Plant Stress is a major problem with plants because it adversely affects them in various ways. The growth, development, yield, and everything else are affected because of the stress.
For an indoor grower depending on grow lights, it is crucial to know about plant stress so that it can be prevented at the right time and appropriate actions can be taken to reduce it.
In this article, we will have an in-depth look at plant stress. We will study what it is, how it is caused, its types, and how it can be prevented.
Let’s start the discussion.
What is Plant Stress?
The term Plant Stress is referred to conditions that badly affect the plant’s growth, development, and yield. These unfavorable conditions are forced by external factors and cause various physical and chemical issues in the plants.
The word stress indicates that the plant is not in its optimal condition or state. It is under unwanted stress that is having an adverse effect on the plant’s life and growth.
Due to stress, there is a distinct plant stress response. The growth rate, metabolism, flowering, and other things of the plants are disturbed because of the stress.
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Plant Stress is a name given to many unfavorable conditions that are caused by external factors. The unfavorable conditions could be high temperature, overheating, excess/deficiency of nutrients, scarcity of light, etc.
For a grower, it is necessary to understand plant stress, its types, causes, and how to manage and reduce the stress to enhance the growth and development of the plant.
If the grower knows how to indicate the plant stress and how to deal with it, the growth and yield will be optimal. Otherwise, the adverse effects of plant stress will ruin the effort of the grower.
Types of Plant Stress
Plant stress is mainly divided into two main types, and then those types are further classified. The two main types of plant stress are
- 1.Biotic Plant Stress
- 2.Abiotic Plant Stress
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1) Biotic Plant Stress
Biotic plant stress is caused by the biological units or living organisms. The living organisms or factors, including humans, bacteria, viruses, insects, fungi, and weeds, are responsible for this type of stress.
All these external factors are living organisms like plants.
For instance, if there are chewing insects on the leaves of the plant, it means the plant is under stress. The stress is due to a living organism, so it is a Biotic Plant Stress.
There are many scenarios of Biotic stress, and these can lead to the death of the plant, unfavorable yield, and excess/deficiency of nutrients.
Biotic stress depends on the climate where the plant is being grown. For instance, if the humidity of the area is high, there are chances of mold and mildew. If there are animals in the area, they can harm the plants.
Surprisingly, plants also have defense mechanisms to oppose these stresses, and it depends on the gene of the plant.
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Some common biotic plant stress types are:
- Attack of insects and microorganisms
- Damage by an animal, human, or any other living organism
2) Abiotic Plant Stress
Abiotic Plant Stress is due to external environmental factors. It is due to non-living organisms.
For instance, if the plant is watered, oxygen will not be available to the roots. It can adversely affect the growth and yield of the plant, and in the worst case, the plant might die. It is also called waterlogging.
Abiotic plant stress also has various types, but they can be classified into two categories.
- 1.Physical Plant Stress
- 2.Chemical Plant Stress
Physical Plant Stress is due to physical conditions, such as overwatering of the plant, high temperature and humidity, and water deficiency.
In contrast, Chemical Plant Stress is due to chemical conditions or the state of the environment. It could be unbalanced pH and deficiency of a certain mineral.
Some common abiotic plant stresses are:
- High temperature
- Salt stress
- Low temperature
- Water scarcity or excess
- Excess minerals and nutrients
- Scarcity or surplus of light
Stress Caused by Grow Lights
Indoor growers used grow lights to mimic the sunlight in their grow area. The grow lights are essential for the growth and survival of the plant because these provide the light that is used in photosynthesis. Plants produce their food with the help of light and water, so grow lights are necessary.
But unfortunately, these grow lights can also harm your plant.
Firstly, the grow lights produce certain electromagnetic radiations that your plants need. If these radiations are not enough or the light intensity is low, the plant will not be able to get the required light. Consequently, the plant will not be able to grow or produce its food.
Secondly, high intensity can damage the plants as the lights also emit heat. Due to heat, the temperature area rises quickly, and it is an Abiotic Stress.
Under heat stress, the plant might suffer from burns or the scarcity of water. Due to the high temperature, the water evaporates quickly from the soil, and there is nothing left for the plant.
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Thus, grow lights can also cause abiotic stress and make the plant suffer. Therefore, it is necessary to choose the grow lights with extra care.
There are four main types of grow lights available on the market.
- 1.Incandescent Bulbs
- 2.Fluorescent Lights
- 4.LED grow lights
Incandescent bulbs are the cheapest, but the efficiency is poor. Therefore, they emit too much heat and increase the temperature of the grow area rapidly. These can cause abiotic stress as they can create scarcity of water for the plants or cause burns on leaves.
Moreover, due to low efficiency, the cost of electrical energy is massive. These bulbs are usually avoided as they are not beneficial in the long term.
Fluorescent lights are commonly used by beginners. These lights are cheap, and the efficiency is much better than incandescent bulbs. These do not emit too much heat energy. Their life is less than LED grow lights, but they are still preferred because of the low cost. With these lights, there are fewer chances of plant stress.
HID stands for High-Intensity Discharge. These grow lights are also used in indoor grow areas, and some growers like to use them. The reason behind their usage is the broad spectrum that is excellent for all stages of the plant.
Keep in mind that these lights also emit heat energy and are not quite efficient. Extra care is needed to use these lights, and these are not suitable for beginners.
LED Grow Light
The most efficient grow light is the LED grow light. These are the first option when it comes to indoor growing, especially when it is done commercially.
The reason behind preferring these lights is the high efficiency. The efficiency is usually 75% and can be more, depending on the quality of the light. The energy bill is greatly reduced with LED lights. In addition, they emit minimal heat energy that does not affect the plants.
Thus, LED grow lights are the best for the indoor growing area as the chances of abiotic heat and light stress are quite low. Furthermore, these have a very long life span that is beneficial in the long term.
Another important thing is the distance between the grow light and the plant. If the distance is less, the plant will get excess light, and if the distance is longer, the plant will get less than the required light. Thus, the optimal distance is needed to provide the light that the plants need.
Beginners can also use LED grow lights as these do not harm plants like other grow lights.
How to Reduce and Manage Plant Stress
Plant Stress can be reduced or managed at the right time in two ways.
- 1.With Proper Care
- 2.Measurement of Metrics
Plants need extra care. The grower needs to check the plants regularly because it gives an idea of the changes occurring in the plants. If there are any leave-eating insects, the grower will know about them and take measures to reduce and solve the problem.
Regular examination helps to know whether the plant is suffering from waterlogging, leaf burn, or any other issue. The grower needs to check for the plant heat stress symptoms or any other symptoms to detect the stress at the right time.
Secondly, it is necessary to provide the right amount of water, fertilizers, nutrients, light, and other things to the plant. In case of any excess or deficiency, the plant will suffer from plant stress.
The other way to reduce and manage plant stress is the measurement of the metrics.
The grower needs to check the pH of the plants regularly. It will indicate if there is any problem, such as imbalanced pH or nutrient lockout in the plant.
Similarly, there should be a temperature and humidity measuring device. Growers usually use a thermo-hygrometer in their grow rooms to keep an eye on the humidity and the temperature. It can help prevent plant stress.