Cannabis Nutrient Burn: Things You Need To Know


Almost all new cannabis growers suffer from this; there is a common assumption amongst most newbies that cannabis plants would grow more and yield better if they were fed with many nutrients.

Even I thought so when I began growing. But unlike animals and humans, overfeeding does not sit well with cannabis plants.

The cannabis plant protests overfeeding by showing symptoms known as Cannabis nutrient burn or nute-burn. If left unseen, this might even kill the plant.

Are you wondering what exactly these symptoms are and how to prevent them? What do you need to do if your cannabis plants are already suffering from a nutrient burn?

Don’t worry. I am here to share all my knowledge and experience to experience all these questions. Let’s begin with the most fundamental query.

What is Cannabis Nutrient Burn?

As opposed to popular conception, cannabis plants do not grow faster, bushier or produce a better yield if they are overfed with nutrients. They become stressed instead.

Nute burn is when the cannabis plants become exposed to stress if fed with more nutrients than they require. Every plant has different requirements at different stages of its life cycle. These requirements also differ from strain to strain. Factors listed below can also lead to a nute burn.

  • Overwatering: Cannabis plants require well-balanced alternating dry and wet periods to absorb oxygen and grow well.
  • Dried Soil: Nutrient salts get deposited in the soil if it becomes too dry. If you suddenly water a lot in this situation, these salts will begin to mobilize at once, causing a huge intake of nutrients.
  • Too Rich Growing Medium: Cannabis plants cannot deal with a medium that has more than needed nutrients. This is common if you add fresh manure or soil that is artificially enriched with a nutrient burn.
  • Strong Blossoming Boosters: Adding bloom booster too frequently or in a too strong concentration results in nutrient burn.
  • Excess Growth Stimulants: Too regular usage of growth stimulants can cause a burn and also stunt the growth of your cannabis plants.
  • Poor Lighting: Adequate amount of light is required by a cannabis plant for the biological processes to function and produce energy. Even with low nutrients, low lighting can induce a nute burn.

Why Should Cannabis Nutrient Burn Bother You?

With excessive nutrient inputs, the cannabis plant loses the ability to trap sunlight needed for photosynthesis. It then loses the ability to produce the food required for its survival.

If a nutrient burn occurs during the flowering stage of the cannabis plants, they start losing leaves. The plant then concentrates all the available energy to produce new leaves. Therefore, low or no energy is available for bud growth.

Worst cases of a nutrient burn might even cause the marijuana plant to die.

Moreover, a higher concentration of nutrients will leave an impact on the harvested buds. As a result, their taste will get compromised. Buds with residual plant nutrients in them will also give off an unpleasant smell instead of the unmistakable cannabis aroma. To prevent this, many cannabis growers prefer to flush their plants two weeks before they begin harvesting.

What Are The Methods To Prevent Cannabis Nutrient Burn?

Prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, let’s discuss ways to protect your plant babies from a nutrient burn.

Be Informed

It is best to understand the specific nutrient requirement of your cannabis plant in each stage of its growth. For example, almost all cannabis strains need a lot of nitrogen to grow during the vegetative period. However, if you continue adding nitrogen when the plant has passed the vegetative stage and entered its flowering phase, it might result in nitrogen toxicity.

I prefer keeping a journal about what combination of nutrients works well in each stage for different strains. These make it easier for me to add nutrients when I grow the specific strain again.

Maintain Balance

If you buy your nutrient from a reputed store like i49, they will have the dosage mentioned in the packet label. However, this is likely to be the highest dosage possible for the plants.

Therefore, It is usually best to provide fewer nutrients than the recommended dose. I usually start by feeding about three-quarters and notice how they are responding to it. This also helps me if I am growing different strains together.

As I mentioned earlier, nutrient requirements vary from strain to strain. Feeding the plant with a lower dosage gives me room to adjust the concentration without risking a major nute burn.

Regularly Check The pH Levels

A pH meter or pH testing strips are a necessary tool in your cannabis growing venture. You should monitor the pH levels regularly regardless of what growing medium you use. This will give you an idea of the concentration of nutrients present. Whenever the concentration starts going above or below the needed level, you can prevent nutrient burn.

What Are The Nutrient Burn Symptoms You Need To Watch Out For?

The cannabis plant exhibits enough signs to let you know that they are suffering from a nute burn. Get cautious as soon as you notice these:

  • The stalk and stems might change color to magenta, deep red or purple.
  • The leaves start becoming deep green instead of bright green.
  • Leaf tips start folding at a right angle.
  • Sugar leaves start turning yellow and eventually die.
  • Leaf tips start becoming brighter, almost translucent.
  • Brown spots appear on the edges of the leaves.

What Actions To Take If Your Plants Suffer From Nutrient Burn?

Stop Feeding

The first step is to stop adding more nutrients to the plants if you see any sign of nute burn. You should wait till the additional nutrients are reduced in concentration or exhausted.

Flush out

The flushing technique comes to use if the plants exhibit symptoms of a nutrient burn. Feed the plant with a high volume of water to force out the excess nutrients. This will halt the damage and help the plants to decrease the nutrients concentrated in their tissues.

However, you should keep in mind to balance the pH level of the water you are using to suit your plant’s needs.

 You must also ensure good drainage in the containers; otherwise, you set your plant up for root rot and other problems.

The plant should not stand in a pool of water at any cost.

Remove Damaged Parts

You should also remove the buds, leaves or calyx clusters affected by the nutrient burn, or they will begin to rot. This will prevent you from further problems.

Nurse Back To Good Health

Plant tonics containing silver nitrate or humic acid and different minerals and vitamins can be very useful to make up for the damage. They bring back the plant’s health and vitality.

If your plants have suffered from a nute burn, you should resume feeding once they have fully recovered from the shock. Start by feeding them half the recommended dosage of nutrients, and then gradually work your way up to the normal quantity.

The plants should regain their vitality and produce the yield you aspire to if nursed well and in time.

However, a nutrient burn during the flowering stage might not give a good yield as the plant might not get a chance of recovering well.

In Conclusion

Like every good thing in life, the Cannabis growing journey is an act of fine balance. It might take you some time to master the fine art of balance when it comes to feeding your plant. However, don’t get discouraged. Take nutrient burn as an opportunity to learn how to take care of your plant better.

Everybody knows a master does not become a master by knowing the art well; a master becomes a master by not quitting. Here’s wishing you a grand harvest. Good-Bye