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Dead plant help.. with what happened


Well-known member

My plant died very very quickly, within 4-5 days. Plant is Ace Malawi. Grown in soil, mix of coast of Maine lobster compost, Penobscot blend, and fox farms happy frog and a bit of worm castings. . Nutes are espoma tomato tone, espoma lime, espoma potash. Soil was mixed months ago. Lighting is 600 MH. 5 gallon fabric pots. Lights are on 20 hours.

I had had trouble from the beginning with white flies and aphids. Baking soda mix took care of white flies, dead bug brew and hand picking got rid of aphids. After this the plants started growing well for a short time, a week maybe. I noticed what I thought was magnesium deficiency. Mixed up Epsom salts and foliar sprayed. This was the beginning of the end for the one plant. The other is hanging in there but still has an issue.

Im thinking ph but really not sure. If anyone reading this recommends a good soil ph tester and a good water ph tester please let me know. Ideas on what happened???



Seed Whore
The soil looks dry. I don't like the idea of baking soda as well.
No matter what happens keep learning. We all make mistakes.



Well-known member
Your mix is too hot from all the good things you added to the substrate. Espoma lime and the other amendments made the salt level very high. If you grow your plant in small containers first and up-pot to the large one later you could better manage your water and nutrient intake. That big ole fabric bag of potting mixe has a lot of nutrients in it and when you added water to the soil it releases a lot the nutrients. Start small for better nutrient management. 😎


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Well-known member
Too bad blondie but not that unusual for 1 plant not to thrive. I notice they both seem to be leaning towards the light, maybe it needs to be closer?

If it were me, I'd pull the dead guy out and check the roots, I'll bet they look just as underdeveloped as the above ground part.

............... but keep going, it's all good! ;)


K+ vibes
Pot looks dry..... Is the room dry too? You didnt mention temperature or humidity.... Room is probably scortching hot with no humidity and fans blowing straight on the plants i imagine... bottom of pot is probably soaking wet and top bone dry in a low humidity room giving intense light...
Maybe get a pump sprayer and spray the top of the dirt and the plants to keep things damp and slowly dampen the dirt instead of flood it at the bottom.


Well-known member
During the time Bugs were an issue, the plant suffered root loss from Overwatering. The light intensity and foliar spray stressed it further, causing it to shrivel and (almost) die.It may also have Mites.

Best bet is to scrap these, clean from top to bottom then start fresh with new everything.

Was the Soil recycled from outdoors, or mixed with potting soil previously used Outside?


Well-known member
I wonder what the roots look like? Surely deficiency and foliar spraying alone couldnt have killed this plant...could it?

If it were me, I would think theres some sort of soil pathogen that has infected the plant. Looks like Fusarium wilting tbh. Google fusarium and see if those pictures and descriptions match up with what you got. Supposedly Hydrogen peroxide can be used to sterilize your medium and kill any bullshit you dont want, but supposedly it kills good stuff too.


ICMag Supporter
ICMag Donor
You have bags of soil in a tub. That is close to the system I am using in one of my tents, the manual watering SWICK tent. What you do is get a loop of slotted drain pipe from the home depot/lowes, and make one loop in the bottom of the tub. That is the hollow support. Fill the tub to 2 or 3 inches above that piping with perlite. You can put a little coarse vermeculite on top if you like the looks better. Set the bag on top, and water the perlite until the water level is 1.5 inches below the bottom of the bag. The water will wick up. You lose about 6" height n the tent, but make up for that with good plants. Cut the top off a plastic water bottle, put some holes in the bottoms o water can get in, bury it in a corner of the tub, and use that as the water level sight gage.

I pH my soil to about 8.0 with lime and oyster etc. The water I use is pH down to 6.2, and has cal-mag and in flower some epsom salts.

Click image for larger version  Name:	DSC01320.JPG Views:	0 Size:	263.6 KB ID:	18043396 I pour a gallon on the perlite every day. The plant is using that much right now. There is a flexible plastic drain pipe made into a loop under that perlite to support the bag. The hollow pipe holds water. My sight gage is on the other side of the bag, where it won't get perlite washed into it when I pour the daily gallon of water this plant is using. The weeds are a BAS 12 clover cover crop, which I start after transplanting into the bag. The surface plants add root activity. This water system lends itself very well to self watering. There is a SIP thread I trashed with my SWICK, that explains this system.


Well-known member
Temp is about 75. Humidity is 45-50. Fan is turned off. I had been misting the top of the soil now and again as I noticed at times it looked dry. After I no longer saw bugs or evidence of any, both plants grew and began to take off. They began to grow like strong sativas... It seemed any damage was being repaired quickly by the plants. Currently, the living plant continues to grow. This is the same soil, same tent, same humidity, same treatment. Same everything I can think of but yet the one plant died miserably. Dead one was taller, stronger, and showed less of what I am calling mag deficiency than the now living plant. I can’t make sense of it. some good ideas here but since the plants were growing... previous damage does not seem to fit. I’ve also used this exact method and similar soil mix on three different grows. Didn’t have this issue so I wouldn’t think the fabric pots are to blame.

Still have bugs... maybe. I can’t see evidence though. My yellow stickies traps are not showing anything new. I see nothing flying. Also looking under leaves see nothing. This doesn’t seem to fit. What else could I look for signs of infestation?

Fusarium wilt might make make some sense. I’m going to check into it. I did bring some garden plants into the tent. A huge fuck up but I took them out eventually. Sprayed the hell out of everything several times. Tent walls, floor, red tub, outside fabric,pots, plants, light, inside of light. Bugs were gone, seemingly,so. Plants began to thrive. The soil in the fabric was not used outside. It was new from the garden center and some had been sitting in the grow room. It never came into contact with the outside soil. Not sure how a soil borne issues can spread. If by air then maybe something to this idea.


Well-known member
I have a working theory now that my soil PH is way high. My city water publishes ph and the most recent one say ph is up to 7.2 - 8.2 . That with a baking soda mixture and direct foliar feeding, raised ph. It took some time for the roots to get the baking soda. I must have sprayed the one plant more than the other. This is what makes sense so far. My other plant continues to grow and foliar feed with a vinegar, epsoms salt, tap water has either slowed or stopped the mag spread. I still have red purple stems and yellow leaves but new growth looks good. I need to get a good ph meter but seems most have lousy reviews. I also removed the fabric from the red tubs. I had this mainly for times I had to leave but I’m not going anywhere for some time yet. Lessons learned and I need a ph meter.


Well-known member
If you are a newb, don't mix any soils at all. Just buy a bag mixed by professionals, and use it. There is too much going on, to start making your own soil also.
Misting the surface might be a real problem. Surface moisture doesn't mean anything. I have seen this done before, where the surface was kept nice but where it mattered was dry.
Buy your compost, and keep it from drying further than how it came. Adding enough water to last 2 days at most. The very most.

Your big plant, in a 5" pot, might use 100ml (or 100g if weighing them) per day.

Many find success by filling there pot with compost. Then 100g of water. Weighing again the next day to see what is happening.
In a 5" pot, expect 300g as it comes from the bag. It never wants to go lower. Each day get it to 400g until the day you find it got back down to 300g, meaning 100g a day isn't enough. Such a pot might reach 500g before runoff and still be at 300g the next day if the plant is big enough to drink 200g (200ml). That is time to pot up. As you can't get a days worth of water in there. However, deficiencies may creep in before then, meaning an early repot or a little feed. It won't happen with a plant that size though. A 5" pot can feed that a while longer


ICMag Supporter
ICMag Donor
I add baking soda to the water I drink. I add pH down to the water I feed my plants. I also add cal-mag, which also has trace elements. The water can be pH up'd - both down and up are chems you buy. No bakin soda is involved.

I tried foliar and it was a disaster. Watering from the top invites bugs like aphids. I only top water on feeding day, other wise the top of the soil in the bag is kinda dry, except for the cover crop.

Look into using a SWICK. It is easy peasy.


Well-known member
All good stuff. Thanks for the posts everyone.

I’ve mixed the same soil and nutes for a while and gotten the hang of a fairly new system. the infestation was not something I had experience with before. The baking soda thing I was referring to was to kill whiteflies. I found a recipe from google posted a number of places. It did seem to work, but in hindsight i should have kept at it by hand. Things were small enough for me to gain ground on it by hand and I should have. Now believing this altered my already highish soil ph, I would not recommend using this whitefly eradication method or know going in this is what I believe caused my issues.

Before I misted I felt down into the side of the soil bag. It was not dry. I knew this and only misted the top to keep it slightly moist. I’d rather not have totally dried out soil. A light mist I wouldn’t think seriously affect the plant at this point. The entire design of this tub setup is to water very very little. Moisture would wick up as needed and very little water would need from the top. Similar I think to the swick method. I’ve only used this one grow, it worked well with a few improvements this go round. The remaining plant continues to grow and seems to be healthy. I do still see a faint glimmer of green on the dead plant. This plant started life strongly. It would be amazing if this plant somehow revived. I’ve got my eye on the tiny green patches. I’ll pull when these turn brown.


Well-known member
I'm not a fan of keeping the soil damp on top. Pests like fungus gnats like it damp.
Sounds like too much going on in the kitchen to me and maybe a flush might get things back on track. That top pics looks a bit like mine when I was over fertilizing. Better to let it pale out a bit than kill it with love :)
Only time I've seen a plant suck it that fast is when my hydro got root rot.
f-e and the others have some good advice there too
I'm sure you can pick through and find the advice you like :)


Well-known member
Lot of good info here. I’m going to pull the plant here soon and look at roots. I don’t think it’s coming back. Yes bugs like damp. Good point to consider. I’ve found that I get bugs inside from soil I’ve bought. I keep very very wet soil cooking in the grow room and only when contaminated bags are opened I’m in trouble. Several coast of Maine bags have done this in the past.

Three Berries

Well-known member
Backing soda has sodium and will build up in the soil. Very little if any is needed. And that pH meter is a piece of crap. I just threw two stick in the dirt multi meters away, The $10 digital pens aren't much better either. Expect to spend $0-$100 on a good pH pen, one you can replace the bulb. But be sure to get the price of that as it may be as much as one that you can't replace the bulb..

I got one of these and so far it's been great. About $55. You can get one from them that has a replaceable bulb for around $100 but a a new bulb is around $50.

Apera Instruments AI209 PH20 Value Waterproof pH Pocket Tester, ±0.1 pH 0-14.0
ebay is the cheapest price.


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ICMag Donor
here is what the pH meter looks like in my soil right now... Two different plants. The one on the left has a really good spark going. Without live plants in there exchanging ions, the soil reads around 7.5 up to 8.



Well-known member
Regarding the Apera Instruments AI209 PH20. I was seriously looking at this unit until I read several reviews that this unit didn’t read straight tap water. Not sure how true that is but I am hesitant to drop 50 or so if the thing won’t measure exactly what I need it for. Anyone have experience with this specific model and it’s ability to measure just plain tap water?

BTW anyone interested I have a grow thread going under the ACE seeds. Essentially a recap of some of what I posted here. I’ll be updating that in the future. Two seedlings are going, my live plant is doing pretty well.

Thanks to all who contributed here.



Well-known member
Not sure about the PH20 myself. Perhaps we have the wrong model number. It's $66 and their cheapest. Forget the price for a moment. It's their cheapest. It uses the small probes found in the $5 meters and in the $10 one's where it can be changed. They call it propriety, which is another way of saying non-standard.
The probe is the fancy bit of a meter. People are buying in probes from the probe factory and sticking them in their own cases with their own electronics. I like that this case is waterproof and the screen looks alright. The probe is bargain basement though.
The $105 PH60 uses an industry standard probe. Their display is 0.1 accuracy but the probe is 0.01 which is 10x better than in the PH20. I can't be sure, but I think that probe looks a lot like many use, including my own very different looking meter. It's because of supply chain.
If you look on Ali you will see the PH20 I think. That bad probe and cheap green plastics start to narrow it down. Look at the batteries it comes with. That is $20 while the PH60 is a real meter.

I looked an Ali, and actually you won't find them green meters now. Things have moved on. Meters there rarely cost more than $20 and for that you get a combination meter that bluetooths to your phone where all values and alarms exist. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005...01373700_2&s=p

If you want branding the H&M can reach $40 and are a perfectly good meter. There will be some bad reviews as all these meters suffer overnight if you leave the lid off, and people do so all the time. I have worked with people who claimed never to, but I found the thing off every week almost. Oddly.. they were just in the middle of doing the tank. Yet it was dry as a bone. Idiots.. salting the probe up and blaming the tools. I don't remember how old my meter is. At least 10 years old. Anything you can't buy for $3 will last if you treat it right. While some claim nothing lasts 3 months. The local shop must change it's meters every few months to not be seen as selling rubbish, and 'level' with some customers that they sell hobby meters, and should spend £300 (if they want the manufacturer to supply a new probe every 3 months) And join in with the customers complaints that you just can't get a good one.

The best advice is to view them as disposable. Don't expect to find new tips when you want one, unless you buy from a scientific supplies company. Do get one that looks like the tip can be changed though, as it's probably a good sign. Especially with that 0.01 accuracy claim.

Regarding scientific supplies companies. They will sell you a $50 Hanna for $150 because they keep to standard lines and stock the spares. You will pay for such professionalism.
Hanna and eutech drift down to us if you want branded stuff. While you can easily spend $300 on something that you thought was $50 if it says cole parker on it, or fisher.
In hydroponics we find lab grade stuff coming from N.Z or BlueLab and priced between Standard stuff and Lab supplies.

The single biggest part of having a good meter, is treating it right. If you loose or bust that plastic cap, it's dead. All you need do is shake off any drips and put the lid on. Without good practice, the $300 meter is no better than the $10 meter.