Ahhhhh, nutrient lockout. Even worse than losing your keys, (sorry lol) nutrient lockout is when your plants are not absorbing any of the nutrients in your soil. The sad part of this particular issue is – well – adding nutrients won’t help. The plants aren’t taking up what is already there, so adding more is useless.
What causes nutrient lockout? Well, there can be a number of things. Your pH is too high or too low (a little usually won’t hurt you unless the plant is extremely sensitive – but if you are extremely alkaline or acidic, you will see nutrient lockout as a result). There can be a chemical reaction between two nutrients which cause your plant not to uptake nutrients, and you can even have a buildup of salt in your soil. Also, if you are using amendments which have been sitting mixed for too long.
So how do you know if your plants are experiencing nutrient lockout? Well, you are going to see the same symptoms as a nutrient deficiency, because that’s basically what it is. Most often, you will notice because of foliage discoloration. Your leaves will be yellow, limp . . . the plant just kind of looks “sad”, for lack of a better description. They can also look scorched, and if so, this is most likely a salt buildup.
The best way you can get rid of nutrient lockout is to do a good flush of your soil, making sure to water with pure water for a few days. If you are growing hydroponically, do a full flush and start with pure water again. You need to also check the pH of your soil, as too high a pH is a pretty common cause of lockout. We have pH adjusting products available to help you with the results here.
So, in short, nutrient lockout isn’t terminal. It’s fixable, you just have to flush everything (the purpose of that, by the way, is to remove excess salts), adjust pH, and kind of start from scratch with the nutrients. Extreme Blend is a great nutrient for after a flush, as are our Kelp products.