Crop Killers: The Most Common Ailments in Growing Facilities
Most common pests and diseases can be avoided if you properly seal your indoor grow room and maintain the plant’s specific, ideal conditions. The problem is, most small-time grow ops, including those done at home, can’t guarantee such conditions. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you prevent common problems cultivators see.
COMMON CULTIVATION PESTS
Before going any further, it’s important to point out that you shouldn’t spray for the following (or any) pests unless your grow lights are turned off. Not only will droplets on leaves act as a magnifying glass, attracting light and burning your plants. This also helps stop residue from building up on the lights which eventually bake on.
- APHIDS: Also known as “plant lice” come in a variety of colors. It is possible to see them with the naked eye, but it will take a magnifying glass to confirm they’re aphids. You want to avoid these guys at all costs, they suck sap from the plant, causing them to become weak and turn yellow. The sap can also attract ants.
- GNATS: One day when you check on your grow you might notice a “fruit fly” or two flying around. The next day there’s a couple hundred. These are actually gnats but are very reminiscent of fruit flies. Gnats are born in the soil, there isn’t much we can do to stop them until they’ve actually appeared. Fortunately, you don’t normally need any chemicals or sprays to deal with gnats, instead, use sticky traps (you can either hang them or stick them in the soil). There are sprays available, so if you’re not able to get control of the situation within a couple of days, then we recommend switching to a spray right away because gnats cause root damage and can eventually kill or stunt the growth of your plant.
- SPIDER MITES: These are often the creepiest of pests your grow might see. Keep an eye out for little white or yellow dots on your leaves. This is the warning sign, bad infestations, however, get spiderwebs built around the buds and stems. These guys suck the sap from your plants and reproduce quickly. In just a couple of weeks, one female can lay hundreds of eggs. Because of this, proper grow room sterilization is needed. New plants should be thoroughly cleaned and quarantined from any other plants in that area. Since spider mites can become resistant to sprays, many experts recommend using two different spider mite sprays to help prevent reinfection.
- THRIPS: Most new gardeners haven’t heard of thrips. They look like a cross between an earwig and a hornet and are most common in greenhouses. They do have wings, but they actually rely on the wind to take them to your plants. If you don’t see the actual insect itself, you’ll see bronze or silver-colored scars on the leaves. Thrips deprive plants of chlorophyll, they also transport viruses from one plant to another. These guys require specific Thrip spray to be eliminated.
GROW ROOM DISEASE PREVENTION
While no preventative action is guaranteed to be 100% successful, there are a few things you may do to dramatically lower your risk of disease.
Maintaining optimal humidity and temperature levels, as well as utilizing clean and safe growing materials and maintaining a clean growing space, will all help.
Dehumidifiers can help keep moisture levels low, but there are other options as well. Feed at the appropriate times, and mop up spills as soon as possible. You will experience humidity concerns if you overwater.
COMMON GROW ROOM DISEASES
Even the most well-tended gardens and grow rooms can suffer from disease, most of the time a nutrient deficiency is to blame (or over-exposure to a nutrient). However, there are some diseases that aren’t due to cultivator error, these are the most common.
- POWDERY MILDEW: A fungal infection causes this frequent illness, which occurs in cool, moist climates. Spotted or yellowing of older fan leaves is the first sign.
Powdery mildew spores form when humidity levels reach or exceed 100%, and it can survive the winter on dead plants or even in compost.
Trimming ill or infected leaves and discarding them is the first line of defense. If you are composting it will be beneficial to keep the pile in an isolated spot away from the garden. It’s also crucial not to utilize compost until it’s entirely decomposed and rotten.
- ROOT ROT: Root rot is frequently caused by a lack of drainage and aeration. The roots become wet and “drown” at this point. This is especially likely if you’re growing in a pot with limited aeration and drainage options.
Examine the root zone for signs of root rot. If your roots are brown and slimy, it’s time to see a doctor.
Fabric or air-pots, which have excellent aeration and drainage, can help prevent root rot. Another way is to keep a closer eye on your watering. If you don’t over-water, you’re unlikely to have this problem.
- LEAF SPOT: Another fungal pathogen that affects some indoor and outdoor grows is leaf spot. The dark marking on older leaves makes it easy to recognize.
Leaf spot nearly often starts with a nursery seedling, so inspect the plants thoroughly for any signs of the disease before purchasing or replanting.
It can be avoided if the soil is kept free of dried leaves or dead plants on which the disease can attach. This is why leaf spot is more likely to affect outdoor gardens.
As you can see optimal growing environments require preventative measures to keep pests and disease away, as well as quick action when a problem is spotted. It takes time to become an expert home-grower, and in that time it’s likely you’ll experience at least a couple of the pests and diseases outlined here. Soon, your arsenal of gardening supplies will become as vast as your knowledge and each harvest will be better than the last. In the meantime, shop our online store to help find strains you might want to grow yourself, one day.