Zinc Deficiency In Cannabis – Causes, Symptoms, Solutions And More

Last updated: 5 July 2020

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If you’ve noticed odd yellowing patterns developing from your old growth and spreading throughout the plant, buckle up – you’ve got zinc deficiency. This potentially deadly nutrient deficiency isn’t usually caused by a lack of zinc itself, but instead because your plant can’t uptake the nutrient. Check out our guide to solving zinc deficiency below.

What Does Zinc Do For Cannabis Plants?

Zinc is a micronutrient that’s only present in small amounts in cannabis plants. However, just because plants may not stockpile it doesn’t mean it’s not important. Plants use zinc to create proteins and enzymes. It’s also a component in hormone production. Zinc also assists in the construction of larger structures, like a plant’s cell walls. Finally, zinc plays a part in one of the most crucial of all life functions: it facilitates reproduction by stabilizing DNA and RNA.

Zinc Deficiency – What Causes It

Growing in soil helps minimize the threat of developing zinc deficiency in your marijuana plants. Like many nutrient deficiencies, a common culprit behind zinc deficiency in soil is pH imbalance. In this case, it doesn’t matter how much zinc you add to the soil – the plant will never uptake it if the pH is too high (alkaline). In hydroponic grows, adding too much phosphorus too quickly can prevent plants from absorbing zinc as well.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Zinc Deficiency

One of the primary zinc deficiency symptoms in cannabis plants is yellowing between the veins of the leaves. Leaf tips will turn yellow and necrosis will set in. Plants suffering from zinc deficiency will also space their nodes closer to one another than healthy plants. For plants that have already developed buds, flower growth will grind to a halt. In extreme cases, they may even start dying.

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Solutions To Zinc Deficiency

Depending on whether you’re growing in soil or a hydroponic medium, you may need to make one or several changes to save your cannabis plants from zinc deficiency. Adjusting pH, changing nutrients and assessing root health are all possible solutions to this problem.

Adjust pH

zinc deficiency in cannabis

Regardless of whether you’re growing hydroponically or in soil, the most common reason your plants are experiencing zinc deficiency is because your pH us too high. To correct this issue, make sure that the pH of your medium is between 6.0 and 6.5 for soil grows or 5.5 to 6.0 in hydroponic gardens. If it’s not, flush your medium out with water set to the correct pH.

Use Proper Nutrients

Usually, a lack of zinc in your medium isn’t what causes zinc deficiency in cannabis plants. Most nutrient lines have enough zinc, and pre-made soil mixes also feature zinc prominently. However, if you’re using a piecemeal nutrient mix comprised of more than one brand, you may be lacking zinc. To make sure your plants aren’t missing out, use one brand’s full line of fertilizers.

Take Care Of Your Roots

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Several issues that affect your root health can prevent the uptake of zinc. For example, overwatering can prevent your plants from absorbing zinc that’s present in your medium. This can happen even if your medium is correctly pH balanced. If you’re growing in a soil medium, make sure you’re giving your plants enough time to dry out. Don’t water on a schedule. Instead, pick up your plants to see if they’re heavy. If they are, don’t feed them.

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Watch For Recovery

Unlike many nutrient deficiencies, it takes a long time for plants to recover from zinc deficiency. This is because zinc is not a mobile nutrient – the plant can’t move zinc throughout its body. As a result, when you notice zinc deficiency in a plant, it may not recover ever again. Instead, solving zinc deficiency will just prevent further damage to the plant. You also won’t know whether or not your plants are recovering until you see new growth emerge.

How Can I Prevent Zinc Deficiency?

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In order to prevent zinc deficiency, you need to keep track of day-to-day changes in your plants. Monitor the pH of your medium and pay special attention to the health of your plant’s new growth. The best way to do this is by keeping a journal. If you don’t maintain a journal, you won’t have any information to base your decisions on – you’ll be flying blind.

Final Thoughts

While zinc deficiency is fairly rare in cannabis plants, it can quickly spiral out of control. That’s why it’s so important for a grower to know how to fix a zinc deficiency in cannabis. Although your plants may suffer some permanent damage, if you act quickly, you can prevent the problem from spreading. Also, don’t forget that, as with any other deficiency, the best way to avoid damage from a zinc shortage in your plants is to prevent it entirely. Luckily, you now have all the knowledge needed to be in full control over any zinc-related trouble!

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