Like all flowering plants, marijuana is meant to smell wonderful and flowery. If the female marijuana you are growing is starting to smell like rotten eggs then you know you have a problem and it may just be root rot.
What is root rot?
Root rot is usually caused by a fungus-like organism called Pythium. Although it is most commonly found in hydroponic systems, it can also affect plants that are in soil or other planting mediums.
The same root rot symptoms caused by more water your cannabis plant can be found in root rot caused by Pythium. It will look like your plant has different types of nutrient deficiencies on its leaves. In a sense, this is because the roots cannot properly absorb the nutrients they need, even though those nutrients are actually plentiful.
How do I know if I have root rot?
The plant will look stunted. Your leaves will turn yellow, wither and slowly die. One of the telltale signs of root rot are particularly slimy brown roots instead of the common, healthy, firm white or off-white roots. The first unmistakable sign of root rot is an overpowering odor. YFlear takes another whiff.
Cleanliness is key!
Pythium attacks stressed plants first; entering the plant through damaged plant tissue. Roots with insect wounds may also provide an entry site for pathogens through feeding wounds. Pythium usually attacks the root tips first, then works its way up the root system.
Because root rot in hydroponic systems is the most common, I’ll help you prevent it from happening there in the first place. Cleanliness is key! Thoroughly sanitize all your grow gear before you start growing a new crop each time. Keep your area clean and free of dead cannabis leaves, roots or other debris to prevent bacteria from growing. Sterilize equipment shared between tanks such as pH meters. Use filtered water or, if using well water or untreated water, have it tested for germs.
Change your water frequently
Change the water in your container regularly to prevent stagnant water from producing too many bacteria. Try to do this about once a week; don’t wait more than 2 weeks to do it. Having fresh water and the nutrients that come with it will keep your plants healthy. The water should be at a stable pH. Somewhere between 5.5 and 6.0 pH is good. You should keep the temperature between 65 and 70 F (18 and 21 C). Take into account that submersible pumps can increase the temperature of the water.
Cover your tank
Cover your tank to prevent light and debris from entering. Also, try to avoid transplanting soil into a hydroponic system. Dirt in the roots can be a haven for pathogens, so start with a soilless medium for starting seeds.
Follow these tedious but nevertheless “easy” rules and you may have a fighting chance against root rot. If you are already battling root rot, I am sorry to say that in many cases it is fatal and you may need to start a new batch. Although if you have just noticed that your roots have a mild case of root rot, introduce fungicides created to treat Pythium into your system.
The questionable use of hydrogen peroxide
There are other questionable practices that can help you if you’re in a rotting rut. Some growers have had success using hydrogen peroxide, others say it’s only a temporary fix, and they prefer other store-bought root treatments.
If you want to try the hydrogen peroxide treatment, take your plant out of the system and cut off the damaged roots. Soak the roots in a container with a strong solution of hydrogen peroxide several times until the diseased parts break off. A 2:1 solution of water and hydrogen peroxide (using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution) should do the trick. It is imperative that you sterilize your equipment before replacing your plants.
Your jars, pipes, tank, everything should be sterilized with bleach or a strong peroxide solution and rinsed very well. When you’re ready to put the plants back, add an anti-Pythium additive and fresh nutrients to your tank. Keep your temperature low and watch the plant over the next week to see if it sprouts new, nice, firm, white roots.
What if you can’t control root rot?
If your babies just aren’t making it back, it’s time to say goodbye and learn from your mistakes. Remove all affected plants; do not compost them as the Pythium microbes will continue to live in the roots of infected plants. Again, sterilize your equipment, dispose of all contaminated water, and don’t look back! Do it again, you can do it, the next batch will be worth it and it will never happen to you again, right?
Warning: This content is intended for educational purposes only. It has been compiled with research from external sources. it is not intended to replace medical or legal advice. Please consult your local laws for the legality of cannabis consumption.