trimming removes the unnecessary branches and any suckers that are growing allowing the plant to put those extra resources into production of your crop.
Cut away as many bottom branches and suckers as possible. The suckers and shoots act as ‘sinks’ draining massive amounts of energy from the plant. The ‘sources’ of energy are the leaves, so it is important to maximise their efficiency also. Trimming out any old, yellowing leaves and any that are diseased or have pest damage, will ensure that only healthy efficient leaves remain.
The removal of too many branches has the effect of making the plant use extra energy on repairs to its structure. Each time the plant is damaged it has to repair its wounds and this obviously uses energy and stresses it. Even though the plant suffers some damage and stress it is not as damaging to it as not being trimmed for some time and then having to suffer a large scale cutting out excess growth. This extra loss causes the plant greater stress and it needs to use a lot more energy in order to repair the greater damage.
Some trimming tips to be aware of:
- Do not make the plant “bleed”. If you have to cause a large wound seal the cut end.
- It is better, when removing small, fleshy, shoots and leaves, to pinch the stalk out using a thumbnail rather than cutting it with a knife. The reason for this is that it crushes the internal structures making it easier for the plant to repair the wound.
- Larger shoots can be pinched until they fall over and then left until they start to wilt, usually about a day, before being cut off. This will give the plant a chance to seal the damaged area prior to removal of the excess.
- Be aware of the possibility of infection from bacteria, viruses and fungi each time you expose the inside of the plant to the outside air. Cleanliness is essential if you wish to succeed in your endeavours.
Good quality media allows the plant to extract its nutrients and Oxygen with the least amount of effort. Poor growing media forces the plant to use more energy to find and then extract, the same nutrients and Oxygen from the medium.
An imbalance in the nutrient solution, or a build up of salts, will cause the plant roots to struggle against the osmotic pressure and surface tension when trying to extract water from the surrounding medium.
Fungi and Root Rot
Any form of root attack, by fungi or rotting etc. will cause the plant to waste cell energy on fighting that attack. This will result in a reduced plant potential.
Bacteria, Viruses and Insects
Attacks from insects, viruses and bacteria will force the plant to sacrifice massive numbers of cells in its fight against them. This is because the usual way of defeating these threats is to isolate them within the damaged cells.
Hydroponics Gardening is in essence a clean occupation so infections and attacks by predatory insects should be minimal. If damage occurs, it is often more damaging to treat the plant with chemical insecticides and fungicides than to use gentler methods. A lot of the chemical remedies contain products which kill not only the pest but the plant cells as well. Most of these are less damaging to the plant at lower temperatures