What Does a Dead Marijuana Plant Look Like

What Does a Dead Marijuana Plant Look Like

In this article, we’ll be going over the signs of if you have dead weed plants, sick plants, or merely healthy cannabis plants with some dead leaves; whether or not you can save them; and if so, how to do so. We will also look at some of the main reasons why these things can happen to your marijuana crops.

The truth is having sick cannabis plants can happen to all levels of cannabis growers from first-time and novice growers to veteran cultivators with decades of experience under their belts. As such, the first thing to remember is to not get discouraged or beat yourself up if you suspect you have some sick cannabis plants on your hand.

Shallow focus green cannabis plant
Use this guide to help you grow healthy cannabis plants at home
Source: Pexels

The Signs of a Sick Marijuana Plant

In this section, we’ll provide some of the typical telltale signs that you don’t have healthy plants, and then in the following sections, we’ll address the main reasons for these symptoms and how to address them.

One of the biggest indicators that your weed plants aren’t going well is that you’ll have sick marijuana leaves. The way that you can tell this is mainly via their coloration. One of the most common signs that your plant’s health is suffering is when you find yellow leaves.

This yellowing can appear in the various forms listed below:

  1. The entire leaf is yellow
  2. The middle section of the leaves is showing signs of yellowing
  3. Yellow leaf tips
  4. There are yellow spots on the edges or between the veins of the leaves
  5. The leaves are yellowing from the veins outward.

If your cannabis leaves are turning or have turned dark or brown, this is also a sign that your plant health is not in a good place.

Generally, these brown or dark areas will appear at the tips and/or edges of the leaves, or they will show up as brown or bluish patches on leaves that have turned dark green. In other cases, parts of the bud will turn dark with yellow leaves coming out from the buds.

A few more visual indicators that you have sick weed plants are tiny spots that change color over time, small black dots, stains that appear on the leaves and have a silvery sheen to them, small webs, or mold that appears web-like.

Other signs that your female plants might be dying are if you have dry leaves, ones that are wilting, or you find holes in the plant’s leaves.

What Do These Leaf Symptoms Mean?

Now that you know some of the most common visual indicators that you may have or may soon have dead weed plants, let’s get into what these symptoms may mean.

Yellow leaves can occur for several reasons, such as watering, nutrients, and lighting.

Excessive Watering

One of the primary reasons cannabis plants end up being overwatered is that new or inexperienced cannabis growers “helicopter parent” their marijuana plants by watering them too much. When you give your plants excess water, it can result in essentially “drowning” the plant roots, which can damage the roots of cannabis plants as it makes them more vulnerable to the risk of root rot. Overwatering can also occur if your plants are being grown in an area or planter that has poor drainage.

Not Enough Watering

Underwatering is also another common issue that occurs in the practice of cannabis cultivation, and to be honest–just gardening in general. If you’re going to be out of town, it’s important that you still have someone you trust watering your plants for you as they will dry out. Also, if you’re growing outdoor crops and there’s a heat wave and the area you live in dealing with extreme temperatures, missing even just one or two days of watering can cause serious damage to your otherwise healthy crops of marijuana.

Nutrient Deficiency

If your weed plants aren’t getting the essential nutrients they need, especially nitrogen, which is integral to the photosynthesis process, then your leaves will not only be yellow, but this discoloration will start at the lower-growing parts of the plant and move upwards.

Nutrient Burn

This nutrient issue occurs when you’re giving your plants too many extra nutrients. Overfeeding your female plants is toxic for them, and will result in dark green leaves with yellow and brown ends.

Cannabis plant in the sunlight
With the right potion of nutrients, you can grow healthy cannabis plants at home
Source: Pexels

Other Types of Nutrient Deficiency

Some other types of nutrient deficiencies include a lack of iron, manganese, zinc, and sulfur. The signs of nutrient deficiencies for these are as follows:

  1. Not enough iron: the new cannabis leaves will be yellow and will start to become thoroughly discolored.
  2. Lack of manganese: your marijuana leaves will first turn yellow, and then will start to develop brown patches.
  3. Zinc deficiency: usually the upper leaves, which are the newest, will show yellowing from the veins out, and the tips of new shoots will wrinkle up.
  4. Not enough sulfur: leaves will start to yellow in the middle, and will eventually take over the entire leaf.
  5. Magnesium deficiency: the older leaves will start to yellow, and other leaves grow darker green or even start to turn purplish.

Light Burn

This occurs when your plants are getting too many hours of light, which results in the tips of the leaves pointing upwards and yellowing, where usually their veins remain green. Another indicator of this is that your yellowing leaves don’t fall off or resist being pulled from the plant.

What Dark or Brown Leaves Indicate

If your plant’s leaves have brown spots or leaf tips that look like they were burned in a fire, these could be indicators of the following: nutrient burn, which has already be covered; heat stress, which is due to extended exposure to extreme temperatures; potassium deficiency; phosphorus deficiency; or nitrogen deficiency.

Spots and Webs

Finding yellow or black spots, webs, or web-like structures are indicators that you have a sick plant. The causes for these are listed below:

  1. Spider mites: tiny spots that may change color over time combined with finding tiny webs on the undersides of leaves and along their stems, are often an indicator that this common cannabis pest has infiltrated your cannabis crop.
  2. Bud rot: three signs of this are that parts of the buds will be dark or discolored, there will be yellow leaves sprouting out of the buds, and web-like mold will appear on top of the nuggets.
  3. Thrips: This is another common cannabis pest that wipes out your entire crop if not dealt with early on. Indicators of thrips are stains that have a sort of silvery sheen to them on the surface of the entire leaf, as well as tiny black dots, which are actually feces left behind by the thrips.

Holes, Dry Leaves, and Wilting

If you find holes in leaves, this is a common sign that you have other common cannabis pests snacking on your marijuana crops.

Dry leaves are another indicator of heat stress, and wilting is a symptom that can occur with a good majority of all of the issues already mentioned.

Frosty-looking outdoor cannabis plants
Cannabis plants thrive in conditions where they have the correct amount and mixture of nutrients
Source: Pexels

How Do I Save My Sick Marijuana Plant?

So, having covered a good majority of the reasons for what the various signs of a sick-looking plant, let’s get to the important part of addressing the various issues laid out in the sections above.

While it’s impossible to cover every single solution and possibility in even a lengthy blog post or article, we can at least give you some of the main methods for how to keep your sick marijuana leaves from turning into dead weed plants.

Maintain a Watering Schedule

Keeping track of when you last watered will help to prevent both excessive watering and underwatering. Many growers keep a journal of sorts to keep track of the water intake of their plants and to reduce the risk of improper watering.

If your plants are suffering from overwatering, you’ll want to improve any poor drainage issues, so that you don’t have drainage water collecting in the soil or the drainage plate under your pot. If you’re growing your plants in soil, add a layer of clay pebbles or even gravel. Also, simply removing the drainage plate from under the planter will eliminate the risk of stagnant water. Finally, refer to your watering schedule so that you don’t water your marijuana crops more than they need. Not only can all of this help save your plants from root rot and the like, but it can also help reduce the risk of mold, which often result from humidity levels or moisture levels being too high.

If your plants aren’t getting enough water, again, refer to your watering schedule and make sure you’re watering them frequently enough. Other things to do include saturating your entire growing medium with water so that approximately 15% of it drains out as runoff water. If this doesn’t seem to help, it could simply be that your pots are too small as the roots of cannabis plants will then “suck up” all of the water.

Provide Your Weed Plants with Extra Nutrients or Less

If your plants are showing signs of nutrient deficiencies, first you’ll need a pH pen to test the soil for your cannabis plants. Basically, its values should be between 6.0-6.5. In the case of a deficiency, you need to increase your source of nutrients so that you have nutrient-rich soil. Many use nutrient solutions to boost the nutrient uptake of their plants.

If you’re dealing with nutrient burn, it’s recommended that you first flush the soil with pH-balanced water, followed by giving your plants time to “eat” the excess nutrient reserves and then using your pH pen to test the soil to determine where things are at before adding more nutrient solution.

Pest Solutions

Depending on the type of pest(s) your weed plants are being infiltrated by depends on the exact solution for saving your crops from becoming dead plants. As such, once you have determined exactly which type of pest is feasting on your once-healthy leaves, you’ll need to do some research on your own.

However, some of the basics that are used for addressing some of the most various cannabis pest infestations:

  1. Aphids: apply neem oil and insecticidal soaps, as well as introduce ladybugs if possible, as they love nothing more than a meal of aphids.
  2. Thrips: remove any weeds growing around the plant, introduce predatory mites like Amblyseius Swirskii, and spray once with neem oil or potassium soap.
  3. Leaf miners: remove dead leaves or ones that are damaged, and apply neem oil, using outdoor netting.
  4. Spider mites: prune any affected areas, hose down your plants, spray an insecticidal soap, and apply a diluted solution of rosemary, peppermint, and/or eucalyptus.


While this piece does not cover every single reason why your weed plants might be sick or dying, or how to resolve every single issue, hopefully, this has given you a good idea of some of the core issues and how to address them.

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