Why Are My Hydroponic Plants Dying? – 5 Reasons
Hydroponic gardening is becoming popular because of its wider range of benefits when compared to soil gardening. With many people moving to cities, hydroponic gardening is the future of gardening.
This form of gardening allows gardeners to grow plants in a confined space and increases yield by more than three times in the same amount of space. Also, it is extremely water efficient and allows plants to grow where the weather and soil conditions are unfavorable.
If you’re new to hydroponic gardening, there are several challenges that you might face, such as plants dying “without any reason”. Of course, there is a reason – many plants die in the hydroponic system for various reasons, including wrong pH levels, CF, deficiencies in the system, root rot diseases, and much more.
Here are the reasons why your hydroponic plants might be dying and what to do about it:
1. Bad pH Level
Even though there are many causes for your hydroponic plant dying, the main culprit is the pH level. Having the right pH level for your hydroponic plants wilting is crucial. It should not be too high or too low.
The pH level is measured from 0 to 14, with 0 to 7 & below being acidic, while 7 to 14 being alkalinity. You should use a reliable kit for testing so that you always get accurate pH readings.
The right pH level for your hydroponic system should be between 5.5 and 6.5.
In hydroponics growing, the pH level may change quickly in a few hours or days because of things like extreme evaporation, diseases, temperature, and much more.
Additionally, your system’s pH level drops when you add nutrients. When the plants start absorbing the nutrients, the pH level starts going up.
What To Do
To salvage your dying plants, you need to check the pH level. Always go for the best pH test kits to ensure that you get proper pH levels. Also, you need to make sure that the CF, TDS, and EC are at the recommended levels. Always check the pH level when you change your hydroponic system, such as after adding water, nutrients, and other changes.
Do not use household products such as baking soda and vinegar to change the pH of your hydroponics system. They are not consistent and managing them is not easy.
2. Poor Lighting
Another common culprit of dying hydroponic plants is poor lighting. Many startup indoor growers make the mistake of buying cheap, and unreliable grow lights.
Since most hydroponic grow rooms are indoors, you need to ensure that your plants receive sufficient lighting throughout their growing season. Without adequate lighting of the right type and level, your growing plants will not flourish as they should. Some lights may be too much for your plant; thus, burning them to death.
What To Do
The best way to ensure that your hydroponic plants receive the right amount of light is by buying the right lights. Note that different growing seasons need different types of lighting. Do some research and acquire the right lights. They should also be quality lights and not cheap lights that won’t perform exceptionally.
3. Wrong Fertilizer
Not all fertilizers that you find on the market and good for your hydroponic garden. For instance, you should not use traditional fertilizer from your store in your hydroponic system. This is because the fertilizer may fail to dissolve completely in your hydroponic system. Also, using less or excess fertilizer can be dangerous to your plants.
If excess fertilizer is used, the nutrient strength may be too much for the roots to handle. As a result, this may prohibit the roots from taking up the nutrients well, which might cause havoc on the plant above the ground and even kill it.
What To Do
Simply ensure that you use the right fertilizer and the right amounts. Before you add fertilizer to your system, make sure that it has the right level of nutrients that your plants need. You don’t want to feed it too much or too little.
Also, buy fertilizer that is only recommended for hydroponics so that it can dissolve easily and quickly.
4. Deficiencies & Root Diseases
Deficiencies and diseases are other causes of plant death. These can be hard to detect, and that’s why you will be required to monitor your entire hydroponic system closely. For instance, if the roots of your plants turn brown, then there is an issue. Also, if the leaves turn yellow, you should try to find out what the problem is before it’s too late.
Some of the things that cause deficiencies are the wrong PH, nutrient solution concentration, temperature, etc.
What To Do
To prevent deficiencies and root diseases, ensure that the water is not hard, and your nutrient solution is right. Use both the PH test kit and EC meter to find the right balance for your hydroponic system.
5. Using Hard Water In The Hydroponic System
Using hard water in your hydroponic system can also cause your plants to die. If the hard water you add to your plants is below 200 ppm, then you won’t have problems. But if the water is above 200 ppm, then you may face a lot of challenges.
This is because hard water with a lot of dissolved solids in it will cause trouble for your nutrient solution. Hard water has calcium and magnesium salts as its major elements. Regrettably, these are large molecules that plants in your hydroponic system will find challenging to absorb.
In return, this could lead to calcium deficiency, which may cause your plants to wilt or die.
What To Do
Before adding tap water (hard water) to your hydroponic system, you should test it first. If it’s below 200 PPM, you can add it directly to your system. But if it’s above 200 PPM, then you should dilute it before adding it to your hydroponic system. Alternatively, you can filter the water before adding it to your hydroponic system to lower the levels of dissolved solids in it.
6. Algae Growing In The Hydroponics System
In the light, heat, and water of your hydroponics system, algae can very easily grow and proliferate. Algae growth appears as a green-brown slimy coating on the surfaces of your hydroponics equipment. It smells bad and spreads quickly.
When it infests your hydroponics system, algae pull nutrients and oxygen from your plants. When the algae die and decay, it releases toxins that harm your hydroponic plants.
What To Do
Clean your hydroponics system frequently and regularly. If the problem gets serious, sanitize the entire system using bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution.
If you’re just starting with hydroponic planting, it is normal to make mistakes that might cost you a huge yield or even kill the plants in your hydroponic system. Many start-up indoor growers make different mistakes, but learning and not repeating them is essential.
To succeed in hydroponic gardening, you must ensure that your plants have the right light, PH level, CF, TDS, EC, ideal temperature, air circulation, maintain perfect nutrient level, and keep away indoor garden pests. If these conditions are properly maintained, you won’t have cases of dying plants or low yields.
Saving your dying plants with one of the problems we’ve highlighted in this post is not easy. You will need patience and time to correct the issue and improve your overall yield.