outdoor marijuana growing problems

Check your cannabis plants regularly for issues. A good time to do this is when pruning, because you’ll be up close and personal with your plants.

Look for and remove dead or yellowing leaves, and weak or withering branches. If plants are flowering, look for bud rot and mold.

Of course there are many problems that can arise when growing weed that should be fixed quickly. Weed plants are rather responsive, meaning they will show signs of distress if they aren’t getting the proper nutrients, have a bug infestation, or some other issue.

Similar to overwatering, beginning growers also have the tendency to give plants too many nutrients. A common misconception is that more nutrients equals bigger plants, so just keep adding more and more!

Inspect under fan leaves, as that’s where some bugs live—such as spider mites—and check where the stalk comes out of the soil, as some bugs live there too—in particular, root aphids.

Too many nutrients.

A weed plant needs the correct balance of nutrients for it to grow properly and be healthy. If anything, err of the side of too little nutrients—it’s a lot harder to correct a plant with too many nutrients than to add more. Keep in mind that organic nutrients are a little more forgiving.

New growers are often guilty of giving their new weed plants too much love. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s called weed for a reason—a lot of times the answer is to just let the plant be.

Many issues can arise when growing weed: discoloration of leaves is usually a sign of nutrient deficiency; tiny spots or webbing can mean a bug infestation; stunted growth can be a root problem.

Here are some common mistakes newbie weed growers make.

Remember to only water a plant if the soil is dry 1-2 inches down. Check out our guide on watering for more info.

Cannabis plants are resilient. The plant grows successfully all over the globe in many different climates—it’s called “weed” for a reason.

This can manifest in overwatering. A new grower may overthink watering and water too much.

Check out these articles on specific topics on how to troubleshoot issues with marijuana plants:

Look at the main stalk of the plant. Stunted growth can be a sign of roots being bound or some other root issue. If one plant is considerably smaller than others or if you’ve been growing it for a while and it seems too small, it could have root issues.

But the drying out of soil is important too—that’s how roots pull oxygen out of soil and into the plant. Additionally, standing water can stay in soil and cause root rot if not given enough time to dry out.

Overwatering cannabis plants.

But many problems can arise when growing cannabis, both indoors and outdoors. Bad weather, bugs, nutrient deficiencies, improper watering, and many other issues can pop up.

This is a bad idea and will quickly lead to nutrient lockout or other nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient lockout occurs when a weed plant can’t take in any more nutrients.

Also, keep an eye on the pH of water you use on your weed plants. This overlooked aspect can quickly lead to big problems.

Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .

Cannabis plant leaves should be a dark, vibrant green. Yellowing, discoloration, or spots on leaves are another big giveaway that your plant is sickly.

Common mistakes when growing marijuana.

Cannabis has been around for thousands of years. For most of that time period, cannabis has been cultivated outdoors. Despite the trend, growing cannabis outdoors is still an excellent choice, even preferable to some. Outdoor growing does not require the massive amount of electricity that indoor grows often do. The sun is a free resource. Moreover, outdoor cannabis enjoys the natural light water, and ventilation provided by the sun, moon, stars, and atmosphere. However, growing weed outdoors isn’t easy. Here are five problems outdoor growers may encounter and possible solutions to tackle them.

She’s breathtaking, unpredictable, dangerous, and the greatest threat to cannabis grown outside. Outdoor cannabis is vulnerable to the damage that pests and weather can cause in an instant. Insects like caterpillars, aphids, spider mites, and grasshoppers can run rampant in cannabis gardens, destroying entire harvests. Gophers, ants, and fungus flies can devour cannabis root systems. Birds can consume cannabis seeds before they’ve had a chance to sprout. Deer can eat entire plants. Even smaller animals like mice, rats, rabbits, dogs, and cats can damage plants either be eating them or leaving behind parasite-attracting fecal matter and harmful urine. And while nature’s ambient light and atmosphere are theoretically exactly what cannabis needs, they can also be hostile.

Water shortages in California have led to a near extermination of the state’s endangered salmon.

Battling Weather and Pests.

Protecting cannabis from pests can be expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous. Constantly reapplying pesticides, especially synthetic chemicals, can become costly. Moreover, the kind of pesticides used can have an environmental and health cost that shouldn’t be overlooked. One of the reasons why labs test for residual pesticides in cannabis strains for commercial use is because many pesticides can have detrimental effects on human health and the environment. Pesticide use has been linked to neurodegenerative disorders like ALS and Parkinson’s disease, birth defects, asthma, autism, diabetes, and cancer. Chemical pesticides also don’t do a great job of distinguishing between good and bad insects and are responsible for the decline of the biodiversity needed to keep ecosystems thriving.

I’ve already mentioned cannabis’ status as illegal because of its Schedule 1 classification. But even in states where cannabis is legal, cannabis regulations can be unclear or prohibitive. For example, cannabis’ powerful aroma can be considered by neighbors to be a nuisance, and some localities will hand out hefty fines if cannabis growers are in violation of odor rules. Additionally, states have different limits for how much cannabis a person can grow at once.

The best solution to this problem is to build a high, privacy fence around your cannabis. While this isn’t a cheap option, it can save you in the long run from trespassers and unwanted to onlookers. Other options include investing in outdoor security cameras.

Many environmentally friendly pesticides exist and have existed for as long as humans have been cultivating crops. One of the best controls for harmful pests are the predators that already exist in the natural environment. Introducing these insects can keep your cannabis safe with little extra intervention. When extra intervention is needed, organic pesticides like neem oil, citrus oil, garlic, onion, organic soaps, and cornmeal are just a few substances that organic growers use to ward off unwanted insects without exposing themselves or the environment to unnecessary damage.

Thankfully, there are ways to use water sustainably. While they are not as easy as diverting water from streams, they are far more beneficial in the long run. Growers can use rain barrels to store rain water. Growers can also use less water and reduce runoff by recycling water through reverse osmosis technology as this medical marijuana farm has done. Finally, growers can become familiar with their local wet and dry seasons, build a stockpile of water during the wet seasons, and limit their water usage to their stores rather than local streams during the dry seasons.

Volatile winds can bring plants to a breaking point. Droughts or typhoons can dehydrate or drown plants. None of these things can be totally controlled when cannabis is grown outside.


Temperatures that are too hot or too cold can kill or stunt cannabis plants.

Unlike indoor marijuana grows, outdoor gardens are potentially visible to anyone who wants to look for them. This makes outdoor cannabis vulnerable to curious trespassers and the federal government. While cannabis has been legalized for either medical or personal use in 29 states plus the District of Columbia, it remains federally illegal. That means that if they were so inclined, the DEA could confiscate any cannabis they find, and the chances of them finding outdoor grown cannabis are higher than indoor grown weed for obvious reasons.

Additionally, outdoor grows that do not regulate their water runoff and use harmful pesticides risk exposing nearby streams to contaminated water and altering the landscape through soil erosion.

Rain is free, but ask anyone growing cannabis in California, it isn’t always guaranteed. Cannabis needs water to grow, and unsustainable water use can be devastating to the environment.


Pesticides can help to deter harmful critters. Of course, the type of pesticide used can pose a problem as well. More on that later. Despite her sometimes-inconvenient tendencies, mother nature loves balance. Many natural predators of cannabis pests will come to the rescue if attracted by the proper substances. Aphid midges, ladybugs, beetles, amphibians, and praying mantises are examples of predators that eat parasitic insects. Fences are great deterrents for deer and other large mammals. Birds of prey like hawks and owls will help remove pests like mice, moles, and rats. Scarecrows can temporarily turn away birds until seeds sprout. Once they do, take down the scarecrows and allow the birds to help remove cannabis hazards like caterpillars. When it comes to protecting cannabis from the elements, greenhouses can be a great compromise, but not necessarily the only way to shield your plant. Growing cannabis in an appropriate environment with the right weather and surrounding foliage can help the plant thrive. Finally, the cannabis plant itself hasn’t survived for centuries because it’s weak. Cannabis’ smell is a natural repellant for many pests, and growing outside actually encourages strains to develop naturally stronger potency in order to increase their chances of survival.

Become familiar with your state’s cannabis regulations, including any odor rules or limits placed on the amount of cannabis you can grow. If you aren’t satisfied with your state’s rules, talk to your local representatives about it. Knowledge is power, and as legislators become more aware of cannabis’ benefits and its increasing popularity, the more likely they are to change the laws.

Controlling your grow room humidity is one of the tricks that separates the expert growers from the beginners.

Too high light levels will cause light burn.

An exhaust system doesn’t have to be anything fancy. At its simplest, an exhaust system can be two holes and a fan (with the fan place in one of the holes pointed out from your grow area). Having a fan constantly pulling hot air out and bringing fresh air in from your intake hole will help ensure that your plants have the fresh air they need.

Step 3: Check Environment.

Once you’re positive you’re watering correctly, providing the nutrients your cannabis needs, and you’ve adjusted the water pH to the proper levels, nutrients problems should start clearing up quickly. Remember, if leaves get damaged from a nutrient problem, it is unlikely that particular leaf will ever recover and turn green. What you’re looking for is that the problem stops spreading, and that any new growth appears green and healthy.

Tips for healthy roots.

So don’t beat yourself up when growing problems happen. They happen to every grower!

Younger plants usually are fine with high humidity, but humidity is especially dangerous in the flowering stage because the insides of the buds can grow mold and still look fine from the outside at first.

Watch Your Humidity, too! Very high or low humidity can cause slow growth, though high humidity may be worse because it can also trigger white powdery mold and bud rot.

Growing cannabis can be easy when you have the right information, and this article will tell you exactly how to react to problems as they arise.

It is common for new growers to not pay attention to humidity at all, and this can sometimes cause otherwise unexpected and/or inexplicable problems.

Step 5: Diagnose Pests (sometimes you never actually see the bugs)

When the humidity is too low , it’s important to make sure you provide plenty of fresh water to your plants at all times. You may need to reduce the total amount of nutrients as the plants will drink more water and therefore absorb more nutrients through their roots than when the humidity is not as dry.

One of the reasons you need great air circulation is your plants “breathe” CO2 during the light hours, almost like we breathe oxygen. Unless your plants are in a big open space with lots of air, or you are supplying your plants with CO2, you need to have some sort of exhaust system to pull away hot, stale air and bring in new fresh air for your plants.

Nutrient burn is a common grow issue, but some symptoms look similar yet are caused by something else. This tutorial will help you determine the true source of the problem.

Here’s the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to the humidity of your cannabis grow room.

Root Rot.

Step 2: Diagnose Nutrient Problems & Deficiencies.

However, usually you can tell when plants have bugs because you see the bugs themselves, or it actually looks like bites on the leaves.

If there is a particular source of heat that is harming the plant (like a hot grow light), you’ll know because the leaves closest to the source of the problem will wilt and turn a brownish color . Learn more about how cannabis plants respond to heat stress.

Even if you’re providing nutrients, plants may get nutrient deficiencies if the pH is off. This magnesium deficiency is the result of the pH being too low at the roots.

In a metaphorical sense, the roots are the heart of your cannabis plants. When roots become sick, the health of the entire plant quickly falls apart.

The problem of too much light often occurs indoors , when your grow lights are too close to the plants. This essentially gives them their own version of sunburn .

High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights have the meanest reputation for ‘light-stressing’ plants, but many of the newer, more powerful LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) do it, too!