nutrient lockout

Understanding Nutrient Lockout

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If you notice your hydroponic plants becoming stunted or showing colors resembling nutrient deficiency, then your plants may be experiencing nutrient lockout. It’s easier to diagnose nutrient lockout with hydroponic gardens because nutrients are measured to the exact amount (or should be) to supply the plants with enough nutrients. Nutrient lockout is exactly what it sounds like. Nutrients in the solution are locked out from being absorbed by the roots. Picture a mineral clog in the arteries of the plant. This can mean the death of your garden.

nutrient lockout
Nutrient lockout can mean the death of your garden and should be treated immediately.

Some Causes Of Nutrient Lockout

  • Not mixing hydroponic nutrients properly or too much nutrients in the solution will cause nutrient lockout. Many nutrients have to be mixed a certain way so make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. Follow a feeding chart if you’re not experienced with using different nutrient levels so not to add too much nutrients.
  • The buildup of excess minerals or salts in your reservoir will cause nutrient lockout. It’s important to change your nutrient solution every week or so and use a clean reservoir. Rinsing the root with fresh water to get excess nutrients off is also recommended.
  • Improper pH levels will cause nutrient lockout. pH levels should be measured regularly and kept between 5.5 and 6.5. Different minerals can only be taken in by the plant at certain pH levels. If the pH of your nutrient solution falls out of these levels, adjust the pH asap.

How To Treat Nutrient Lockout

First, you need to flush your reservoir and plants with fresh water. To help save a garden experiencing nutrient lockout, a leaching agent should be used to leach out any minerals built up in your garden. You can find many products over the internet or at your local hydroponics store that will flush your system of excess minerals. Run clean water through your system and over the plant’s roots to further flush your system. I like to then empty the reservoir again, replacing it with more fresh water only for the plants to sit in for a few days before getting them back on nutrients.

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