Overwatering Marijuana Plants
Too much or too little?
By: S. Caldwell
So in my first blog, I shared my newbie status and helping my mom (battling lymphoma, chemo after effects) as my reason for getting into this whole growing medical marijuana thing. In an effort to help others like me and to learn from others, I wanted to share an update about my first grow efforts I started about three or four weeks ago. I think it’s going okay, but I am also learning from my mistakes and a lot of trial and error.
As I have continued researching medical marijuana cultivation, I have learned there are lots of factors that come into play to not only ensure your plant is healthy, but also have a great root system and what is referred to as a high yield (this is new info for me and another blog). In fact, I shared some information in the first blog about the importance of having a great root system and now I am seeing it happen as I grow.
I also mentioned, I have a tendency to overwater most plants. From reading concerns from other newbies, overwatering marijuana plants seems to be a common problem. To curb my instinct to overwater, I started reading more about how the right balance of water plays a major role in the growth and overall health of your plant and root system. Too much of a good thing can ultimately be harmful to your plant’s health. But how do you know when too much is too much and too little is too little? Right?
Here are a few things I’ve discovered about overwatering marijuana plants.
Too much or too little? That is the question.
I’ve always known that plants need light, water and air to survive, we’ve learned this in kindergarten when our teachers had us put seeds in a plastic cup, sit it by the window, water it and watch it grow. As I can remember, my plant was a little yellow from the beginning. My mom says I loved my plant to a watery death!
Lesson learned: more and more water for your seeds or plant is not necessarily a good thing. When a plant receives too much water, it can actually become deprived of the oxygen it needs to grow. Remember, plants use their roots to get oxygen which is dissolved in water or in your grow medium. Excess water held in the pot (indoor growers) can become stagnant and even block fresh oxygen from reaching the plant’s roots. Stagnant water is also a breeding ground for root diseases and plant pathogens.
Signs of an over-watered plant.
There are several ways to know when your plant has had too much. This involves getting in touch with your “feelings”. Okay, that was cheesy. Simply said, feel the soil. If the soil is wet to the touch and saturated more than two inches into the soil, it does not need more water. Another method I learned is the pick-it-up (lift it) technique. Pick up your pot and feel the weight of the plant. An overwatered plant will feel bottom heavy.
Look at it! Your plant appearance is a key indicator of watering too much or too often. The reason your plant droops is because the roots are starving for oxygen. Here are a few signs you need to probably slow down or stop watering:
- Drooping / Curling is the first sign of overwatered marijuana plants
- Leaves are firm and curled down all the way from the stem to the leaf
- Will eventually lead to leaf yellowing and other signs of nutrient problems
Here’s a photo of an overwatered plant I found online. Looks sad, doesn’t it.
How do you salvage your plant after overwatering?
If you happen to overwater your plant, don’t get discouraged. You can save it. The best thing you can do is stop watering for awhile, and then start off watering again, very slowly, until things seem back to normal. One blog suggested increasing the temperature and airflow indoors to help the water evaporate more quickly. Not sure if that works, but thought I would share!
Make sure that water is able to drain easily out the bottom of potted cannabis plants. If your plant medium seems to stay wet for a long time (more than 5 days or so), you may need better drainage. This can also happen if you put tiny plants in pots that are way too big.
I am using the PRO-MIX HP medium I shared the last time and it has a lot of perlite in the mixture that also helps with drainage. From what I’ve learned, the perlite improves aeration in the soil, creating space so that water can easily flow through and drain.
I hope these tips help and encourage you to share what you know as well or ask questions as you share in my journey. Do you have any other advice for saving an overwatered plant or keeping a handle on the right balance throughout the life cycle? Would love to hear from you!
Sarah Caldwell is a newbie grower and a recent journalism graduate living in Lansing, Michigan, who hopes to use her writing to help other growers.