Symptoms and solutions for plant moisture stress

Many things can go wrong in the marijuana garden that results in moisture stress. This condition occurs when the water inside the plant’s cell is too high or low to sustain proper function.

To a newbie grower, the varying symptoms make it hard to determine the real cause of the problem. Hence, it’s easy to misdiagnose it which prevents us from giving the right treatment.

Since most factors in the environment affect the water content of the plant, moisture stress can appear in many forms.

For example, symptoms like cupping, dropping, and yellowing are common. But some growers may think these are signs of a nutrient deficiency. Others may even conclude that it’s a case of pest infestation.

If we treat the issue based on our wrong assessment, we not only leave the issue unsolved, we also make it worse. Hence, our marijuana plants may continue to suffer and even die.

To help bud growers overcome this stressful situation, this article will cover all there is to know about moisture stress.

Download my free marijuana grow bible to learn more about the factors causing marijuana plants to stress.

It’s vital that we learn to identify what we are truly dealing with so we can give the plant the remedy it needs.

In the following sections, we will learn the signs to watch out for as well as their possible causes. Most important of all, we will cover some tips that will help remedy the core of the problem.

Signs of moisture stress

The main problem most growers find with moisture stress is how easy it is to mistake with other conditions. To point us in the right direction, we must know the common signs as well as their causes. By doing so, we increase our chances of figuring out the exact treatment that will save the plants.

Browning and cupping of leaves

When the plant suffers from too little water, the leaves will start to cup at the edges. Since high temperatures usually come with dehydration, they will burn as well which appears as brown or copper spots.

Browning and Cupping of Leaves

When we touch the leaves, they feel hard and crispy instead of soft and cool.

Aside from the leaves, the roots are also affected by too much heat. As such, they shrink and absorb less water and minerals which further damages the leaves.

This problem often occurs during hot summer days. So, make sure to learn how to prevent water loss and keep the plants cool.

Drooping and poor appearance

Since water helps the plant stand firm, dehydration leads to drooping of both the leaves and stems. Not enough water supply also makes it hard for the plant to create its own food. If this goes on for days, the crop will grow weak and vulnerable to all types of pest and diseases.

Drooping and Poor Appearance

As growers, we must note that too much moisture also results in drooping marijuana plants. The difference is in the texture of the leaves.

While dehydration makes them hard and brittle, over-hydration makes them limp and saggy.

Stunted growth

Stressed plants often reserve all their energy to recover from a physical trauma. Hence, they might stop growing and may never reproduce buds.

Stunted Growth

Often, this occurs in overwatering where the soil no longer has space for oxygen. This makes it hard for the roots to breathe as it drowns in excess water.

To revert the situation, many growers add more fertilizer but this won’t make a difference. Of course, this won’t correct the problem as the real cause is not nutrient-related but rather too much water.

How to deal with moisture stress

Since it’s easy to mistake moisture stress as a different problem, then we need to learn a few things about it. In particular, we must understand what factors in the garden cause it to occur.

Hence, this section will cover the common reasons for moisture stress in marijuana plants. Also, we have the solutions for each which may sound simple but work like a charm.

You can also reduce stress by protecting the core of the plant itself, using my Plant Protector kit.

Marijuana Plant Protector Set

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  • Protection against diseases and pests
  • Consists of three 20 ml bottles
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Avoid watering mistakes

A good rule of thumb to avoid water stress is to check the moisture level of the soil. Most of the time, the symptoms we mentioned earlier appear if it’s too dry or too wet.

Avoid Watering Mistakes

So, pay close attention to how much water we are giving the plants, especially since it’s very easy to mess it up.


Overwatering is one of the most common newbie gardening mistakes. To get healthy marijuana plants, we must learn to adjust the amount of water we give. As mentioned, excess water takes up the space for oxygen which the roots need to function.

Further, a wet soil may turn the roots mushy over time which weakens it. As we already know, this is bad news as it lowers the resistance of the plant and invites other problems.

In addition, waterlogged soil also encourages the growth of algae, mold, and fungus gnats. In severe cases, the plant may never recover. Hence, we need to avoid giving too much water for our plant’s sake.


As mentioned, adding more plant food will not improve the drowning roots. The best thing to do is to use light and airy soil as well as fabric pots to facilitate drainage. Incorporating compost also improves drainage while increasing the quality of the soil.

It’s also best not to rely on a watering schedule since fluctuating temperatures affect the moisture in the soil. Instead, lift the pot and try to get a sense of how it weighs when it’s dry or wet.


Thirsty plants will also show signs of moisture stress. How do we know they’re craving for water? Simply look if the roots are showing above the surface. Usually, the soil also appears cracked and dry. As such, a constant lack of water supply may put the health of the crop at risk. To get healthy plants, it’s better not to wait for this to happen.

As mentioned, the plants will struggle to make carbohydrates when the roots can’t absorb enough water. Over time, they will succumb to stress and die. Luckily, underwatering is easy to remedy and plants usually bounce back once we give them a drink of water.


When rehydrating marijuana plants, make sure not to give too much. So, add water in increments until the soil is fully wet. Again, lift the pots to get an idea if they’re dry and in need of water. Make sure that the crop is properly hydrated all times so they will create high-yields of buds.

Control how much light the plants receive

Too much light doesn’t directly affect the moisture level in the plants but it goes hand in hand with high heat. Hence, we avoid water stress if we adjust the amount of light our crop receives.

The importance of sunlight

But how do we know our plants are getting too much illumination? Since intense light destroys the chlorophyll, the leaves may turn pale green or yellow.


If we are growing indoors, hang the grow lights a healthy distance away from the tops of the plants. Then, make sure to use rotating fans to spread the heat from the light evenly across the room. Outdoors, simply provide a shade for the plants to protect them from the heat of a scorching sun.

To experienced bud growers, keeping the roots strong is a lot more effective solution than worrying about the light. Since there are many benefits to this approach, we recommend doing this as well.

Give just the right amount of fertilizer

Too much nutrients on the soil create salts that stick to the roots and reduce water absorption. In addition, it alters the pH balance of the soil which makes it hard for the plant to take in the minerals. In effect, the leaves will show signs similar to dehydration and some signs of nutrient deficiencies.

To make sure you don’t see any issues with nutrients arise in your next grow, I have created a balanced nutrient package, specifically engineered for growing marijuana plants!

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Fertilizer package

  • Give your plants the best chance to live
  • All the nutrients from seedling to harvest
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Another reason to go slow in adding fertilizer is to avoid nutrient burn in the plants. Common in nitrogen-rich additives, this causes the leaves to turn brown and brittle. Worse, the high mineral concentration also destroys the roots.


While it’s true that we can grow big buds using nutrients, keep in mind that less fertilizer is better for the plants. As such, this rule helps us avoid the devastating side effects of giving too much. So, when starting a new plant food, only give half of the prescribed dosage at a minimum frequency. Also, monitor the plant’s reaction so we can immediately remedy any problems.

Maintain optimal temperature

Maintain Optimal Temperature

Hot temperatures are one of the most serious problems a bud grower might encounter. This is because it’s the number one cause of water loss in plants. Aside from sucking the moisture out of the leaves, it also heats up the soil and dries up the roots.

Also read Ideal temperature for marijuana plants

In a short period of time, these effects on the plants may become irreversible. As such, the only way to know that our treatment is successful is through the new growths. If it’s too late for any solution to work, then we may have no buds to harvest. To avoid this disappointing outcome, learn how to maintain the right temperature in the garden.


For indoor growers, it’s vital to establish an efficient ventilation system that ensures the correct temperatures throughout the growing cycle. A big part of this is the daily monitoring of the room temperature so we can adjust as necessary.

When growing marijuana under a scorching sun, keeping the plants watered and shaded helps a lot. As such, don’t wait for the grow medium to get too dry before watering them. To protect the roots, we can buy organic products like seaweed extracts to keep them cool.

Identifying the cause is key to fixing moisture stress

To help the marijuana plants recover from moisture stress, the first step is to determine what causes the problem. Since water stress occurs when there’s too little or too much water, the causes are usually common in the garden. By identifying them, we can apply the appropriate solution and bring the plants back to health.

To grow healthy marijuana plants despite moisture stress, make sure to get seeds with strong genetics. Usually, they fare well even in harsh environments. I have created multiple grow sets which features all you need in order to grow healthy plants from seed to harvest!

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All-in-one grow kit

With the right diagnosis, we can immediately act and treat the plants before it’s too late. So, use this article as a guide to fix moisture stress symptoms in plants. The key is to make sure that the plants receive optimal moisture and away from high heat. For best results, maintain the optimal level of light, water, nutrients, and temperature.

FAQs about cannabis moisture stress

What are the most common signs of moisture stress in cannabis plants?

When you notice that the leaves of your marijuana plants are turning brown or are drooping, or seem to have stunted growth, they are more likely experiencing moisture stress.

How can you avoid water stress? 

A good rule of thumb to prevent water stress is to regularly check the soil’s moisture level. You don’t want it to be too dry or too wet.

How do you keep indoor plants from receiving too much heat from grow lights?

When growing cannabis indoors, hang the grow lights within a healthy distance away from the tops of the plants. Using rotating fans can also help spread the heat from the light evenly across the grow room.

Becoming an expert marijuana grower only requires practice and learning. Read my blog to get started.

Have you ever dealt with moisture stress in your cannabis plants? Please share your experience or leave questions below.

Happy growing!


Avatar for Robert Bergman

Robert Bergman


Robert Bergman is an Amsterdam-based marijuana grow expert who has years of experience from small grows to massive operations ... See profile

10 comments on “Symptoms and solutions for plant moisture stress”

    • Hi George,

      Thanks for your question. Heavy rainfall and higher humidity can increase the risk of mold/bud rot. So be wary of that. But other than that your plants should tolerate a bit rain fairly well.

      Let us know if you have any further questions of course!
      Happy growing,

  1. I am a newbie pot grower, and due directly to your extremely Informative website and quality harlequin seeds, am very successfully on my way to a bountiful harvest! My biggest challenge has been UNDERwatering my 4 outdoor container grown plants, and their subsequent heat stress. I currently have to water them twice a day to keep up with their intake and the drying out of the soil. I also mistook hours of light for hours of direct sunlight, thus helping to cause heat stress by placing them in the hot sun all day long. OOPS! Live & learn, and hopefully not kill your plants Whilst doing so! Here’s to harvest time!!

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