Deficiency and excess of Calcium in cannabis plants

Calcium and cannabis

First symptoms of Ca deficiency

First symptoms of Ca deficiency

Calcium is a very important secondary nutrient given the large amount of this element that the plant needs during its entire life cycle. From the very beginning, and already in the seed germination stage, calcium takes direct part in root development and protein synthesis. It’s absorbed by the roots in the form of Ca++ ion.

It also gives support to other elements that, when combined, participate in different metabolic processes such as the creation of vitamins – in this case, vitamin B12. These vitamins will join and form part of the cellular walls of the plant tissues, making them stronger to attacks from pathogens, and keeping their cells active and vital.

The role of calcium in cannabis plants

  • Calcium is necessary for the growth of the cell walls of the root system
  • It ‘s an immobile element
  • It enhances the decomposition process of organic matter, improving nutrient uptake by the plant
  • It acts as bridge between humus and nutrients

Intermediate Ca deficiency

Symptoms of intermediate Ca deficiency

Calcium deficiency

Calcium is an element easily found in the soil, so due its high availability for the plants we usually don’t find imbalances of this component except in very acidic soils.

Deficiencies can normally be more present in hydroponic crops due to the use of inert substrates (coco-coir, clay pebbles, rock wool, mapito…) or when we don’t use substrate, as is the case of aeroponic systems.

In these cases, we must check that the calcium intake of cannabis plants  is correct to prevent deficiencies in the early stages. Many of the fertilisers that we can find on the market have calcium, but sometimes it isn’t enough to avoid deficiencies, particularly if you are using reverse osmosis water, which doesn’t contain nutrients.

In this case (RO) you will have to prepare the nutrient solution in a different way: before adding any other fertiliser, pour two parts of calcium per one of magnesium until reaching an EC value from 0.0 to 0.3-0.4.

Visible symptoms of calcium deficiency in cannabis plants

  • The youngest leaves of the plant are the first to be visibly affected
  • The growth of the upper part of the plant is slowed down
  • The root system is also affected, what reduces nutrient uptake
  • As the deficiency progresses, the youngest leaves turn yellowish and become deformed
  • Bud development is seriously reduced

To control the calcium deficiency we can perform foliar applications of Ca with a Ph of 7.2 directly on the affected leaves. We can also add calcium and magnesium to the nutrient solution, increasing the initial EC value in 0.2 points during about five days.

Calcium excess in cannabis plants

Advanced Ca deficiency

Serious Ca deficiency

The excess of calcium is difficult to detect and causes a lock-out of various nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, manganese and iron. In different hydroponic growing systems, and when there is calcium excess in the tank it comes in contact with the sulphur of the nutrient solution, this calcium precipitates and remains on the bottom of the tank.

In this circumstance, you will have to change the nutrient solution of the tank.

Calcium is an element that is directly related to the transpiration of plants. This transpiration control comes, in essence, from the roots and the stomata, which are located on the leaves. It can happen that the stomata are closed by an excess of heat, causing a superficial burn which could be confused with a symptom of calcium deficiency.

It should also be noted that, with a deficiency of this element, plants are always more susceptible to heat stress given that calcium contributes in the protein creation, which make plants more resistant to high temperatures.

How to supply cannabis plants with calcium

As we have already mentioned, if you are using osmosis water for watering your plants you should add calcium and magnesium before adding fertilisers to the nutrient solution. Since osmosis water doesn’t contain any nutrients, your initial EC value will always be 0.0.

Fertilisers for marijuana plants already contain the necessary micro-elements for the life of the plant, but there are nutrients such as calcium or magnesium which should be present in higher concentrations – especially at the early stages – to ensure that marijuana plants have everything they need to develop properly.

Tap water with an EC range of 0.3-0.4 is perfect, since this EC level is suitable to make the mix with fertilisers and ensure right amounts of Ca and Mg in the nutrient solution. It should be noted that, depending on the grown strain, it may be necessary to add extra calcium and magnesium during the flowering stage to prevent deficiencies from the 4th – 5th week, when plants are in full bloom.

In this case, this extra supply is important so, on the one hand, plants can reduce any kind of stress during the entire crop, and on the other hand we’ll harvest the best possible quality and quantity of buds. For these cases you can use Aptus Regulator during the entire crop, reducing the water needs of the plant to up to a 30% while making them more resistant to dehydration caused by high temperatures or periods of drought.

Identifying calcium deficiency in cannabis plants

Ca deficiency in low and old leaves of the plant

Ca deficiency in lower and older leaves of the plant

Example of the condition of a plant with calcium deficiency

Ca deficiency major on the plant of the left side

Serious Ca deficiency (left plant)

16 Comments


16 comments on “Deficiency and excess of Calcium in cannabis plants

  1. Denzidrine

    Good shit yea thanks for the info.

  2. Papa Indica

    Why did I stop getting email notifications about new blog entries?

  3. kelly

    I think i have given my plants too much calcium and my garden is dying what do i need to do to fix it??? HELP HURRY PLEASE CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE ANY MORE PLANTS!!!

    1. Dani Alchimia

      Hi kelly,

      First thing you should do is fushing the soil generously with plain water a couple of times. Then prepare a light nutrient solution (regulating the pH) and water your plants with it. Excess calcium blocks the absorption of other macro and micronutrients, so the first step is try to get rid of it and then feed your plants with a balanced solution.

      Are you using pots?

      Hope it helped!

  4. Jason

    I need help. Im using ffof and smart pots. Nutes are nectar for the gods. Ph and ppm are in range according to slurry test. Im aboit to flush them with tap water ,theyre in mid bloom and theyre id say semi advanced state. Would i be correct with a good flush and then a idk maybe half doseage of nutes after flush. Is there anything else thatll help this. ? The sooner i get response the better they will be. Please ,please help me!

    1. Dani Alchimia

      Hi Jason,

      There’s no problem at all, some people flush their plants every 2 weeks or so to make sure there are no nutrient accumulations, especially in hydroponic/coco coir crops. Still, have you had any problem with your plants?

      All the best!

  5. Tim

    Hi I’m in the 5th week of flowering in nft under leds and growing 3 different types but one of them which is suger haze has these little brown spots and brown blotches on the bigger older leaves it’s scaring the shit out a me could it be calcium deficiency new growth and smaller leaves are unaffected ….. thank tim.

    1. Dani Alchimia

      Hi Tim,

      First thing to do is to flush your plants and make sure there are no salt accumulations in the substrate. Then, you should water the plants with some balanced fertiliser. Also, and depending on the growing medium you’re using, add some CalMag additive to your nutrient solution.

      It’d be important to know what substrate and nutrients you’re using. Also, are you using RO water?

      Talk soon!

  6. Michael beboper

    If you use organics they are so much more forgiving. It is also living organisms therefore you don’t have to rely on expensive nutrients. I do use organic cal mag after flowering and later stage potassium, calcium and phosperua. Organics over the years I have finally found is the most reliable and cheaper too. Bio diverse soils are living soils and if you admend them everything is taken care of. No where near as much money.

    1. Dani Alchimia

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your interesting comment, I think you’ll enjoy our article on soil food web gardening!

      Best!

  7. Dianne hazel

    Hi i also have brown blotches on older leaves. What i read says Cal deficiency shows up in young leaves first. Will flush. Somehow this looks to me more like an overabundance of something. I’m all foxfarm and it started when i added bembe to the mix. Gracias Amiga.

    1. Tim Alchimia

      Hi Dianne, thanks for your comment and question. Flushing is a good start, then check pH, I know Bembe has a high molasses content, which can lower the pH, causing nutrient lockout possibly manifesting itself in the brown blotches, you may need to raise pH a bit. All the best for that, happy growing!

  8. Tyson James Schaffer

    Epsent salt is what I have been using threw veg. Stopped in flower now 4-5 week nice buds forming and I see pollen sacks on the bottom branches and they popped iny room. Could the stopping the past few weeks cause this . Only on 1 outta 8 iny tent ..what can I do . I removed all the sacks and thinking giving them a shower ? And ideas to help me flush add a all purpose fertilizer and a few teaspoons of epsent salt per gal. Of pot size .I used a 10 gal pots

    1. Tim Alchimia

      Hi, thanks for your question. It’s unlikely that any hermaphrodite traits that you’re seeing are caused by the Cal/Mag levels, or by your stopping the Epsom Salts. These things are genetic, this particular plant is simply genetically disposed to produce male flowers. If it’s just one plant out of 8 then I doubt it’s anything you’ve done wrong, otherwise you’d be seeing the same problem on more plants. But just in case check for light leaks, check you timer to make sure nothing’s accidentally been changed. Keep removing the male flowers, if possible before they open, because once they do it’s too late do do anything. As for flushing, just stop feeding two weeks before harvest and just give them plain water until you cut them down.

      All the best, happy growing!

  9. Tyson James Schaffer

    No RO water strait up Michigan outta the well at 6.5 pH

  10. Jandré Swart

    Hate it when no one is talking parts per million.
    All i want to know is what should my perimeters be for.
    Calcium
    Magnesium
    Kh
    Ph
    Temperature of room and temperature of water
    Nh3
    No3
    Po4
    Kalium/potassium
    Fluorine
    Iron
    Zinc
    SG.

    What should their readings be in the water. Growing full on hydroponic system, no soil, any reefers who can relate?
    I know how to raise and lower these different perimeters.
    All you need to do is be specific with ppm readings perimeters and stop talking about pre mixed solutions. How do you think experts grow coral? Definitely not pre-mixed part A solution and part B.
    Man up and Triton test your water. Google it.

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