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Overwatered Cannabis Seedlings: Symptoms & Solutions

June 02, 2023
overwatering seedling

Overwatering seedlings is one of the most typical mistakes that cannabis growers make. Weed seedlings require sufficient moisture for healthy growth, and the process demands a lot of care and the application of proven strategies.

Many growers unknowingly engage in practices that lead to overwatering. It’s best to water weed seedlings in a way that allows them to soak up nutrients effectively. Even when you apply H20 appropriately, your seedlings can still suffer from overwatering due to other causes.

Want to know more about these causes? Stick around as we discuss all there is to know about overwatering in cannabis seedlings.

Let’s get underway.

What does an overwatered cannabis seedling look like?

Overwatered cannabis seedlings have a unique, sickly appearance, which makes them easy to spot for an observant grower.

They show specific symptoms and signs indicative of deoxygenation due to over-wetting, including:

  • Stunted growth: Persistent overwatering makes weed seedlings grow in a very slow way, leading to stunted development.
  • Curling leaves: This is a symptom of overwatered and underwatered weed seedlings, but is more common with the former. The leaves of an overwatered seedling may become curly, falling off from different parts of the plant.
  • Droopiness: Overwatered cannabis seedlings develop foliage and stems that are weak, drooping, and limp. The leaves drooping becomes more noticeable after immediate hydration.
  • Yellow seedlings and leaves: The seedlings become yellow as they grow, and the leaves develop brown spots enveloped by a yellowish halo.
  • Rot root:Overwatering cannabis seedlings may lead to root death. It makes the base soil loose and offensively stinky, both of which signify rot in the root of the overwatered seedling.
  • Damping off: Overwatering can lead to damping off in cannabis seedlings, as the damping-off fungus thrives in cool and moist environments. 
overwatering cannabis seedlings
Overwatered cannabis seedling

Overwatering seedlings: Common causes & mistakes 

After discovering what an overwatered cannabis seedling looks like, it’s time to understand some common causes. Notable among these are:

  • Excessive application of water: Weed seedlings can only absorb a limited water supply at a time. If you irrigate them with inordinately large amounts, it may give way to overwatered weed plants.
  • Over-frequent application of water: While watering your seedlings makes the roots gather oxygen immediately, they exhaust it quickly if they sit in the H2O. The resultant lack of oxygen means the seeds start to drown.
issues on cannabis seedlings
  • Excessive provision of nutrients:Cannabis seedlings require very light feeding to thrive. Heavy amounts of nutrients can damage the fragile seedlings, leading to overwatering and other problems with seedlings.
  • A poor draining medium:Drainage is very important, and a grow container without one can affect oxygen flow, leading to overwatered marijuana seedlings. Consider mixing an additive like perlite to the soil to enhance aeration and drainage.
  • A pot that’s too big: Small pots train the root system before they start searching for water and going deep into the soil. By starting with a smaller pot, you can fill the space in the pot with root material.
  • Feeding at lights out: It’s healthier to water your seedlings during the first hour of lights on. It’s unhealthy to feed the seedlings during lights out when the plants may be asleep. If you’re doing this incessantly, it may lead to overwatering in seedlings.

How to fix overwatered seedlings

It’s possible to revive an overwatered marijuana seedling, depending on the level of the overwatering and the damage inflicted.

A less than one week overwatered seedling with just wilting leaves and no root rot shouldn’t cause you any panic. If the overwatering persists for a longer time and the damage is severe, recovery becomes more burdensome.

Where damage is minimal, it’s best not to water the seedlings for 2–3 days so that the excess moisture can evaporate.

The resulting dry environment provides air spaces that give the roots a fresh oxygen supply. The excess watering and drooping leaves fully resolve in 1–2 weeks.

Fixing severe damage, such as root rot, is more challenging, and there are no guarantees. The first step is to remove the rotting roots carefully using sanitized and sharp scissors. After that, re-pot the seedlings in fresh and dry soil using a well-draining medium.

It’s not enough to know how to fix an overwatered seedling, it’s also important to maintain healthy hydrating practices afterward.

Start by deciding on the correct type of water to use. You may opt for tap water, reverse osmosis rainwater, or distilled water for weed, depending on which one has the right temperature, pH, and PPM. 

cannabis seedling

We recommend using reverse osmosis water. Both rain and tap water need filtering, which may not always be possible. With the latter, you can simply fill up a container, allow it to sit for 24 hours, and watch the chlorine gas evaporate.

Avoid a recurrence of the initial factor that triggered the overwatering of the seedlings. If it’s a poor draining medium, create drainage holes. If it results from nutrient overdosing, apply them in smaller but more frequent quantities.

If it’s due to incorrectly sized pots, knowing how to transplant seedlings is a required skill. It helps in carefully transferring the revived seedlings to a bigger pot.

Cultivating high-quality cannabis seedlings also plays an important role in ensuring a smooth watering experience.

At our seed store, we have a range of strains created to withstand overwatering, stretching in weed seedlings, and many common marijuana issues. Explore our collection to find your favorite strains and enjoy growing cannabis.


Got any remaining queries? Below, we answer some of the most common questions about overwatered seedlings.

How wet should weed seedlings be?

The level of moisture depends on several factors, like the growth stage, pot size, geography, and growing medium. For instance, coco coir is a firmer substrate than living soil and may require more water for cultivating weed seedlings.

Is it good to spray your weed seedlings with water?

The seedling stage is the most crucial part of the cannabis life cycle. Watering at this phase is about efficiency, not quantity, so we recommend light misting over spraying. Misting comes with low density and loose droplets, while sprinkling has non-uniform viscosity and bigger droplets.

Do cannabis seedlings need water every day?

Yes, cannabis seedlings require regular watering in minimal quantities. To avoid overwatered weed seedlings, we suggest light misting several times a day using a cycle of wet and dry. Once they grow bigger, gradually reduce the frequency to twice or once a day.

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