Have you noticed your cannabis leaves drooping and have no idea what’s causing it?
Don’t pull your hair out because this scary sight is a lot more common in marijuana cultivation than you think.
There are a few reasons why your plants would look slumped over and sad. Sometimes it’s even a good thing. The trick to curing droopy cannabis leaves is knowing when to intervene.
Join us as we explain what causes this worrying sight, how to fix it, and a few ways to keep marijuana crops healthy.
Why do cannabis leaves droop?
Cannabis leaves drooping is usually a sign that you’ve got a watering issue. The good news is that it’s super easy to treat, but you’ll need to act fast.
Plants are made up of 90–95% water, so it’s no surprise that this liquid of life is crucial to their survival. It plays an essential role in regulating the temperature of marijuana crops and acts as the transport vessel for cannabis nutrients.
For the most part, the sight of droopy cannabis leaves signifies overwatering.
It could also be due to a drainage issue with your growing medium. Moisture builds up around your roots and doesn’t allow them to breathe. They become weak and susceptible to rot and eventually die.
Another reason for cannabis leaves drooping may be due to a nutrient deficiency. Leaves aren’t strong enough to support their own weight and end up hanging lifelessly from the branches.
There are also times when it’s perfectly normal to see your marijuana leaves sag, which makes matters more confusing. At night, for example, plants tend to lose vigor in order to store energy.
It’s also common to see fan leaves drooping during flowering, but again, it’s more than likely a moisture issue. While minerals are directed towards the buds in the flowering stage, your plant’s foliage shouldn’t sag.
Cannabis leaves wilting vs. cannabis leaves drooping
The first step to diagnosing this issue is to determine whether you see drooping cannabis leaves or wilting foliage. Before you grab a thesaurus, these terms are not the same.
Wilting is when you see foliage begin curling at the tips and start changing to a yellow color. You’ll also see the lower leaves die and fall off if left untreated for any longer. If this description sounds familiar, chances are you’re underwatering your plants.
On the other hand, cannabis leaves drooping is due to you overwatering. You’ll notice foliage sagging as if it were exhausted. The leaves of your marijuana crop will also stay firm in shape and remain green in hue.
As you can see, figuring out whether your marijuana crops are wilting or drooping is essential to choosing the right remedy.
Watering and drooping cannabis leaves
Did you know that the roots of a marijuana plant need 24/7 access to moisture for transpiration to take place? Prohibiting this process with too much or not enough water is a sure-fire way of causing droopy cannabis leaves.
If you didn’t know, transpiration is the scientific term that describes how a plant soaks up nutrients from its roots. The easiest way to understand this process is by thinking of a drinking straw. Water is sucked out of the leaves by the sun and replaced by new, mineral-rich liquid beneath the soil.
Without this essential blend of water and nutrients, you’ll likely start to see wilted cannabis leaves in your garden. Too much liquid is just as bad, if not worse, causing a host of crop health issues.
You need to maintain a perfect balance of water and air in pots for marijuana plants to flourish and produce quality buds.
Many beginners experience their cannabis leaves drooping because they’re worried their plant doesn’t get enough water. As a result, they begin watering weed crops every day.
It’s important to understand that the issue isn’t giving too much liquid at one time. Instead, it’s when you water your plant too frequently.
Overwatering prevents your marijuana crops from breathing, causing droopy weed leaves. The roots can not get the required oxygen, making them soft and weak. The excess moisture can also lead to them rotting if left long enough.
Crops eventually become susceptible to pests and eventually die if not treated.
Here are a few ways to tell if you’re overwatering your marijuana plants:
- Droopy cannabis leaves
- Foliage becomes firm and heavy
- Your growing medium is always wet
There are many reasons why cultivators don’t water their crops enough. Some leave their plants to fend for themselves outside, while others forget to feed them entirely. In any case, not giving your plants enough water will cause wilted cannabis leaves and issues with their growth.
Forgetting to feed your crops will reduce the rate of photosynthesis and force them to grow slower. No water means your plants can’t suck up any nutrients, leading to other mineral deficiencies and problems.
Crops will start breathing quicker in response to dry conditions, making them use up valuable energy and lose vigor. Here are a few early symptoms to look out for and prevent underwatering:
- Wilted cannabis leaves
- Foliage changes to a lighter color, eventually turning yellow
- Plants begin to shrivel up
- Leaves dry out and fall off
Nutrients and droopy cannabis leaves
Cannabis leaves drooping could also signify your crops struggling with a nutrient deficiency or excess. It makes diagnosing the issue a bit more complex. However, this symptom is usually linked with water problems.
Incorrect moisture levels will prevent your plant’s roots from breathing and sucking up necessary minerals. Crops slowly start to show signs of a deficiency and lead cultivators down the wrong treatment path.
Novice marijuana growers might also mistake droopy weed leaves as a reason to give more fertilizer. This sudden increase in minerals creates even more problems for plants, leading to issues like cannabis nutrient burn.
If you’ve established that your feeding schedule isn’t the cause of this issue, it may be due to a magnesium deficiency. Symptoms for this problem include brown spots on the foliage and yellow leaf veins. You’ll also notice droopy cannabis leaves.
Another potential mineral deficiency that can cause sagging is a lack of calcium. This type of issue is common in wet climates and can lead to roots becoming weak and dying. If you see any wilted cannabis leaves with yellow spots, you’ll need to act quickly.
Nighttime marijuana drooping leaves
Believe it or not, there are times when cannabis leaves drooping is a natural occurrence.
It’s normal to observe foliage losing its vigor at night or when you turn off the lights in your grow room. The reason marijuana plants sag at this time of the day is purely to save as much energy as possible.
This process is known as a nastic movement or foliar nyctinasty, and it’s more relatable than you think. Imagine standing outside holding out a solar panel every day. It requires loads of strength when the sun’s out but is a pointless waste of resources at night. It’s better to lower your arms and allow them to rest and prepare for the next day.
Cannabis leaves drooping at night is also a biological instinct to slow down heat loss. It’s also useful in preventing mold and mildew as water runs off the foliage rather than saturating it.
Some scientists also believe plants protect themselves from animals and insects looking to eat their leaves. Foliage hanging is far less desirable and easy to eat for creatures than horizontal leaves. Make sure you see droopy cannabis leaves during the day before you decide to remedy the issue.
How to fix cannabis leaves drooping
When it comes to remedying any cannabis issue, prevention is better than cure. Here are a few different ways to fix cannabis leaves drooping and stop them from doing it again.
- Choose the best growing medium
There are various substrates used in marijuana cultivation, and each has unique properties. Some hold onto the water while others allow your plant's roots to breathe. When it comes to picking the best substrate, you’re better off going with the latter.
A classic way to prevent cannabis leaves drooping is by using a mixture of perlite and coco coir. Order a quality potting mix from your local hydroponics store if you don't want to make your own.
Whatever option you choose, ensure your growing medium has sufficient drainage. It ensures water doesn’t build up and allows roots to access fresh oxygen.
- Learn when to feed
Watering plants every day won’t just cause droopy cannabis leaves; it’ll kill them. You need to learn when your crops need feeding and when to leave them.
The quickest way to see if you need to water your marijuana plants is by using the knuckle method. Take two fingers and gently stick them into the soil. If you don’t feel any moisture by the time you get to your knuckles, it’s time to feed your plants.
Another solution to prevent overwatering and cannabis leaves drooping is by feeling the weight of your pot. Fill an identical container with a dry medium to see how heavy it is. Before feeding your crops, check the pot’s weight first to see how much water it still has.
- Buy a soil sensor
If you’d like to optimize your feeding schedule, your best bet is to purchase a soil sensor. These digital devices display the percentage of moisture in the soil and the pH level.
With a soil sensor in your back pocket, there’s no reason you should ever see cannabis leaves drooping again. You’ll know the right time to water your crops and can give the best water for cannabis to ensure optimal nutrient intake.
- Order the right strain
The best way for outdoor cultivators to prevent droopy weed leaves is to pick a cannabis cultivar that suits the climate. Those who live in an area that experiences high temperatures need to choose a cultivar that thrives in similar areas. Search our online store for strains from Mexico, Cambodia, and Colombia as they flourish in these types of outdoor conditions.
Some cannabis seeds can grow in any condition and are perfect for first-time cultivators. These types of cultivars are very forgiving, easily bouncing back from overwatering and droopy cannabis leaves.
Find a balance
It’s always unsettling to see your marijuana plants in distress, especially as they get closer to harvest. A lot of the time, fixing the issue and preventing it in the future is much easier than you think.
When you start seeing your cannabis leaves drooping, consider your watering schedule and check your medium’s drainage. Remember that overfeeding is worse than underfeeding, so wait an extra day before giving plants water if you’re not sure.
It’s all about finding and maintaining a perfect ratio of oxygen and water in your soil for healthy plants. To make things even easier, purchase a soil sensor to get accurate moisture and pH readings.
Once you’ve found the right balance, you’ll never have to worry about cannabis leaves drooping again. Are drooping leaves not your current issue? Check out the rest of our blog to see if we can solve it for you. Better yet, log into the Homegrown Forum and chat with our community.
About the author: Derek LaRose
Also known as Kronic from The Cannabis Kronicles, Derek LaRose is a young ambitious cultivator and a staple educator for indoor cultivation.