Growing Marijuana with an Iron Deficiency

marijuana leaf on black background

Whether you are a first-time grower or a seasoned professional, growing can be kind of complicated. It is important to know that what you are doing is within legal limits based on the marijuana law in the state in which you reside, as well as all the details of the growing process. You need the right environment, the right tools, and at least a baseline level of knowledge of how to grow and sustain weed. You may face issues in balancing the required minerals and nutrients for your plants. A relatively common issue is managing an iron deficiency while growing weed, but Leafbuyer is here to help

Signs of Iron Deficiency in Marijuana Plants

Maybe you have an issue with the health of your plants but are not sure what to look for or how to specifically identify the problem; it can be difficult, as certain essential nutrient deficiencies can lead to similar or different signals on the plants. Make sure you know how to tell an iron deficiency from a lack of something like nitrogen, potassium, or zinc. Inspect your plant closely, as iron deficiencies are often misdiagnosed with a calcium or magnesium deficiency.

Iron is an element that is needed in marijuana to contribute to respiration and pigmentation, meaning it helps the plant to live and complete photosynthesis while also helping to color the leaves of the cannabis plant green as we know them. It is a type of micronutrient

An early sign of an iron deficiency may be chlorosis, which involves the newer leaves of the plant turning yellow while the veins remain green. The key here is to look at the youngest leaves, not at the base or middle of the plant where other issues may begin. They may be partially yellow or even a bright white-yellow. Over time, the yellowing of leaves may spread slowly, and the leaves will die and fall if no treatment is provided.

Keep an eye out for slowed growth and changes in color to detect what may be an iron deficiency. If caught early enough, it can be treated, and yellow leaves have the potential to turn green once again.

Potential Causes of Iron Deficiency

There are a few reasons why a marijuana plant may have an iron deficiency.

One potential cause is a pH level imbalance. Iron deficiency and a neutral or alkaline pH level often come hand in hand. Alkaline soils are more likely to spur an iron deficiency. If the pH balance of the soil is off, iron may not be able to be absorbed properly. An imbalance is often caused by overuse of fertilizer.

Another cause may be overwatering the plant. A soaked plant cannot intake the right levels of iron, so be sure you are watering correctly. On a similar note, make sure the soil can drain and breathe properly.

It may sound counterintuitive, but a surplus of other minerals may overpower the small amounts of iron in the soil that the plant is trying to collect.

Basically, it is very necessary to make sure that you are creating a stable and comfortable environment for your plants. Do not allow for high levels of saline or carbonates, nor for humidity or coldness. Know how soil growing, hydroponic growing, and other methods of growing weed differ in how you must take care of the plants. Control the temperature, light, soil, water, and the like, in order to avoid issues like iron deficiencies.

Treatments for Iron Deficiency

Once an iron deficiency has been discovered, it can be treated. Iron moves fairly slowly, but it is important to act fast once a deficiency is discovered to avoid further spreading and the potential sacrifice of more good green leaves. There are a few different ways to treat your plants; pay careful attention to what type of soil you are using, as well as how much damage the deficiency seems to have inflicted on your plant before you start treatment.

You might think that given the diagnosis of "iron deficiency," the best solution would be to add a bunch of iron supplements and let the problem correct itself. However, since iron can be found in simple tap water and the like, most plants already have plenty of iron—the intake levels are just incorrect, probably for any of the reasons noted above. Occasionally, plants actually lack iron, and supplements of calcium and magnesium should be given alongside iron. The three nutrients function well together to create a nice balance for growing without deficiencies. They can even be given when no iron deficiency can be found on the plant but as a preventative measure or an extra boost to the plant's health. Prevention is important, and though these supplements and high-quality growing conditions may feel pricey, it is worth it, in the long run, to invest in your plants.

As mentioned, one of the main reasons for a lack of iron comes from a pH imbalance. Thus, the greatest recommendation of treatment is to flush the whole system clean with clean water of a certain pH (usually around 6.0 or 6.5). This can help ensure that your plant is not locking out iron due to inhibitory salts or particles or an excess of other nutrients.

Spraying iron chelate on the plants may also help them recover from an iron deficiency and recover chlorophyll, as well as applying soil additives. Compost helps, too, as it can decrease the pH levels bit by bit and also help to improve the drainage of plants. These are seen as more short-term solutions, but they can be effective in making the reparations.

Long-term, substances like sulfur additives can help prevent an iron deficiency before it happens. Nitrogen fertilizers can function the same way, but for both additions, it is important to know the correct quantity for your plants. Nutrient excess is a problem that will only make the iron deficiency worse.

Again, a stable environment is key, taking care of the plant from roots to leaves. Once these treatments have been enacted, keep an on the recovery track. Since iron moves rather slowly through marijuana plants, it may take some time. While not all yellow leaves may recover depending on the severity of the deficiency, new leaves should begin to grow in green instead of yellow, and the issue has been resolved.

Iron Excess

Though it is a bit less of a common issue for growers, marijuana plants may have too much iron, as well. This may be caused by varying levels in pH or different soil compositions, as well as, obviously, an excess of iron supplements or iron chelates. Soils and fertilizers with lower levels of alkaline may be more likely to develop an excess iron issue.

If you prefer to grow your own marijuana rather than purchase it, there is certainly a lot of relevant information that is important to consume. Growing weed is a bit different than keeping a houseplant or a succulent alive; know the basics, but also know the science behind the plant you're growing, the nutrients and composition and the way that all the moving parts must come together to keep a cannabis plant healthy and growing, steering clear of iron deficiencies and similar issues.