You are here7 Ways to Improve Cannabis Bud Quality
7 Ways to Improve Cannabis Bud Quality
by Nebula Haze & Sirius Fourside
Table of Contents
- Master the Basics of Growing - especially harvesting, trimming and curing! These 3 things alone make up 50% of your final bud appearance, and doing them right can actually increase bud potency!
- Start with Top-Shelf Genetics - get the effects and appearance you want!
- Give Your Cannabis Lots of Light! - this increases both yields and potency
- Nutrients & Supplements - learn about smell enhancers, bloom boosters and bulk builders!
- Better Taste, Better Smell - learn other techniques to increase terpene content so buds taste and smell better
- Manipulate Temperature & Humidity in the flowering stage to increase resin production ("glitter" and stickiness), bring out colors like red or purple & prevent smells from burning away
- Strong Air Flow Around Every Cola - you can increase the size and density of your buds by making sure in the flowering stage that every cola not only has access to lots of direct light, but also a few inches of space to itself (with a nice breeze blowing over and through the plant). Cannabis is wind-pollinated in the wild and cannabis plants put more energy into developing buds that are exposed to a breeze. In addition to increasing bud size, strong airflow in the grow space helps control temperature, strengthens the stems and prevents several common plant problems that can negatively affect the appearance of buds
I'm talking about the really really good stuff!
The truth is, you can successfully grow cannabis with very little effort, make a ton of mistakes, and still harvest buds that will do the job.
But have you ever wondered how people grow truly top-shelf buds? The kind of bud that can beat the marijuana you get in a dispensary?
If so, you're in luck, because today I'm going to teach you 7 tips to consistently growing top-tier quality cannabis buds with effects that will stick in your memory for years to come. Plus !'ll teach you how to make your cannabis look pretty!
A lot of mistakes that won't kill your plant (like nutrient burn, nutrient deficiencies, and heat stress) can often still damage the overall appearance of your buds, especially big problems that happen after the beginning of the flowering stage while buds are forming. More importantly, these problems can reduce the maximum potency your plant can achieve!
So in order to get the best yields along with beautiful buds that sparkle in the light, you need to gain a complete understanding of the basics of growing.
It used to be that you needed to know an experienced grower to learn how to cultivate cannabis. These days, anyone with the will and an internet connection can find everything they need within minutes, so no excuses!
- What's the difference between "medical" and non-medical marijuana?
- How to Increase THC While Growing
- How to Increase CBD While Growing
There are many books and guides out there to help you get on the right path, or check out the free beginner's guide on GrowWeedEasy.com. These articles should get you started...and then some!
- The Beginner's Guide: How to Grow Cannabis Indoors
- When To Harvest Your Buds For Top Potency
- How to Dry & Cure Your Buds Like a Professional
It's really tough to get truly top-shelf buds if you start with mid-grade seeds or clones; you're giving yourself a much higher chance of disappointment because no growing method can overcome genetics!
When I first started growing, I would grow any seeds I could find. These would usually grow pretty well but my crops never ended up being as good as the buds I found them in.
I then tried buying marijuana clones from the local dispensary with crazy strain names like "Super Grand Daddy Purple" and "Grapefruit Bubblegum Kush," but my yields and results still left a lot to be desired. It's not that there's any inherent problem with clones - clones are awesome! - but I got a feeling these plants weren't really the strains the dispensary claimed them to be. I didn't have any grower friends at the time and I thought bag seed and local clones were my best choices.
Until I discovered seed banks.
Ever since I started buying seeds from a reputable cannabis seed bank and getting my chosen strains shipped to me, I have been able to consistently produce star-quality buds.
Just switching to better seed stock caused a dramatic increase in my yields, but most importantly the quality of my harvests drastically improved. Not to mention the freedom of being able to choose which strain you want to grow instead of hoping to find a good seed in your buds.
Clones are still a good way to start a grow with good genetics, but make sure you get them from a trustworthy source!
If you want to take your quality to the next level, don't start with just any clones or seeds. Search for the right, true quality genetics and don't be afraid to research to make sure you're getting exactly what you want! Good seeds cost more than bagseed, but the money you pay for quality is worth it, especially when you consider what you're getting in return.
If you want great bud, you have to provide plenty of light!
When you start a grow with good genetics - from good seeds or clones - your plant has the potential for a high level of quality (yields, potency, resilience). However, it's nearly impossible to get your buds to reach that potential if you use lights that are underpowered.
For example, there's no amount of plant training or growing skill that can make up for the amount of light produced by an incandescent bulb; the bulb simply doesn't have what it takes to do the job. Similarly, growers can have the same problem when they try to grow a larger plant with a few small CFLs or T5s. Although CFLs and T5s make great growing lights and produce high-quality buds, it's important to pick the right tool for the job. These two types of lights are better at stealth, discretion, and smaller grows than producing lots of super potent bud.
When it comes to indoor cannabis gardening, more light is better up to an extent. If you give your flowering cannabis plants all the light they can handle without giving them too much, it increases your potency and yields. Strong, bright light is a crucial part of reaching a strain's full potential.
Strong light is also crucially important for increasing the density of your buds
First, before adding any special supplements, you need to make sure you're giving yoru plant the correct base nutrients in the flowering stage.
Base Nutrients in the Flowering Stage
- Low Nitrogen (N) - Give your plant relatively low levels of Nitrogen, especially in the second half of the flowering stage when the plant has stopped growing vegetatively and buds are fattening up. The plant needs a lot of Nitrogen for vegetative growth but doesn't need nearly as much for making buds. In fact, too much nitrogen in the ripening stage can discourage bud production and hurt your yields.
- Plenty of Phosphorus (P) - Phosphorus is incredibly important to flower production and giving plants plenty of Phosphorus in the flowering stage will help increase the total number of flowers
- Potassium (K) - Potassium is often overlooked compared to Phosphorus (which is often considered a bud booster) but Potassium may actually be even more important! Providing a good source of Potassium increases the size and density of each individual flower.
In general, for the second half of the flowering stage, less is more! Keeping nutrient levels low can also improve the taste of your final buds because high nutrient levels is associated with a chemical taste to the buds.
Supplements in the Flowering Stage
Supplements in the flowering stage come in many different flavors, and they have different goals or purposes
- Sugar or carbohydrates - improve taste/smell and increase bulk. Some of these, like the Botanicare Sweet Carbo Line, not only include sugar, but also certain terpenes and esters that are stored unchanged in plant buds, giving your buds unique subtle flavors like grape, citrus, berry, and "raw" (which is just a generally sweet smell).
- "Bloom Enhancers" - These offer a variety of non-nutrient ingredients that may help the plant grow better or more efficiently in some way by improving processes or providing the plant with amino acids and humic acids, so the plant doesn't have to make everything itself.
- PK Boosters & "Shooting Powders" - With this type of supplement, the main ingredients are just Phosphorus and Potassium because they are important for flowering. These also sometimes contain some amount of sulfur. In general, use these sparingly as they're usually really potent! And don't forget that every quality base Bloom nutrient should already contain plenty of PK.
Often, bloom supplements will include a mix of some or even all of these types of ingredients! It can definitely get a little confusing so I'll try to break it down a little :)
A cheap alternative to expensive sugar-based bloom boosting supplements is blackstrap molasses. Giving this to your plants for the last few weeks before harvest can help them get bigger and smell/taste better. It's not specially made for plants, it's the regular stuff you'll find in your kitchen or at the grocery store). Blackstrap mollasses adds sugars, amino acids and trace minerals. Unfortunately for hydro growers, anything organic like molasses is not suitable for a hydroponic reservoir! But mollasses works great for soil and coco growers :)
For last 2-3 weeks before harvest, give 1/2 tsp of Blackstrap Molasses per gallon when watering (for soil or coco coir)
For those who prefer something in a bottle, I'm really intrigued by Botanicare's Sweet Carbo line. According to Botanicare:
The natural esters in Sweet are easily absorbed by the plant, but are not broken down futher once deposited within the plant tissue. This means that as new flowers develop they will contain small amounts of these natural esters which contribute to the overall flavor and aroma of the finished product.
They offer flavors such as grape, citrus, berry, and "raw" (which is just a generally sweet smell). These should be used throughout the flowering stage to help build smell/flavor in the buds as they mature. However, since these contain a small but significant amount of magnesium, they should not be used while flushing during last 2-3 weeks before harvest. At this point, the smells have already been deposited into the buds. Another cool thing about these supplements is they contain amino acids and some other enhancers, so it's kind of like getting a lot of different products at once.
Other growers who've tried the "raw" version have said they can definitely notice an increase in the amount of "sweet" smell in their buds, and it's made me jealous. For my next grow I plan to use Sweet Grape as my primary supplement for the flowering stage. I'll report back whether buds actually smell like grape or if they just smell sweet :)
The jury is still out and which is the most effective supplement, but many growers are happy with bloom promoting supplements that include sources of...
I personally don't use this type of supplement so I can't recommend a particular one, but some of the most popular cannabis supplements based on this type of formula include...
Floralicious Plus (by General Hydroponics)
Liquid Karma (by Botanicare)
Diamond Black (by General Organics)
Note: These are only for soil or coco coir! (since these supplements contain a lot of organic materials like guano and fishmeal, they are not suitable to hydroponic reservoirs)
PK Boosters & "Shooting Powders"
The supplements listed above use ingredients that add only tiny amounts of base nutrients (NPK). This means that they have less of a chance of overwhelming your plant with too high levels of nutrients (which can be easy to do if you're adding a lot of supplements!).
However, this last set of nutrients directly adds P and K. If you're using a regular Bloom nutrient already, this can make it really easy to go overboard with P and K. Whenever using this type of nutrient, a tiny amount goes a really long way! Whenever possible, try to choose a supplement by the same company as your base nutrients - this will help prevent negative interactions between the nutrients and the supplements. In general...
Phosphorus (P) increases number of flowers
Potassium (K) increases weight/density of flowers
These sometimes also come with a small amount of Sulfur (S), and possibly other ingredients like amino acids, trace minerals and/or sugar like the supplements above.
Suitable for Hydro, Soil or Coco - Supplements to Increase Yields/Density with extra P & K
The smell and scent of cannabis buds are produced by plant chemicals known as "terpenes" (also "terpenoids", which are a class of terpenes).
Terpenes contribute to the flavors of many household spices (like cinnamon, rosemary, cloves and ginger) and help create the the scent of most flowers.
The unique combination of terpenes and terpenoids produced in cannabis flowers (buds) cause most of their taste and smell as well.
There are a variety of ways to increase the terpene content of your buds so you produce cannabis that tastes and smells great, and there are also a couple of common mistakes you should know about that can actually ruin the taste and smell of your buds.
Maintain daytime temperatures around 65-80°F (18-26°C) in the flowering stage unless you're using CO2 which does best at around 80-90°F (26°-32°C). However, even if you're using CO2, most growers recommend you back off and bring the temps down to 65-80°F for the last two weeks before harvest.
Night temperatures should be kept around 68-75°F (20°-24°C) for most strains. Lower temps increase the chances of bud rot, which thrives in the 60°F (15°C) range.
However, if you're growing a strain that turns color, keep in mind that some of these strains will only show their color when exposed to colder temps at nights during the flowering stage.
Humidity stumps a lot of new growers and causes several unexpected problems.
Maintaining higher humidity during the vegetative stage will reduce salt levels within the plant while encouraging healthy and lush growth.
During the vegetative stage, if humidity drops below 40%, especially anywhere below 25%, it can cause problems that look like nutrient deficiencies or light/heat stress!
But in these cases, just adding a little moisture to the air does wonders, even if you don't change anything else.
During the flowering stage, your cannabis plants actually prefers less humidity!
Decreasing moisture in the air (lowering the humidity) during the flowering stage helps prevent mold and actually may increase trichome production in your buds! For best results, keep humidity 40%-50% during the flowering stage.
"But I've never worried about humidity and my plants are fine..."
The truth is, you can successfully grow your marijuana plants in high or low humidity, even if growth isn't perfect. This is the primary reason why many growers - especially new ones - forget about humidity altogether.
New growers also tend to hastily spend money on CO2, bigger lights or expensive nutrients when controlling the humidity in their setup could make a much bigger difference in their final product.
So if you've realized that your humidity is far higher or lower than what's recommended, you may be able to make a simple, relatively cheap change to dramatically improve the vibrancy of your plants. For growers in really dry or humid ares, it can make a big difference to buy a humidifier/dehumidifier and make sure they're always providing the optimum humidity levels.
And there's one more insider trick you need to know about humidity: So you know you need to keep humidity in 40-50%RH range for the flowering stage, but there is one extra trick... Use a dehumidifier to drop the humidity down as low as you possibly can for the last 2-3 weeks of flowering (I've gotten the humidity as low as 25%).
This extreme dryness will encourage the buds to seal and protect themselves with additional resin (in other words, a sparkling outer layer of THC-heavy trichomes).
As an added bonus, this trick also gets your buds prepped for a successful, mold-free drying process because your buds have already given up some of their moisture.
This is yet another factor having to do with air quality (we already listed temperature and humidity).
Over time, any grower (especially indoor growers) will see that great air quality is a big contributor to star-quality buds. Air flow and ventilation are essential if you want to create perfect air quality.
For 1-3 plants smaller to mid-sized plants, you'll probably be fine with an oscillating fan or two. With a big grow and hot lights, you'll need a better exhaust system to ensure proper airflow, but it can be easy to set up!
Never accept that you already know it all.
To the grower, knowledge and information are priceless. Being open to learning will make you an expert grower much faster than figuring everything out yourself by trial and error.
Luckily, these days, anyone can use the internet to learn everything they need to know to start growing top-quality buds. We hope that sites like GrowWeedEasy.com make it easier for anyone to learn how to grow.
But the best growers continue to educate themselves about horticulture, proper environment, and what makes marijuana plants happy. You never know when you'll hear a tip that makes growing 10X easier or which helps you take your quality to the next level.
And don't forget to sign up for our weekly marijuana growing email newsletter (on the right-hand side of the page) to get tips and growing information delivered to your email inbox every Sunday morning!
Learn everything you can, start with good genetics and create the perfect growing environment to produce the best buds!
A lot of people write in to ask if adding CO2 to their grow area will increase the quality of your buds.
And so today I want to clear things up. CO2 is something you can add to the air of your grow room to increase yields, not quality.
You see, adding more and more lights will increase your yields up to a certain point, but then your plant just stops responding to more light. At this point, no matter how much light you add, your yields stay the same or get worse (from light/heat stress).
Because of a unique plant process, adding CO2 to the air makes it so that your plants can use more of the light, which can increase your overall yields.
Another advantage is that marijuana plants will thrive at higher temps when there's lots of CO2 in the air.
However, in my experience buying CO2 is not the cheapest way to increase your yields, unless you have already invested in a blinding, monster light system. In short, you should have every other part of your grow maxxed out before CO2 seems like an option. That's why for many small-scale growers, adding CO2 is a waste of money that could be better used in other ways.
My advice: Make sure you're comfortable running a grow with at least a 1000W HPS and take care of the more basic stuff (the other items on this list) before you think about adding CO2...otherwise it might not even be worth the effort you put in.