Growing dense buds is the dream of most if not all growers of cannabis but learning how to do so is a blend of art, science and experience.
You may often see US growers on Instagram or Facebook showing off their huge, fist-sized buds of weed when the last head you saw in person was no bigger than the size of a hazelnut. It’s true that some strains like Big Bud and Power Plant are more likely to produce bigger buds. But how do professionals achieve such impressive results in terms of massively dense buds? And can you replicate their methods at home?
Why are cannabis buds so desirable?
It is first important to be aware of the significance of cannabis buds. They are the parts that contain virtually all the THC of the plant, the psychoactive cannabinoid for which cannabis is renowned – the substance that gets you stoned in layman’s terms. THC is the reason that growers and consumers want big, dense heads of weed.
Of course, there is some THC in cannabis leaves, but in much smaller quantities than the buds. The heads of weed develop at the same time as the flowers of the plant and only appear at the flowering phase, which follows the growth of vegetative stage of the plant. The vegetative stage enables the plant to develop sufficiently to produce lovely flowers.
You may think that only female plants produce flowers, but male plants produce flowers, although the female flowers and heads are much more potent in terms of THC – just take care to ensure that they are not fertilised by males as they will divert their energy to produce seeds.
Speeding up bud growth rate
The most important guideline, even if it seems a bit obvious, is that the faster the buds achieve a good size, the better buds you will be able to enjoy at harvest. To speed up bud growth, there are various factors to consider:
Pruning includes all the methods available. The first, and perhaps the most effective, method of speeding up the growth rate of your weed plants once they have entered into bloom is to remove any leaves that are starting to look a bit yellow. They won’t fall off, so you’d better take them off. Otherwise, they will continue to take up valuable resources that could be used for bud growth. You can also clean any leaves that do not receive direct light.
Other methods are to prune the top of the plant: topping, thinning or super cropping. There are many strategies that you can deploy, with different results.
When the weed plants start to flower, you should consider starting a new fertiliser regimen. Plants demand more phosphorus when they flower. This means that during the flowering phase, you will need to give your plants extra Phosphorous and Potassiums and limit the amount of nitrogen in the feed. Getting the ratio correct is extremely important and can have a significant impact on the density of your buds. You should also check that the pH levels of the soil around the roots is balanced. Managing the pH of the roots is surprisingly easy and takes as little as five minutes, and maintaining the correct level ( a slightly acidic 6.0 – 7.00 for plants grown in soil) takes seconds.
3. Carbon dioxide and general airflow
Carbon dioxide generally helps plants grow faster and absorb light more effectively. If, for example, you combine the increase in light intensity with extra carbon dioxide, you will achieve outstanding results. Be careful not to overdo it. While useful for plants, larg amounts of carbon dioxide can be harmful to humans.
Make sure there is plenty of airflow around the buds which need space to grow nice and dense. Try and mimic the conditions a cannabis plant would have in the wild; lots of wind and sunshine. Each cola should have space of a good few inches that is not shared by the buds or leaves of neighbouring plants.
4. Temperature and humidity
The secret of temperature and humidity is always to closely monitor them and check that they have consistent values. This is important both in the vegetative phase and during the flowering stage. Make sure the humidity and temperature are adjusted correctly for each stage of growth. Cannabis plants like the temperature to be roughly the same as is pleasant for humans – think of a lovely summer’s day when you would like to take your jacket off when walking outside. Too cold and the buds could become woolly and too hot, and the plants may grow loose, seedy buds. Really, just avoid extremes in either direction.
Related article: What is the best temperature and humidity for growing weed?
Insufficient exposure to light is perhaps the most common reason that buds don’t grow to their maximum size. Plenty of light in the flowering phase is essential for big buds, although cannabis plants can survive without optimal quantities of light. The light must be intense, well- reflected, and with as full a spectrum as possible with an emphasis on the red and orange section of the light spectrum.
We recommend switching to a 12-12 cycle during the flowering phase, although you won’t need to worry about this if you are growing an autoflower strain. Take care to ensure your buds aren’t too close to the lights, however, as too bright lights can damage developing buds leading to disappointing foxtails.
6. Plant genetics
The right strain can have a significant impact on the density of the bud. Indica dominant strains are preferable. As said in the introduction, some cannabis strains are more focused on bud production than others. Please rely on the advice of other fans of the brand of seeds you want, and don’t hesitate to ask the growers you follow on social media where they purchase their seeds. Always buy cannabis seeds from a reputable seller such as Weedseedsexpress where you will also find a wealth of invaluable information about the cultivation of the precious bud.