Dry leaves on plants

Leaves Dry And Paper Like: Reasons Plant Leaves Are Papery Looking

If you see papery leaves on plants, or if you’ve noticed papery spots on leaves, you have a mystery on your hands. However, there are several possible causes when leaves are papery looking and brittle. Read on for tips to unravel this conundrum.

Why Are My Leaves Dry and Paper Like?

Below are the most common reasons for papery spots on leaves and how to fix them:

Lack of moisture – Papery leaves on plants are often caused by leaf scorch. This is a distinct possibility if the crispy, dry appearance shows up on leaf tips first, then progresses to the entire leaf. This often happens during hot, dry weather when moisture evaporates before the plant can absorb it through the roots. Without moisture, the leaves are unable to cool and easily become scorched. A good soaking may restore a leaf-scorched plant if the damage isn’t too severe.

Excessive moisture – Leaf scorch can also be attributed to too much moisture. This occurs when the soil is so wet that the roots are deprived of oxygen. As the roots smother, the leaves turn dry and papery and the plant eventually dies. If a plant is affected by root rot, the stem will generally display a rotted, waterlogged appearance. Root rot is nearly always fatal. To prevent rot, locate plants in well-drained soil and allow the soil to dry slightly between each watering.

Powdery Mildew – This fungal disease can cause leaves to take on a dry, blotchy, scorched appearance, often with a powdery white leaf surface. It often shows up when conditions are warm and humid. If the problem affects only a few leaves, just remove the leaves and dispose of them properly because powdery mildew is highly contagious. Allow adequate space between plants to provide air circulation. Don’t overwater and avoid over-fertilization. Fungicides are sometimes helpful if they are applied early.
Excessive fertilizer – When leaves are dry and paper like, excessive fertilizer may be to blame; too much can scorch the roots and burn the plant. Read the container carefully and apply fertilizer as directed. Many plants perform better with a dilute formula, and most require no fertilizer during the winter months.

Water quality – Many indoor plants are sensitive to chlorine and minerals in the water. This is a common reason for brown, papery spots on leaves, and may cause the leaves to turn brown and fall off the plant. To avoid this problem, don’t use water straight from the tap. Instead, use bottled water or let water sit overnight so the chlorine and minerals have time to dissipate. Similarly, cold water affects many plants adversely. Most plants prefer room temperature water.

How To Prevent And Treat Dry And Crispy Cannabis Leaves

When growing cannabis, there are numerous signs and symptoms to look out for in order to maintain the health and vitality of your crop. If you want to end up with yields of maximum quality and quantity, one symptom to be particularly mindful of are dry and crispy leaves.

The sight of luscious plants with full and strong leaves is a wonderful sight, and is a visual sign of the potent and healthy harvest to come. Dry and crispy leaves, however, are not a sight for sore eyes. There are numerous underlying causes to this condition, so identifying the correct one is key to preventing any further damage to your crop.


Cannabis plants require a certain balance of nutrients within the growing medium to maintain their health and reach their maximum potential. Too much or too little of certain nutrients can be detrimental to plant health and result in dry and crispy leaves occurring.

Nitrogen is an important nutrient for your crop, and plays a vital role in chlorophyll formation and therefore, photosynthesis. Nitrogen also plays an important part in the formation of amino acids, which form proteins within the plant.

Important as nitrogen is, if growers accidentally get a bit too keen when feeding their plants, they may end up inducing nitrogen toxicity. When too much nitrogen is present within a crop, leaves can start to display very dark green shades, and will eventually develop dry and crispy characteristics.

Two other nutrients to consider when experiencing leaf dryness are iron and magnesium. Magnesium also plays a key role within photosynthesis, whereas iron contributes greatly to chlorophyll formation and enzymatic activities.

Deficiencies involving either of these nutrients can lead to a decline in leaf health. However, there are actions that can be taken to restore balance. For outdoor growers, this usually starts with flushing out the medium with pH-balanced water.


Overwatering is a common mistake when growing cannabis, though it ultimately comes from a good place. Of course, we want to make sure our plants are receiving an adequate water supply, but giving them an excess can turn out to be too much of a good thing.

Water is critical to plant health, but saturating your plant’s growing medium with water can lead to crispy leaves that may even begin to turn brown.

Water makes its way through your plants via osmosis. The cells work to pass on water to the next one. However, when too much water is travelling through a plant and it reaches the cells at the end of a line, they become too full and the cells rupture. This phenomenon can cause crusting at the tips of leaves, accompanied by a brown discolouration.


Invasions in the form of insect pests and fungi can cause high amounts of environmental stress to inflict plants. In some cases, they cause leaves to dry-out and become crispy. In order to avoid such a crisis, it’s worth educating yourself on how to defend against such threats.

Fungus gnats are an example of pests that can lay siege to your crop, resulting in leaf health deterioration. These critters often present themselves due to overwatering, as this environment is ideal for their multiplication.

Various pests can be deterred by erecting a fine netting around the perimeter of your crop. Beneficial predatory insects can also be introduced into the environment to rid your plants of pests.

In cases of mould and fungi formation, be sure to keep close watch over the humidity of your growing environment. Mould thrives in conditions of high humidity and limited air flow. Use a combination of dehumidifiers and fans within the grow space if you think mould might be at the root of your dry and crispy leaf problem.


Cannabis plants need a lot of light in order to boom to their full size in a short period of time. This need is usually met thanks to large and extensive lighting setups. As well as providing impressive amounts of light, some setups also generate a lot of heat. Even if plants are within a safe distance from a light source, they still run the risk of undergoing heat stress and burns.

Heat stress can, over time, start to dry-out leaves and make them crispy in the process. Heat stress will most likely start to occur when your crop is exposed to temperatures exceeding 30°C.

To address heat stress, begin by slightly increasing the distance between your plants and their light source. If this is effective, then chances are your plants were suffering from light burn as opposed to heat stress.

If this isn’t quite enough, you can also put some intake and exhaust fans in place to cool the environment down. Silica supplementation can also help buffer your plants against environmental stressors like heat.


Sometimes, leaves turning brown, dry, and crispy is not a cause for alarm. As part of the natural aging process, early leaves will start to wither when they have fulfilled their biological purpose. There is no underlying sickness to these bottom-dwelling leaves.

The Causes Of Dry Cannabis Leaves And How To Prevent Them

Although there are a few situations where dry cannabis leaves are normal, they are often a sign of a more serious issue. Here’s a guide on the numerous potential causes of dry leaves, and what you can do to remedy or prevent the situation altogether.

When the leaves of your cannabis plants become dry and brittle, there is a reason for it. In many cases, this can be a sign of a more serious problem. When you spot dry leaves, you should act quickly in order to prevent further damage to your precious plants. Learn about the possible causes for dry leaves and how you can prevent them from occurring.



One instance in which you don’t need to worry too much about dry cannabis leaves is if your plant is old. In the later stages of flowering, close to harvest time, it is not unusual for some of the larger fan leaves to turn yellow, wither, and dry out.

Dry and crumpled old leaves at the bottom of your flowering plant, with the growth on top looking fine, is quite common. The older your plant gets, the more dry the leaves become, starting from the bottom and moving toward the top. Again, no need to worry.

Sometimes, yellow or dry leaves also occur in very young plants that have just grown their first set of real leaves. Here too, this is normal and is no cause for concern.


If your cannabis plant is in the late stages of flowering and you spot yellow and dry leaves at the bottom, some careful defoliation can help focus the plant’s energy on maturing those buds.


Overwatering is one of the most common reasons for a whole lot of cannabis problems. It can be the reason behind most nutrient deficiencies and can bring on problems with mould and fungi. Overwatering can also lead to yellow, dry, and brittle leaves.

Although plants need water for healthy growth, too much of it isn’t good either. Your cannabis plant can only take up a certain amount of water at a time until all the cells of the plant have reached their capacity. When the growing medium is saturated with water, the cells start to rupture. When this happens, the leaves become dry, brittle, and yellow-brown.


If you suspect overwatering as the cause for your dry leaves, water less frequently. It is best to always allow the substrate in the pot to mostly dry out between waterings. A good way to test the water saturation level in your container is to pick up the pot and test by weight. If it feels quite light and the topsoil is fully dry, you’ll know it’s time to water again.


Insect pests can cause significant stress and harm to your plants, and are yet another cause for dry leaves. Some common pests, such as spider mites, can do their damage before you even notice them because they are so tiny that they’re invisible to the naked eye. Only when you check your plants with a loupe or a microscope can you see the tiny spider-like critters that might have already eaten holes in the leaves, ultimately causing them to turn yellow and crumple.

Fungus gnats are another common pest that is bad news, especially for seedlings and young plants. These small insects have a dark black colour and resemble tiny flies or fleas. If they appear, you can normally spot them on the topsoil where they lay their eggs. In the case of fungus gnats, they are often a sign of overwatering, since they love a moist environment.

For common cannabis pest infestations, including mites and other aphids, look into natural eradication methods. Insecticidal soap and neem oil are easy and effective insecticides that you can safely use for many types of cannabis pests. They are mild enough to not damage your plants and don’t contain harmful synthetic chemicals.

If you have a fungus gnat problem, you can catch these with yellow sticky traps. If you water your plants less frequently, it will also help get rid of the fungus gnats naturally.


Another reason your plant’s leaves may become dry is thanks to mould and fungus formation. Aside from overwatering your plants, mould often occurs in conditions of high humidity and lack of sufficient airflow.

Keep a close watch on the relative humidity of your grow room. Sometimes, a simple fan blowing a mild stream of air over your plants can be all that’s needed to prevent mould and fungus. You can also look into a dehumidifier if a fan alone is not sufficient to get the humidity in your environment under control.


When the light in your grow room is too close to your plants, this can result in light burn, with discoloured, dry, and crumpled leaves manifesting. Light burn is relatively easy to diagnose since it only affects the uppermost foliage closest to the light source.
Although less frequent, light burn can also happen outdoors. Cannabis loves plenty of light, but too much direct sun in combination with heat stress can lead to dry and dying leaves.

If you grow indoors and you suspect light burn, move your grow lights further away from your plants. Outdoors, make sure that your plants receive more shade or diffused sunlight in order to be protected from the extreme conditions.


Most types of grow lights not only emit light, but also a large amount of heat in the process. You can tell whether the heat of your lights is causing problems when the leaves closest to the lights are affected. Again, this can also happen outdoors under extreme or constant heat.

Apart from moving your light source further from the plant canopy, check the temp in your grow room as well. Anything above around 30°C is less than optimal. Here too, a fan can do wonders to keep air moving and eliminate hot spots throughout the space. Outside, take the same precautions as with light burn.


When the tips of your cannabis plant become yellow, brown, and dry, this is a classic sign that you might be administering excess nutrients. You can spot nutrient burn on new growth near the top of your plant.

Reduce the amount of nutrients you give to your plants. Young plants and seedlings in particular can be very sensitive to nutrients. Check the label of the products you’re using for the recommended doses corresponding to your plant’s age. Many times, nutrient manufacturers overstate how much you should feed your plants.

If you think your plants are experiencing nutrient burn, you’ll want to flush out the substrate with pure, pH-balanced water before continuing to give your plant nutes. Start by administering half of the recommended dose and see how your plant responds. Remember, more nutes doesn’t always mean better weed.


A nutrient deficiency means that your plants aren’t receiving enough nutrients, leading to growing problems like dry and dying leaves. It’s important to know that the reason behind most nutrient deficiencies isn’t a lack of nutrients in general.

Very often, the real reason for a deficiency is an incorrect pH level of your watering or nutrient solution. Cannabis has a small pH window where the plant is able to take in nutrients. Anything outside of this window results in “nutrient lockout”, a state in which available nutrients cannot be taken in by the roots. In such a case, giving more nutrients without correcting the pH problem will only make things much worse.

Ensure that your water or nutrient solution has the correct pH level. If you grow in soil, the pH level needs to be between 6.0–7.0pH. If you grow in coco or hydroponically, the ideal pH level should be a a little more acidic, around 5.5–6.5pH. With a pH meter or pH measuring drops. you can measure the pH level of your water and nutrient solution. Adjust the level to the right value by using “pH down” or “pH up” products that you can purchase from any grow store.

10 Common Marijuana Leaf Problems and How to Fix Them

Cannabis growers, especially beginners, are going to face pests and problems with their marijuana plants over the course of their grow. It’s just part of the deal and is something you can minimize as you get better at growing.

Luckily, cannabis plants are extremely resilient and can withstand a harsh environment or an invader for some time. This is convenient because it gives you time to figure out what the issue is and treat it before your plant is completely ruined.

Don’t freak out if something does start to happen to one of your plants, as it’s not the end! The best course of action is to view the signs and symptoms on your plant and then compare them to the symptoms listed below. Once you find the right match, continue your research and follow the instructions for how to cure it and within a few days you should see signs of recovery!

Under Watering & Over Watering

Underwatering and overwatering are the two most common problems among beginner growers and are also very easy to fix. If you are underwatering a cannabis plant, you will notice the leaves start to droop and they will seem as if they are hanging. Growth will also slow down.

If you notice these signs on your plants, all you’ll need to do is water them more frequently and give them more per watering. If your leaves are drooping, give them a quick watering and within 30 minutes they will be standing right back up nice and perky!

When you are overwatering the plant, it will cause the leaves to curl downwards and they will seem very rigid in tight because they are so full of water. Growth will also slow down tremendously and if you don’t fix it quickly, it can lead to root rot.

When overwatering occurs, it means you’ll want to water less frequently. The best method for deciding when to water is by checking how dry the soil is. If it is dry all the way around and inch deep, then it is ready to water.

If not, you still need to wait. With an overwatered plant, let it dry out for a few days and then resume a more appropriate watering schedule.

Nutrient Burn

Nutrient burn is another common issue beginners and even expert growers often face, as they tend to get overzealous with feeding their plants. When it comes to nutrients, less is always more!

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Nutrient burn is essentially what happens to your plants when you’ve been feeding them too strong of a nutrient mix, and/or too frequently. The edges of your leaves will begin to brown and look crispy like they were burned, and growth will slow down drastically.

The burning always starts at the very tip of the leaves, so look out for that subtle clue. If your plant begins to show signs of burn, hold off on feeding nutrients for a week or two and then you can resume. This will allow the plant to flush out the high quantity of nutes.

Light Burn

Whenever the tops of your plants are too close to the grow lights above, it will cause the leaves to yellow and burn. The easiest way to spot this problem is to look out for the leaves that are closest to the light; they will begin turning yellow first and then it will spread to other areas to the plant.

As soon as you spot this issue, raise your lights 6 inches to 1 foot higher. How close your lights should be is always determined by their strength and the stage the plants are in. Be sure to look at the manual your light came with as it will always explain the ideal distances for that specific light.

Incorrect pH range

Growing at the wrong pH level is actually one of the most common reasons for why people experience issues with their cannabis plants. It is extremely important to mix your nutrients and waterings at the right pH as it affects how your plant absorbs those inputs.

If in the wrong pH range, it can cause your plant to go into a nutrient lockout, which means it is essentially in shock and no longer absorbing nutrients for the time being.

This is the first thing I always check for when someone is having an issue with their plants as it is almost always the answer. So before you assume you are having a nutrient deficiency, be sure you are using the proper pH levels for the growing medium you are using.

Nitrogen Deficiency & Toxicity

Nitrogen is one of the three main macronutrients cannabis plants survive on, so its presence is important when providing nutrients. When you look on the front of most nutrient bottles, you will see three numbers listed next to each other with dash marks. Those are the N-P-K Ratios, which are the symbols for the three main macronutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.

When there is not enough potassium in the plants system, the leaves will begin to turn a bright yellow and will die. This is easily fixed by first checking to make sure you’re using the correct pH. If you are, then you’ll want to add a nutrient into the mix that is high in N.

Note that if you are getting close to harvest, your fan leaves will naturally turn yellow as the buds will pull the nitrogen out of them for one last boost in growth, which is completely normal and nothing to worry about!

Nitrogen toxicity, on the other hand, is caused by feeding too much nitrogen to your plants and is often referred to as “The Claw.” This is because one of the symptoms is the ends of your leaves will curl or claw downwards. They will also turn dark green, which is another sign of N toxicity. To fix this issue, just lighten up on the amount of nitrogen mixed into the nutrient feedings.

Spider Mites

While not as common as the previous issues, this pest is definitely one of the most damaging and difficult to deal with. If you don’t catch these guys early on, there is a good chance you won’t be able to get rid of them. That is why it is so important to always monitor your plants and to comb through them every couple of days so you can spot pests and other issues as early on as possible.

Spider mites, and most other pests, hide on the undersides of your fan leaves so always check that part of the plant as well.

It will be hard to see this best with the naked eye so I recommend using the same tool you use for looking at trichomes as that will be perfect for zooming in on them. The mites will look like similar to spiders and will be crawling around nibbling on your leaves.

The early signs of spider mites includes lots of tiny and light-colored spots on your leaves. It will look like speckles as the dots are so small and close together.

If not taken care of, you will see webs that look similar to spider webs, and they will be covering your leaves and plants. Usually at this point it is too late, but if you do catch them early on you have some options.

The best and most organic option is to use live ladybugs. You can buy them for under $10 at the gardening store and they will eat up all the mites quickly. The big issue with spider mites is they reproduce at an extremely rapid rate, so you need to make sure you kill every last one of them or they will continue to come back.


Similar to spider mites, aphids hang out on the undersides of the fan leaves, but they are green and have long legs almost like a grasshopper. They are pretty tiny as well so I also recommend using the trichome scope for looking at aphids on your leaves. You will see them crawling around and what aphids do is suck the nutrients and water out of your fan leaves, which causes them to wilt and die.

Luckily, ladybugs love eating aphids so all you have to do is add them to your plant and they will do the rest. Be sure to take care of this issue ASAP as the aphids will take out a lot of fan leaves very quickly, which will lead to smaller yields.

Also, most people recommend spraying a neem oil mix onto your plants to eliminate these bugs, but I am not a big fan of that. Reason being, if you are in flower, you don’t want to be spraying your buds with anything as it can lead to mold and rot. The other reason is the spray leaves a lasting foreign smell on the plants that is unpleasant and something I don’t want in their system.

Powdery Mildew

One of the more common types of fungi you will encounter as a cannabis grower, white powdery mildew is often a result of too high a humidity in the grow room, coupled with low or no airflow. Eventually this powdery substance forms on your plants and continues to spread and make more mildew while eating up your cannabis plants.

In order to kill the mildew, it is best to mist it with a mildew eliminating spray. Also, lowering humidity and increasing airflow in the grow room is enough to stop it from coming back.

Bud Rot

Another issue caused by high humidity and low airflow is bud rot. Overwatering can also cause this to happen, and essentially the results are the rotting of your cannabis buds. It will start from the inside and will slowly turn them brown and moldy until the whole bud is ruined.

The best way to stop the rot from spreading is by first increasing airflow and lowering the humidity in the grow room. Next, you’ll want to cut off all the buds that are infected. Mentally, it is hard to do, but if they have any amount of rot on them, the bud is useless and can make you sick if smoked.

Once you have cut off all the rot, keep a close eye on the buds for more and make sure the conditions stay where they are and you will be fine.

Heat Stress

This is the final problem on the list and is a very important one to monitor for. Just as the name suggests, heat stress is a form of stress on your plants caused by too high of a temperature in the grow room.

The temp should be as close to 75F at all times, and once it reaches the low 80s, plant growth begins to slow down. As the temp gets hotter, the fingers of the fan leaves will begin to taco or fold up longways.

This is the easiest way to tell if your plant is experiencing heat stress and all you have to do to fix it is lower the temp to the appropriate levels.

Final Thoughts

So there you have the 10 of the most common problems cannabis growers face, as well as all the solutions to fix them before your plants are too far gone!

Also remember that with most of the nutrient deficiency and leaf problems, the issue is pH levels. So always be sure to check that first before trying to increase any particular nutrient.

Besides that, always make sure your temperature and humidity levels are correct and you aren’t tracking in any pests to the grow room. If you follow these steps, you’ll minimize most issues right off the bat.

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