Wrinkled, folding leaves in half of my soil crop

Hey everyone - joined up to see if I could find a solution to an interesting issue I am having.

I am not exactly a beginner, but definitely no expert. Apologies for the lack of brevity ahead!

I started an indoor>outdoor grow in an unconventional way due to the sun and rain exposure this time of the year up here (lots of rain, mostly cloudy, windy at times). I want to veg these indoors until June and move them out for flowering.

my setup:
-10 plants from seed here in the PNW started back in late March
-germ’d in paper towel, moved to 4 inch pots, transplanted to 7in pots @ wk 4 or so
-soil mix: FFOF + additional worm castings (ratio roughly 10:1 since I figured the castings were probably
superfluous to the mix, but cant hurt.
-no nutes until week 5, light feeding with FF growbig
-2 tsp/gal water, fed every other watering
-allowing soil to get relatively dry between waterings - so watering is about once a week right now
-roots looking good, showing seekers around bottom at drain holes
-transplant went well, no shock, growth has sped up overall. will be potting up from here
-pH checked yesterday with digital meter, 6.0

I was initially moving the plants in an outside with 2 (cheapo amazon) blue LED array grow panels on 18/6 schedule, allowing them to be outside when it wasnt raining. This part is important, i think. My gut tells me this might have been my error. I am new to LED, so initially I had the lights set wayyyy too close to the plants and when I started to see some of this stuff happening around the 3rd week, I researched and raised them to about 18". There were days where they were placed outside and the weather cleared up, giving them a full-sun bath which I know can be damaging. I have kept them inside under the LEDs for the past 2 weeks.

The problem: Half of the plants show some sort of defect in growth that includes:
-wrinkled leaves, some deformation in shape and serration
-slight inter-vein discoloration (paleness)
-leaf pinching and folding downward (upside down taco)
-generally smaller leaf sizes
-new growth appears crinkled, edges turning up slightly
-puffy area around central vein in fan leaves
-leaves appear “wet” or “shiny” in spots of swelling/wrinkling

The other 5 are robust, have large healthy leaves and are generally looking great - however there are small areas where these issues have showed up. New growth on these all appear normal and robust.
The color, overall on all plants appears healthy, despite the deformations and obvious health issues.

What I have checked for:

-pH - appears to be right in the correct range. Watering from the tap (with open time, allowing for chlorine off-gassing)
-over/underwatering - drainage is good and soil is never waterlogged or overly dry
-nutrients - every plant is being fed the same, so having lockup or excess in half doesnt make sense (to me)

  • pests - using a loupe I have not detected any foliar pets and the roots appear white and healthy at the drain holes ( just a few seekers peeking out)
    -heat/humidity - basement area is a constant 60deg / 60% rel hum.
  • lights are 18"+ above plants
    -constant fan breeze

What I suspect

I think I have burned them with the LEDs and the sporadic full exposure to the sun. The pale streaks that occur between veins is not as dramatic as I have seen in other photos, but seem logical to the argument. It doesnt explain how the other half are as healthy as they are though. There are bits of damage here and there on the healthy plants but only a very small fraction of the unhealthy plants. If it is the problem, then I should see clear, healthy growth begin to take over as I have them inside with lights adjusted to a proper height, no?

The only other thing I can think and haven’t fully accounted for is nutrients (I will try a test today) or some type of virus or root disease.

Or is it super simple? Am i overwatering without knowing it?

Care to take a swing at whats going on here? Anything I left out that will help with clues? (i cant imagine)

Thanks so much for reading!

healthy one for comparison at the end:

I’m thinking light or heat burn, the third picture down really looks like it was hit with a flame.

Whenever I move anything outside I never give it direct sunlight, I keep it in the shade for at least 3 to 6 days depending on cloud cover, I’ll move them out of the shade only if there’s clouds. I don’t think the LED did it but it didn’t help being too close. I’ve burned a few myself before I learned my lesson! Why some survived? Perhaps they had less light to deal with or better fire extinguishers!

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Could they be root bound? The pots look a little small for the plants’ size.


Thanks Shatter - I cant imagine it being heat as temps here are barely gotten over 65 outside yet and lower than that when I was actually moving them in and out. I realized my error about the direct light around the time they started showing the stress, so I think I corrected a few obvious errors all at once and hopefully time will heal all wounds.

one other thing I was wondering is about the soil pH. I have a rapitest optical/digital meter and that thing doesnt seem too accurate yet - but I thought a reading of 6.0 for that soil was a bit funky. Im going to buy a standard analog meter and see if it reads the same. the soil may be too acid at 6.0. I havent tested the healthy plants’ soil yet to know if its reading the same.

other than the lights and pH - i have a fan on the plants 24/7. its not blasting or anything but i suppose it could cause some damage to the cell walls if its evaporating water too fast?

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good question - they were transplanted 2 weeks ago to the bigger pots and last week they really exploded in growth. Its possible I just didnt go up to a big enough pot and they have already filled out and are circling. but again, wouldnt the other 5 plants show the same issues? they are growing even faster and healthier.

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Maybe, maybe not. It’d be worth popping them out to look at least.

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Okay, that’s the clincher, timing! Yup sunburn! I’ll bet on it! Just keep your eyes on the new growth and don’t worry if the burned spots turn yellow brown or crispy, the damage is done, the important thing is the new growth and manage what you’re doing by letting that be your plant health indicator.

Whenever I feel a plant may be all alone and getting too much light I place a layer of white kitchen trash bag over it between the light and the plant to defuse the light for a couple days or more.


yeah I may well do that tonight or tomorrow. thanks jefe

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yeah, in my notes, I put a bit about new growth coming out wrinkly. I guess its just now showing how much damage was done.

still scratching my head on how all of them werent affected. perhaps they are the superstars of the grow, to be turned mothers.


They’re all from seed? Not clones? That explains it! Clones would all have responded the same, just like people, no two sisters are exactly the same unless they’re identical twins!


Have you checked your ppms?

I dont have the means to do that :confused:

U should check ur ph and ppms. Also make sure ur not over watering that one maybe just a slower drinker then the rest


After lots of reading and experimenting, learning the processes and instruments involved in tracking and regulating pH and ppms in a soil medium, as well as potting up to 5gal from the 1gals the plants were in - I thought i should update this with a clearer picture of my setup and issues.

I got a new digital pH pen as well as a tdi meter.

the tap water to this house is amazingly clean.
15ppm without any filtration/conditioning. After some research, it seems that the watershed is really just that good. (3-8ppm) I dont understand how tap can be this clean, but I even sent back my first meter because I didnt believe it.
if youre interested, thread here:

pH of the tap water is around 7-7.3
i have a bucket of water sitting outside that has given me a slightly different reading than the stuff directly from the hose.

Because I was seeing roots at the drainage holes in the 1gal pots, I went ahead and got a few new bags of FFOF and some perlite and potted up to 5gals. For the most part, this went off without a hitch. A couple of the rootballs fell apart and I lost small chunks of root mass here and there, nothing critical ( i hope) And the aftermath has been pretty uneventful - they seem to be holding up as well or better than before.

The soilmix is a little different this go around. I opted to add about 30% perlite to lighten up the mix and put a nice layer of the stuff at the bottom to aid in drainage since these will end up outside and rain will be a factor in the near future.

FFOF 70%
perlite 30%
castings (1 or 2 cups)
kelp meal (1/8- 1/4 cup)

As a test, after the transplant, I measured pH of the runoff as well as ppm. FFOF is so much hotter than I expected. readings from 2100-3000. pH was coming in at around 7.1-7.3
Today I attempted to adjust the pH of one of my plants that is considered a loss because of issues it has had since germination. Its a runt and I decided to make it the subject of my tests.
I used white vinegar to pH down my tap water to 6.3 or so and did a flush of the soil. It did not affect the runoff. After about 5 flushes I tried a drastic pH value to see if it was just slow acting - tap @ pH 4 ran off at the same 7.1-7.3. Given my ignorance to this stuff, I was pretty surprised. Another member was reading some of my posts on the matter today in related thread and suggested that this was not a big surprise due to waters inability to buffer pH and given the possibility of lime dissolving slowly in the soil.

My concern is that if I dont bring that pH back down to a target range 6.3-6.8, I could run in a host of issues and stall growth. I am beginning to wonder if some of what I have deemed to be light damage might not be calmag deficiency due to an alkalinity lockout. I have noticed some interveinal lightness and deformities ranging from wrinkles to curled/wonky growth, pinched and clawed leaves.

take a look at the pics and let me know what you think. id say the grow is still 50% healthy right now. But even some of the healthy ones have a touch of weirdness in spots.

in the weeks prior to the transplant, I had begun some lst on most of the plants, so they look a little funky in the pots right now - just fyi

these are the particularly bad ones:

@BobbyDigital @WickedAle @garrigan62 @MattyBear

to save you from having to sift through my lengthy explanations

  • Strain; Egmont Outdoor, seed
  • Soil in pots: FFOF/perlite/castings/kelp meal
  • System type NA
  • PH of runoff or solution in reservoir: 7.1-7.3
  • What is strength of nutrient mix? no nutes, FFOF soil @ 2100ppm+
  • Indoor or Outdoor - both until outdoor temps are right
  • Light system, size: blurple leds for a few hours at night and in the morning
  • Temps; Day, Night- 60-70 / 40s at night
  • Humidity; Day, Night 60-70%
  • Ventilation system; No
  • AC, Humidifier, De-humidifier, NA
  • Co2; No

and adding some others that have been helpful
@dbrn32 @Myfriendis410 @imSICKkid

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That ppm is what I get with OF. Newborns don’t like it but juveniles do fine as long as no other nutrients are introduced until they show signs of hunger. The high ph of the soil is odd but must come from the additives. My OF likes to hover around 6-6.1. You may want to start with a fresh batch, if possible, and add less additives or leave them out completely. 7 ph isn’t going to work for these plants

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yeah, you mentioned the ppms in another thread. thanks for that - put my mind at ease about that at the very least.

I will do a test tomorrow with runoff from OF only vs OF+castings+kelp
the kelp was pretty unnecessary, considering this soils makeup, apparently. I cant imagine the castings causing this, though they are supposedly neutral by nature. im not sure what kelp would do, though its known to normalize pH.

i guess I could always double check my pH meter (:roll_eyes: not this again! ha)

@BobbyDigital i keep reading about OF and seedlings but I started mine in OF without any apparent issue. these shots dont look like any type of nute burn though, do they? just making sure. im pretty certain i cooked them with a light-too-low and exposure to full sun without an hardening off early on.

Do you have good amount of drainage holes in your pot? They can look like that when overwatered. Which may not be too much water at all, but not enough oxygen to roots.

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for the 5 gallon pots, I added about ten 1/4in holes in the bottom and sides for extra drainage, as well as added a healthy portion of perlite to the mix to lighten it all up.

overwatering was suspected too… the 1gal pots had standard drainage and I tried to strictly monitor my waterings as best as possible, allowing them to dry out well before watering. Its possible that the genetics are shitty and half are just healthier drinkers than the others I guess.

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Maybe do a slurry test on that kelp. I’m seeing kelp reading in the mid 9 ph. And others reading mid 6 ph. Something is raising your ph in that soil. Double checking the meter in calibration buffer is a good idea too