Beneficial Bacteria

Nitrogen Deficiency in Cannabis plants

Are your leaves looking a little yellow? Have you been really successful planting cannabis at home, but lately your plants seem to be struggling? Then nitrogen deficiency in plants may be causing you all this trouble. Whether you’re an experienced grower or a rookie home gardener, diagnosing the lack of a macronutrient, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium is never an easy task, but solving this issue is necessary for the well-being of your girls. So, what causes this issue and how can you add nitrogen to soil? 

What makes nitrogen so important, anyway?

Some interesting facts about nitrogen are necessary to truly understand why this macronutrient is such a key resource in your cannabis project. If you enjoy growing, then it’s probable that you’ve already heard about the importance of nitrogen in your soil, particularly as it’s a fairly abundant nutrient found in both plants and animals. It’s also one of the components of nucleic acid that forms DNA, which means it’s basically one of the most fundamental ingredients that makes up the genetic identity of all plant life on the planet.

As an essential element of amino acids in plant structures, it’s an important element of proteins too. In fact, the nitrogen found in plants affects the distribution of dry matter within, which has a direct influence on root growth and leaf development. And if that wasn’t enough, all growers should know that cannabis relies on nitrogen in order to create chlorophyll, the pigment that turns plants so vibrantly green and shiny. Thus far, nitrogen is pretty important for plants, right?

So, let’s see what happens when we take things one step further. A key fact about nitrogen is that plants demand more and more of this macronutrient as they grow. The bigger a plant gets, the more nitrogen it needs and craves. This means that to meet the nutritional needs of your grow, you have to make sure that your cannabis plants have enough nitrogen to digest as they evolve. So, in short, nitrogen is a necessity. 

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So, what causes nitrogen deficiency in plants?

Nitrogen deficiency is the direct result of unhealthy soil. Plain and simple. If you add organic matter with high levels of carbon to your soil, then a lot of the nitrogen in your soil will probably be used by soil organisms to break down the carbon. This means less yummy, nutritious nitrogen-based food for your plants. This also happens when there is too much sand, the organic matter is not sufficiently decomposed, or it rains a lot: there is not enough bio-available nitrogen for your cannabis to keep growing.  

In other cases, there is not enough biology in the soil to transform nitrogen found in the atmosphere or inorganic materials into forms that the cannabis plant can intake. So, the lesson here is to be super careful about what you do to your soil. If you treat your soil poorly, it’ll be your plants that suffer the consequences. 

Waterlogging is another main cause of nitrogen deficiency in plants. When there’s too much water in your soil, the bacteria living in that soil will begin to turn nitrate (the plant-available form of nitrogen) into nitrogen gas, which is then lost into the atmosphere. Similarly, if you use chlorinated water on your grow, you run the risk of turning nitrate into nitrogen gas and of depriving your plants of the quantities of nitrogen that they need and deserve. In fact, chloride in high concentrations can be toxic to your plants, which is another reason to avoid this kind of soil maltreatment at all costs.

Other elements in your soil, such as potassium, zinc, and manganese, can also affect the levels of nitrogen available, as too can stress or sudden plant growth. In short, there are a number of reasons why nitrogen may be lacking in your grow. The important thing is to be able to measure nitrogen levels and then take the necessary steps forward in order to rectify the problem.

How can I tell if my soil is lacking nitrogen?

Luckily for you, nitrogen deficiency symptoms are pretty easy to spot, so any dedicated cannabis grower should be able to tell whether his or her plants need more nitrogen fairly quickly. As chlorophyll disappears, leaves cup upwards and they lose their exquisite vibrant color. They begin to look pale and yellow. Another clear sign is that nitrogen-lacking plants simply stop growing. Flowers, branches, and leaves are reduced and they lay dormant. Some of the worst cases of nitrogen deficiency in plants can be identified in the development of tiny purple spots on leaves, stems, and branches. 

The leaves in the lower part of the cannabis plant may start to turn yellow and even begin to drop off. If the upper section of the plant also starts to turn pale, then you can be sure that it’s time for you to do something. Addressing this issue is especially important during the vegging stage of the process, as it is at this moment when marijuana needs nitrogen the most. Some gardeners even say that plants suffering from nitrogen deficiency are, in effect, “starving”, leaving the plants more susceptible to complex issues, such as the attack of insects and the spread of diseases. 

So, if you’re interested in learning how to add nitrogen to your soil, then it’s a good idea to first test it with fertilizer test strips or similar products to make sure that you are making the right move. If it is not in fact nitrogen deficiency what is causing your poor cannabis plant to suffer, you want to avoid supplying it with too many supplements that could hurt her.

Adding nitrogen to soil

In order to battle nitrogen deficiency effectively, it’s a good idea to turn your attention to the appropriate use of a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. If you’re a newbie grower, then you should know that fertilizers are determined by their NPK ratio, meaning their nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content. Nitrogen-deficient soils need a high nitrogen fertilizer, which means the product you buy should have a high first number. Those products that offer a slow-release form of nitrogen are also a good choice, as they prevent nitrogen-caused burning and prompt an even growth.

But what if instead of solving this issue, you were to prevent it? Nitrogen is available all around us. We just need to learn how to harness its powers and help cannabis plants to take as much of it as they need. As we learned, the secret to this is having healthy soil that benefits the plant. One way to achieve this is to increase soil diversity through microbes, as they help the plant improve their nutrient uptake. What is a microbe, you ask? It is a microorganism that forms a powerful alliance with its peers to support your plants. This means that they help transforming nitrogen into something marijuana can digest, improving the uptake of this macronutrient.

Amplify is our shelf-stable ferment of full-spectrum microbes. Combine it with a high nitrogen fertilizer to grow big, healthy cannabis plants that don’t turn yellow while you’re not looking. Contact us for more information.