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How to Fix Wilting and Drooping Leaves on Cannabis Plants

Wilting and drooping leaves on a marijuana plant are usually a result of too much or too little water arriving in the roots. For the plant to continue growing normally, the problem has to be fixed right away, otherwise plant growth can be compromised. To learn how to fix a marijuana plant that has begun wilting or drooping, read this article.

A cannabis plant with wilting or drooping leaves is quite a sad looking one, and it’s important to keep your plants looking happy. A case of wilting cannabis leaves can happen to any grower and there are ways out of the situation if you find yourself in it. These two problems are generally caused by overwatering or underwatering your plant and are easily avoidable if you pay close attention.

So new growers should have no fear. Wilting cannabis leaves are not the end of your marijuana garden, but if you want to ensure a good yield, you should attend to the problem straight away.

The difference between drooping and wilting cannabis leaves

It’s important that you don’t confuse wilting cannabis leaves with drooping leaves, because they have completely opposite causes. Wilting is what has happened to your leaves when they have begun to curl at the tips. The tell tale sign that your leaves are wilting is that they have also started turning yellow on the tips that are curling under. On the other hand, drooping is distinguished by the droopiness of the entire leaf, rather than just the tips. When your plant is drooping, you will not see yellow tips on the leaves. Drooping leaves are also firmer than wilting leaves, which just look tired and lifeless.

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Before you go on trying to fix your cannabis plant, it’s important to know whether your plant is wilting or drooping. The action you take to rectify this will all depend on this factor, so observe carefully.

Overwatering marijuana plants

Overwatering cannabis plants is a common mistake among growers, and it results in drooping leaves . However, overwatering has not occurred as a result of using too much water, but rather that the plant has been watered too often or it is being grown in a pot without appropriate drainage. In this scenario, the problem is actually at the roots, where they begin to rot. Too much water stored at the roots can impede the access of oxygen within the soil to the plant, causing rot and drooping.

This problem can also be caused by the kind of pot and potting mix used. It is essential that there is proper drainage in the pot you are using to grow marijuana and the same should apply to your potting mix. Actually, it is common to let marijuana plants dry out a little bit between waters, and drooping is a clear sign that this hasn’t happened.

If drooping has occurred to your marijuana leaves, lift up the pot and make sure that water is draining out from the bottom. If not, you might have to move your potting mix around a little to ensure that it is not too tightly packed in there, disallowing the flow of water. You don’t need to lower the amount of water you are giving it, but rather the frequency of waterings needs to drop. You will know when your plants need watering by the first couple of inches of soil. When they are completely dry, it’s time to water it again. However, while the soil is still dark and moist, the plant does not need more watering.

Addressing this issue quickly is best, and it will usually happen overnight. When your plant is over watered, it becomes much more vulnerable to other diseases, so it is important to get your roots back into shape quickly.

Underwatering your cannabis plant

Underwatering your marijuana plant is usually the reason that the leaves begin to wilt. Wilting cannabis leaves look much sadder than drooping leaves, have curled at the ends and have begun to turn yellow. In fact, they look lifeless and it can make a grower completely freak out. Wilting means that the roots of your plants are bone dry. They will grow much slower under this condition; so the sooner this is fixed, also the better.

At this stage, you should consider watering your plant more often, and at the beginning perhaps giving it a little bit of extra water to compensate. Be careful not to throw the plant off balance again by continuing to overwater it. Don’t mix any of this water with fertilizer, as it won’t assist with the problem of wilting. You just need to ensure that the water is pH balanced, and use it purely for the purpose of rehydrating your plant. After some time they will start to look happy again and you can go back to using your nutrient-rich water.

Is your marijuana plant looking tired and unhealthy? Does it have drooping or wilting leaves? Wake it up again with this tutorial!

Common Solutions for Wilting/ Drooping Leaves

Dearest Nico,
Please help us! We have a few young seedlings, about four weeks old now, and they all have wilting or drooping leaves. The color is good, but the leaves are heavy and sagging. Some have wilted to nearly nothing. We water them twice a day. Please save our babies! Thank you!
— Margie & Anna V. via the mailbag at [email protected]

Greetings, ladies.
Thanks for writing us with a very good question. We actually get a ton of “leaf wilting” questions in the mailbag every month, so I am happy to finally answer this one!

It is important to understand that wilting/drooping leaves means that there is a deficiency somewhere within the plant. A deficiency can come from one or multiple areas (let’s hope it is just one). The primary areas a plant receives nutrition from are: light (photon energy), atmosphere (CO2 and O2) and medium (H2O and mineral nutrients).

An example of healthy plants, with leaves cupped upwards toward the light. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

Wilting/ drooping leaves are most commonly a sign of problems with water and/or nutrients. You did not mention any discoloration of the leaves, which is good, leaving us to focus mostly on hydration and not mineral deficiencies. But to start, we need to make a distinction between the terms wilting and drooping.

When it comes to drooping leaves, the issue is most often due to over-watering, believe it or not. Sometimes water stress, such as “drowned roots,” can cause abscisic acid to build up, closing down the leaf stomata and creating problems in both respiration and photosynthesis.

Wilting leaves, which is actually defined as having water loss or being dehydrated, is obviously associated with a lack of water. Wilting leaves will be dry to the touch and even a bit crumbly. Because you water twice daily and state the leaves are “heavy,” my guess here is the former—over-watering.

Over-watering can also cause the soil or grow medium to compress and suffocate the roots, which respire by breathing in oxygen (O2) during the dark or night cycle. The top third of the root structure contains air-specialized roots for this purpose (while the bottom third of the root structure is known as “water roots”). If the grow medium becomes too compacted, the breathable roots may lose their ability to respire and absorb oxygen, which they use to convert sugars to energy. Both the loss of oxygen and the build up of abscisic acid will severely weaken steams and leaves of the plant above the surface.

Now, if your plants are more wilting than drooping, meaning they are dry and crumbling, the issue is more likely to be under-watering. Test the soil for moisture content by pressing your index finger about an inch down into the medium. You should feel some moisture and coolness. While watering plants twice a day sounds like plenty of water, if you are only pouring in a few drops, it might not be enough.

An example of drooping plants, with heavy, wet sagging leaves. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

Generally, good watering practice dictates that you water each plant once, at the start of the day when the sun/ lights come up. Saturate the medium well, until you see the first drops seep out of the bottom of the container. That will be enough water for the day. It is also a good idea to let the medium become fairly dry—at least near the surface of the medium—before attempting to water the plant again. It is important to remember that while the plant itself breathes in CO2, the roots beneath the surface breath in oxygen (O2) during the night cycle. This is an essential part to healthy plant growth and development. And a dry, aerated medium goes a long way in allowing air to permeate the root zone and roots to breathe in their precious O2.

To fix the drooping, allow the medium to dry out overnight (completely) and use a thin stick (i.e., a skewer) to gently poke holes around the surface of the medium to help aerate—taking care not to damage any roots below. Poke around the edges, about an inch or two down, making a circling motion with the stick to make small holes.

Take another thin stick and use it as a support stake, if necessary. Stake it near the base of the plant and rest or tie the main stem to it. Make sure the plant’s main stem and branches are not thin and spindly. If they are, this could also be a sign they are stretching for light. Make sure your plant is directly under the light source and receiving around 18 hours of light per 24 hours to help it vegetate.

You are likely still a few weeks to a month away from being able to switch to a 12/12, light/dark cycle to induce flowering because of this setback with the drooping leaves. However, with some diligence and care, you can easily get your babies to bounce back and have a productive life cycle.

It is important to understand that wilting/drooping leaves means that there is a deficiency somewhere within the plant. A deficiency can come from one or