How to Deal with Cannabis Nutrient Burn

How to Deal with Nutrient Burn in Cannabis
December 15, 2020

Plants need four things to stay healthy and growing – air, light, water, and nutrients. However, too much of these ingredients at once can cause underlying damage or issues to your cannabis plants. Nutrient burn, often referenced as “nute burn”, can happen in cannabis plants when there is an ‘over-feeding’ of nutrients. There are multiple reasons why cannabis nute burn can happen , which is a common issue most beginner growers face. The signs and symptoms of your plant’s nutrient burn is easy to identify and can be quickly stopped by the proper flushing of your plant’s environment.

What is Cannabis Nutrient Burn?

Cannabis Nutrient Burn in Flowering

Nutrients are one of the major parts of keeping your plants healthy and growing. This group of nutrients is made up of a variety of components such as nitrogen, calcium, potassium, and more. Nutrients for your plant should always be balanced and moderate, as too much of a ‘good thing’ can lead your plants to over-fertilization and potential damage. It’s not possible for plants to control the number of nutrients they take in, they can’t get a ‘full stomach’ as humans do. Because of this, if your plants are receiving an overabundance of nutrients, it can cause damage or harm your plants over time.

There are many different reasons why nutrient burn can begin to affect your plants. Other unrelated stresses, illnesses, or pests could be harming the plant itself, or the environment where the plant is living is simply too nutrient-rich. Whatever the cause of nutrient burn may seem to be, the severity of damage can increase over time if the issue isn’t addressed and solved.

Nutrient burn can cause burnt and damaged leaves, while worse cases will cause root damage in the plant. The browned tips and spots on leaves are a definite sign of nutrient burn and damage in your plant. These damaged leaves can affect the way they are absorbing sunlight. Without this proper absorption of light from the burnt leaves, this plant cannot continue contributing to the process of photosynthesis, which is crucial to keeping your plant alive and healthy.

How Bad can Cannabis Nutrient Burn be? 

Your cannabis leaves are like solar panels, being the biggest source of energy and light for your plant. It’s important to keep this energy source as healthy and safe as possible throughout your plant’s growing cycle. If the leaves become damaged or harmed in any way, it can severely affect the growing process of your plant. Nutrient burn can cause leaves to lose leaf mass and strength, slowing down your plant’s growth and reducing high yields. 

If the excess of nutrients continues to build up at the start of your plant’s flowering stage, this can eventually cause an unpleasant, chemical-like taste in the plant’s buds. When plants enter this second stage of growth, the plants are more vulnerable to any harmful plant issues because they cannot bounce back or heal as easily. The farther into the flowering stage your cannabis plant is in, the harder it is for them to recover from any damage from nutrient burn. This is why it’s important to be on the lookout for any early signs of nutrient burn before the damage becomes worse. Identifying these nutrient issues properly can help to quickly find a solution for your plant.

What are the Signs of Cannabis Nutrient Burn?

There are a few different ways your cannabis plant can show signs of nutrient burn, and some symptoms can even help you determine what type of nutrient your plant is getting too much of. Signs of nutrient burn will first be shown in the tips of the leaves because as the nutrients build-up, the tips are the farthest the plant can pass along the excess nutrients. It’s important to keep an eye out for these signs early to prevent damage from worsening and further harming your plant.

Cannabis Nutrient Burn on Leaf Tips

If you notice the tips of your leaves turning yellow, tan, or brown, this is your first sign of nutrient burn. These yellow tips will eventually turn brown and crispy and even begin to spread from the tips to the whole leaf. Brown spotting can also occur around the edges of the leaf and towards the backside (which can mean there’s an absorption issue of potassium). Tips can curl downward (showing signs of nitrogen issues) or upward if the nutrient burn gets worse enough. It’s important to understand how cannabis plants absorb nutrients and water so that you better understand the process and how to deal with any issues that arise.

Twisted or curling leaves and worse yellowing in the leaves are signs of nutrient burn advancing. Since nutrient burn is only one of the many issues growers face, it’s important not to confuse or incorrectly diagnose your cannabis plant’s issue. Light burn, potassium, and nitrogen deficiencies all show similar signs to nutrient burn, although their solutions and causes are widely different.

How to Fix Nutrient Burn Weed

If nutrient burn is diagnosed soon enough, it can be fixed to prevent further damage happening to your plant. Keep in mind the similarities of symptoms nutrient burn has with light or heat stress and make sure your plant’s issue is correctly identified as nutrient burn before attempting to solve any problems. No matter what your growing set up looks like, these solutions will show quick results for healthier leaves. 

Since nutrient burn is caused by an abundance of nutrients in the plant’s environment, the first step to solve this issue will be to flush out the growing medium and fertilizer in the plant’s environment. 

Dealing with Marijuana Nutrient Burn in Hydroponics

If your plants are growing in a hydroponic growing setup, the water reservoirs will have to be drained and refilled with ph-balanced water. This new water should run for about 24 hours to regulate the electrical conductivity levels meeting the proper fertilizer and salt levels. If the nutrient burn is being caused by the soil used in your hydroponic setup, it will be helpful to dilute the soil with water or ‘dial down’ the concentration of fertilizer to prevent this nutrient burn from reoccurring. It is also helpful for indoor or hydroponic growers to check that the lighting in the plant’s environment isn’t lacking, as this is a major symptom of nutrient burn and can stunt your plant’s growth and height.

Marijuana Nutrient Burn in Soil

If you are growing in a soil-based environment, flushing out your system will mean heavily watering and irrigating your plants with ph-balanced water. You will have to repeat this routine multiple times to wash out your plant’s environment completely from any excessive nutrient build-up. If you have chosen to add any extra food or nutrients to your plant’s soil, it’s important to hold off on this after flushing so your plant can go back to receiving the proper and balanced amount of nutrients it needs. Be sure that if you are using any extra bottled nutrients on your plants, that they are safe and specifically designed for cannabis plants. If you are giving your cannabis plants the wrong types of nutrients, it will definitely lead to nutrient burn and an overabundance over time.

A TDS meter is a beneficial tool for all cannabis growers, as it indicates the total dissolved solids in your watering solution. This will help tell you the number of nutrients in the water and identify if there are too many or too little, assisting to constantly maintain balanced nutrition for your plants.

Cannabis Nutrient Burn: Problem Solved!

No matter which solution tactic you choose to be the remedy for your plant’s nutrient burn, it’s important to cut off and remove all damaged leaves or buds that have yellowed or browned from nutrient burn. This will act as a ‘reset’ for the plant and help prevent any further rotting or dying in parts of the plant that will never turn green again.

Nutrients are important in all things that are living, but moderation is key. Many growers mistakenly think extra nutrients will help their plants yield bigger buds, but the truth is it will do the exact opposite. But too much at once can cause harm and disruption to the plant’s growth cycle. Balanced plant nutrition is one of the most important factors of your cannabis growing process, so it is important to remember how too much of these nutrients can severely harm the plants. Look out for early signs or stages of nutrient burn and constantly check in on your cannabis plant’s environment for these symptoms. If the nutrient burn is determined early enough, you can quickly and smoothly prevent this issue from recurring or worsening your plant.