Are you Overfeeding your Plants?
Lots of things can go wrong in any gardening space, plants are living organisms, they are alive!
They breathe, eat, move and reproduce.
Plants have special needs dictated by where they have originated from. Indoor plants for example (Palms, ferns) have originated in tropical jungles and rainforests.
These types of indoor plants can live on the floor of a jungle or climbing up a tree, they have over time evolved to the amount of light they receive, pH and elemental composition of the soil dictates the type of food that is available to them and so on.
Most plant problems are quite easy to correct and generally easy to identify as plants will visually express symptoms when something has become an issue to its health, think of this as a plant's body language. Once you learn what each symptom represents, you will be able to make the necessary changes to address the underlying issue your plant is suffering from.
Some common things that can go wrong in the garden
An overfed plant will look like its not developing properly or at all. Overfeeding causes nutrient lockout which limits access to food because of the accumulation of elements (nutrition). Overfeeding antagonises elements making them not available or only partially available to the plant. The tips of the leaves will start to look burnt and this will progress if not addressed quickly.
The tips of the leaves will start to look burnt and this will progress rapidly if not addressed. The burn will initially look as a yellow to brown tip or edge of the leaves, generally starting around the top of the plant.
To fix this problem, first take into account the size of the pot and make up the appropriate volume of water needed for a 10-20% run-off. You can add a dedicated flushing formula or you can just adjust the pH of the water to 6.5. Flush the pot by flooding it with your solution and collect some of the solution run-off at the end when the flow slows to drips and measure the pH and EC of this solution, once lowered, leave your plant now for a day or 2 before resuming feeding.
Pests & Diseases
An insect infested plant or diseased one is not much fun if you’re dealing with it. The most common indoor pests and diseases are: Aphids, White fly, Fungus gnats, Spider mites, Septoria, Pythium, Botrytis, powdery mildew etc..
Round spotting, grey or white patches, browning of flower parts, black or brown spots on stem, curling and /or twisting leaves, thin webbing, black flies when watering, middle of leaves kinking upward, severe necrosis, black or brown roots, white mould. When diagnosing try searching some imagery on the internet based on what you see plus the type of plant you’re growing you’d be amazed at what you find and you can resolve problems much quicker. There is too many different signs and solutions to list here, although easy to find, quality resources on this topic are plentiful on the internet.
We have several different tutorials on pest issues and how to address them, found here
Pests are an indoor gardeners worst nightmare if left unchecked. Pest prevention or Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a simple protocol any gardener can implement on a weekly basis, using non-toxic sprays and medium conditioners (i.e. soil & coco) which can be applied once a week in the vegetative stage of the plants life. Always check the undersides of you leaves for any sneaky critters or potential eggs waiting to hatch. Spray everywhere!
If you have a terrible insect problem like spider mites for example, it is highly advised when spraying to spray when lights are off, and to turn off all ventilation systems to let the room permeate in whatever spray you choose.
After an hour turn the ventilation back on and let your plants rest until lights are due to turn back on.
Lights off Temperature
More common than I realised, when lights go off a lot of gardeners think the plant is sleeping and all is well. If the gardener is reliant on ambient weather and temperatures in their grow room, then autumn and winter will be an indoor growers worst nightmare if no effort to maintain environmental conditions are put in place, such a heaters to fight the night cold.
Stunted growth, no signs of new growth and slight drooping or hanging leaves, signs of excess nutrition occurs such as the tips of the leaves becoming burnt showing signs of overfeeding, which is now the case due to the drop in metabolic rate due to the cold temperatures. The plants ability to absorb nutrients will slow dramatically, leaving the pot saturated due to the metabolic shutdown that occurs as a result of the night time temperatures falling so low. Generally speaking you don’t want your plant's core temperature to go lower than 17 degrees celsius. When your plants core temperature drop below 16 degrees celsius, problems start to occur and compile as your plant essentially stunts growth until it warms up above 17 degrees celsius.
Heating the environment, raising the pots from any floor contact using pot grids and collection trays, turn air circulating fans to lowest speed (exhaust should remain consistent for the space). The minimum temperature to maintain for the grow room at night should be 18 degrees celsius. Most heaters come with thermostats and timers to help assist with this process.
Hopefully this tutorial has provided some basic yet useful information on diagnosing common issues almost every grower will run into eventually. If you're issue is not listed above, browse through our previous tutorials as we have covered countless topics across nearly every indoor gardening issue we can think of.