It can be heart-breaking to see your cannabis plants deteriorate and die before your eyes. Particularly when you’ve invested so much time and effort in growing them, it’s a pretty awful reality to face up to.
But what about those oh-so common issues faced during the first weeks of a cannabis plant’s life? Why is it that so many plants never really get off the ground in the first place?
Truth is, issues with seedlings dying (or seeds failing to germinate properly) are far from uncommon. By familiarising yourself with some of the most common causes of cannabis plant failures, you’ll be in a better position to spare yours the same fate.
When Seeds Die Before Germination
It’s perfectly possible for a cannabis seed to die long before it begins growing into a cannabis plant. If a cannabis seed fails to germinate, it is almost always because it hasn’t been kept in ideal storage conditions. As a result, it won’t pop and sprout - irrespective of how hard you try.
When you have cannabis seeds you don’t intend to use right now, it’s important to ensure they are kept in cool, dry and safe conditions. Popping them in the refrigerator is advisable, but only if you can keep them completely safe from humidity and moisture.
When Seeds Die During Germination
If you successfully sprout your seeds, you’ve tackled the most important part of the cultivation process. However, evidence suggests that the vast majority of failures in cannabis cultivation occur during the germination process.
Make no mistake about it - cannabis seeds can be surprisingly unforgiving.
It’s no secret that cannabis seeds need three things to sprout - the right temperature, the right moisture level and a supply of oxygen. If you’re dropping seeds in a glass of water and waiting in vain for something to happen, it could be that the water isn’t fit for purpose. It’s worth remembering that most tap water contains trace amounts of chlorine, which makes it safe for human consumption but can also make it deadly for cannabis seeds.
The same can also occur using the paper towel method, though it’s also fairly common for seeds to die due to insufficient moisture with this approach.
When Seedlings Die
If you’ve made it to the seedling stage and no further, it could be due to one of a handful of issues.
The first of which being the meticulousness (or otherwise) of the transplanting process. Unless you’ve handled the whole thing like a surgical procedure, you could have fatally contaminated or ‘shocked’ your seedlings.
It could also simply be that the growing medium selected wasn’t appropriate, or that you got carried away with the moisture and/or nutrients. If growing outdoors, you may have left your seedling at the mercy of Mother Nature a little too early.
Seedlings are exceptionally fragile, with little to no resistance whatsoever to harsh conditions and contamination. Until your plants reach a decent size, you need to handle them with kid gloves.
When Plants Die During the Growth Period
Last but not least, the vast majority of cannabis plant deaths occur during the growth. This can be attributed to excess irrigation and lack of oxygen. All of which results in root rot, from which there’s typically no going back.
Again, it’s often the case of inexperienced growers using the ‘more is better’ approach. Too much water, too many nutrients and so on. Feed your young cannabis plants little and often for the best possible results, only watering them when they actually need it.