root lock cannabis

How Do You Prevent And Treat Nutrient Lockout In Cannabis?

Does your plant look limp and fragile? Are the leaves changing colour? This might not be a lack of nutrients, but the improper uptake of them. Read on so you’ll understand how to treat and prevent nutrient lockout.


So, you’ve been feeding your plant with all the necessary nutrients. You engage in proper watering practices and your lights are at an ideal distance from your cannabis plants. If, despite all this, your plant still looks sad and limp with discolouration in the foliage, you might be facing nutrient lockout. This condition has similar visual effects as a nutrient deficiency. Essentially, that is exactly what is happening. The necessary minerals are not being absorbed by your cannabis plant as the root zone is “locking” the nutrients out.

If you are certain your nutrient solution is not the problem, read on.


Nutrient lockout is when nutrient elements like magnesium, zinc, iron, and even potassium are present in the root zone, but your plant can’t absorb them. It can happen in all growing mediums, but it’s more likely to occur in soil, coco coir, or rockwool.

Nutrient lockout might be due to the oversaturation of chemical fertilizers with high a salt content. Sometimes, the excess of one nutrient may actually lock others out. This is a very common issue that many growers face. Another very popular issue that leads to nutrient lockout is the wrong pH value in the growing medium. An extremely acidic or alkaline medium will lock nutrients out. Make sure your pH level is within 6.0-6.5.

pH Tester

Once your plants are in nutrient lockout, you’ll have to act quickly. It’s important to reverse it in time to free the nutrients. If left untreated, nutrient lockout will turn into a nutrient deficiency and eventually kill your plant. To protect them, you’ll need to know how to identify nutrient lockout, as well as how to correct it. If you are not currently facing the issue, even better! Read on so you’ll know how to prevent it in the future.


Identifying nutrient lockout can be difficult. Your cannabis plants may look underfed when the problem is actually something else.

Overfeeding, pH variations, or other stressful factors affecting the plant’s root zone may be the reason.

Cannabis plants are very fragile and require daily care in order to achieve a proper yield. Being interested in and worried about your plants is already half the battle of identifying a nutrient lockout.

This health issue will make plants look and feel weak. Growth will appear to be stagnated. You’ll be seeing yellowing in the leaves.

Left untreated, this yellow will turn brown and the leaves will curl up, looking burnt.


One of the first things you should do is check if you’re dosing your nutrients properly. Before anything else, make sure you’re using the right quantities and the right combination of nutrients. This is more common with salt-based fertilizers as salt tends to build up, changing your medium’s pH. This is why adding more nutrients when you’ve identified a lockout in your plant won’t help.

If you’ve checked that your nutrient mixture is perfect, the next step is verifying that your pH is also on point. For this, you’ll have to flush your plant’s medium. Take the extra effort to dial down your grow room humidity to 49% on the day you flush. Flushing overwaters the root zone, which can harm the roots. Do this for one lights-on and one lights-off cycle.

Use fresh, pH-balanced water to flush your soil. For a hydroponic system, running a fresh solution through your setup will suffice. This excess water running through your medium will help break down the salt build-up, easing the nutrient uptake. Once this process is complete, you should immediately give your plant its appropriate share of nutrients and water solution. Before this, just make sure you allow the soil to dry out first. This is so the root zone can breathe, preventing root rot.

You can also try a pH-adjusting solution. These also work well with a nutrient lockout situation, but won’t wash away the salt build-up. We recommend flushing as this will work better in the long-run, preventing the reappearance of this problem later on.


When you face a problem with your cannabis plant, it’s always important to learn from the experience. Whether you’re able to solve it or not, knowing how to prevent a lockout in a future scenario is what distinguishes the men from the boy growers.

In order to keep plants at their ideal health, we would recommend routine flushes. At least once when moving into the flowering stage and again, about halfway through the flowering cycle.

It’s important to note that plants that have been pruned will require fewer nutrients. This makes sense, but it’s not something every grower thinks about. With fewer leaves, there is less mass for the plant to feed. Take this into consideration when pruning and feeding your marijuana plants.

If you’re planning to change up your nutrient and/or lighting regimen, do it slowly. Don’t ever make drastic changes. This will stress the plant. You’ll end up creating another problem when trying to fix one. Cannabis plants need time to properly adjust to new environments. In nature, a drastic change is unlikely to occur. When moving into vegetation and flowering stages, the lighting transition should take at least a week. Don’t change the nutrient levels when shifting to the flower room as this will slow the plant’s growth at a crucial time.


Finally, something that should not go without mention is the importance of using quality supplements and organic fertilizers. As mentioned above, salt-based fertilizers motivate the accumulation of this in the root zone.

Salt, much like in humans, dehydrates the plant, preventing it from properly uptaking the good stuff. Using organic fertilizers does not mean that nutrient lockout is impossible, but it surely is less likely.

Now that you’re more informed, test out these recommendations for yourself. You’ll certainly find that some work better, or are at least easier to execute than others.

Only you will be able to fully assess what works best for your plants. We just hope this article can help you stay calm in a nutrient lockout situation, because it’s not irreversible.

If not treated in time, this problem could turn into something worse that might kill your plant. Be sure you know how to identify and treat nutrient lockout.

How To Prevent And Fix Root Bound Cannabis

When cannabis is grown outdoors in garden beds, plants can normally spread their roots without restriction. However, when we grow cannabis in containers, plants becoming “root bound” can become a problem. Find out what root bound means; how to recognize it, and what you can do if it happens to you.

Most cannabis cultivars, at least in colder climates, grow indoors in a tent or in a dedicated grow room. Growing indoors in containers means there is the risk of your plants becoming root bound. When this happens, it can lead to all sorts of growing problems. Let us take a closer look at what “root bound” means. Learn how to recognise the signs, so you can fix the issue and prevent it from happening in the future.


When your plants are root bound, it means that the roots have outgrown their container and don’t have any more room to grow. This of course happens when your containers are too small for any given reason. Outdoors in garden beds, plants becoming root bound is less likely, although it can happen when roots hit restricting barriers such as pipes or large rocks underground.


A healthy root system plays a vital part for your plants’ growth. After all, it is with their roots that plants take in water and nutrients.

Plants becoming root bound can lead to all sorts of issues. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms that your plants may be root bound:

Nutrient Deficiencies

Your plants may show symptoms of nutrient deficiencies. Among these signs could be yellowing, spots, or crumbling and wilting leaves. If you can exclude other issues such as incorrect pH, nutrient issues, and overwatering, your plants may indeed be root bound.

Containers Drying Out Too Quickly

When you find that the soil dries out after only a day or two and you need to water very often, it means that your plant needs more water than the container can hold.

Plants Get Way Too Big And Unsturdy

When your plants have grown too tall for their container size, they may easily tip over. This is usually a sign that your plants have become root bound, and that you should transplant them into bigger pots.

Other potential symptoms include:

  • “Nutrient burn” without excess nutrients: If you spot the signs of nutrient burn, but you are feeding your plants only lightly.
  • Smaller buds with stunted growth: If your buds grow smaller, or your plants’ overall growth is slower than usual.
  • Sick plants, wilting, drooping: If your plants have a sick appearance or start to wilt or droop unexpectedly.


If your plants show one or more of these symptoms, you need to look at their roots to see whether they have become root bound. To do this, you will need to remove them from their containers. Sometimes, it may be quite obvious that your plants have outgrown their containers, say when you see the roots through the holes at the bottom. Time to give your plants a new and bigger home!


You want to be careful when you remove plants from their containers in order to not damage the roots.

Get a good grip on your plant’s stem, right above the soil line. Rest your hand on top of the soil so that the stem is between your fingers. Carefully flip over the whole plant and then try to pull off the container. Most of the time, the container should come right off.

If you have troubles pulling off the container, carefully squeeze the container a few times around the side. This helps to loosen up the soil inside.

If your plant is still refusing to come out, take a long knife and use the back edge to slide around the inner edge of the container. If your plant is so severely root bound that nothing will help to remove it, consider breaking open the container as your last option.


When you have managed to pull out your root bound plant from the container, the roots will be running in a tight circle in the shape of the container. The roots are trapped and unable to grow freely any longer. Before you replant into a bigger container, you should try loosening the compact mess of roots so they can spread out again. You can carefully do so with your fingers.


In severe cases of root bound plants, you may not be able to loosen the root ball with your fingers alone. You will then have to prune the roots to free them. By using a sharp knife, cut a few top-to-bottom incisions into the outer layer of the tightly-packed root ball. But be very careful and only cut thin roots. Do not cut any thick tap roots! 2-3 incisions evenly spaced out around the root ball should be all that you need to free the roots so that they can grow outwards again.


Take a new container with enough room so that your plant’s roots have plenty of space to expand. Fill the container with some soil, make a hole, and then align your plant in the middle. Make sure that your plant is at about the same soil level as you had it before. Likewise, ensure that you do not pack the soil too tight; the roots should be able to grow freely without trouble. After you have placed your plant in its new container, water the soil. At this point, you can also add root stimulant to help with things.

Your previously root bound plant is now happily sitting in its new and big container, but it is going to be quite sensitive for some time. To help it to recover from the transplant shock, you should keep stress levels low for a few days. Feed it only lightly and if you can, turn down your lights a notch or two as well. You will know that your plants have fully recovered once you see new, healthy growth. When this happens, which can take between a few days to a couple of weeks, you can return to your normal lighting and feeding schedule.


Preventing your plants from outgrowing their pots and becoming root bound is not difficult. Simply choose large enough containers from the start so this won’t ever happen. If you plan to replant during a grow, up-pot into bigger containers before it’s too late. Don’t wait until your plants have outgrown their current containers.

Learn about root bound cannabis plants and how to prevent it from happening in your grow-op.