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Cannabis: Nutrient Burn and How It May Affect Your Cannabis Plant

Nutrient burn in cannabis plants can be easily recognized by leaf tips browning or turning crispy with dark dead patches. Plants will usually recover within a week, but the damage to leaves looks beyond repair. Symptoms of nutrient burn are the most common cause of marijuana plant problems and are caused by too many nutrients, which results in high levels of Nitrogen, Potassium, and/or Calcium. Here is what causes it, how to identify it, and prevention tips. 

Nutrient burn in cannabis: 

Nutrient burn is a problem caused by overfeeding your plants with nutrients. Plants use up all available nutrients, and if they don’t get a new supply within a few days, the older leaves start showing signs of deficiency. Nutrient burn can begin as early as a seedling stage when plants are deficient in just about every nutrient from Nitrogen to Iron. When this problem continues into the flowering stage, those plants will need more time to recover, but usually do.

Remedies for the nutrient burn:

The best solution is to flush your plant with lots of clean water. Continue flushing the soil until clear water runs out of the drain hole. Make sure you treat any tap water with a dechlorinator such as this one. It’s essential to make sure the PH and EC (electrical conductivity) levels are correct to prevent the problem from happening again. Repotting is also an excellent way to restore nutrient levels but not add any nutrients two weeks after transplant.

It’s important to avoid adding extra nutrients when your plant shows signs of undergoing stretching or early flowering. It may be helpful to flush with water only every other week for the duration of the flower.

Nutrient burn prevention:

It’s important not to give plants too many nutrients. To avoid this, start with half the amount recommended on the bottle and supplement as needed. If you’re giving your plant too much water, it will pull nutrients from deep within the soil where they are most abundant and replace them with water, causing deficiency problems.

It is also important not to over-fertilize. Nutrient burn can occur from too many nutrients or from giving plants too much fertilizer. Be sure you are using the right type of nutrient for your plant’s stage of growth. There are three types of nutrients: Grow, Bloom, and Vegetative. Marijuana plants need different amounts of each nutrient at different times.

Identification of cannabis nutrient burn:

Nitrogen is the compound found in cannabis nutrients, most likely in the vegetative phase. A lack of nitrogen in your plant’s system will cause the tips and edges of the leaves to turn brown when they curl under, which is referred to as “the claw.” The claw causes each leaf to have a half-moon appearance. 

You’re ready to prevent and treat a burn:

When your plants leave, start to show signs of brown leaf tips or if you see spots on the top of the leaves. It’s a sign your plant is experiencing a nutrient burn. The best way to avoid nutrient burn is to start with half the amount of nutrients recommended on the bottle and add more if needed. If you’re giving your plants too much water, it will pull nutrients from deep within the soil where they are most abundant and replace them with water, causing deficiency problems

Differentiate the nutrient burn from other issues: 

If your plants are experiencing other problems, it’s easy to mistake them for a nutrient burn. If the brown spots on the leaves do not curl or you see yellowing at the leaf edges, it is another problem. Another sign of nutrient burn is if the tips of leaves are crispy brown and dry.

It is recommendable to have PH levels checked before testing for the nutrient burn. If the plants are experiencing a nitrogen deficiency, it will be reflected in the pH level being off. Nutrient problems can also cause other detrimental effects on young plants, such as stunted growth, droopy leaves, and smaller or discolored flowers.