How often should you feed and water your plants?

When growing plants in a drain-to-waste setup and using a nutrient solution to deliver the plant nutrients, it is recommended that you feed with every watering. Many growers follow feeding and watering patterns in which they will feed one day and then use only water the next day (and similar variations) but we recommend against this schedule as it causes plant stress.

How often you should water the plants will depend on several factors including the size of containers used (smaller pots = more frequent watering), and the grow room temperature and humidity. As a rule of thumb, you should start by watering once per day, and observing the moisture of the coco in the pots for a few days. If you have especially large containers (which won’t dry out as fast as small pots) you may be able to get away with watering only every other day. Additionally, with each individual watering remember to water until you get a generous amount of runoff (10-20%).

Why shouldn’t you dry your grow media?

We don’t recommend letting the coco dry completely between irrigations. The plants respond better if you provide a constant level of moisture. If your substrate mixture contains a decent amount of perlite (25%) which helps the mix drain, overwatering shouldn’t be too much of a threat, so don’t be afraid to water on days even when the coco has only slightly dried. It is important to note that this “back-and-forth” between moist and dry conditions is very stressful on plant roots. Drying negatively impacts beneficial microbe populations in and around the root zone and creates a greater chance for harmful organisms to take over.

Why do we recommend feeding with every watering in coir based media?

Cation exchange capacity (CEC) is a property of soil and soilless media which directly affects nutrient availability. Growers generally use the “water/feed/water/feed” schedule in soil/peat based media mostly because soil cannot hold a lot of provided nutrients and thus salt tends to build up in the grow media. In comparison, because coir’s ability to hold and exchange nutrients with the plant is much greater than most soils, the buildup of salt is reduced in the coir based media.

Therefore, by feeding with the nutrient solution at every watering, you can maintain relatively uniform chemical conditions at the root zone. Maintaining appropriate levels of dissolved solutes at the root zone (by following application rates listed on the feed sheet) will create an osmotic gradient between the roots and coco. Having dissolved solutes in the root zone technically causes the water to enter the plant at a slower rate, which may sound like a bad thing, but ultimately results in the plant having to “try harder” to overcome the gradient.

This results in a stronger plant and a higher concentration of desirable plant-produced compounds in the harvested material, including sugars, oils, flavor & aroma compounds, among many others.


Here is how it works:

  1. Applying dissolved solutes (i.e. nutrient solution) to the coco holding the roots will cause less water to enter the plant, because water favors moving towards solutes.
  2. The plant will then “compete” by producing its own solutes (like sugars and others) inside the roots, causing the solute concentration inside the plant to increase.
  3. Water will then continue to flow into the plant because the plant had to produce these extra solutes, and because water uptake has somewhat decreased.
  4. The concentration of these solutes is much greater in the harvestable end-product (these solutes being desirable things like sugars, aromatic compounds, essential oils, etc.), and ultimately the harvested fruits/flowers are more nutritionally dense, have stronger flavors and aromas and generally higher quality.
  5. In response to a constant presence of solute/nutrient/salt concentrations around the root zone, plants will synthesize compounds within themselves (often compounds, we growers desire, like nutrients etc.) as a way of “competing” with the soil for water—all to the benefit of the grower, as the harvested end product will end up with a higher concentration of beneficial compounds.


When a “feeding with every watering” schedule is applied (continuously feeding and applying nutrients), the osmotic gradient will continue to exist and the plant will keep producing sugars and other products.

However, when a “water/feed/water/feed” alternate type of schedule is applied, the nutrient concentration in the coco is always changing, bouncing back and forth between high in nutrients on the day of feeding and then being very low the following day. This oscillation between high and low nutrient concentration is stressful on the plants, but is certainly not catastrophic and many growers continue to use the “water/feed/water/feed” method without encountering too many problems. We simply recommend feeding with every watering as the best method to obtain higher end-product quality.


  • jack irwin December 25, 2016

    when I follow your feeding chart my ppm runs about 1700ppm I think thats way to high? Im useing water that is run throug a bigboy filtere, why is the ppm so high, and also can I get a phone number for one of your reps

    • Botanicare (Post author) December 29, 2016

      Jack, Which feed chart/nutrients are you using?

  • Botanicare (Post author) December 27, 2016

    Jack, Which feed chart/nutrients are you using?

  • Robert June 19, 2017

    Is water from a water softener ok to use in 3 gallon buckets using Coco Coir and perlite mix?

    Which feeding chart to use?

    • Botanicare (Post author) July 14, 2017

      Short answer, No You’ll have a salt build up and lock out.

      The reason for this is that softened water typically has a high amount of sodium, which is attained from salt. Most plants cannot tolerate high amounts of salt. The sodium in softened water actually interferes with the water balance in the plants and can kill plants by “fooling” them into thinking they have taken up more water than they have. Softened water essentially causes the plants in your garden to die of thirst. Not only does the salt in softened water hurt the plants you water with it, the salt in the water will build up in your soil and will make it difficult for future plants to grow.

      Feeding Schedule we would Recommend Kind Expert Predeveloped Recipe.

  • Melissa April 17, 2018

    Hi. Im using botanicare pro grow soil/coco veg formula at 15 ml a gallon + 5ml a gallon of botanicare cal/mag + and ph ing at 5.7-5.9. Im in coco. I am getting ready to switch to your pro bloom soil/coco. Should I be concerned about salt buildups? Should I be flushing once an awhile or just have some runoff. Im new to coco any advice or things I should be aware of or look out for !!Thanks

    • Botanicare (Post author) April 17, 2018

      If you are using tap water you may want to implement a flush every so often. A sign that a flush may be needed is yellowing at the tips of your leaves or a white ring around your soil from the water evaporating and the salts being left behind.

      Watering until you see run off will be a personal preference when using coco. Some people will water until they see run off and others will not have any run off.

  • Melissa April 18, 2018

    Thanks so much for your advice.
    What would you say every so often is as far as flushing? Also would that be a flush with diluted cal/mag and nutes? Weekly? Monthly?
    If I chose to not have runoff would I be risking getting nutrient lockouts?
    Coco is pretty strange when you are a soil gardener. The plants respond so fast in the coco. It’s a little intimidating.
    Thanks again!!!

    • Botanicare (Post author) April 18, 2018

      Every so often means that there are people who flush once a week and there are people who don’t flush until the very end. This is going to be a personal preference and a part of your personal recipe.

      We recommend a flush using our product Clearex. This product will be used stand alone. Remember to PH your water. When using Clearex you will want to make sure you are watering until you have approximately 20% run off. After using this product keep in mind you will need to reapply nutrients your next watering to avoid starving your plant.

      Run off is going to be a technique that will be a personal preference. As mentioned above you will want a specific amount of run off while flushing, but this is not always the case for every watering. Many people will increase the amount of run off as the plant gets larger and requires more water. As mentioned before there are people that will have a consistent run off from start to finish and some that will not have any run off at all. I always recommend experimenting and keeping a journal or log in order to record your results and see what techniques work best for you.

      You can always reach out to us on our technical support line at BOTANICARE 877-753-0404

  • Jeff the Chef April 29, 2018

    I may not work for Botanicare but I can tell you straight away your ppm is way to high and you are burning your plants. Are you filtering your water? Your town might have hard water which would require reverse osmosis. If you don’t have hard water than you are simply using too much nutrients. Ppm certainly can differ with each nutrient line, but I use a blend of Botanicare and Canna along with some other products and my ppm is rarely above 1200 even in late flower. I would check the ppm of your tap water.

  • Jeff the Chef April 29, 2018

    Great article! 👍

  • Robert Hall February 3, 2019

    Can I use Botanicare KIND in a hydroponics setup?

    • Botanicare (Post author) February 13, 2019

      Yes you can. That’s exactly what it was designed for.