my dwc habanaro grow... with leds... yellowing issues, help

IctusSeptember 30, 2011

Hello! First time making a thread here.

I recently got some Habanaro plants off Amazon. In hindsight this was a terrible idea since they were apparently 95 days old in 2" pots, incredibly root bound and were shipped with aphids, whiteflies and a slug! Imagine having to survive a cage match with Tyson for three days. So the plants looked awful when they arrived, leaves all curled up etc.

About 12 days ago I transplanted from the 2" pots into DWC with hydroton.

The plant on the left came with 2 small peppers, the one on the right had one medium sized green one. It turned red a few days ago, but it happened in a matter of hours. I have since eaten that pepper :D It was very hot and pretty tasty, but not as good as the organic habs from Whole Foods. I'm thinking maybe transplant stress made the pepper mature faster?

I am using the Lucas Formula, meaning General Hydro, only the Bloom and Micro parts. When I first did the transplant I did about 2/3 strength (6ml micro, 12ml bloom). I am using filtered tap water, which has a ppm of 120 (EC of ~0.24).

My first Reservoir was around 1.6 EC. (800ppm using 0.5 hanna conversion factor).

pH has been pretty stable at 5.75. After a day or so it will raise to 5.8 then I add a few drops of ph down.

For a few days after the initial transplant, all leaves drooped, and the largest ones on bottom fell off. In the days after, the leaves perked back up, lots of new root growth, but there is still a yellow tint that is spreading on larger leaves (can kinda see in the 2nd photo but its gotten a tad worse now).

I did a res change 2 days ago and increased to around 2.1 EC which is like 85% I think. I also added a tiny capful of CalMag thinking maybe Mg deficiency (but thats unlikely in hydro, even in low concetrations, right?).

Well today the larger leaves look a bit worse, like the yellowness is spreading from the edges of the leaves inwards.

I have the 2 plants in a 6gal res under a DIY LED fixture that is dimmable. I use a PAR meter and I started them at ~400 PAR and increased to ~1000 after a week, but am thinking maybe too much so pulled it back to 600 last night. Sunlight is 2000-2200 PAR.

I am running waterlevel about 1-1.5" below the bottom of net pots.

Do you guys think my Habs could be getting nutrient burn from too much Lucas formula? Should I go back to half strength or less for a while? Or could it be overwatering? I have lots of bubbles in the res, and when I lift up the net pots, they seem to be holding a ton of water that will leak out. Maybe lower water level so the roots are less saturated?

It's odd because when I search yellowing leaves, people usually point to N or Mg Defeciency which as I pondered above, I think is unlikely in hydro.

My temps are ranging from 84-74.

Roots. Whitest ones are new growth

Res with pH probe (that is until I broke the glass on my probe last night :( )

My random assortment of LEDs. There 3 channels. 6 cree XPG's are on a non-dimmable 24w xitanium driver. Then There's a mix of XRE Coolwhite and RoyalBlue on a Dimmable Meanwell 60-48D, and another leg of WarmWhite XMLs and Red XPE's and Rebels on another dimmable Meanwell 60-48D.

Pulley system to raise the lights and safety harness to help aid installation/removal of light:

The black box on the left contains all the LED electronics and dimming potentiometers.

What do you guys think would be the best course of action?

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bunnyman(Thumb of MI)

I'm wondering why the hydroponic and electronics to grow a couple peppers?

My habs, cayenne, and jalapeno grow fine in used coffee jugs. Indoors by the window.

Why even attempt live plants from amazon when you can buy seeds? Once stunned a plant seldom and never fully recovers.

Nature spent the last 4.5 BILLION years perfecting conditions to grow habanera peppers. The less you change the better your chance of success. Consider growing from your own seed so that each generation of peppers can genetically dial-in to your grow conditions.

Just my thoughts... good luck!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 1:42PM
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Because why not? I had lots of extra LEDs and drivers from my aquarium work, and there are no windows that get any decent sun in my house, too many trees.

Besides I am using this as a hydro learning experience. When I move to my new house i'd like to convert my garage to grow several veggies in an ebb and flow system. And I also like Leds a lot, the whole process of building them and wiring them and getting the most efficient use of light per watt. In the aquarium world people have grown some pretty insane corals using Leds and I know they can work well for hydro as well.

I do keep a small garden outside btw, but it's just not the same, I don't enjoy it nearly as much as more controlled indoor projects. For one I think my dogs are pissing all over the garden burning the plants... 5 goddamn dogs... Damn wife :)

I agree that buying plants was pretty dumb if I am trying to get big yields and growth. Maybe I should just start some seeds now and if the dwc plants still look like crap once they germinate, I can just swap them?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 4:31PM
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I am not experienced with DWC I know there are a few on GW that are not sure why they have not posted. Here is my opinion. You had plants sent to you, then changed the growing environment so bit of a shock to the plants so some leaf loss and yellowing. I would just give them some time. And like you stated you will start some seeds and replace if necessary. Your setup looks Awesome by the way. I used plant lights to get my Bhuts going in Feb. then I move them outdors when warmer. I am looking to go with florcents for this season. Good luck hope they make it, keep us posted.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 8:03PM
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I don't know anything about hydro or LED's, but, over watering certainly can cause yellowing of the leaves. If you're fairly comfortable with your lights/nutrients, I'd try lowering the water / frequency of watering.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 10:43AM
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Bunnyman, why even bother posting something so usless?? Your an Idiot!

Ictus - From my minor experience with DWC I found that lowering the water level to just below the basket and roots works best. You only want the bubbles to break and splash water into the roots. I also added hydrogen peroxide once a month.

Check out -

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 7:13PM
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madferret(UK 8b-9a)

I don't use hydro or lights but I do grow chillies indoors in insanely (for some) small pots and use a weak fert solution watering just the bottom roots, which is kind of like the DWC but manually.

I'd say give it some time I've seen quite a few troubled plants that given some decent practices and time (mainly time) recover completely on their own.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:03AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

you might think you're being helpful, but really we don't care for that kind of rudeness here.
Moreover, you should use the contraction, "You're," particuarly when calling someone else
an idiot.

As for the original topic....I've seen lots of hydro, and I've seen lots of yellow plants.
Growing in water is basically the ultimate in over-watering. Until your plants grow
differentiated "water-roots," the plants will necessarily suffer from limited nutrient uptake.
The converse is also true: if you root your plants in water, and then move them into soil,
the plant will have to grow "air-roots" to efficiently extract moisture and nutrients from
the medium. I say this to impress upon everyone the idea that transplant shock should be
expected when transferring from water to soil or soil to water. It's just a given.

I don't know about fertilizers for water systems, but I would assume that a synthetic fertilizer
with all the micros would be best.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Thanks for the replies everyone. And I don't mind bunnyman calling me out on going crazy for a small setup :) In fact I get a kick out of it. It's a hobby, why not be crazy and have fun?? Didn't think he was really rude, more just didn't know my reasoning (or lack there of).

I did end up lowering the water level a little over an inch, so there's now about a 2.5" air gap. The roots still seem wet but not soaking anymore and I think it has helped.


Roots have done pretty well in a week. Forgot to mention I've been dosing with some beneficial bacteria, which is brewed by mixing some EWC and molassas with some fungi and airstones in a bucket for a few days and mixing some every few days.

However you can see a few of the roots have developed a black tip on one of the plants. These black tip roots seem to wilt a bit. Is that just air pruning or could I have some bad bacteria going on? I might try spraying with the bennies directly on the roots.

The more I look at the old pics, and these ones (taken last night), and look at the plants today, it almost seems like the whole plant is recovering from a yellow tint, but recovering near the veins first.

New growth that wasn't there a few days ago:

These leaves are odd. Symptoms of both deficiency and nute burn on the same leaves. Thinking just stress and roots adapting as people mentioned above.

One leaf in particular was "sweating" a bit

A few shots of the underside. As best as I can see, the black flecks are just dirt from the transplant. They are kinda stuck in there and don't brush off. I tried looking as close as I can with a jewelers loupe and still looked like dirt...

But those weird round white sacks look bad to me, like some kind of snail or slug egg. Also looks like alot of bite damage all over. Can anybody tell what's going on here?

Am I wrong and the black bits are pests?

Here's a full hi resolution 1600 photo:

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 9:31PM
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oops, messed up the link.

Also not sure why I said a week of root growth above. It's really only been 4-5 days between photos. Not bad eh?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 9:37PM
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After getting my cameras whitebalance a bit better and trying to match the brightness of original pics closer (impossible since LEDs have been adjusted), things are looking MUCH better! The pics from the previous post are about a day old.

While the plant on the left is doing ok, the plant on the right has exploded into a little bush, and the rootmass is also much larger than its partner's. I did pick a large pepper from the right plant (leaving it with 0, but 1 flower), and the left plant is still burdened by 2 peppers that are getting larger by the day. Does that explain the difference in growth speeds?

Looks like the leaves are alot darker actually. They are clearly absorbing more light and shading the inner part of the plant more. I think I freaked out over what was actually the plant slowly getting its strength back from the veins outwards.

I also figured out my mystery root black spots (and feel kinda dumb).

You can see the acrylic divider between the 2 plants. I was doing this in hopes of keeping the root masses separate. After seeing 1.5 weeks of root growth I can clearly see that it will be impossible soon.

Anyways, I have been rotating the plants by hand every few hours about 1/4 turn, which helps the inner and bottom leaves get a little more light (looks like they appreciate it). So I noticed the topmost air-roots actually rest on this acrylic divider, and my messing with the roots is what smashes them and kills the tips. Guess the blackness is actually beneficial bacteria cleaning up. Doesn't look bad since the same rooks are still growing in other directions.

Should I stop turning the plants and just leave em be?

hey look this flower is getting nice and pretty

Still looking for updates on the possible pests. fearing may have spidermites afterall but hard to be sure.

In the last 24 hours, EC has risen from 1.73 to 1.8, the fastest rise yet. I think it indicates the plants took a big drink for growth but didn't require full strength nutes, so I can probably stay at the same level or less for a while.

ph 5.8.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 11:29PM
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madferret(UK 8b-9a)

I have those same black dots on one of mine they don't seem to effect anything but I do wonder what they are. They do seem to be doing well though :)


    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 4:12AM
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esox07 (4b)

Ictus, yah, don't sweat the nasty responses. When we get down to it, 90% of us are "idiots" if you will when growing peppers. I dont know too many people that dont put many, many, many hours and many dollars into growing a few peppers. And many like myself don't even heat 1/10th of what I grow. We all try different things, grow systems, soils, nutrients, etc... It is a hobby for us all.
I am overwintering a Bhut this year...why? Not because I like to eat them which I don't/can't. I am doing because I want to see if I can. Duh! If you want to grow peppers in a bucket of water with LED' Just keep us posted on how it goes. It looks more interesting than a plant in a coffee can full of dirt anyway.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 9:36PM
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Thanks Esox07, I see you know where I am coming from :) Besides it wasn't all that expensive for me as I had the spare LEDs and power supplies from a large aquarium build that I ended up going LED/T5 hybrid on so there were leftovers :) Bought some potentiometers, some sterlites, hydroton, netpots, nutes, airstones (already had air pumps), some black airline tubing. That's about it really. Oh yea and a few cheap pulleys and chains which are TOTALLY unnecessary just give alot more versatility especially combined with dimming.

Somewhere between 50 - 100 bucks of junk. The LEDs, heatsink, fans and power supplies would probably cost about $200-250 to make another based on about 5 bucks per LED.
But the cost was already sunk for me so decided to do something creative.

I still have 10 more Cree XP-Gs and xitanium powersupply and am trying to think of something else creative to do.

As I mentioned above at some point, I might want to try a larger scale outdoor Hydro or Aeroponics experiment next year, so I am just trying my hand at what was the easiest setup

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 3:30AM
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Recall that a few days ago, that the EC was trending upwards with dropping water level. I had it set to 1.73 and it drifted to 1.83 over two days.

Well in the last two days that trend reversed. EC has lowered from 1.73 to 1.6 along with waterlevel drop.

Of course not knowing exactly how much is evaporation vs plant use, you can't read into it too much. But to me it indicates that the plant is able to use more of the nutrients.

Gotta snap pics in a bit, but there are at least a dozen baby new flower buds on one plant :)

Is it normal for petals on medium sized flowers to be a bit curly?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 9:49PM
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It's been just over a week, and it's been a good one!

Some sideways growing 'tops' growing into the light reflected off the white door. When the door is closed those areas get another 50-100 PAR so it makes sense the plants would cram the leaves sideways:

In the below photo, the red circle is an example of nute burn from around 14 days ago when I had the EC too high around 2.2. Now it's around 1.5. Notice that leaf has grown large and looks great except for the old scar.

The old leaves which previously exhibited yellowing issues have mostly recovered but are still identified by the ugly grey matte finish and yellow outline. New leaves look lush and green.

On the right plant, some of the new growth tips are turning dark and dying off. Could this be from light burn? I have that area at ~1100 PAR right now (half-sun par), and some new growth looks fine up top. Any idea why some very specific spots would all die back like this??

Most of the flower buds and stems look healthy, but a few do have fine black streaks on the curved part of the stem. Is that a sign of impending bud drop?

Cool how the top leaves are thick and compact while the shaded leaves grow large and thin and at any angle to capture light (even upside down).

I think this shows how much an enclosed white space can help. I will have to think about how to apply that on a more open space hydro grow soon.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 5:08AM
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At first I thought some of the sideways leaves were drooping. After observing them carefully I don't think either plant has any drooping whatsoever right now, just optimized leaf orientation. I like it :)

It's funny how in last weeks post I called one of the plants a "bush" but now it looks like a dinky seedling... as I'm sure these recent pics will appear to me next week. On the cycle goes... :)

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 5:18AM
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Is there anybody out there whos reading this thread who can take a stab at my questions?

man got threads going on different gardening forums, nobodys talkin tho :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 1:09PM
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This forum is usually very good about people chiming in to help. I guess you're just in uncharted territory or paying closer attention than others that have experience with hydro/LED grows. So, still reading - can't answer your questions.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 10:25AM
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I grew all last winter in a Aero and DWC set up. I noticed that when my plants were small they had issues with the abundance of water and yellowed some. The yellowing passed and the plants started to grow like weeds.

The best thing to keep an eye on is the roots. Having a thick white root ball is the goal. I noticed some of your roots have black tips. Keep an eye on that because that's usually a sign of root rot. If it gets out of hand you need to stop adding Beni bacteria and do a hydrogen peroxide treatment for a week or two.

Here are some tips that I have figured out.

*Keep the PH near 7 and the water temp near 70 because this ensures the nutrient uptake and Dissolved oxygen is at a good level.

*The reservoir should be light proof. Light encourages bad things to grow.

*Using a air pump and air stone made for hydro is a good idea. Lots of really tiny air bubbles and moving water is the best way to aerate.

*A good nutrient is a must. A lot of people use General Hydro Flora series and have seen that it encourages the growth of Pythium and slime molds. Your water has the GH flora color. I recommend using Dutch Master nutrients for their Higher Quality.

*Number one thing to remember is to know when to let go of a sick grow. If you have to trash your plants, steralize and start over doesn't mean you failed it means your learning.

*Keep notes of what you do to the system, condition of the plants and how long into the grow. This will help to pinpoint where you are having issues. Grow by Grow you will get better.

Best Wishes

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 4:34PM
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Thanks for all the tips, sorry it's been some time since I checked this thread. I've unfortunately been battling spider mites :O... definitely learned my lesson about ordering plants... don't do it!

Glad you noticed the black tips on the roots. I actually found out what was going on there.... I have an acrylic divider between my 2 plants that sometimes gets knocked a bit, and I used to rotate the plants around and fiddle with em too much. So I think some slime or whatever was getting on the roots from the acrylic divider and too much touching the plants. It was only the roots right by that divider that got those tips.

But its funny you mention H2O2 since I actually tried that before I realized what was going on... and the roots looked like ASS. I used arond 2ml/gal. I waited 3 full days after the peroxide, and there was ZERO root growth, and a LOT more dark coloring on the roots. Then I switched back to Bennies, cut off tons of roots... and the roots started growing again.

Very interesting you suggest a ph near 7. That's alot higher than everything I've read. Most sources say 5.8-6.0, but I've also seen a few that say 6-6.5. You're the first person to suggest 7.0 so I'm very curious how you came to that conclusion.

I think you raise a VERY good point about knowing when to trash plants. I will be moving into a new house next month, and starting a much larger grow, so I will most likely be trashing these plants unless I can be confident the mites are dead.

Currently I have taped up my cabinet with a no-pest-strip inside. I tried neem spray; I think I overdid it since it totally fried one of the plants. I now know that it would have been a good idea to spray just pure water afterwards to get rid of excess residue.

I'll post some pics next.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 4:56PM
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This pictures shows the first sign of the mites on one of the plants, a few weeks ago. Notice all the young leaves are slightly brown and gooey looking with curled back edges.

And here's what I believe to be a mite:

This was the two plants around 2 weeks ago right around when I started seeing problems:

This was a few days later. Notice some growth, but small leaves are starting to disappear:

Those are 2 weeks ago shortly before spraying with Bon-Neem. Since then, recovery has been slow, not much growth. Here are the plants two days ago.

The plant on the right had by far the worse mite problem and the Bon-Neem spray burned TONS of leaves, and it dropped dozens the day after the treatment. Think I way overdid it. But at least there is new growth on the inner and upper parts; that had been completely stopped for the last 2 weeks until the neem treatment.

And this is the plant on the left 2 days ago. Sadly this one is now showing lots of mites, hence all the weird issues, so the neem didn't do the trick fully.

Closeup of the most infected leaves. Sadly its all the upper young leaves which really stunts growth and creates odd growth patterns :P

The plant on the left is almost twice as big since the right plant was hit by mites first.

I can't help but wonder how massive these things would be if I had no pests :)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 5:26PM
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Here is my LED Hydro Plant.7 pot Sr strain.

8 wks from seed and starting to bud,about 16in tall X 13in. wide.Leaves are hand sized and there are branches under them.
A happy plant so far.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 12:20AM
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Don't know why it says image was moved...

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 2:45AM
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lol, thats ok, I saw all the pics you posted in my thread over at I didn't mind you posting your pics in my thread then, since that thread is alot more about LEDs and lighting spectrum in general, but I'm a bit confused as you why you'd come post more of your pics in my other thread here, which is much more focused on plant issues.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 3:12PM
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Different pics.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 5:13PM
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ok fair enough :) was a gorgeous plant last pic I saw. my plants look like death after being taped up with a no pest strip for the last 2 days. I don't know if I should blame the strips, or the high temps and humidity from sealing the cabinet.

Went up to 90F and 87% RH, yikes. maybe i shoulda turned the lights down more.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 6:58PM
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Ictus: You had a plant stressed in multiple ways. Normally, switching from soil to hydro doesn't create a lot of stress, however you mentioned the plants already have peppers on them which creates a lot of stress on the plants, especially when they have to concentrate on the change of medium of the roots. I suspect the green leaves were due to nutrients moving to the fruit as the roots were self repairing. Not sure I would be switching media like that when there is fruit on the plant. Would be best to remove fruit and flowers, then put in hydro and allow the roots and vegetation to adjust before producing more flowers and fruit.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:56PM
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