10 Reasons why your Hydroponic Plants are Wilting
With the popularity of hydroponic gardening, it has been actively used among the general public. Possessing innumerable benefits, citing a few of them like, increase in yield of plants, being water-efficient growing plants without soil in a confined environment, and many more.
However, with every advantage comes several sets of disadvantages and challenges you might face. For example, one of the common questions faced by people getting started with hydroponics is “Why are my hydroponic plants dying?”. Unfortunately, however, it is not as easy to set it up as it seems.
Hydroponic farming is much more of a technical skill than just growing plants in soil.
You can explore a lot by reading books, and watching videos. Nevertheless, one of the best ways to learn is from mistakes.
You will be amazed to know that this doesn’t happen for no reason. There are several reasons behind this. You are not completely ignorant of these reasons but reading this blog will make you realize where you had been lacking.
So let’s uproot the reasons behind why your hydroponic plants dry up.
Incorrect pH Level
Have you ever wondered why pH level matters so much? This is because the pH of the hydroponic plants is responsible for the absorption of minerals and nutrients from the nutrient-rich solution.
pH level is measured in the range from 0 to 14. 0 to 6.9 is acidic in decreasing order of acidity, 7 is neutral and 7 to 14 in increasing order of alkalinity. Usually, the hydroponic system should be slightly acidic, i.e range of 5.5 to 6.5.
It is very important to keep the pH level in this range consistently. Yes, consistency is the keyword. Fluctuating pH levels are harmful. Owing to extreme evaporation, temperature changes, and diseases (water-borne) the pH fluctuates it’s, a few hours.
So you must use pH test kits for checking the pH level of plants at regular intervals. If you don’t see much difference, your plants are fine enough.
However, if there are many changes, be assured that the temperature of the environment is changing or the plant has encountered some disease.
Best practice: After adding the essential nutrients, fertilizers, or growth regulators, always check the pH level of the hydroponic system
Sufficient lighting is a must for the growth of any plant. Mostly when people grow their plants indoors, they need to use artificial lighting. However, buying cheap and unreliable grow lights can harm your plant.
WARNING: The lighting may be too strong, which might burn up the plant, or too less a level can give a poor yield.
Different phases of growth need different quantities and duration of lighting. You can’t be using the same lights every time for your hydroponic system.
Best practice: Do proper research on the amount of light intensity that your plant requires. After that, choose only branded and high-quality light bulbs that fit the range.
If you are buying from online eCommerce stores, ensure to check the reviews and ratings, if anyone with the same plant faced any issue with the lights, some precautions you might have to take, etc.
Using the wrong fertilizer
Just because fertilizer is very renowned and much reviewed doesn’t mean that your plant needs it. Sometimes, people mistake adding traditional fertilizer to the hydroponic system, thinking that ultimately it’s the same product.
Such fertilizers are best suited for soil-based farming. However, when the medium itself is water, chances must be there that the fertilizer isn’t water-soluble.
Using excessive fertilizers can increase the nutrient strength, thus making it difficult for the roots to handle the strength. This may make it difficult for the plant to take up nutrients, ultimately drying.
Buy water-soluble, hydroponic system suitable fertilizers only.
Best practice: Before adding fertilizers, ensure that the correct nutrients are there in the fertilizers that your plant requires.
Using Hard Water
Hard water contains dissolved salts of calcium and magnesium and other divalent and trivalent metallic elements. It is formed when water moves through deposits of chalk, limestone, or gypsum.
If the hardness of water is above 200 ppm, then there might be a lot of trouble. The excessive nutrient content can, in turn, impact the nutrient solution.
The large molecules of Calcium and Magnesium make it impossible for the plant to absorb. Thus, your plant may face calcium deficiency.
Solution: If the hardness level is above 200 ppm, dilute the tap water before adding it to your system. Also, filtering the water can lower the number of dissolved solids.
Best practice: Always check the hardness level of tap water before adding it to your plant.
The deficiency of minerals and root or water-borne diseases are prime reasons behind the death of plants. It becomes difficult to detect these diseases, so close monitoring is needed.
Mostly these happen due to improper care and negligence towards the system. Incorrect pH, using wrong fertilizers, high temperature, wrong humidity, using hard water can impact your plant in the long run.
While growing hydroponic wheatgrass, exposure to too much moisture can lead to the growth of molds and fungus.
The right balance of your system must be maintained. Use pH test kit, EC meters, and proper care from time to time while handling your plant.
Also, if the hydroponic system is built indoors, try to shift it to a place where it can get an adequate amount of sunlight.
Best practices: whenever you see the roots of the plants turning brown and the leaves turning yellow, find out the cause before it’s too late.
Varieties of Crop affects.
Sometimes choosing the wrong variant of the plant can bring unnecessary invitations for wilting.
Crops come with a code that indicates which diseases they are resistant to.
Choose such plants that are resistant to the diseases. For example, Tomatoes are labeled with a code like “VFA” that indicates that your plants are resistant against V: Verticillium wilt, F: Fusarium wilt, and A: early blight.
Best Practices: Avoid using the crops which provide the least resistance to diseases and require very careful conditions to grow. As a beginner, you may not be able to bring the optimum level conditions required for such crops, that’s why it’s better to be on the safe side.
Choosing the incorrect growth medium
A common mistake people make is using the growth medium repeatedly. While some might favor this, most of the growth mediums are suitable for single usage.
Some being absorbent will keep water intact to the plant roots. Some being minimally absorbent allow fast drainage.
Take time to think about which growth media is needed for your plant. The best practice is to read about the experiences of other people and what they have used.
If you have a stringent budget choose reusable media that can be used for multiple growing cycles.
Not monitoring PPM/ EC/ TDS
A dilute nutrient medium will result in a sub-optimal growth of your plant. However, the excessive concentrated nutrient solution can lead to nutrient lockout and build-up toxicity.
As your plants ingest the supplements and water, transpiration occurs at variable rates.
The pace of progress will rely upon the development rate of your plants, just as the environmental state of your developing climate.
Utilize an EC PPM TDS meter to screen the supplement solution, both when making it up and over the long run as your plants develop.
Best practices: Change the solution following a limit of 3 weeks.
An EC meter will just reveal to you the electrical conductivity of the water solution and the different segments of the solution.
Blocked Pumps and nozzles can stop the water supply.
Hydroponics systems depend on the consistent or exceptionally continuous conveyance of water to your plants. Therefore, on the off chance that you have a siphon or spout disappointment or blockage, these can prompt issues rapidly.
A messed up or impeded water pump leads to plants being cut off from their water supply. As a result, this will result in the wilting of plants.
For aeroponic systems, nozzles get obstructed over the long haul. On the off chance that this occurs, the uncovered roots will dry out quickly.
The only solution is Checking your hydroponic system regularly. Consider purchasing a water pump with an alarm. So that if there is any blockage, it will alert you.
FOR INSTANCE, for NFT method systems, a decent alternative is to leave the water outlet somewhat raised toward the end of the channel. This will somewhat create a pool of water that can sustain for some time.
Best practices: Same as the solution, keeping an eye out for such blockages, leaks can save your plants from drying up.
Establishing an inconvenient hydroponic system
We agree that with the hydroponic system, you can even grow your plants in a small environment. However, that doesn’t mean you will grow all your plants close enough.
Even if your environment is compact, we would suggest that a perfect hydroponic environment is one where plants are sufficiently spaced; you don’t have any troubles while monitoring them.
If the spacing is not well enough, there will be a fight among the plants for resources and light. Thus either of the two plants will wilt up, or both will have stunted growth.
Keeping in mind what plant you are growing, ensure to keep the spacing intact—every crop, whether it’s hydroponic basil or hydroponic bell peppers, needs a different spacing for their growth.
A small mistake can cost you a lot of money, effort, labor, and even hopes of growing hydroponic plants. However, you should remember that it’s completely fine to make these mistakes initially but not to repeat them as a beginner.
To be the best in hydroponic gardening, ensure that your plants have the optimum pH level, the right light, CF, TDS, EC, optimum temperature, perfect nutrient level, air circulation, and hygiene by controlling pests.
The reasons behind plants drying up will keep you alert, and the best practices will benefit your hydroponic system in the long run.
If you have faced any issues and have some incredibly out-of-the-box tips and tricks, feel free to share them in the comment box below.
Do plants droop from too much light?
Ans: Yes, In that case, take them back indoors. Don’t overwater them, thinking that it would compensate for the excessive sunlight.
How often should you water hydroponic plants?
Ans: It depends on the pH of your system. However 2-3 times a week is preferable.
What do Overwatered leaves look like?
Ans: If overwatered, they will develop brown or yellow shades. Whereas if they are submerged, they will become crisp and dry.
Is tap water OK for hydroponics?
Ans: As long as the hardness level is less than 220 ppm, tap water is ok for hydroponics. It is essential to know about the water composition in your area.