Pathogens and Disease

Recirculating hydroponic systems can quickly spread illness among plants. In any hydroponic system, however, you need to take care of disease right away. One of the most common problems is root disease. That said, there are still plenty of pathogens that can affect plants. 

For disease to take root, it needs suitable conditions and a susceptible plant. That means the best way to prevent disease is to keep clean, healthy plants. 

Remember, diseases can often mimic symptoms of another issue. Root rot, for example, is often mistaken for other ailments if the roots aren’t seen. Plants often look sickly, droopy, or discolored when infected. 

Keeping your system clean is a top defense against plant disease. So, keep your grow area as clean as possible. Don’t go into your grow area without clean hands and clothing. Always pick up and remove any dead or diseased plant material. A little maintenance goes a long way.

Signs of plant disease include:

  • Wilting, drooping plants
  • Plant yellowing and discoloration
  • Fuzzy spots
  • Powdery substance on leaves
  • Leaf drop
  • Stunted plant growth
  • Plants or roots turn brown and mushy
  • Leaves turn bright yellow, keeping green veins
Pathogens and Disease affect Hydroponics

Treating Sick Plants

If your plants do get sick, act quickly. Prune any diseased limbs and if needed, remove the sick plants from your system. If your plants suffer from root rot, you may be able to physically clean the roots. Gently rinse them with clean water and get rid of decomposing roots.

Sterilizing and microbial solutions are available to treat sick plants. You have to soak diseased plants in the solution for several hours, although these can also eliminate good bacteria. You can also choose to run nutrient solution through UV rays to help contain infections. Because chemical solutions can harm some plants, only use them if it’s fully necessary. 

As you treat sick plants, keep a close eye on your temperature and humidity. Pathogens thrive in warm, humid conditions. Even slightly lowering the temperature of your nutrient solution can help contain disease. 

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