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Nutrient Burn





As the 6th week of my grow efforts come to a close I thought I would share some of the highs and lows of my experience thus far. A few weeks ago I made my first mistake as a new grower- that’s right- overwatering. My tiny leaves turned yellow and began to droop, sending me into an all-out panic. Luckily, after a little bit of research, I was able to save my seedlings and correct the overwatering issue.


This weekend I encountered my second hurdle as a new grower- nutrient burn. Nutrient burn occurs when the roots are pulling in more nutrient than the plant can use, resulting in brown or yellow “burns” on the tip or edges of your leaves.


A number of things can result in nutrient burn (soil with high levels of nutrients aka “Hot Soil”, and nutrient additives are common culprits); I have been adding bottled nutrients to my grow and I thought it would provide the extra oomph that my plants needed. I followed the instruction perfectly, but after doing some research I discovered how difficult it can be to add the correct amount of nutrients- following the instructions on the bottle may be more than enough. Lesson learned!


More is better, right? At least, that’s what I used to think. Plants need nutrients to grow bigger and stronger, but plants also need light! Nutrient burn decreases the leaves’ surface area which decreases the amount of photosynthesis occurring in your plant.


An overabundance of nutrients affects your plants’ ability to process light for energy to grow (photosynthesis), and it can ultimately have an effect on the overall yield.

Your plant is less likely to spend energy replacing a sick leaf if it is experiencing nutrient burn during the flowering stage. Instead it will conserve its’ energy for the production and thickening of buds; which, if left untreated, can affect the taste of your buds- adding a chemical-like taste.


Luckily, if you notice any yellow or brown, dry spots on the edges or tips of your leaves early enough, fixing the problem is relatively easy. All you need is pH’ed water (if you’re growing in soil)! This process is called flushing.


Step 1: Place the plant (which should still be in its’ container) over a sink, or in an area that has appropriate drainage abilities.


Step 2: Begin pouring your nutrient-free water onto the soil until water begins draining out of the planters’ drainage holes.

  • The fluid draining from the pot will have a yellow/brown hue, this is normal when your plant is experiencing nutrient burn.

Step 3: Continue pouring the nutrient-free water onto the soil until the fluid being drained looks clear. Once the water draining from your plant looks clear, stop pouring water and let your plant sit over the bucket or drain for approximately an hour (as it will continue to drain the water in the soil).

  • Personally, my plants stopped draining water after approximately 30 minutes, but that may be due to the high porosity of my growing medium.

After successfully flushing your plants, place them back in your grow room and wait a few days before adding nutrients to your water (if you decide to resume adding nutrients be sure to only add ½ the dose of nutes).


It is important to note, signs of nutrient burn won’t go away after flushing your plants. If your leaves were showing signs of nute burn before flushing (yellow/brown spots, dry brown or yellow edges, etc.) then you may consider trimming them if the majority of the leaf is affected. This is one of the reasons why it is critical to recognize nutrient burn in its’ early stages.


I hope this helps and encourages other newbie growers, feel free to ask questions or leave advice as I continue my journey!



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