Most of our New Year’s resolutions center on creating a stress-free lifestyle and environment for ourselves. For most marijuana growers, this is easier said than done. But one sure fact of life for every cultivator is that when our plants are down, so are we.

So here is a short list of the top 5 plant stresses to keep an eye out for in 2014. Remember, less stress on plants means less stress on you.

1. Water Stress:
This plant stress is the easiest to prevent and occurs when plants get either too much water or too little. Both instances cause a build up of abscisic acid, which close stomata, and inhibit respiration and photosynthetic processes. Make sure that grow mediums have a chance to dry out between water cycles so that air can permeate the root zone.

2. pH Stress:
The pH balancing of nutrient solutions is a hard trick to master, because the levels are fluctuating constantly. Wide variances in both the plants’ water and feeding solutions can reduce the nutrient uptake and cause deficiencies. An inexpensive pH meter can go a long way in preventing pH headaches.

3. Irregular Light Cycles:
Inconsistent light cycles create hormonal imbalance: plants naturally use the duration of light cycles to trigger points in development. Of course, the most obvious light cycle trigger in cannabis is the transformation from vegetating to flowering plant. Erratic changes will confuse and stress a plant, and may even cause them to hermaphrodite (produce seeded buds).

4. Nutrient/Mineral Stress:
Plants absorb minerals from the nutrient solution we provide. When there is an imbalance in the nutrients, there is also an imbalance of minerals within the plants’ tissues. This slows growth and creates deficiencies that lead to disease and pest infestations. These stresses may be ongoing without being visibly noticeable until the problem is too far gone to correct. Remember to always start out with less and add more as needed.

5. Plant/ Root Damage:
Physical damage to a plant can be a stressful situation to both the plant and grower. Physical damage causes a change plant chemistry and biological processes as the plant works to repair itself. This means less energy for more important aspects of development such as bud and trichome production (i.e., yield and potency). And as far as roots go, roots do not repair, rebuild or regenerate damaged shoots, so every tiny root lost means less uptake until a new root tip can grow. 

If any of you have seen my instructional grow DVD entitled Nico Escondido’s Grow Like A Pro, then you may have noticed I was less-than-delicate while handling some plants during a transplanting segment (this was an unfortunate byproduct of a very rushed filming segment). My apologies to those lovely ladies in NorCal that were mistreated that day, but in earnest, plants -- and roots especially -- require very delicate handling and in return, they just may pack a punch!

Happy New Year to all and until next time amigos!