Growing cannabis is a lot of fun until your plants start dying and you ain’t got no clue.
Well, this can be very frustrating, especially if you’ve cared for the plants like they are your pride enjoyment. Among the many problems ailing cannabis plants, nutrient deficiencies are the most common.
It is important to supply your Cannabis plants with the perfect balance of primary and secondary nutrients, as well and trace elements. As plants mature and enter different stages of their lifecycle, knowing what to feed your plants, when to feed them and why they need that nutrient in the first place can be a huge difference-maker in the overall quality of your crop, including the health and vigor of your autoflowering cultivars.
Lets check the different types of nutrients, signs of deficiencies, and what to consider next time you’re feeding the garden.
Deficiencies of Primary Nutrients
Nitrogen is an extremely important building block that is responsible for the growth of foliage, hormone, vitamin, enzyme, and chlorophyll production. Nitrogen is readily available in living soils that have compost present. Bottled nutrients designed for the vegetative stage will usually have an N-P-K ratio of 5-1-4 in order to keep the available Nitrogen at a preferred level.
Signs of Nitrogen Deficiency
• The fan leaves and surrounding leaves will become a pale yellow color as the stored Nitrogen from the foliage is utilized. The Nitrogen from the leaves will be then used to develop new growth.
• The tips and edges of the leaf will begin to curl up, at the same time losing vigor and shape.
• Shortly after the yellow leaf will begin to turn a lifeless brown color. At this point, the leaf will become dry, curl up and fall off naturally or with the slightest touch.
Very important for seedlings to form a strong root system, the production of photosynthesis, as well as promote heavy blooming once plants enter flowering. Phosphorus is also responsible for resin production and seed production and will usually be found in smaller amounts in living soils or bottle nutrients. It is after week 4 when a high Phosphorus booster is used in the form of bat guano or as a P-K nutrient.
Signs of Phosphorus Deficiency
• There will be brown dots appearing on the biggest leaves first. The leaves will also begin to curl up, similar to the symptoms of heat stress.
• The brown dots will begin to cover the top half of the leaves, causing the fingers to look dry, dehydrated, and after time begin to curl upwards.
Potassium is used throughout the duration of the plant’s life cycle, for carbohydrate production and most importantly during flowering in combination with Phosphorus. As both are symbiotic in the role they play for Cannabis plants, maintaining a fine balance is essential especially once flowering has commenced.
Signs of Potassium Deficiency
• Similar to a Phosphorus deficiency, signs of rusty brown spots will begin to appear on the surface of the leaves.
• The leaf tips will begin to turn a pale yellow as more brown coloring begins to take over the rest of the leaf.
• Over time the leaf will become crispy, curl up, and lose all life.
Deficiencies of Secondary Nutrients
An essential building block that can be used by the plants in many ways. In the same way we use Calcium to strengthen our bones, teeth, and joints, Cannabis plants use Calcium to hold together cell walls, develop new cell tissue.
Signs of Calcium Deficiency
• Leaves and stems will start to become very weak affecting the vigor.
• Small brown metallic dots will appear on the fingers of the leaves and slowly become brittle and dry.
• As the tips of leaves curl inwards, the leaf will become a dry, brown color.
As a secondary nutrient, the uptake of Magnesium along with Calcium is extremely important for Cannabis plants. Cultivars such as O.G and Kush are well known for being the first to show signs of Magnesium deficiency and will require more than other strains. These do very well with supplemental epsom salts.
Signs of Magnesium Deficiency
• Oldest growth will be affected first, meaning the lowest parts will be first to show symptoms, with the new growth being last.
• Leaves will turn yellow, and there will be a strong contrast of the green veins on the leaf surface.
• Once the leaf has turned yellow, the tips will turn a rusty brown, become dry, and curl upwards.
Responsible for the production of vitamins, hormones, amino acids, and protein building blocks. When using aerated compost teas, it is advised to use unsulphured blackstrap molasses.
Signs of Sulphur Deficiency
• New growth will be affected first, causing a discoloration of the leaves.
• Leaves will turn yellow with dark veins appearing on the surface.
• Do not get confused with a Nitrogen deficiency as the symptoms are very similar.
Trace Elements Explained
Trace or microelements are used in the smallest amounts by plants, in order to allow them to utilize all of the other available nutrients.
Zinc – Younger leaves will become affected first, with the tips becoming brown and curling upwards. As the leaves become yellow, there will be a strong presence of veins that become dark yellow.
Copper – Responsible for the role of enzyme production for roots. The signs of deficiency in Copper are reddish and dark purple hues, usually something seen during the final flush.
Manganese – Very important for the role of photosynthesis and used alongside Nitrogen. Spots will develop all over the surface of the leaf and may look similar to the rusty brown associated with Magnesium deficiency.
Iron – Another important element for the production of enzymes and aiding in chlorophyll production and photosynthesis. An iron deficiency will look almost identical to a Magnesium deficiency, so it is vital these two are not confused with one another.
Boron – Helping with the uptake of Calcium and is responsible for cell division. When there is a lack of Boron, new leaves will become stunted and slow growth. There will be a pale brown coloration to the inner part of the leaves.
Chlorine – Although this element is often frowned upon for the effects it has on beneficial microorganisms, Chlorine is essential for photosynthesis and cell division.
Cobalt – Aiding in the production of enzymes and responsible for allowing beneficial bacteria to thrive, a Cobalt deficiency causes chlorosis of younger leaves and therefore causing veins.
Molybdenum – Part of enzyme groups that convert nitrate to ammonium. Not an easy one to spot as the symptoms are very similar to Calcium and Magnesium deficiency.
Silicon – Used to develop the cell walls of the plant, defend against insects, and balance out Iron and Manganese levels. A lack of silicone will have an effect on the production of leaves, stems, and roots. It will also cause the plants to have a lower resistance to heat stress and be more at risk of insect attack.
Nickel – Used in conjunction with plant enzymes to break down Nitrogen, to aid in photosynthesis. Without Nickel, there is an in-balance of urea that can become toxic to the plants.
Providing autoflowering Cannabis plants with the right amount of lighting, fresh air, and nutrients is a balancing act. Knowing what primary nutrients and trace elements your plants need is very important, as well as ensuring they have access to all the necessary elements.
Organic growing mediums are created to fulfill all of Cannabis plants needs, however hydroponics can be far less forgiving. Checking pH and E.C levels will also have an influence on the way nutrients are utilized by plants.
Grow Dense Nugs
Growing your own weed is one of the best feelings in the world – especially when you’re toking on some homegrown. But when it comes to density – some cannabis growers are having trouble in getting their buds to be nugs.
There are several things that could be affecting the bud-density of your crops. So we went to the boss at Buds General Store to get the word on common issues and how to remedy it.
Nug Density “matters” because the denser the nug, the more cannabinoids there are. Thus – growers try to avoid airy buds because while it may have a good smell or taste – it gets burned rather quickly.
Check if your plant is getting enough light
While it’s true – cannabis can produce “fruit” even within poor lighting conditions – the fact remains that if you have poor light quality during flowering – you’re going to get poor bud development. If you’re growing indoors – you may need to consider boosting your light-game during the flowering cycle.
If you already have a decent light – another problem could be that the light simply isn’t working as efficiently as it used to. You’ll lose some potency on your lights every few months – so perhaps if you’re suddenly getting airy buds, it could mean that you might need to change those lights.
If you’re growing outdoors – either the plant is not getting enough direct sunlight or it gets shady too soon. See what happens if you move the plant to a sunnier spot and if it’s not able to move – well, it may be something other than lights.
It might be in the genes…
While the terminology for Sativa and Indica are quickly becoming outdated – there still are two common depictions or expressions of cannabis plants [at least visually]. Perhaps the particular strain you’re growing tends to lean on the airy side.
Perhaps experimenting with different strains could let you know whether this is the case. If you take different strains and they all produce airy-buds, you’ll know that it’s something within your environment that is causing the fluffiness.
If some buds are denser than others – see which strains these are. In most cases, indica dominant strains will produce denser nugs than sativa dominant strains.
On this world It’s getting hot in here!
Sometimes…when it’s hot out…the best thing to do is to take of all your girlfriends clothes. It turns out that cannabis thinks so too – and so, when you’re hitting temperatures exceeding 30º C / 85º F, you’re asking for airy buds. Conversely, too cold is not good either.
However – if you’re growing in a climate that is hot and arid – it would be recommended to increase humidity and airflow in order to cool down the surrounding environment. Conversely,with those warm and sunny conditions – it might be a good idea to veg outdoors but flower indoors in a controlled environment.
Is She Hangry?
That’s when you’re hungry and angry. During the flowering stage you’ll want to reduce nitrogen to stop growing leaf and focus on phosphorous and potassium instead.
Sometimes – you’re throwing in a lot of extra nitrogen which promotes the greening of the leaf.
Many novice growers do this when they see that the leaf of the plant is turning yellow due to nitrogen deficiency in the flowering stage. They compensate by adding in more nitrogen and as a result reduces the density of the nugs.
You get airy buds because your plant was hangry.
Give it some air and some space
Sometimes you simply need some space. Just like you – the cannabis plant needs some fresh air and some space to grow. When the nugs are too close together – they will block out much needed light and as we learned earlier – we need light to develop those nugs!
You could remedy this with SCROG, LTS, or trimming away lesser buds to give the big ones more space to develop.
Oh – you could also simply lollipop your plant and either clone the twigs or make some awesome weed leaf oil and stuff like that.
Extra Tricks for Phat Nugs
Here’s a few extra tricks you can do to make your buds be nugs.
Reduce the Humidity – a couple of weeks before harvest, you can reduce the humidity levels to 45% or lower. This will trigger the plant to produce resin as a survival mechanism and will densify the nugs.
Add more Phosphorous/potassium – that’s it.
Wait on the harvest – The rule of thumb is, “When you think it’s time to harvest – wait another week or two”. Best advice you’ll ever get.
Curing and Drying – This is an entire subject on its own – but learning how to properly dry and cure your buds will play a significant role in the “tightness” of it.
Too much water is bad – one of the more novice grower mistakes comes with over watering. You need to give your plant enough water – too much can drown the root.
Size does matter – sometimes you need a bigger grow space. If the roots can’t properly develop – you’re not getting big nugs .
With these tricks up your sleeve – you should have the ability to densify your nugs or at the very least have a road map on deciphering what is causing the airiness of your buds in the first place.
What’s your #1 tip for dense nugs?