There are two common mistakes new growers can make when feeding their plants; feeding too much, and feeding the wrong ratios.
Both mistakes can lead to the same result, which is plant nutrient toxicity. While plant nutrient toxicity commonly means the oversupply of one specific nutrient, that isn't always as the case.
In worst case scenarios, your plants can be overfed every nutrient, which is detrimental to its development.
It is easy to think that plant nutrient toxicity can only occur from overfeeding or improper feeding. However there will be times when it may seem everything is done right, yet the problem still arises.
For this reason it is important to know how to spot plant nutrient toxicity so you can stop it fast.
Plain and simply, plant nutrient toxicity occurs when your plant takes in too much of one nutrient, which prevents it from taking in other essential nutrients. The excess nutrient can block roots from absorbing other nutrients which will lead to a variety of issues.
What can make plant nutrient toxicity difficult to catch is that most plant problems are caused by deficiencies in nutrients. Plant nutrient toxicity on the other hand is caused by excess nutrients.
But what plant nutrient toxicity can cause, are deficiencies! It might seem confusing, but it makes sense. If your plant is taking up so much of one nutrient it can't take up others, it is going to become deficient in those others nutrients.
When it comes to spotting plant nutrient toxicity in your plants, it might not be a bad idea to start with common deficiency signs. Look for stunted growth, Chlorosis (yellowing leaves), purplish-red coloring on leaves, or necrosis (dead/dying leaves).
If a plant is suffering from nutrient toxicity, it may display dark, shiny leaves, curling leaves, weak stems and yellow leaves most commonly.
Another useful term for recognizing a nutrient toxicity is "nutrient burn". Nutrient burn and plant nutrient toxicity could almost be used interchangeably as both are the result of overfeeding one nutrient.
Plants can display nutrient toxicity without having nutrient burn, but nutrient burn almost always is the result of plant nutrient toxicity.
The best way to resolve a plant nutrient toxicity problem is to flush your plants with clean, pure water. Over time the water will flush any excess nutrient out of your plant's medium.
Through flushing your plants can recover from toxicity while still taking up the remaining nutrients in the medium. It may take several days of flushing before the nutrient toxicity problem is resolved, so patience is important.
There is also the option of using a flushing agent, which will be pure water mixed with other chemicals that can result in a more effective flush. However if you want to prevent the addition of any new nutrient that may complicate the process, stick with pure water and nothing else.
As they say, the best cure is prevention! Sometimes we can get unlucky and despite going by the book plant nutrient toxicity can still occur. But in most cases it is easily preventable!
The most important part of preventing plant nutrient toxicity is to feed properly. This means the right dosages of each nutrient in every feeding, without going overboard.
We've all been there; you have to go away for a few days, maybe if you just overfeed your plants now they will have some left over so you don't have to feed while you are gone. That's a great way to create plant nutrient toxicity!
If you want to be extra safe, invest in a mixing/dosing system. The Dosatron Dilution Solutions Nutrient Delivery System for example will individually dose your nutrients into your automated irrigation system at the exact proportions needed for every feeding. This removes any guesswork or measuring on your part completely.
However for a smaller operation that may not require automation, hand feeding is still most common. In this case, the proper measurement of your nutrients and ensuring each plant receives the right amount per feeding is paramount.
Use properly labeled measuring cups to guarantee enough water in each feeding, and that you are using the exact amount of each required nutrient. It may sound like common sense, but when you're feeding by hand daily it is easy to slip up!
Lucky for you, we are experts at fixing issues like plant nutrient toxicity, nutrient burn, nutrient lock and any other problem that may arise in the grow room.