Do plants get stressed?

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There are two ways to answer this question: – the easy and the correct. The easy answer is yes. But to answer correctly, you have to understand what stress is.

Most of us have an innate knowledge of this term. Lately, this word has acquired a mainly negative meaning, such as acute and chronic disorder. It is true that many people suffer from this type of stress. Chronic stress further worsens the condition, causing mental and health problems – it’s a vicious cycle.

The true nature of stress has nothing to do with what was described above. It is simply a biological reaction to environmental conditions. It helps us fight those conditions and, unless it becomes chronic, it is beneficial.

Plants, just like humans, are often exposed to less than ideal environments. Your response to a stressful environment is highly evolved. Unlike us, plants cannot run away from stress, so they are forced to fight it with all their might – and that’s what they do.

Plants have developed defense mechanisms against herbivores, fungi, drought, and extreme heat and cold. All of these threats elicit unique hormonal responses that, in turn, maximize the plant’s chances of surviving the stress situation. If you detect that your plant is stressed – and determine the causes of stress – in a timely manner, you can help it combat stressors and repair the situation.


Wilting is the most common response to stress. The reasons are many: insects, pathogens, inadequate watering, extreme heat, sudden changes in the environment…

The most common reason for wilting is improper watering. If it has rained a lot, or you have watered the plants excessively, you should stop doing so until they recover and the soil dries up. Otherwise, if there is not enough moisture in the soil, the plants will also wither. Check for sufficient moisture – deep down to the roots, not just on the surface.

If you are moving a plant from indoors to outdoors, chances are it will react to sunlight and wind by wilting. This can be prevented by building a small shelter to ease the transition.

White spots on leaves of plants that have been moved outdoors often indicate sunburn. If so, the bulk of the bleached leaves will be the ones that get the most sun exposure. Although plants recover from minor burns, you can prevent burns by gradually placing the plant in the sun, or by building a small shelter.

Black areas on the foliage generally indicate frost damage – if this weather condition occurs. These damages will be present in the most exposed leaves. If you observe this phenomenon, wait until the weather improves and remove the damaged leaves. Plants usually cope well with frost damage.

Fractured foliage is caused by adverse weather conditions, such as high winds or hail. Although for the most part it is just an aesthetic problem, in some cases it can reduce the potential of the plant to fight pathogens. Prune off damaged leaves to be sure.

Discolored foliage is often caused by a lack of nutrients. With a slow release organic fertilizer this type of deficiency is solved. If the discoloration persists, the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients could be compromised. You’ll want to check that the pH of the soil is right for your plant – most need a pH between 6 and 7.

Dry leaf edges are often the result of poor fertilization or high winds. Fertilizers should be used as directed on the label and, if you can, use organic, slow-release fertilizers. In the event that the problem is the wind, build a shelter or protect the more delicate plants by planting them downwind of the more resistant ones.

Burnt foliage is a sign of chemical stress. It could be caused by pesticides or animal urine. You can try cleaning the leaves with water, and trim any that are permanently damaged.


Water Stress is caused by under or over watering. In both cases, wilting will be observed.

Nutritional Stress is caused by an imbalance or a general lack of nutrients. You will notice that the foliage is discolored or, in the worst case, stunted.

The pH of the Root Zone must be maintained accordingly. The pH requirements will depend on the type of crop. An incorrect pH will cause the plant to obtain nutrients at an inefficient rate. The symptoms are the same as in nutritional stress. Aside from pH, root health can be affected by variations in soil temperature. If you grow indoors, make sure the soil is at room temperature.

Irregular Light Cycles of an indoor marijuana crop cause a reduced yield and can cause the manifestation of hermaphroditic plants. Be sure to respect the 18+ hours of light during the vegetative stage and the 12/12 cycle during flowering.

Damage to the tissue of the plant can be caused by extreme environmental conditions such as hail or strong winds, or by faulty handling of the plants. In most cases, the plant will get over it and it won’t be a cause for concern.

Extreme Environmental Conditions are bad for any plant. If you grow indoors, make sure you maintain good humidity, air circulation, and temperature. If there is a sudden change in the environment, the plant will react by slowing down its growth, and in the end it will yield less.

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