Nutrient lockout is an incredibly common issue for beginner cannabis growers, especially those who are new to the hobby or art. Essentially, when your plants are suffering from nutrient lockout they can’t intake and absorb the nutrients you’ve supplied them with.
This occurs as a result of a chemical reaction between the nutrient solution and growing medium, as well as your plants themselves. The process results in the ‘locking out’ of the essential elements needed for healthy growth, such as nitrogen and phosphorous.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify whether nutrient lockout is actually occurring or not. A sure sign is when you begin to see yellow in the leaves, indicating that the plant’s health isn’t receiving sufficient nutrition.
When left untreated for too long, this can seriously hinder growth and lead to cannabis root system damage or even the death of your crops. Luckily, there are measures you can take to remedy this irritating problem.
These include adjusting adequate water pH levels where necessary and also flushing away any remains of fertilizer buildup that could be creating blockages within the soil and other media materials.
How Too Many Nutrients Can Cause Nutrient Lockout
When growing marijuana plants, ensuring your nutrient levels are well-managed is key to their success. Too many nutrients can cause something called “nutrient lockout,” where the medium accumulates excess salts and other compounds that then react with the marijuana plants, preventing them from absorbing necessary nutrients.
This happens in various ways; excess nutrients may bond together, or become incompatible with other elements, making them unavailable for absorption by the plant. If not dealt with properly, the nutrient lockout can drastically impair a plant’s growth and development.
As such, it is important to pay attention to your growing environment and make any necessary adjustments to avoid this phenomenon. If you think something might be off when it comes to your nutrient intake or pH levels, consider testing your soil or grow media for traces of macro and micronutrients — like calcium, nitrogen, and potassium — as often as possible.
Check out this article: Phosphorus Deficiency in Cannabis.
How Improper pH Can Cause Nutrient Lockout
The importance of maintaining the proper pH range when growing indoor cannabis plants can’t be overstated, as it has a major impact on their health and quality. The optimal pH range for the successful growth of high-value indoor marijuana plants is 5.5 – 6.3, which is considered to be the ‘sweet spot’ in terms of providing optimal nutrient availability.
If the pH drifts outside this range, there is an increased risk of nutrient lockout, wherein certain nutrients will become more difficult for plants to access. This is because every nutrient has a “favorite” or optimal pH range where it can best absorb into the plant and nourish it most effectively; and for most cannabis plants that ideal range lies within the aforementioned pH levels.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms of Nutrient Lockout?
Nutrient lockout is a common problem in cannabis plant growth and development. It generally occurs when the soil has become so “tired” from an excess of one nutrient that it effectively locks out the others, resulting in a lack of nutrients for the plant.
Usually, you won’t realize there is a problem until you start to notice your plants suffering stunted growth, yellowed foliage, and limp, lifeless leaves. Sometimes leaf burn may occur as well due to the overloading of one nutrient.
It’s important to know that these visible signs of nutrient lockout can appear even if you are still providing the necessary nutrients on schedule with the proper feeding conditions. The issue is arising because your plants cannot absorb those necessary nutrients – it appears to be if they are starving despite being provided with everything they need nutritionally.
Without proper diagnosis and treatment, this can cause permanent damage or even death of your precious plants.
Misdiagnosis Can Make Your Plants Worse
Nutrients are an essential component to the health and growth of plants, but knowing the proper quantities can be difficult for inexperienced gardeners. A common problem that can arise is called nutrient lockout, which occurs when the pH of a plant’s environment becomes too high or low for the targeted nutrients to be absorbed.
Many beginner growers make the mistake of misdiagnosing their cannabis plants and as a result, proceed to overfeed them in an attempt to provide additional nutrition. This can lead to further salt/nutrient buildup in the soil levels, adversely impacting its pH even more and leading to further issues with nutrient lockout.
The only way to make sure you’re not overfeeding your weed plants is by properly diagnosing your vegetation since this excess of nutrients can aggravate existing issues and create a much more complicated situation than it needs to be.
How To Fix Nutrient Lockout
Nutrient lockout is a common issue among hydroponic growers and can adversely affect the growth of plants. The most effective way to remedy this problem is to flush your crops with a nutrient-free solution.
Flushing will help remove any salt buildups that are causing the lockout, allowing the vital nutrients to be absorbed again. To do this, it’s best to suspend your normal feeding schedule and use a different solution to cleanse the root area and growing medium.
Organic fertilizers are a viable option when it comes to providing your plants with the nutrients they need. Not only do they offer a lower level of essential minerals and nutrients than synthetic chemical fertilizers do, but they also provide numerous additional benefits to your plant’s health and development.
Organic potting soil is enriched with natural amendments like worm castings, bat guano, and fish and crab meal which can help add additional nutrients and minerals to aid in healthy growth.
The lower levels of chemicals found in organic fertilizers make them less likely to result in the nutrient lockout – when essential nutrients become unable to reach the plant because their uptake has been blocked by an overload of other substances in the soil.
As organic nutrients are naturally derived, you can be sure that your weed plants will receive all the nourishment they need without having to worry about any possible damage from harsh chemical compounds.
Don’t Let Nutrient Lockout Affect Your Plants
A nutrient lockout is an unfortunate incident that can arise in hydroponic systems when the soil’s pH level is not within the optimal range to allow plants to absorb cannabis nutrient deficiencies. This can lead to wilting or lack of growth in plants, and this must be avoided if your crop is to have a chance of surviving.
The good news is that if caught early enough, the situation can still be salvaged. For instance, flushing may help remove excess minerals that are preventing the uptake of other nutrients. Regular monitoring of your system’s water and healthy soil pH levels will also help prevent nutrient lockout from occurring again.
The Secret To Better Flushes
Flushing your crop is an important step that can make all the difference in the quality of your yield. Unfortunately, many growers use the wrong techniques when flushing their crops. The most common way they do this is by simply giving their plants water with no nutrients in it, but this method isn’t really ideal as it can starve the plants of much needed nutrition at a critical time.
Other growers use flushing formulas consisting of various chemicals which may be able to pull out a few residues from plants, though these can also end up removing vital plant nutrition resulting in diminished harvests. Neither of these techniques provides the kind of full-spectrum cleanse you should be aiming for to enhance yield and potency.
The secret to better flushes is to find something that will work effectively to remove soil contamination—especially the heavy metals—while still keeping essential trace mineral ions intact; minerals not found in water flush or traditional flush formulas.
You want something gentle enough for any sensitive or stressed plants, yet powerful enough to thoroughly cleanse roots and foliage so that you’ll get bigger yields, better flavors, and increased potency in your harvest time.
How To Completely Avoid Nutrient Lockout By Monitoring pH
Reverse osmosis water is a critical component of avoiding nutrient lockout in plants as it maintains a neutral pH level. Instead of having tap water, which can be very hard in certain areas, RO water ensures that the nutrients are taken up by the plants more easily.
It prevents them from being locked out due to an uneven or unbalanced pH level. Furthermore, using reverse osmosis water also assists in flushing any mineral buildup from the medium. This can help ensure that your plant roots are not being hindered from taking up essential nutrients.