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Nitrogen Deficiency

May 6, 2020
How & When to Feed Your Plants

Nitrogen Deficiency in Cannabis Plants

When a cannabis plant doesn’t have enough available nitrogen, it is said to have a deficiency. Supplying these plants with an ample amount of nitrogen will keep them growing healthily and happily, but getting things right isn’t always as simple as it seems. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss how to diagnose, treat, and prevent nitrogen deficiencies in cannabis plants that you’ve grown from i49 seeds.

Where do Marijuana Plants Get Their Nitrogen?

Nitrogen is naturally abundant in the soil through the process of decomposition. Beneficial microbes break down animal and plant materials in a form of conversion known as the nitrogen cycle. Other sources, such as the atmosphere and agricultural runoff, convert nitrogen into a form that can be utilized by plants. In the nitrogen cycle, the element may be lost via denitrification. Here, microbes use up all the oxygen in the soil and change nitrate (NO3) to N2 or gaseous oxide of nitrogen. Neither of these nitrogen forms can be utilized by cannabis plants.

In commercially available nutrient blends, nitrogen formulations such as ammonium (NO3), nitrate (NO4), and urea are combined to meet your plants’ needs. These nitrogen sources affect the health and growth of cannabis plants, so understanding their interconnected relationships will help you detect deficiencies and toxicities.

General Nitrogen Knowledge

NO3 is slower acting, which means it’s absorbed more slowly.

NO4 may be dissolved in water and it’s readily available, which makes it fast acting. However, it’s often washed or leached away during watering.

Urea is another readily available, fast acting form of nitrogen. It’s relatively short-lived and it quickly changes into NO3.

Many cannabis growers encounter nitrogen issues. Whether you’re dealing with a deficiency or an excess, nitrogen problems can severely affect plants’ overall health and growth patterns. Because nitrogen is a crucial component in many of a cannabis plant’s functions, trouble signs are well known. Even i49’s easy grow seeds are susceptible to failure if they don’t get enough Nitrogen in their daily diet.

When plants are young, they need an abundant and consistent source of absorbable nitrogen. As the plants mature, nitrogen is used in photosynthesis and other processes, increasing the overall demand for the element.

Here are a few factors affecting nitrogen absorption:

Overall health – Unhealthy plants don’t need as much nitrogen as healthy plants do.

Available light –  Plants can only utilize as much nitrogen as they have light.

Growth medium pH – A healthy growth medium and proper pH are crucial to the plants’ nitrogen absorption.

Dosing – Growers should give their plants just enough nitrogen to nourish them but not enough to burn them.

While large and young plants need more nitrogen, that’s not always the case. As plants enter the flowering stage, their nitrogen requirements diminish significantly.

What Leads to a Nitrogen Deficiency in Cannabis Plants?

If the growth medium doesn’t supply your gelato auto or triangle kush strain plants with enough nitrogen, they will quickly develop deficiencies. Cannabis plants need a great deal of nitrogen during their life cycle, and the element is used for numerous things. However, the most important thing plants use nitrogen for is to create chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is a bright green pigment that induces photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light into energy. Without chlorophyll, cannabis plants can’t make the proteins, starches, and sugars needed for healthy growth. As nitrogen levels decrease, so does chlorophyll content. That’s why nitrogen-deficient plants’ lower leaves may start to acquire a yellowish tinge. If left unattended, your cannabis seeds won’t make it long into the vegetative growth phase if left in deficient soil.

How Cannabis Plants Use Nitrogen

Marijuana plants use nitrogen to make leaves, stems, and chlorophyll. During their vegetative phase, plants don’t grow buds; instead, they focus their energies on growing stems and leaves. Because plants make most of their stems and leaves during this stage of life, nitrogen demands are quite high.

Supplementing with Nitrogen During Vegetation

When first learning to grow marijuana, you’ll likely look at several different plant food types. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see that most brands have ‘bloom’ and ‘grow’ nutrients. Because the vegetative stage brings a higher demand for nitrogen, grow nutrients contain more nitrogen than bloom formulas do. As plants move into the flowering phase, their nitrogen needs will decrease.

Adding Nitrogen During the Flowering Phase

When cannabis plants start to develop flowers, they don’t need as much nitrogen as they once did. However, they’ll still need some nitrogen for chlorophyll synthesis. Therefore, providing smaller doses of nitrogen will help prevent deficiencies in flowering plants.

The Signs of Nitrogen Deficiency in Cannabis Plants

There are several symptoms growers can look for to determine if their plants are deficient in nitrogen. Because cannabis plants use so much of the element during the vegetative stage, that’s when shortfalls are so common.

Look out for these symptoms:

Yellowing lower leaves

Because marijuana plants use nitrogen in chlorophyll synthesis, when the nitrogen level falls, so does the level of chlorophyll. This reduces a plant’s green color, and lower leaves may begin to turn yellow.

Because cannabis plants need plenty of nitrogen to make new branches, stems, and leaves, a plant with a nitrogen deficiency won’t be able to make these parts correctly. If plants stop growing and have small, stunted leaves, a nitrogen deficiency may be to blame.

Weakened stems

If a cannabis plant has a nitrogen deficiency, its stems won’t be strong enough to support big buds. Additionally, the plant won’t be able to make the chlorophyll needed to make proteins and sugars for photosynthesis. Though weak stems are a common sign of a nitrogen shortfall, they may also indicate other plant issues. Proper diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment.

Now that you’ve learned what to look for, we’ll show you how to resolve a nitrogen deficiency in your cannabis crop and make the best of the investment you’ve made in premium seeds from

Fixing Nitrogen Deficiencies

To fix a deficiency in your plants, take the following steps.

Increase the growth medium’s nitrogen level by adding more nutrients to your feed.

Ensure that the medium’s pH is properly balanced.

Increasing the plants’ food and restoring the proper pH will quickly bring nitrogen levels back to normal, and the process will work even faster in hydroponic gardens.

Fixing Soil Nitrogen Deficiencies

When cannabis plants are grown in soil, it may not be necessary to feed them for the first two weeks after transplantation. Why? There are already enough nutrients in the soil naturally! As time goes by and the plants get bigger, you may need to add some food to the soil to give the seedlings the nutrients they need to grow.

If your zkittlez plants haven’t been fed yet and the shortfall is slight, it’s the right time to start feeding them. Conversely, if the plants are on a feeding schedule, increase the grow food dosage gradually and continue feeding at a slightly higher dose for several feeds.

The right pH level for marijuana plants grown in soil is 6.5-7.5. Monitor your plants for changes and adjust the plant food dosage accordingly. If the leaves keep turning yellow, raise the dose; if they turn a dark green, lower it slightly.

Stopping Nitrogen Shortfalls in Hydroponic Cannabis Gardens

It’s relatively easy to address a nitrogen deficiency in a hydroponic cannabis grow op; all that you’ll need to do is adjust the EC or electrical conductivity of the plant food. Because salt-based nutrients are more readily absorbed, a slight increase in EC can bring rapid improvement. In some cases, growers see changes within less than 24 hours.

As with other parts of the cannabis cultivation process, it’s important not to overdo it. Gradual changes will prevent further issues. It’s very easy to overfeed cannabis plants, so take those EC increases slowly. Along with electrical conductivity, plants might not get enough of the available nitrogen if the growth medium’s pH isn’t within the right range. For hydroponic gardens, the pH should be 5.8-6.2. If the pH isn’t on point, it doesn’t matter how much extra nitrogen is in the plant food because the plants won’t be able to absorb it.

Preventing Nitrogen Deficiencies in Outdoor Cannabis Gardens

To prevent nitrogen deficiencies in cannabis grown from best outdoor cannabis seeds, growers should monitor their crops for daily changes. If you’ve seen any of the signs mentioned in this guide, prompt action will save your crop.

If the plants’ leaves start to turn yellow or pale, increase the feed slightly to prevent the reoccurrence of the issue. The easiest and most effective way to prevent cannabis plant problems is to seek help from experienced growers. Countless online forums offer helpful advice, and we’re here to help as well. New growers should start grow diaries so they can use their experiences to ensure the success of subsequent crops.

The Bottom Line

As with other nutrients, a nitrogen deficiency can spell disaster for your crop of  lambs bread strain or trainwreck marijuana plants. However, it’s important to tread lightly when treating this condition, as too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Don’t rush into treating cannabis plant problems if you’re not sure of the cause.

By looking for the trouble signs in this guide and by asking experienced growers for advice, you’re more likely to end up with a healthy, green, and sweet-smelling crop. The best crops start with the best seeds, and you can find the highest-quality cannabis seeds here at

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