Please help me diagnose my poor plant's problem!

Hey, everyone! I’m a first time grower, so this is in some ways a single-plant trial run. Having said that, I still am hoping to have a good yield/product when she finally flowers.

I was going to try growing outdoors, but my balcony doesn’t get enough sunlight. So I bought a grow light, moved my seedling indoors, and she has been doing great ever since, except for this leaf discoloration that persists no matter what I’ve tried so far.

It started as yellowing of the tips of the bottom leaves, which spreads inward towards the stem. Brown spotting then appears at the tips and also slowly spreads in. Ultimately some of the bottom leaves dry up and fall off, but more often they just turn yellow and linger as these sickly looking leaves (poor girl… haha). It seemed like it was limited to the bottom leaves at first, and new growth was nice and green and healthy-appearing, but it seems like it’s still creeping upwards, despite me only watering and not adding more nutrients for probably 1.5 months now.

Based on my research, this sounded like classic nute burn. I then read that often the nute product labels are overly generous with their instructions, and many people recommend halving what the nute label says. I had mixed in 1.5-2tbsp per month essentially, but I halved that for when I transplanted her to a bigger pot and for subsequent dosages. I water her with 10-16 oz of purified water (or more recently tap water that has sat out for 24 hours to let the Cl evaporate, b/c I ran out of purified) once per day (at most - probably more like 5 times per week, because I work overnight sometimes). More info (and pics) below:

Strain; White Widow (feminized) via ILGM. 3 months old now, and about 22" tall.

Soil in pots (Espoma organic potting mix, perlite, and flower tone for nutes)

System type? not sure what this means

PH of runoff or solution in reservoir? I don’t have a pH meter… guessing that is something I need?

What is strength of nutrient mix? Espoma Flower Tone

Indoor (70degrees)

Light system, size? Galaxyhydro™ 180W UFO LED Grow Light 60x3W Full Spectrum 9-Band IR 3W Grow Lamp (10-12" from top leaves). Typically I was doing 18/6 hours of light/dark, but since the leaf problem, I’ve done 24 hours of light to try to encourage metabolic consumption of some of the excess nutes (if it works that way).

Temps; Day, Night 70 degrees

Humidity; Normal indoor apartment humidity

Ventilation system; No. Open air

Co2; No

Pics of the sickly leaves:
full-body shot:


aerial view:

Thank you so much in advance for reading and for any advice you may be able to offer.


pH, pH, pH!

It is almost certainly pH.

What is the pH of the water you are giving it. And what is the pH of the run-off?

This absolutely looks like pH lockout related.


Thank you so much for your respons, Mac. I have no idea what the pH is, but I’ve been using purchased purified water (at first), then tap water I ran through a Mavea filter, and then just straight tap water that I let sit for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate.

I guess I have a few follow up questions:

  1. What is a good, affordable pH meter I can get. I’ve seen people say something like this guy would work… would you agree?

  2. How often should I be checking the pH?

  3. What should my target pHs be for both the water I’m feeding her, and then the run-off water?

  4. Which of the aforementioned 3 water sources would you recommend (filtered, bought purified, or tap water that has sat out for 24 hours)? Or should I just check the pHs of each and go by whichever is closest to target?

Thanks again for sharing your experience and expertise!

Ideal pH for soil is 6.5 and the meter you show is a good meter, although I see many people use the cheaper chinese made ones with great success.

We have links to a lot of that stuff here:

I like to keep the drops around to verify my meter is reading correctly and to know if I might need to re-calibrate it. The drops last nearly forever and are the same as the powdered stuff that comes in the soil pH test kit.

You should be monitoring the pH in your run-off at every feeding or watering. The pH of the feed or water going in should also be 6.5 in most cases, if the run-off comes out no lower than 6.0 you should be good to go. In general about the same going in the top should be coming out the bottom.

As far as which water source is best, usually store bought distilled water, as it will have no contained minerals that can change your pH and it itself will be neutral in pH, and as for the rest of them, it depends on the EC/TDS/PPM and pH of them. If your tap water is below 150ppm or 0.3 EC and pH no higher than 7.5, you might be good to go, however knowing exactly what that EC in your water is made of could be a big help, keep an eye out for the report from your water municipality.

happy growing,


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You are the mans. Seriously, you likely saved Shoshanna (I gave her a jappy name, because she’s so high-maintenance, haha), and I can’t thank you enough for your time!



Best reason for a plants name ever!

Just be sure to purchase meters that are water-proof. Some are not, and one slight mistake and it will be an expensive paper weight. :slight_smile:

Thanks for all the advice and replies. So I got this ph meter, and I just calibrated it and checked Shoshanna’s pH.

I poured the runoff that has been sitting around for 24 hours and tested that… 6.44

Then I watered her with distilled water, and after cleaning the meter, tested the fresh runoff… 6.34

Oddly enough, the distilled water was reading at below 6. I know the meter was working, because it read the test/calibration solutions almost exactly out of the box… just needed very minor tweaking. And I double checked the test readings when I calibrated to make sure it was consistent.
EDIT: just read about the pH of distilled water, and apparently it’s between 5.6 and 7, because CO2 dissolves rapidly from the air and creats a dilute concentration of carbonic acid. Thought I’d share the chemistry lesson ;D

I’m glad the pH level seems to be at a good level, but then what the hell is wrong with my plant haha?

Yes, CO2 and distilled water is something I’ve mentioned numerous times to numerous people, lol. But it stabilizes quickly with calibration additives or the minerals in most nutrient systems.

Well, for one, sitting water keeping roots too wet for 24 hours is not a good idea, this in and of itself can cause nutrient uptake problems at the roots. Be sure you are not over watering/watering too often, this will create low oxygen levels in the soil, and this too will show as nutrient deficiencies in the leaves.

Use the “watering only when the soil has nearly totally dried out”, judge by the weight of the container after being saturated fully with water at its regular watering/feeding, and then do not water again until the soil is nearly totally dried out, but before the plant begins to wilt, again as determined by the feel of the weight of the container. This will create the healthiest conditions in the root zone and the flood to dry cycle draws lots of oxygen to the roots.


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What are you feeding her again aside from PH she is looking to be deficient nitrogen possibly magnesium too? Ph does lead to lockouts of nutrients I will never argue that I am a ph nut just wondering what you are using for nutrients? She looks like a starving lady and the feed schedule you describe is far too light for fast growing cannabis if I fed my ladies 1-2tbsp of any nute a month they would grow legs and find soil somewhere else.
Here is a clarification for feeding most feed schedules are every second or third water so water water feed water water feed :slight_smile: when people say halve nutes for first couple feeds this is usually considered a 1week duration after which you can start going to full dose if your plant is showing positive response and growth. I suspect that you are using a non MJ specific food which may be for house plants? can you get a picture of the lable?
this is a simple feeding schedule the flora series is for both soil and hydro and uses same doses more or less

I may be watering her more than I need to, but her pot drains, so she isn’t bathing in water or anything.

I’ll definitely start feeding her more nutes. I give her Espoma Flower-Tone… I had heard others on online forums using this product.

How exactly do you feed if you’re doing every third watering… do you just sprinkle some around the topsoil before every third watering?
you are using an outdoor flower fertilizer your n-p-k 3-4-5 is geared towards flowering plants and it is time released unless you are using an amended soil as well I would suggest a product change. As I said as a first time grower look into MJ specific foods

As Donald suggested I would look into different nutes. I have used General Hydroponics 3 part Flora series and liked what I saw. Also the Advanced Nutrients Sensi a+b I am using now in a coco grow has had amazing results so far, the grow part of it at least, haven’t started bloom yet :smile:

Edit: As a side note I also use Botanicare Hydroguard for my beneficial bacteria.

Not suggesting simply GH advanced nutrients fox farms etc. just saying a system designed for cannabis not marigolds :wink:

Agreed :smile: Just tossing out there the couple I have/am using at the moment. I very much dislike time released nutes lol. One of my first soil grows in the greenhouse I made the usual miracle grow mistake… The plant made it but she sure wasn’t very happy or pretty, or even that tasty lol

Awesome advice… just Amazon Primed me some Fox Farm FX14049 Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula: Big Bloom, Grow Big, Tiger Bloom.

Read a bunch of reviews, and those seemed to be pretty fool-proof. A lot of people said the GH Flora trio is designed more for hydro than soil, and you have to alter the instructions significantly for soil, so figured this Fox Farm would better suit my needs (and be harder for me to F up). Thanks again for the advice everyone!

Hopefully this will make Shoshana happy. I’ll probably have to buy her a Chanel bag and some Tiffany’s jewelry for Hanukkah as well, or else she’ll be very cranky haha.

Just wanted to throw a big thanks out to you all again. 2 weeks later, using a pH meter, water adjusted to 6.5 pH with GH Armor Si, and Fox Farm soil nutes system (also adjusted to 6.5 pH) twice a week, Shoshanna is looking GREAT. Lush, perky, dark green new leaves, and she has grown 8" in the past 2 weeks (~30" tall now).

Of course, she is still a jappy bitch, and I had to buy her a couple of Tiffany’s bracelets and Louis Vuitton bags along the way to satisfy her, but hey… she’s worth it.

See below:

Gonna have to transplant her to a new vessel soon. And at this growth rate, I’ll start her flowering in about a month or so when she hits 4’. I’ll have to throw her a really fancy Pot Mitzvah party when she flowers, of course, which will surely set me back.

Thanks again for all your help, and happy new year!


She is looking good! Make sure you invite us to the Pot Mitzvah :slightly_smiling:

She was doing great, and has more than doubled in height during the 12/12 phase, but she’s been on 12/12 for over a month now and hasn’t started flowering, so something’s wrong yet again. Is it really so critical to have complete darkness? I just have her in my bedroom, so sometimes if I’m in there at night, she gets a little overhead ceiling light. But I thought those cheap ceiling lights dissipated for the most part by the time it gets to the plant (from the plant’s perspective).
I have my LED light programmed to be on from 8:00am - 8:00pm, which covers all the hours of natural daylight anyway.

If it is indeed indoor light that is the problem, should I move her outside? Per daylight calendar online, there are 12:21 of daylight each day in DC right now, but in a month that’ll be 13:30 of daylight.

Your advice will once again be much appreciated!

I am still a Novice Grower in only My 2nd indoor grow.

NOTE: This is only my personal experience and waiting
for someone with more experienced to chime in is advised.

However in My experience some minor light has NOT affect
the start of flower when changed to 12/12

1ST grow indoor starting from seed – some minor light did not affect flower
2nd grow from clone – same result but now probably due more to the age of

My set up is in a room closet, with some very slight filtered light
coming in on the far side of room (around closed window shade)

I also go in and out often to check Temps/ Humidity BUT I do use
a green lens light bulb and a green lens flash light when checking
during lights off.

RELIZATION (light goes off in head)

Now that I write this and think about it I wonder if that may be
causing a problem with finishing up to AMBER ? Which I have been having.