How to Troubleshoot Plant Problems in Hydroponics

Gardening in general is a tough hobby to get into. But when you take it indoors and start to experiment with hydroponics, it can get ever more complex.

Sooner or later, one of your plants is going to have a problem that you just can’t figure out how to solve. When you inevitably run into this, you can do one of two things:

  1. Use the Almighty Google to figure out what’s going wrong
  2. Ask someone who knows what they’re doing (a pro)​

When I run into problems like this, I always opt for #2. Go with someone who’s done it before and can explain exactly what’s going on with your plant. This is almost always the better choice, because you’ll gain a deeper understanding of why the problem occurred.

Before you Google it or ask a pro, you should see if you can solve the problem yourself. To do this, figure out all of the variables in your garden, how they interplay with one another, and if any have changed recently.

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Here’s a good list of questions to start from:​

  • What are the dimensions of your growing room?
  • What type of lights are you using, and how many?
  • What growing medium are you using in the garden?
  • What is the air temperature throughout a 24hr period?
  • What is the temperature of your nutrient reservoir?
  • What is the pH of your nutrient solution, and your growing medium (if applicable)
  • What is the PPM / EC of your nutrient solution?
  • What type of nutrients are you using?

More specific questions to ask

  • Can you describe, in as much detail as possible, the problem in your garden?
  • What was the exact date and time the problem occurred?
  • Where are your plants in their lifecycle?
  • How many plants are affected? If more than one, did it happen all at once?
  • What do the plants look like (leaves especially)
  • What part of the plant is affected (leaves, roots, stems, etc)?
  • Are there any pests on the plants? If so, where and what?
  • In the last 24-48 hours, have you changed anything in how you care for your plants?
  • Have you treated your plants with any products (fungicide, insecticide, foliar sprays)

There are many more questions to ask, but you’ll find that answering even some of these may cause you to realize the solution to your problem yourself! Asking these questions also forces you to more deeply understand what you are doing and how you are growing, so you can avoid mistakes in the future.

Header image courtesy of Urban Garden Casual.​