Cannabis plants rely on a fine balance of minerals and elements to thrive and fulfill key physiological functions throughout the growth cycle. The two main categories of nutrients are macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients referred to the three plant nutrients required in higher doses, also called primary macronutrients, and include nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), typically displayed as a ratio of N-P-K on nutrient products.

This ratio varies depending on the growth stage. Plants in the vegetative stage have a higher demand for N, and less requirement for P & K. During the flowering stage, plants require greater amounts of P & K, and less N. In addition to these three macronutrients, plants also obtain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from the air and water. Micronutrients are also needed in smaller quantities to keep plants healthy and disease-free, much like humans need vitamins.