Exactly What Is the Problem Here?

At the first sign of plant stress, in both indoor and outdoor gardening, the less experienced grower does one of two things. Either they pour on more fertilizer, or increase their watering. So it shouldn’t be surprising at all to learn that the most common problems in the indoor hydroponics garden are also related to these very gardener reactions. Unfortunately, plying the residents with more food and drink doesn’t always correct the issue – no matter where you are growing plants.

With hydroponics things are a lot more technical than growing in the soil outside. Your hydro crop gets both nutrition and moisture solely from the solution supplied. Outdoors your garden plants take some of what they require from the soil, some from your applied fertilizer and also make use of things found in your water supply. The soil growing situation is far less technical and more forgiving. With hydroponic growing you must be more scientifically orchestrated.

Plants that are allowed to over-indulge on nutrients can exhibit foliage burns, not to mention being incapable of performing functions at different stages of growth appropriately. Too much water is never good – be it in the ground soil or your hydro system. Excessive moisture and poor drainage can cause all manner of bad things to happen, especially to your vital root systems. What’s worse, many plant issues are misdiagnosed due to irregular system inspection and no established troubleshooting procedure being used.

Having decided that something is amiss, you need to start tracking the problem with the overall growing conditions the plants are currently experiencing. Check everything! With step by step possibility elimination  rather than guessing, you will stand a better chance at pinpointing the issue and saving the crop if possible. Crop loss is probably the single most reason that an indoor gardener understands the importance of regular grow room and nutrients testing or evaluating is a must.

  • How’s the temperature? Depending on the plant and the current stage of growth, temps should be between 60F and 90F.
    • Too hot or too cold will effect plants in a number of ways, including their ability to take up different nutrients.
  • Is the ventilation working properly?
    • If its too hot, chances are the exhaust isn’t running often enough or isn’t working properly.
    • If its too cold, maybe you’re running the exhaust more than you should or have an equipment problem.
    • Are your circulating fans working? You need this soft breeze for a balanced environment.
    • Don’t just check during daylight hours for your plants. The temperature needs to drop 10 degrees during the hours the lights are off.
  • Check the distance between plant tops and your grow lights. Adjust light heights when needed.
  • How’s the humidity level? You should keep it at 50-60%, and never over 70%.
    • If you can’t reduce humidity properly, you need a dehumidifier.
    • Not reaching that 50%? A humidifier should be added.
  • How’s your CO2 level?
    • Test it with a meter to be certain and adjust your equipment accordingly if it needs correction.
  • How’s the nutrient tank and supply?
    • Check the temperature, the solution should be cooler than 85F, with below 80F being the best.
    • Are you low and air is being delivered instead of solution?
    • Check your pump to make sure it is operating and doing so properly.
    • Be sure no algae is growing in your reservoir!
  • How’s the nutrient level for the crop that is showing signs of distress?
    • Test the nutrient solution for current:
      • macro and micro nutrient levels
      • pH levels
      • EC, CF and ppm levels
  • Check the health of plant’s roots.

Naturally, there are times that you can quickly identify the problem, like the presence of insects and other types of plant pests. Most of the time though, the symptom could be attributed to a number of issues. A thorough investigation is the best way to get to the root of the problem properly.

Notice that it’s stated above to check these things regularly, not randomly. An ounce of preventative monitoring many times saves you from having to deliver a pound of cure yesterday.

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Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine

Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.