Sometimes, slow and stunted growth of your cannabis plant may occur out of the blue. Your plant baby may not have shown any signs of a problem previously, but now you notice that development has halted and have no idea why. Here are some possible factors behind the slowed growth of your cannabis seedling or plant.

WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR SLOW AND STUNTED GROWTH?

1. SEEDS ARE OLD OR LOW-QUALITY

Old seeds don’t just take longer to germinate (if they germinate at all); plants grown from aged seeds can also sometimes grow at a reduced pace. Likewise, good genetics are essential for healthy and vigorous growth from seed to harvest. A random bagseed will not perform nearly as well as quality seeds obtained from a reputable seedbank.

2. PLANTS ARE NOT GETTING ENOUGH LIGHT

Although requirements can vary from strain to strain, light is nonetheless a critical factor for the development of all cannabis plants. A lack of “good” light can absolutely lead to slowed growth. If you grow indoors and suspect that your plants aren’t getting enough light, try to decrease the distance between your lamps and the tops of plants. If you grow outdoors in pots, move your plants to a sunnier spot.

Cannabis Plant Growing Slower Than The Others

3. PLANTS ARE GETTING TOO MUCH LIGHT

Any type of stress on your cannabis plants, including many hours of exposure to direct sunlight without rest, can also halt or slow down growth. If you grow indoors and suspect light exposure to be the source of stress, decrease the intensity or move lamps further away from the canopy if possible. Know that seedlings are particularly sensitive to intense light! If you grow outdoors and you’re able to, move your plants into a spot where the light is diffused, such as around a shade tree.

4. INCORRECT LIGHT SPECTRUM

How fast and how vigorously plants grow are influenced by the spectrum of light they receive. Make sure you use the correct type of light according to each stage of growth. For healthy vegetative growth, you want a cooler light with more blue in its spectrum, a so-called "vegging light". Lights with a warmer, more reddish spectrum are used for the flowering phase.

Visible Spectrum

5. OVERWATERING

Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes made by new cannabis growers. It’s like suffocating your plants, and one of the main reasons behind slow growth, nutrient deficiencies, root rot, fungus, and many other problems. Don’t water too often and do not water on a fixed schedule. It is better water less frequently so that the soil can dry out between waterings. A good way to test whether you should water or not is to lift up the pot itself. If it feels quite light, it is time to water again.

6. NOT ENOUGH NUTRIENTS

Although not as common as overfeeding cannabis plants, an insufficient amount of nutrients for healthy growth can well be the reason for slow growth. Know that the nutrients found in most commercial potting mixes will only last for 3–4 weeks; afterwards, you will have to administer some more quality nutrients. Check the label of your nutrient products for the recommended dosage for healthy growth. Also know that your plant’s nutrient requirements are closely linked to the light intensity your plants are exposed to. Plants under intensive lights grow faster and will require more nutrients than plants under fluorescent lights, for example.

Cannabis Plants Growing Slow

7. CALCIUM DEFICIENCY

Calcium is among those vital elements that your plant needs for healthy development. A lack of calcium can manifest in the following symptoms:

  • Fresh growth is slow, twisted, and curled
  • Young shoots are discoloured and turn purple or yellow
  • Overall plant growth is slow and lacks vigour and vitality

You can avoid a calcium deficiency by adding dolomitic lime to your soil or growing medium.

Address a calcium deficiency immediately with commercial CalMag products that contain liquid calcium. You can add these products to your nutrient solution or administer them as a foliar spray.

Be aware that some growing media, like coco, increase the risk for a calcium deficiency. If you grow in coco, you should use special coco nutrients and/or regularly add CalMag to your nutrient regimen.

8. INCORRECT PH LEVEL

Incorrect pH level of your nutrient solution is among the most common reasons for cannabis growing problems, including slow growth. The reason for this is that cannabis thrives only in a relatively small window of suitable pH values. If the pH is off, the plants are unable to take in nutrients, even if they are present.

Make sure to dial in the correct pH level depending on your growing method. If you grow in soil, make sure the pH level is from 6.5 to 7.0. If you grow in hydro, an optimal pH level is 5.6 to 5.8. For soilless grows, such as coco, a pH level of 6.0 to 6.3 is optimal.

PH Meter

9. TEMPERATURES ARE TOO LOW OR TOO HIGH

Cannabis likes it warm to grow healthy, and does best at daytime temperatures between 25–30°C. Temperatures lower than that will slow down your plant’s metabolism, resulting in slower growth. But excessive temperatures are not optimal either. At very high temperatures, heat stress can also slow down or even halt plant growth altogether. If you grow indoors, adjust your temperature to a comfortable level. You can also provide some cooling with fans that blow a mild stream of air over your plants. This can also help prevent hot air pockets from forming inside your grow room.

10. PLANTING POTS ARE TOO BIG

Cannabis growers often start their seedlings in small cups. Later on, when the plants have reached an adequate size, they will “pot-up” to larger containers.

If you start your cannabis plants in containers that are too big, there is a high risk that you’ll overwater them. The issue is that seedlings cannot absorb all the moisture that is held in a large container, unlike mature cannabis, which can “drink” much more. Furthermore, a large pot will also take much longer to dry out.

To avoid the problems that come with too much soil and moisture, start seedlings in smaller containers until they’re growing vigorously. Once they have a set of 5–6 real leaves (not counting the cotyledons), then transfer them to a larger container, at least twice the current size.

If your seedling is already in a big container and you don’t want to or can’t move it into a smaller cup, water only a small area around the seedling.

What Is The Right Size Pot For Your Cannabis Plant?

Use this rough guide to determine what size pot you should use for your cannabis plant:

  • Plant height 30cm: 7.5–11l container 
  • Plant height 60cm: 11–19l container
  • Plant height 90cm: 18–26l container
  • Plant height 120cm: 22–37l container
  • Plant height 150cm: 30–37l+ container

With the help of our guide, you should be able to identify and address possible culprits responsible for slowing your precious plant’s growth.

Happy Growing!

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