The Effects of Over and Under-Watering on Cannabis Yields

As cannabis cultivation continues to gain popularity, growers are constantly seeking ways to optimize their yields. One key factor that plays a crucial role in determining the success of a cannabis grow is proper watering. While it may seem like a simple task, knowing how much and how often to water your cannabis plants can be quite perplexing. Over-watering and under-watering are common mistakes that can have significant effects on cannabis yields. In this article, we will explore the effects of over and under-watering on cannabis growth and offer step-by-step solutions to help you maintain proper watering practices and ultimately increase your yields.

Why is Watering Important for Cannabis?


Why Is Watering Important For Cannabis?
Watering plays a vital role in the growth and development of cannabis. The correct amount of water ensures that the plants receive the necessary nutrients for optimal growth. Water also helps to regulate the temperature of the soil, making sure it’s not too hot or too cold for the plants. Additionally, watering is crucial for pest and pathogen control.

Water & Nutrient Uptake

Water is an essential nutrient for plant growth, as it provides the medium for nutrient uptake. Without enough water, cannabis plants cannot absorb the necessary minerals and elements required for healthy growth. Water also helps to maintain the proper pH balance of the soil, ensuring that nutrients are available to the plants.

Pest & Pathogen Control

Watering is also important for pest and pathogen control. Overly dry soil can lead to stress in the plants, making them more susceptible to pests and diseases. Conversely, over-watering can create a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and fungi. Proper watering ensures that the plants are healthy and able to defend against potential threats.

Watering is a crucial component of cannabis cultivation. It ensures that plants have access to the necessary nutrients, regulates soil temperature, and promotes pest and pathogen control. By understanding the importance of proper watering, cannabis growers can maximize their yields and ensure the health of their plants.

Water & Nutrient Uptake

One of the main reasons why watering is so important for cannabis cultivation is because of the role it plays in water and nutrient uptake. Without adequate watering, the roots of the cannabis plant are unable to absorb the necessary water and nutrients from the soil. This can lead to a host of problems, including stunted growth, poor yields, and even death of the plant.

Water uptake: The roots of the cannabis plant are responsible for absorbing water from the soil. This water is then transported up through the stem and into the leaves, where it is used for photosynthesis and other metabolic processes. Without enough water, the plant will become dehydrated and wilt.

Nutrient uptake: In addition to water, the roots of the cannabis plant also absorb essential nutrients from the soil. These nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as a range of micronutrients. Without proper watering, the plant may be unable to absorb these nutrients, which can lead to deficiencies and other health problems.

It’s important to note that the amount of water and nutrients that the cannabis plant requires will vary depending on a number of factors, including the stage of growth, the type of soil, and the overall environmental conditions. As such, it’s important for growers to closely monitor their plants and adjust their watering and nutrient schedules accordingly.

In addition to supporting water and nutrient uptake, proper watering can also help with pest and pathogen control, another crucial aspect of cannabis cultivation. By maintaining a healthy balance of water in the soil, growers can help prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms and reduce the risk of pest infestations. Watering is an essential part of growing healthy, high-quality cannabis plants.

Pest & Pathogen Control

Watering plays a crucial role in cannabis growth not only because it facilitates the uptake of nutrients but also because it is important for pest and pathogen control. The amount of water a plant receives affects its susceptibility to pests and diseases. Over-watering can create favourable conditions for the growth of pests and pathogens, which can cause plant damage and reduce yields. On the other hand, under-watering can also weaken plants, making them more vulnerable to pest attacks.

One way water affects pest and pathogen control is through the level of soil moisture. Pests such as spider mites, thrips and fungus gnats thrive in moist conditions. Over-watering creates such conditions and can lead to the growth of mould, fungi and bacteria in the soil, which attracts pests. On the other hand, under-watering can weaken plants, stressing them and making them more susceptible to pest infestations.

Another factor is the pH level of the soil. Over-watering can lead to increased alkalinity, which can create an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria and fungi. Harmful microorganisms such as Pythium, root rot and powdery mildew can take hold and negatively impact plant growth. Conversely, under-watering can lead to increased acidity, which can also hinder growth and invite unwanted pathogens.

Proper watering techniques are critical for keeping pests and pathogens at bay. Watering cannabis plants from the bottom rather than the top reduces the risk of mould, fungi and bacteria growth. Additionally, ensuring proper soil drainage, allowing the soil to dry out between watering sessions and avoiding over-fertilization can all help to keep soil pH levels within the ideal range and maintain healthy plant growth.

Watering, in addition to being essential for nutrient uptake, plays a pivotal role in controlling pests and pathogens. Over-watering leads to increased moisture and alkalinity in the soil which can invite harmful pests and pathogens. Under-watering on the other hand can create a more acidic environment and weaken the plants making them more prone to pests. Therefore it is important for cannabis growers to strike the right balance when watering their plants to maximize yields and minimize pest outbreaks.

What Happens When Cannabis is Over-Watered

What Happens When Cannabis Is Over-Watered
Over-watering is a common mistake made by novice growers that can have detrimental effects on cannabis plants. When cannabis is over-watered, it can lead to a lack of oxygen in the soil, which can cause a buildup of harmful bacteria and fungi. This can lead to various problems such as root rot, leaf yellowing, and stunted growth.

One of the main factors that contribute to over-watering is the misconception that more water is better for plants. However, cannabis plants require a delicate balance of water and nutrients to thrive. Over-watering disrupts this balance and can lead to reduced nutrient uptake by the roots, which can prevent healthy growth.

Another issue caused by over-watering is the development of anaerobic soil. Anaerobic soil means that the oxygen supply in the soil is depleted, which can lead to the production of harmful bacteria and fungi. These microorganisms can attack the roots of cannabis plants, causing them to rot and suffer from nutrient deficiency.

Common symptoms of over-watering include drooping leaves, yellowing leaves, and slow growth. Over-watered plants may also have a musty or sour odor, which is caused by the buildup of harmful bacteria and fungi in the soil.

To prevent and fix over-watering, growers should focus on maintaining proper drainage and reducing watering frequency. Proper drainage ensures that excess water can drain out of the soil and prevent the buildup of harmful microorganisms. Additionally, reducing watering frequency can help to prevent over-watering by allowing the soil to dry out before the next watering cycle.

Over-watering is a common mistake that can have serious consequences for cannabis plants. It is crucial for growers to understand the importance of water management in order to maintain healthy, thriving plants.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Soil

When it comes to the effects of over-watering on cannabis, one important concept to understand is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic soil. Aerobic soil refers to soil that has sufficient oxygen levels to support the growth and activity of beneficial microorganisms, which play a key role in breaking down organic matter and providing nutrients to plants. Anaerobic soil, on the other hand, is soil that has become waterlogged and lacks oxygen, leading to the growth of harmful bacteria and other pathogens.

In aerobic soil, a balance is achieved between oxygen and water, allowing roots to properly grow and absorb nutrients. However, when soil becomes waterlogged, the oxygen content decreases and harmful bacteria begin to grow. This causes a number of problems for cannabis plants, including the death of beneficial microorganisms and root rot. Indeed, anaerobic soil can cause the roots to suffocate and eventually die.

Anaerobic soil can lead to nutrient deficiencies in cannabis plants, since the harmful bacteria that grow in these conditions are less effective at breaking down organic matter and providing nutrients to plants. This is why it is important to ensure that your cannabis plants are grown in soil that has proper drainage and is not waterlogged.

Understanding the difference between aerobic and anaerobic soil is crucial for cannabis growers looking to optimize their yields. Over-watering can lead to the development of anaerobic soil, which can in turn cause a host of problems for cannabis plants. Proper drainage and a balanced watering schedule are thus important to maintain aerobic soil and support the growth of healthy cannabis plants.

Common Symptoms of Over-Watering

Over-watering cannabis plants is a common issue that can lead to a host of problems. One of the most obvious symptoms of over-watering is yellowing leaves. This happens because the roots of the plant are drowning, which prevents them from getting enough oxygen. As a result, the leaves turn yellow and may eventually fall off.

Another common symptom of over-watering is mushy or slimy roots. When the soil is constantly moist, it creates a breeding ground for root rot and other fungal diseases. These conditions can lead to the deterioration of the plant’s roots, making them slimy and mushy to the touch.

Over-watering can also cause a slow growth rate in cannabis plants. This is because the roots are unable to absorb the necessary nutrients from the soil due to the excess moisture. As a result, plants become stunted and fail to grow at the desired pace.

In addition to these symptoms, over-watering can also lead to pest infestations. When the soil is constantly moist, it attracts pests such as fungus gnats, which can damage the roots and compromise the health of the plant.

It’s important to keep an eye out for these common symptoms of over-watering and take action immediately to address the issue. Removing excess water and improving drainage can help prevent further damage to the plant.

What Happens When Cannabis is Under-Watered

What Happens When Cannabis Is Under-Watered
When cannabis plants are under-watered, they are deprived of the necessary amount of moisture that they require for optimal growth and function. This can have serious consequences on their overall health and productivity.

Transpiration is the process of water loss from the plant’s leaves and stems. When cannabis plants are under-watered, they will typically transpire less water, resulting in a decrease in overall plant growth. This reduction in growth can affect the size and yield of the plant’s buds.

Additionally, under-watered plants are more stressed and vulnerable to pests and diseases. This is because the lack of water weakens the plant’s defenses, making it more susceptible to infestations and infections.

Common Symptoms of Under-Watering include wilting leaves, curled or yellowing leaves, dry and crumbly soil, and slow or stunted growth. If these symptoms are spotted, it is important to act quickly to avoid permanent damage to the plant.

To prevent and fix under-watering, it is important to determine the right watering schedule for the specific strain of cannabis, taking into account factors such as humidity, temperature, and soil type. Improving water retention through the use of mulch or water-absorbing materials can also assist in keeping the plant hydrated.

Under-watering can severely impact the growth and health of cannabis plants. Proper hydration is crucial in ensuring maximum yield and productivity.


Transpiration is the process by which plants lose water through their leaves. It is an essential process for plant growth and survival, as it allows for the uptake of nutrients and the movement of water from the roots to the rest of the plant. When a cannabis plant is under-watered, transpiration slows down, and the plant’s growth is stunted.

During transpiration, water vapor is released through small pores on the leaves called stomata. The process is driven by a combination of factors, including temperature, humidity, and air circulation. In cannabis plants, transpiration is key to the movement of nutrients and water from the soil to the rest of the plant.

Under-watering can lead to a reduction in transpiration, which in turn can cause a range of problems for the plant. For example, without sufficient water, the stomata can close, reducing the plant’s ability to take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This can cause reduced growth rates and poor yields. In extreme cases, under-watered plants may develop leaf wilt, as the plant’s water-deficient tissues begin to collapse.

To prevent under-watering, cannabis cultivators should aim to maintain a consistent watering schedule based on the plant’s development stage and environmental conditions. It is also important to ensure that the soil has enough nutrients and organic matter to retain water and support healthy plant growth. Adding compost or other organic matter to the soil can help to improve water retention and prevent under-watering.

Transpiration is a critical aspect of cannabis plant development, and proper watering techniques are essential to ensure healthy growth and high yields. By maintaining a consistent watering schedule and providing adequate nutrients and organic matter, cultivators can prevent under-watering and promote healthy transpiration to support optimal plant growth.

Common Symptoms of Under-Watering

When cannabis plants are not receiving enough water, they can exhibit a variety of noticeable symptoms. One of the most apparent signs of under-watering is the wilting of leaves. The leaves will become limp and droopy, and may also turn yellow or brown.

In addition to wilting, the leaves of an under-watered plant may also become dry, crispy, and curled. This is because when there is not enough water in the soil, the plant has to reduce transpiration to conserve what water it does have. As a result, the leaves can become dehydrated and brittle.

Another symptom of under-watering is slowed growth. When a cannabis plant is dehydrated, its ability to photosynthesize is hindered. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert light energy into chemical energy in order to grow. Without enough water, the plant cannot undergo this process as efficiently, which can lead to stunted growth.

Additionally, under-watered plants may begin to drop leaves or experience leaf death. This is because the plant is forced to prioritize which parts of the plant receive water, and may choose to sacrifice leaves in order to keep the rest of the plant alive.

It is important to note that some of these symptoms may also be the result of other issues, such as nutrient deficiencies or pest infestations. However, if you notice the above signs and you have ruled out other problems, it is likely that your cannabis plant is under-watered and in need of more moisture.

How to Prevent and Fix Over-Watering

How To Prevent And Fix Over-Watering
Proper watering is crucial for healthy cannabis growth, and over-watering is one of the most common mistakes made by novice and experienced growers alike. Over-watering can lead to a host of problems for your plants, including root rot, nutrient deficiencies, and stunted growth. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent and fix over-watering.

Maintaining Proper Drainage: Good drainage is essential to prevent over-watering. Always use pots with drainage holes to allow excess water to drain away from the roots. Additionally, it’s important to choose a high-quality, well-draining soil mix, such as a combination of perlite, peat, and coco coir.

Reducing Watering Frequency: Over-watering often occurs when growers water too frequently. Instead, allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering. This will prevent the roots from sitting in water, which can lead to root rot and other problems. To know when it’s time to water, stick your finger about an inch deep into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Adjusting Watering Amount: Another way to prevent over-watering is to adjust the amount of water you give your plants. Make sure you’re not giving them more water than they can absorb. One way to test this is by checking the weight of your pots before and after watering. If the pot feels significantly heavier after watering, you may be giving your plants too much water.

Using Hydroponics: If you’re looking for a more advanced solution to over-watering, consider switching to a hydroponic system. Hydroponics uses a nutrient-rich water solution as the growing medium, allowing growers to precisely control the amount of water and nutrients their plants receive. This can help prevent over-watering and is a popular choice for experienced growers.

By following these tips, you can prevent and fix over-watering in your cannabis plants, leading to healthier growth and higher yields. Remember, it’s crucial to maintain proper drainage, reduce watering frequency, adjust watering amount, and consider using hydroponics to prevent over-watering.

Maintaining Proper Drainage

Proper drainage is essential for healthy cannabis plants. Without it, plants can quickly become over-watered, leading to root rot and other issues. To maintain proper drainage, it’s important to use soil that is well-draining and to ensure that the containers have adequate drainage holes.

Soil with good drainage: Cannabis plants thrive in a soil that is light, airy, and porous. This type of soil will allow water to flow easily through it, preventing soil from becoming waterlogged. To achieve this, many growers mix in perlite, sand, or vermiculite with their soil to increase drainage.

Adequate drainage holes: Make sure your containers have enough drainage holes to allow excess water to drain out. If the containers don’t have enough drainage holes, the soil will become waterlogged, and the roots will suffocate. It’s recommended to have at least one drainage hole per inch of container diameter.

Monitor drainage: It’s important to monitor the drainage of your cannabis plants regularly. To do this, water the plants until the water begins to drain out of the bottom of the container. This will give you an idea of how long it takes for the soil to dry out completely. You want to avoid watering your plants again until the soil has had a chance to dry out adequately.

Use saucers: To prevent waterlogged soil, use saucers to catch the excess water draining from the containers. Just make sure to remove any excess water from the saucers after a couple of hours to prevent the soil from sitting in stagnant water.

By maintaining proper drainage, you can prevent over-watering and ensure that your cannabis plants stay healthy and happy.

Reducing Watering Frequency

It is crucial to reduce the frequency of watering to avoid over-watering and its detrimental effects on cannabis plants. One way to reduce watering frequency is to allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Cannabis plants tend to grow better in soil that is slightly dry rather than waterlogged.

To determine when to water, one can check the soil moisture level. The best way to do this is to stick a finger about an inch into the soil. If the soil feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water the plants. Another way to tell when to water is to lift the pot and feel its weight. If the pot feels light, it’s a sign that the soil is dry and it’s time to water the plant.

It’s important not to let the soil dry out too much, as this can lead to under-watering and stunted growth. Finding the right balance between dry soil and over-watering is key to a successful cannabis grow.

One way to increase the time between watering is to use soil with good water retention. Soil that contains organic matter, such as compost or coconut coir, has good water retention properties. Adding vermiculite or perlite to the soil can also help to retain water.

Another way to reduce watering frequency is to use pots with good drainage. Proper drainage allows water to flow through the soil and out of the pot, preventing water from sitting at the bottom of the pot and drowning the roots.

Reducing watering frequency is an important step in maintaining healthy and productive cannabis plants. By allowing the soil to dry out between watering and using soil with good water retention, growers can avoid over-watering and its negative effects on the plant’s growth and yield.

How to Prevent and Fix Under-Watering

One of the most challenging aspects of growing cannabis is striking the right balance with watering. Under-watering can be just as problematic as over-watering, and it’s crucial to take steps to prevent and fix under-watering to ensure optimal yields.

Determining the Right Watering Schedule
The first step in preventing and fixing under-watering is to establish the right watering schedule. This will depend on several different factors, such as the size of the cannabis plant, the size of the container it’s grown in, and the environment in which it’s grown. As a general rule, cannabis plants grown in smaller containers or in hot, dry environments will require more frequent watering.

When establishing a watering schedule, it’s crucial to avoid giving the plant too much water at once. This can lead to over-watering, which can be just as problematic as under-watering. Instead, aim to provide small amounts of water at regular intervals throughout the day.

Improving Water Retention
Another effective way to prevent and fix under-watering is to improve the water retention properties of the soil. There are several different ways to do this, including using a water-absorbing polymer or adding organic matter to the soil.

Water-absorbing polymers, also known as hydrogels or water crystals, are a popular option for improving water retention. These polymers absorb water and then release it slowly over time, helping to keep the soil moist and the plants hydrated. However, it’s important to note that hydrogels are not suitable for all types of soil and can be expensive.

Adding organic matter to the soil is another effective way to improve water retention. Organic matter, such as compost or manure, helps to create a sponge-like structure in the soil, which can absorb and retain water. Additionally, organic matter can improve soil aeration and provide nutrients to the plants, helping them to grow strong and healthy.

Preventing and fixing under-watering is crucial for growing cannabis successfully. By establishing the right watering schedule and improving water retention in the soil, growers can ensure that their plants are hydrated and healthy, leading to optimal yields.

Determining the Right Watering Schedule

One of the most important factors in growing healthy cannabis plants is providing them with the right amount of water. Determining the right watering schedule can be a bit tricky, as it depends on several factors, such as temperature, humidity, type of soil, and the size of your plants.

Observe your plants: One of the best ways to determine if your plants need water is by observing them. Check the color and droopiness of the leaves. If the leaves are yellowing or curling up, it may be a sign of underwatering, and if the leaves are dark and droopy, it may be due to overwatering.

Check the soil: Another way to determine if your plants need water is by checking the soil moisture level. Insert your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If the soil feels dry at this depth, it’s time to water your plants. However, if the soil feels moist, it’s best to wait a day or two before watering again.

Consider the weather: The amount of water your plants need can be influenced by the weather conditions. During hot, dry periods, your plants will need more water than during cooler, wetter periods. Be sure to check your plants regularly during extreme weather conditions, as they may require additional water.

Use a watering schedule: To ensure that you’re providing your plants with the right amount of water, create a watering schedule. The schedule should consider the factors mentioned above and be adjusted as necessary. Keep track of the amount and frequency of watering, as well as any changes in your plants’ growth habits.

Watering methods: Finally, consider the method you use to water your plants. One effective method is to water deeply, allowing the water to penetrate the soil and roots. Avoid soaking the leaves, as this can lead to fungal diseases.

By following these guidelines and observing your plants, you can determine the right watering schedule that works best for your cannabis plants, ensuring their overall health and yield.

Improving Water Retention

One of the ways to prevent under-watering in cannabis plants is to improve water retention in the soil. This is especially important in areas with low humidity levels or during dry periods. Here are some tips for improving water retention:

1. Mulching: Adding a layer of organic matter such as shredded leaves, bark, or grass clippings to the soil surface can help to retain moisture. The mulch will prevent water from evaporating quickly from the soil and also suppress weed growth.

2. Soil amendments: Incorporating materials such as compost, peat moss, or vermiculite into the soil can increase its ability to hold water. These materials absorb water and release it slowly, so the soil remains moist for a longer period.

3. Use of hydrogels: Hydrogels are polymers that can retain water and slowly release it to the soil. They come in the form of small crystals that are mixed with soil or added to the bottom of the planting hole. These crystals can absorb up to 400 times their weight in water and release it slowly over time.

4. Watering deeply: To encourage deeper root growth and improve water retention, it is important to water the plants deeply rather than shallowly. This means watering until the soil is moist at least six inches below the surface. Watering deeply also helps to prevent the soil from becoming hydrophobic or water-repellent.

5. Use of cover crops: Planting cover crops such as clover, alfalfa, or rye grass between cannabis plants can help to improve water retention. The cover crops protect the soil from wind and sun exposure, and their root systems help to break up compacted soil and improve water infiltration.

By following these tips, you can improve water retention in your cannabis plants and prevent under-watering. Remember to always check the soil moisture level before watering, as over-watering can be just as damaging as under-watering.


After exploring how over and under-watering can affect cannabis growth and yield, it is clear that proper watering techniques are essential for a successful harvest. It is important to understand that cannabis plants have different water requirements at different stages of their growth, and it is crucial to provide the correct amount of water to optimize growth.

Over-watering can lead to root rot and other detrimental effects, while under-watering can cause stunted growth and decreased yields. In order to prevent over-watering, it is important to maintain proper drainage and reduce watering frequency. For under-watering, determining the right watering schedule and improving water retention can help to mitigate the issue.

Additionally, ensuring that the soil quality is optimal and free of pests and pathogens is crucial for plant health. Overall, by adhering to proper watering techniques and monitoring plant health, growers can achieve successful cannabis yields.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the optimal pH level for watering cannabis?

The optimal pH level for watering cannabis is between 6.0 and 7.0.

Is tap water suitable for watering cannabis?

Tap water may contain high levels of chlorine and/or fluorine, which could be harmful to cannabis plants. It’s better to use filtered or distilled water.

How often should I water my cannabis plants?

The frequency of watering depends on several factors such as the soil type, container size, humidity, and temperature. In general, it’s recommended to water cannabis when the top inch of soil feels dry.

Should I fertilize my cannabis plants when watering?

Yes, you should fertilize your cannabis plants during the vegetative and flowering stages. However, it’s important to follow the recommended dosage and not over-fertilize, which could lead to nutrient burn.

Can over-watering cause mold and mildew on cannabis plants?

Yes, over-watering can create an anaerobic environment that promotes the growth of mold and mildew on cannabis plants.

How do I know if my cannabis plant needs more water?

You can check if your cannabis plant needs more water by sticking your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If the soil feels dry at that depth, it’s time to water.

Can under-watering cause nutrient deficiencies in cannabis plants?

Yes, under-watering can cause nutrient deficiencies in cannabis plants because the roots are unable to absorb the necessary nutrients from the soil.

What are the benefits of using a watering schedule?

A watering schedule can help maintain consistent moisture levels in the soil, prevent over or under watering, and improve overall plant health.

How do I prevent over-watering in hydroponic systems?

To prevent over-watering in hydroponic systems, it’s important to use a timer to regulate the frequency and duration of watering cycles. Additionally, make sure the growing medium has proper drainage to avoid water accumulation.

Can misting cannabis plants replace watering?

No, misting cannabis plants cannot replace watering as it only provides surface moisture and does not saturate the soil adequately for proper nutrient uptake.


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