Foliar feeding: How it works, and how you can do it

We all know plants get nutrients from their roots. However, foliar-feeding could be a different way.

Foliar Feeding is the act of applying a mist to plant leaves in order to absorb nutrients quickly.

While it isn’t a replacement for a healthy mix of nutrients in your soil, foliar nutrition can help your plant quickly recover from any nutrient deficiencies. Keep reading to learn more.

How Foliar Feeding Works

The leaves on a plant can be compared to the lungs of a mammal. Both have the same function of allowing us breathe.

Similar to how humans absorb THC/CBD through our lungs and plants can absorb certain nutrients via their leaves…

Foliar-feeding is, basically, vaping for the plants.

Jokes aside there are still many parallels.

The leaves absorb nutrients faster than the roots, much like the way that humans absorb THC when vaping is quicker than when eating edibles.Foliar nutrition works, but there’s some debate over how effective it and how it works.


Common wisdom suggests that plants absorb nutrients by the stomata of the leaves.

However, recent research suggests that nutrients may be more readily absorbed through the micropores found in each leaf’s outer coating (or cuticle).

These micropores carry negative charges which attract certain positively charged substances – some of them are beneficial nutrients for plants.

Foliar nutrition is a controversial practice. Some argue that the leaves absorb less nutrients (upto 95%), than the roots.

This is simply incorrect.

According to this same research, only 15-20% nutrients applied to plant leaves will actually be absorbed.

The nutrients that are absorbed into the plant won’t get distributed as effectively as if they were absorbed through their roots.

This refers to the molecular nature of different nutrients.

More easily and more quickly, smaller molecules and molecules possessing lower positive charge travel through plants.

On the flip side, larger and more positively charged molecules can get stuck on the negatively charged cell walls in leaves. This may prevent them from moving when they do enter the leaf.

Foliar feeds work better for certain nutritional deficiencies than others. For example, nitro or potassium.

When to Feed Your Foliars

Foliar-feeding is not an option for maintaining a healthy mix of nutrients and vitamins in your plants’ soil.

Foliar feeds can be a good way to help your plant grow. However, 15-20% of the nutrients get absorbed via the leaves.

Foliar-feeding is very helpful when your plants have a nutrient deficit that can quickly be corrected by a fast-acting, liquid dose through the leaves.

If your plants show signs of nutrient insufficiency, you may need to give them a supplementary spray.

How to Feed Your Foliars

Preparing your spray mixture is the first step of foliar feeding.

It doesn’t matter what type of sprayer you use, but you want to ensure that your solution is properly mixed.

Many brands include instructions on how to dilute the solution in their packaging. If it doesn’t, take it slow then work your way up.

Do not buy a new product to feed your foliars.

You can generally use whatever fertilizer your plant is using at its roots. They are the same nutrients after all. However, it will be more effective to dilute than you would for soil.

We recommend starting with a 1/4 strength if you are using Reefertilizer Growth or Bloom fertilizers in foliar sprays.Common advice on foliar-feeding is to “don’t spray throughout the day.”

Growers often use this explanation because the stomata remain open at night, not during the day, and they don’t want the nutrients to be wasted.

Even though it is known that the leaf cuticles are more effective than the stomata at absorbing nutrients, it is still a wise idea to wait for the evening before your plant receives its foliar feeding.

This happens because drops of water that are on your plant’s leaves in full sun (or under strong artificial growth lights) can transform into magnifying glasses and cause the leaves to burn.

Tips and Tricks

Foliar feeding isn’t hard, but there’s a few things you need to know:

  • You should not spray during flowering. Spraying the spray on your buds is not recommended as it could affect the flavor.
  • Worried about your nutrition? Try spraying one plant in your garden first. Wait a day to observe how it reacts before you address other plants.
  • Spray both the top and bottom sides of each leaf. You should spray the entire leaf.
  • Use a fine mist. Use a fine mist. You don’t want any water droplets left by sunup or lights on in the morning. Or else you risk burning.