I’ve maintained some kind of indoor marijuana garden for over seven years, but I began experiencing problems with nutrient uptake a couple of years ago. I’m guessing my problem is a virus. How can I go about eliminating the problem? Will bleach stop the virus? Do these infections spread via water or air?
Viruses can spread in a number of ways including air, water, disease vectors (like pests), and touching infected plants or animals. Marijuana growers who report alterations in characteristics are usually describing infections. These changes include things like reduced odor and yields, limited potency, and issues with nutrient uptake and growth.
Marijuana plants typically respond by isolating the infection (i.e. growing tissue around it), the planned death of infected sections, and producing seeds. It’s rare for viruses to infect seeds, so the next crop will begin sans infection.
An infected marijuana garden and its plants have no cure. If you want to eliminate the infection, destroy the plants and clean the garden meticulously. Walls and floors need to be thoroughly wiped down with a solution of hydrogen peroxide. Any tools and instruments should be washed, boiled, and then sterilized. Planting media and substrates need to be tossed out. Tables, trays, pumps, lines, and containers should be washed, wiped, and flushed with a sterilizing solution.
As noted earlier, marijuana seeds are often infection-free. The meristem growing tip is also usually infection-free. These tips can be used for tissue culture (cloning with only a few cells).
There are a number of ways to reduce the potential for infection. For instance, start by filtering all incoming air. This will also reduce the chance of incurring a pest infection. Aphids, mites, and other pests occasionally ride on air currents. Stay away from the indoor garden after you’ve been in the great outdoors or working with plants. Infections are prone to hitchhiking on your clothing. Using recirculated water is a master vector for infection. Include some hydrogen peroxide to the water every so often or utilize a UV-C sterilizing unit. These are made for aquarium and laboratory use and can be fitted easily into recirculating systems.
Avoid introducing a clone to the system if you haven’t yet quarantined it for at least two weeks. Many marijuana gardens have been going on unencumbered until a clone was introduced that had some pest or infection. One grower introduced one clone that had a known nutrient uptake disorder and the space had to be sterilized within only a few months.