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Stressed Weed Plants

Stressed weed plants: types, causes, and how to prevent

All living things experience stress. Some forms of pressure positively facilitate development, while others are a hindrance. Cannabis is no exception. Negatively stressed weed plants have stunted growth, and this impacts the yield. 

Below, we discuss the various types of cannabis stress and how to identify them. We also look at how to prevent the issues that arise. 

Let’s get started! 

Find out what causes stressed weed plants

It might surprise you to hear that stress and marijuana plants have a cause-and-effect relationship. Both the type and intensity of pressure affect the crop’s development differently. There’s both good and bad stress.

Bad stress

Similar to how people can buckle under pressure, stressed weed plants develop poorly when exposed to certain forces. The most common bad forms of stress include: 

  • Water stress
  • Light stress
  • Nutrient stress 
  • Heat stress 
  • Incorrect pH for cannabis 

Each influences the plant differently, but all are detrimental to its overall health.

Stressed Weed Plants

Water stress 

When it comes to hydrating weed, you need to strike a delicate balance. If you water the crops too little, you’ll have a case of wilting cannabis.  

Too much liquid can drown your plant, prevent the roots from getting enough oxygen, and reduce nutrient absorption. 

While you need to avoid your plant drying out and getting wilted cannabis leaves, you need to ensure that you’re not watering excessively either. 

If you notice your pot plant has leaves curling down, you might have a problem and need to change how you water weed.

Lighting stress

Certain cannabis variants are sensitive to light cycles. Any interruptions can cause stressed weed plants. If you’re not strictly controlling the light and dark cycles, it’ll reduce the yield quantity and quality. 

Nutrient related 

Plants absorb nutrients from the growth medium. In many cases, this is soil. If your herb doesn’t receive enough, you’ll notice yellow leaf tips on cannabis. 

Heat stress 

The impact of heat stress on cannabis plants is more severe than excessive cold. When the temperature in the grow area exceeds 85℉, the weed transpires at a higher rate. If you notice cannabis leaf turn up, this is a sign that you need to adjust the temperature. The result of cannabis heat stress is stretched stems with low yields. 

pH stress. 

Different types of soil have various levels of alkalinity and acidity. Marijuana plants require a balanced pH of approximately 6–6.5. If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, the weed won’t absorb nutrients. This causes stress for the weed plant and affects the flowering and growth.

Good stress

Good stress encourages strong, healthy growth, and even though it exerts some pressure on the plant, it won’t result in wilting cannabis. Some positive forces include: 

  • Airflow 
  • Exposure to cold 
  • Training 
  • Simulated drought. 


Ventilation is vital for cultivation, especially with strains that are susceptible to pathogens like mold and mildew. Using fans also puts light stress on the weed plants by causing the branches to move slightly. The gentle pressure causes tension and the stem to thicken. 

Stressed Weed Plants

Cold exposure

Climate plays a major role in cannabis cultivation. The crops thrive in moderate conditions that are temperate and warm. You can drop the cannabis temperature during its dark cycle to improve the plant’s metabolism and increase resin production. 

Low-stress training

Many cannabis growers employ low-stress training (LST) techniques to encourage the crops to grow in a specific direction. This technique allows the lower parts of the plant to get more light exposure.

When you apply LST during the vegetative stage, it strengthens the stems, optimizing the delivery of nutrients to the leaves and buds. 

Applying training techniques causes light beneficial cannabis stress. 

Simulate a drought

Even though your marijuana plants require water for photosynthesis, you can simulate drought conditions to accelerate the growth of the roots. You must apply this method correctly to avoid ending up with stressed weed plants. 

The best time to apply this is during the mid to late flowering stage. Another benefit of this stressor is the increase in available oxygen to the leaves.

How to prevent negative stress in marijuana plants

When you’re growing outdoors, weed is more susceptible to the negative impact of the elements. Indoor cultivation has challenges, too, primarily with ventilation. 

Stressed weed plants struggle to recover and may experience hermaphroditism, which can destroy your entire crop. Below we look at some of the more common weed plant problems and cures. 

Prevent lighting interruptions

Marijuana plants are sensitive to light changes because it signals the change in seasons. If the lighting schedule switches suddenly, it will stress your weed plant. 

The best solution is to maintain a strict schedule and only alter it for the flowering stage. During the vegetative stage, cannabis requires 18–24 hours of light, which changes to 12 hours in the flowering phase. 

Adhere to these times as closely as possible to avoid stressed weed plants. 

Maintaining the grow room’s humidity and temperature

The ideal temperature for cultivating cannabis is between 65–80℉. Each growth phase requires more specific ranges. 

Extreme cold conditions result in low yields, and if it’s too hot, it’ll cause heat stress on the cannabis plants. 

Most crops require low to moderate humidity between 40–70%. The RH near harvest time needs to be 30–40%. 

Stressed Weed Plants

Water the plants properly

Unfortunately, there’s no basic guide for correctly watering cannabis. The best way to check is to insert your finger about an inch and a half into the soil and assess if it feels moist. If it’s dry, water it. 

You can also determine if the soil drains well by digging a hole 10–12 inches deep and filling it with water. If the moisture is absorbed within an hour, the soil drains well, and you’re less likely to encounter stressed weed plants. 

Offer balanced nutrition

Nutrient imbalances cause cannabis stress. Too little supplementation leads to discolored leaves, and too much attracts pests. If you’re using quality soil, let the plants absorb those nutrients for three weeks before you add any. 

When the leaves open, you can introduce a light feeding schedule of nitrogen and potassium. At the flowering stage, you should incorporate more phosphorus and potassium.

FAQ related to stressed weed plants

Below we’ll discuss some common questions related to stressed weed plants. 

When should I stress my weed plant? 

Employing certain stress techniques, like training and moderate airflow, produce a positive outcome and can be implemented during the early vegetation stage. Simulating drought and nighttime cold exposure are best left for later phases.

Can plants flower because of stress?

Yes. If there’s an unexpected interruption with the light cycle during the vegetation stage, the plant can get stressed and take it as a signal to flip to the flowering stage. 

Can pruning cause stress in weed plants?

Pruning means that your marijuana plant can’t produce as much energy, meaning less buds. The nugs will also be much smaller and may even be of inferior quality.

What’s the ideal marijuana growing temperature?

Depending on the phase of maturity, the ideal growing temperature for cannabis plants ranges from 65–80℉. 

What should you do if your plant gets knocked over?

If your plant gets knocked over, pick it up and put it back in its original position, ensuring that it’s stable. Assess for damage, and repair any breakage in the stem or branches using tape. You can use a stake to provide support.

De-stress your weed

A variety of factors causes stressed weed plants. In most cases, you can prevent these problems by making small changes in your cultivation techniques. Common symptoms that signal cannabis stress are drooping leaves, discoloration, and noticing that your weed plant is wilting. Now that you’re aware of the best ways to avoid stressing your crops, why not visit the i49 seed store and start your cultivation journey.