How to bring a cannabis plant back to life

Published May 20, 2021 11:00 a.m. ET

Even after doing everything humanely possible to properly care for a cannabis plant, sometimes they don’t do quite as well as we anticipate. In some cases, it’s something we’ve accidentally done to cause damage or hold back essential nutrients, but in others, the situation can be a bit more complex. Without a professional eye, it might be difficult to determine why you’ve got dying or dead plants, but there are some things that you can do to improve their outcome.

Whether you’ve been given a hopeless case, or your own pride and joy is suddenly drooping, with dead leaves, or sporting an obvious loss of colour, you’re here because you need tried and true solutions. Of course, without a proper diagnosis, there is no way to determine which one of these ideas might help most, but if you’re looking to learn how to revive a plant, this list is an excellent place to start.

1. Keep it somewhere warm, humid, and bright

If you’ve noticed that your cannabis plant has some dead leaves that are droopy or overall just not looking very healthy, then you might want to consider moving to somewhere that is warmer, brighter, and more humid. Cannabis is a tropical species, and though some strains seem to thrive in a less than ideal environment, more sensitive ones might not be able to survive. This is a large part of why it’s so important to choose the appropriate strain for your climate, even if the plan is to cultivate indoors under strict control. In some cases, too much light can also burn, so be sure to look over all of these things for clues.

2. Address obvious health issues

Cannabis plants that are infested with disease or pests will require an appropriate treatment if you want to revive them. Otherwise, if left unchecked, the damage and devastation will only spread further until you’re left with completely dead plants. If it’s not one of those unfortunate situations, then you’ll want to see what else could be missing from the equation. Does it need more water? How about a large pot to spread out? Usually, a quick visual assessment can give you a really good idea of where you should start in addressing the threat.

3. Gently remove dead leaves

Once you’re pretty sure that you’ve got all the pot plants health issues in check through treatment or adjustments to their environment, you’ll want to remove any sections of it that are extensively damaged because those areas will act as a drain on the plant, even if there is no way to revive them. Generally, this is done most often with dead leaves that are withering away to nothing anyway. However, in some cases, gently removing small, devastated branches can help to improve a plant's overall health. This can be done with a pair of scissors or a light tug by hand. Just be careful not to cause further injury in the process.

4. Transplanting

Professionals that know how to revive a plant often use transplanting almost as if it’s a rite of passage, doing so even when the plants don’t appear to be in distress. That’s because doing so allows the gardener to replace the soil with a nutrient-dense combination that is sure to make any plant happy. It also creates new space for a cannabis plant's root system to spread out, removing the risk of finding its growth stunted from being rootbound. All you need is some super soil and a large pot to truly make a world of difference.

5. Misting

9 times out of 10 if you’ve got dead plants or some with too many dead leaves, the issue is a lack of hydration for an extended period of time. In some cases, this can happen quite quickly indoors where there is air conditioning constantly drying out the air, but most of the time it’s straight-up neglect, be it from a lack of providing the essential H2O or growing a plant in soil that doesn’t hold moisture for long enough. In both of these situations, a bit of gentle misting with chemical-free water once a day might be all your plants really need to perk back up.

Know that it may take time

If you take one thing away from this lesson today on how to revive a plant, it should be that this is a process that can take a fair amount of time, so patience is key. Sometimes cannabis plants can take days or even weeks to bounce back, and then, unfortunately, there are those that will never come back to life. In the world of gardening, there are no guarantees because there is often a lot more damage present than what can be visibly seen. Still, it’s a worthwhile endeavor that could pay off well in the end, and these tips and tricks should do nothing but improve your rate of plant revival success.

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