Root Rot & Maintenance


What is Root Rot?

Also known as pythium, root rot is the most notorious challenge of growing with a hydroponics system. I have personally lost a couple crops because root rot got into my plants’ roots and destroyed them from the inside out. Nothing is more disheartening than putting a lot of time, effort, and money into watching this amazing plant grow, only to watch helplessly as it is destroyed by merciless bacteria.

If Your Roots Look Like This, Something is Wrong

Root rot is known for its ability to stick around in a system. It’s highly likely that you could engage in a plethora of activities to try to save the plant such as putting hydrogen peroxide in the tank regularly or cut off the rotting roots but still fall short as the plant continues to die.

There is no doubt that root rot is a problem better prevented than fixed after it has already arrived and there are numerous measures you can take to achieve that goal.

Air Stones Are Imperative in Hydroponic Grows to Prevent Root Rot

Preventing Root Rot

There are several preventive measures you can take to spare yourself the misery of losing a promising crop.

  • Provide a lot of oxygen to the system. The bacteria that cause root rot cannot survive in a highly oxygenated environment. Make sure your air stone works well, or better yet, do what I do and buy 2 to make doubly sure.
  • Keep the water from getting warm. Warmer temperatures help promote growth of the bacteria that bring about root rot. I keep my water around 60 degrees F, about 10 degrees lower than my plants.
  • Don’t let light in the tank. When roots are exposed to light constantly, they have a much greater likelihood to develop root rot. I place paper plates over the holes I’m not using at the top of my system to prevent any light from peeking through and reaching the roots.
  • Use an enzyme that feeds on the negative bacteria. Ever since my 4th grow, I have been using a product called Cannazym which you put in weekly into the tank. It helps serve as a line of defense against root rot infestation because it contains enzymes which possess a natural hunger for the harmful bacteria. Since using this product, I have never dealt with root rot again.

Using all of these recommendations together will surely decrease the likelihood that your system will become infected by root rot and likely eliminate the chances altogether. Add in some maintenance procedures, and you may never have to experience what a heartbreak it can be to watch a magnificent plant wilt and wither away right before your eyes due to this horrid condition.

Thorough Maintenance Will Help Prevent and Diagnose Problems Before They Become Catastrophes

Diligent Maintenance

Maintenance is undoubtedly the easiest and most cost-effective part of growing marijuana. That is because all it takes is some small effort and discipline on your part to really add a lot to your overall success.

These are some minimum level suggestions I would give in regards to maintaining your plants.

  • Daily
    • Examine leaves for any obvious changes in color. Looking at your leaves every day familiarizes you with what your plants look like. As time goes on, differences will become easier and easier to notice and give you hints as to any potential problems.
    • Check the water level. As I suggested elsewhere, mark a fill line inside your tank. All it takes is a simple glance inside to see where the water level is compared to the fill line to know if you need more. I have a line marking both 4 gallons and 5 gallons in my tank. When the water level reaches the 4 gallon line, I fill an empty 1-gallon milk jug with water and dump it into the tank to reach 5 gallons. I always balance my pH after adding water if necessary.
    • Look at the temperature and humidity. I have a simple thermometer with a hygrometer (measures humidity) on it. All I am concerned about are big changes in either of these and looking daily will accustom me to what it normally is. If temperature or humidity is changing erratically, find a way to control the problem and stabilize the environment.
    • Measure the pH of the nutrient solution. You want to maintain pH of 6.5 – 7.5, so if you go outside that range, you will be able to balance it immediately. You will also start to notice what’s happening usually like your pH goes up by 0.1 per day. If something happens drastically outside of what you expect, you know you may have a problem and can begin troubleshooting.

Practice Regular Maintenance and This Might Be Your Prize

  • Weekly/Biweekly
    • Replace the water. As you add nutrients and pH buffers, the water will start to become overwhelmed with dissolved material. Other small particles from the environment like dust may also start to pollute the water. The water is stagnant and replacing it gives your plants access to a fresh, clean bath that they love.
    • Clean the nutrient tank and other devices. Minerals and sediment will build up on the sides of your tank and in other parts of your system like the water pump and air stones. Cleaning them out minimizes any potential risks that could harm your plants root structure. I use a 10% bleach/water solution for cleaning; don’t use pure bleach! I clean my tank out at the same time I replace the water.
    • Give your plants nutrients. When I first started growing, I was feeding my plants every other day. This is a bad idea because it causes nutrient burn and actually harms your plants. As I got more experienced, I would feed my plants when they started to lose some color. I knew that they needed a boost if that happened. Now that I use GH Flora Series though, I just follow the weekly feeding schedule and it has worked out beautifully. I feed the plants 24 hours after I replace their water and clean the tank out to give them 1 day of fresh water only.

If you are able to stick to these loose standards, then you will have no problem quickly getting a feel for how your plants are doing and if there is a problem with only a few minutes of attention. Buying all the best stuff to get the greatest amount of buds is an excellent start, but it won’t mean much if you don’t give your plants the due diligence they require.

Devise a Maintenance Plan to Ensure Your Yields Reach Their Maximum Potential

Action Steps

  • Determine how you can take the appropriate steps to keep root rot out of your system. This could be as simple as figuring how you can carry out my suggestions above.
  • Make a list of the maintenance steps and make sure you have a plan to carry them out. Finding ways to make your maintenance easy and quick will make it that much easier to stick with it.
  • Remember that having the best equipment, nutrients, and overall setup is only half the story. These plants will still need your care and awareness to be able to provide you with the potent buds you are seeking.


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