Enzymes (or enzymes) are proteins that act as catalysts for biosynthesis (chemical reactions) in living systems. Essentially, enzymes help chemical reactions occur. They do this by binding to a substrate and forming or breaking molecular bonds. (In this context, the substrate is the molecule that the enzyme acts on to increase the efficiency of the reaction.)
Enzymes are also present in our bodies. For example, our saliva and digestive system contain an abundance of enzymes. These molecules bind to substrates (food particles) and break them down so that the body can easily absorb nutrients.
Enzymes enable us to digest food. They work the same way for cannabis and other plants and organisms.
The benefits of enzymes in cultivation
1. Improve plant uptake of nutrients
Enzymes start the process of breaking down nutrient molecules into smaller ones that are easier for the plant to absorb.
2. Maintain the health of the plant root system
Enzymes promote the decomposition of organic matter, preventing the reproduction of harmful pests and bacteria around the root system. Enzymes are also actively involved in the breakdown of dying cells of the root system tissues, facilitating the roots’ access to oxygen and improving their growth.
3. Accelerate plant growth and increase yield
Healthy roots and improved nutrient uptake means the plant will focus on the development of its above-ground part.
4. Allow substrate to be reused
Enzymes help recycle the substrate for a new plant and improve its aeration by breaking down dead tissue and accumulated salts.
Many soil substrates already contain enzymes. However, in some outdoor or hydroponics locations they are not available. In this case, water or a nutrient solution with enzymes should be applied directly to the root zone. Spraying the foliage with an enzyme solution is ineffective.
The use of enzyme supplements may vary from product to product, so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Homemade enzyme solutions are not recommended when growing on hydroponics. Unlike pre-made growshop supplements, homemade solutions do not contain the exact ratio of ingredients.
On the other hand, homemade enzyme solutions are cheap and easy to prepare. But it is better to use them when growing on soil.
Some popular enzyme supplements are PowerZyme from Hesi, Cannazym from Canna, Sensizym from Advanced Nutrients.
Optimal conditions for enzymatic reactions
Enzymes will not be effective if the environmental conditions are unsuitable. Therefore, it is necessary to make sure that the environment is suitable for the enzymes.
Correct pH in the root zone
Enzymes are stable proteins that can tolerate small fluctuations in pH, but an imbalance in pH can make enzyme activity difficult. Enzymes work best when pH has the following values:
- 6.0 – 7.0 for soil
- 5.5 – 6.5 for hydroponics
The presence of moisture
Water is essential for enzyme activity because it provides the medium for enzymatic reactions, and in many cases it is also used as one of the reagents. Watering schedules must be followed and care must be taken to ensure that the substrate does not dry out.
Natural temperature fluctuations will not destroy the enzyme population, but excessive or prolonged heat can do so.
The right time to apply
The best time to use enzymes when growing cannabis is when the plant enters the flowering stage. Enzymes will have plenty of time to populate the root zone with microorganisms and minerals.
Recipe for homemade enzyme solution
Ingredients and equipment:
- Treacle (molasses).
- Fresh vegetables (scraps or peels will also work)
- Fresh water
- Pressuretight container
- Measuring cup
- Mix all ingredients in one container at a ratio of: 1:3:10 (molasses, vegetables, water)
- Make sure the container is sealed tightly and put it in a dark cool place for 3 months. Once a week, open the container to release the gases produced during fermentation.
- The solution will be ready when it turns dark brown and has a vinegar smell.
- Run the solution through a filter and drain it into another airtight container. Done! Hide the container with the enzymes away from direct sunlight
Microorganisms as a source of enzymes
Instead of making homemade enzyme solution or buying supplements, you can use microorganisms as a source of enzymes. Adding beneficial organisms to a nutrient solution or growing medium can greatly increase enzyme levels and activity in the root zone.
One of the most popular beneficial microorganisms used in cultivation is mycorrhiza. Mycorrhiza produces enzymes that improve the availability of organic iron, phosphorus and nitrogen.
Another popular source of enzymes is trichoderma. It releases chitinase enzymes that break down chitin. Chitin can protect the plant from fungal infections, so gardeners add trichoderm to protect against pathogens.
The enzyme cellulase, which is also released by trichoderma, synthesizes cellulose. This enzyme also stimulates the plant’s metabolism and increases its defenses.
Enzymes in combination with other supplements
To increase the effectiveness of enzymes, they can be combined with these supplements:
- Treacle (molasses).
- Enriches the soil and acts as a natural insecticide. Can be used during all stages of vegetation and flowering. Is a food source for microorganisms. More microorganisms – more enzymes.
- Amino Acids
- Amino acid supplements help the plant reach peak flower development, protein synthesis and resin production. Amino acids also make cells stronger, improve metabolism and help transport nutrients
- Coenzymes (coenzymes).
These are compounds that improve enzyme activity in the root zone. These are tiny molecules that do not act as catalysts on their own, but help enzymes carry out molecular reactions.
Summary: Enzymes for growing cannabis
Enzymes play an important role in soil and hydroponic growing. They help maintain healthy roots, improve nutrient uptake, promote rapid plant growth and improve crop quality.