Cannabis Nutrient Burn And Ways Of Dealing With It

Growing marijuana can be a rewarding process. While many growers invest time and passion into their cannabis plants, there’s one thing that can ruin it all – nutrient burn.

Luckily, if you spot the early warning signs, it’s possible to reduce the damage done to your plant. It’s easy to entice nute burn while growing marijuana, especially if you are a beginner, so this guide will help you out. 

We’ll address the signs of nutrient burn, the reasons that cause it, and ways of solving the issue!

What Is Cannabis Nutrient Burn?

To prevent the nutrient burn from happening, you’ll have to know all the details, reasons, and symptoms behind it. So, a cannabis nutrient burn occurs when there are excess nutrients in the hydroponic reservoir or soil. 

If your plants get an overabundance of nutrients, it will only cause development issues, and it’s most common in hydroponic systems. 

It’s due to chemical fertilizers that might cause nutrient incompatibility in the growing medium, so the roots won’t be able to uptake some nutrients. If not dealt with on time, cannabis nutrient burn might cause the residue of excess nutrients to stick in the buds, and give them a chemical-like scent note.

On the other hand, they could absorb too many other nutrients and cause a nutrient burn that might stop growth, cause leaf issues, and even root rot. Eventually, your cannabis plants might even die because of it if you don’t spot them on time and deal with the situation.

Like with hydroponics, it’s also easy to get nutrient burn through artificially nutrient enriched soil. So, even though you just want to raise your favorite plant and have a blast out of your home-grown cannabis flower heads, fertilizer burn can ruin it all.

Most often, it’s due to the primary nutrients like Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus that your cannabis plants might get a nutrient burn. So, we’ll get into the symptoms and healing ways to help all of you cannabis growers out.

Symptoms Of Excess Nutrients When Growing Cannabis

You should be highly alert with this one – it’s easy to mistake the symptoms of nutrient deficiency with symptoms of a nutrient burn. So, you have to be absolutely certain that it’s the cannabis nute burn you are dealing with to prevent further damage to your plant.

Growing Cannabis Nutrient Burn

If you mistake the nutrient deficiency for a nutrient burn and add more fertilizer, you’ll only do more harm. That being said, these are the common symptoms of the cannabis nutrient burn:

  • Yellow-ish or brown leaf tips
  • Yellow marks spread from the tips onto the rest of the leaf
  • Stunned bud development in the flowering stage
  • Rolled leaves

The phase in which your cannabis plants will be the most vulnerable to the consequences of a nutrient burn is the flowering stage. This is when all of the plant’s focus is on developing buds, and your leaves will be open to harm as the plant won’t be able to replace the dry and sick leaves with new ones.

At this point, you have to act quickly to save your yield, and the best way is to recognize the exact nutrient that the plant takes in excessively to prevent mixing it up with a nutrient deficiency. And, what better place is there to start than with the three main nutrients – Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium?

Signs Of Excessive Nitrogen Intake By Cannabis Plants

It’s a good thing that Nitrogen burn can be easily spotted on cannabis plants. While you do want to achieve that signature rich green color with your cannabis plant, adding too much Nitrogen fertilizer can turn the plant into a deep green color.

Although this might also be a sign of nutrient deficiency, it usually stays on the lower leaf levels. However, excess Nitrogen intake will move the dark greenness up, so it’s one precise way of determining the difference.

Also, you’ll see that the plant intakes less water and the foilage becomes weak. Nitrogen toxicity might lead to more serious issues like stunted growth, so it’s crucial to fix it right after spotting it.

How To Recognize Excessive Phosphorus Intake?

Some of the main cannabis nutrient burn symptoms, in general, can be seen through excessive Phosphorus levels in the soil or growing medium. The lower leaves might curl and develop tiny brown-ish dots, while the upper leaves could get yellow tip burns and less internodal space.

As the nutrient burn progresses, you’ll see that the new leaves only develop thin blades that don’t look like the normal healthy cannabis leaves. One of the severe consequences of Phosphorus nutrient burn is that the plant’s roots start to die.

If your plants are in the flowering stage, you can be completely certain if the plant has excessive Phosphorus intake by smelling the buds. If they have a sort of “chemical” scent to them, along with all the listed symptoms, there’s no denying it and you can at least head towards a solution.

Symptoms Of Excessive Potassium Uptake

With over-saturated Potassium fertilizer, your weed plants might develop very deep green leaves and leaf margins burn. The lower leaves might also roll backward and gain brown-ish spots, just like with symptoms of excessive Phosphorus uptake.

The growth stage of your marijuana plant would also be stunted, as the Potassium fertilizer burn affects poorly-developed new leaves. Some burnt tips might also occur, although it’s not as common as Phosphorus burn.

Consequences Of Cannabis Nutrient Burn

There can be severe consequences caused by the cannabis nutrient burn, and you have to do everything you can to prevent it. Before we get to that part, here’s a list of the common consequences so you can see how the nutrient burn affects your plants:

  • Nutrient burn might lock other nutrients for the plant
  • Dark green foliage
  • Discolored leaf tips and leaves 
  • Spots on the leaves
  • Poorly-developed buds with changed scent notes

So, even if you manage to save your plant, the consequences on its buds and leaves might be devastating. The worst thing of all is the difficulty to restore the nutrient balance since the excessive traces of certain nutrients might lead to blockage of other nutrients that the plant needs.

Cannabis Nutrient Burn

For instance, Phosphorus burn might cause Zinc and Iron micronutrient deficiencies, while Potassium burn could block Magnesium, Calcium, and Zinc. Remember, your plant needs a mixture of all the macronutrients from the NPK fertilizer along with micronutrients to grow and advance.

How To Fix Cannabis Nutrient Burn?

Luckily, it’s possible to fix nutrient burn with cannabis plants and to take some measures to prevent nutrient burn in the future. The first thing you should do is run a pH test of your soil or hydroponic nutrient solution.

Cannabis nute burn can be tackled by flushing your plant with pH-balanced water. This way, you’ll let the plant use up all the excess nutrients, and once the soil completely dries, you can start feeding it with adjusted fertilizer again.

In hydroponic systems, you can completely swap the nutrient reservoir with a solution that has a proper pH level. Most cannabis plants require a slightly acidic pH near the roots, but you should calculate it according to the different strains. Once the flush is over, you can just peel off any dry and damaged leaves.

They won’t heal, but at least the plant will be able to put energy into producing new leaves and buds. Another way you can fix nutrient burn for cannabis plants is to add more pH-balanced water with less nutrient concentration in the existing hydroponic system. 

Still, flushing the plant completely might be the best option out there.

Once you deal with the cannabis nutrient burn, you should only feed the plant with about 75% of the regularly needed nutrients for a week to let it recover properly. This way you can avoid nutrient burn from happening again after a short period.

Final Thoughts

While growing a cannabis plant it can be easy to make a mistake with an unbalanced nutrient mix that affects the over-saturation of your growing medium or soil. So, the plant naturally can’t get all the nutrients it needs, since excessive intake leads to some nutrients being blocked.

That being said, you now hopefully get the bigger picture behind cannabis nutrient burn. Don’t worry, plants will rarely die if spotted on time, and you’ll start to see new and healthy growth in no time once things are corrected. 

Make sure to measure your pH and closely observe the leaf color and scent of the plant to prevent cannabis nutrient burn after healing your plant!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Is a little nutrient burn OK for your cannabis plants?

If you see a slight change and recognize a little nutrient burn on your cannabis plants, it shouldn’t cause a bigger health issue. It happens all the time, and you should measure the pH and consider adjusting the fertilizer mix to prevent it from advancing into a more severe condition.

How can you tell the difference between a nutrient burn and a light burn?

If your cannabis plants get a light burn, you’ll start seeing the changes in leaf color and growth at the top leaf levels. On the other hand, a nutrient burn is caused by the fertilizer mix and unbalanced pH levels, so the changes will progress from the bottom levels to the top of the plant.

What are the main signs of nutrient burn?

Some of the early signs of a nutrient burn include rolled leaves, yellow leaf tips, and the chemical scent of the buds. If you are using bottled nutrients, it’s possible to prevent further nutrient burn by adjusting the pH and the nutrient mix.

Can my cannabis plant fully recover from a nutrient burn?

Even if you manage to fix nutrient burn, your cannabis plant won’t heal the already affected leaves and buds. However, you can peel off the damaged leaves and buds that didn’t develop properly and adjust the nutrient mix, so the new leaves and buds can develop as they should without the plant health endangered.

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