Growing your own cannabis plants is not a difficult task, and even first-time growers can achieve a successful yield. Yet the best yields are not just about the quantity, but the quality of the buds as well. Many growers prefer big nugs that are covered in thick, sticky resin. Therefore, if this is something you’d like to achieve, the following guide will show you how to make your marijuana buds dense.
Quick jump to: How to Get Dense Buds?
Dense buds vs airy buds
Growers tend to prefer plants with dense nugs as they have more mass, look healthier and are more pleasant to use. In addition, they are often higher in THC content, as indicated by their thick, sticky coating of resin. By contrast, airy buds appear weaker, smaller and flaccid in comparison, and they generally carry less THC.
One of the main factors that decides whether you will get big weed nugs or smaller airy ones is the plant’s genetics. Indica based strains tend to produce thick, dense buds with more resin, while sativa based strains produce airier, looser buds. This is due to the climates each strain comes from: sativa strains come from warm, tropical regions, and their airy structure protects them from rot and mold. On the other hand, indica strains originate from colder and drier regions, such as mountainsides. With longer, colder winters and shorter summers, indica strains have developed a faster life cycle as well as a tighter, thicker bud structure.
- Select a Dense Bud strain
- Choose the right pot (size)
- Choose the right growing medium
- Provide proper lightning and reflective walls (indoor)
- Provide enough space
- Provide proper airflow
- Temperature and humidity
- Nutrients and watering
- Apply training and pruning
- Harvest at the right time
As mentioned before, you will want to choose a cannabis strain that has been proven to produce strong, dense buds. Indica strains produce the thickest and densest buds, so you should choose a strain that is indica dominant. Some of the best strains that we can recommend are:
- Big Bud – As the name suggests, this 80% indica strain produces high quality large buds full of THC content.
- Bubba Kush – An absolute classic from the LA cannabis scene that produces rich and colorful, dense buds.
- Northern Lights – A favorite of Dutch coffee houses, this pure Indica strain produces dark, thick buds covered in sparkling trichomes.
- White Widow – A hybrid indica/sativa strain that is easy to grow, very low maintenance, and able to produce heavy buds.
- Gelato – One of the most delicious tasting strains around, with dense and sticky buds packed with THC, terpenes and other cannabinoids.
Keep in mind that not all indica dominant strains will give you dense buds every time, and sometimes the quality of the strain is different depending on the breeder. Do some research online before purchasing a strain to see if it seems right for you.
The right kind of pot will determine how well your plant grows, and ultimately the size of your buds. Fabric pots, smart pots and air pots that promote better air circulation will allow the plant to grow stronger roots that reach downwards rather than spreading out. The size of your pot depends on the size of your growing space, the number of plants you wish to grow, and whether you wish to grow indoors or outdoors. Small pots between 6.5 and 8.5 liters are best for autoflowers or Sea of Green setups with multiple plants. Larger pots, up to 25 liters, are better for larger plants that need more space to grow. 12 liters is usually considered a good average.
Make sure the pot has enough drainage so that it won’t be drowned by excess water. Keep the pot dark-colored to prevent light from damaging the roots, and make sure it is cleansed of any chemicals or impurities before use. Finally, make sure the pot has enough space to allow roots to grow: the more space the better.
Read our guide on choosing cannabis pot sizes for more information.
In order to determine the right growing medium for your plant, you need to make sure the substance allows plenty of room for root growth as well as allowing for consistent access to water, oxygen and nutrients. Soil is the most common growing medium, and is natural, easy to use, and usually contains some nutrients already within the soil. Organic potting mixes, especially those with perlite, are the best for cannabis strains as they allow for drainage while retaining oxygen in the soil, promoting faster growth.
Other potential mediums include coco coir, peat moss, rockwool and vermiculite. These act as well as soil, although they do not come with nutrients in the soil, so these must be added with water. That said, feeding nutrients directly to the roots will promote faster growth than if they are trying to seek it out in the soil. In addition, these soilless mediums are less susceptible to overwatering or invasive pests like bugs. Another option is to grow your plants hydroponically. This involves growing the roots directly into a solution of nutrient-filled water. This can produce the faster grow times, but requires an efficient hydroponic setup to work.
In order to grow dense buds you need to consider not only the amount of lighting the plant receives but also the type of lighting as well. While having more light allows the plant to grow stronger, too much light could end up overheating your plant. If you are growing your plant outdoors, then you only need to make sure it receives eight hours of sunlight a day, with some additional protection such as shade on especially hot days. For indoor growth, however, you need to consider the type of lighting you wish to use.
Two main types of lighting used for growing plants are CFLs and LEDs. CFLs tend to give off less heat and so you can keep them relatively close to the plant, while LEDs will produce more heat and should be kept at least 45 cm from the plant to avoid burning it. Another type of grow light is HPS, which are very efficient in terms of light produced relative to power used. These types of lights should be kept at a certain distance relative to their size: 20 cm away for 150W bulbs, up to 41 cm away for 1000W bulbs.
Another aspect of lighting to consider is reflective walls. These will maximize the amount of lighting in a grow room and are usually made of white plastic or mylar. Stick with an 18/6 light cycle during the vegetative stage and switch it to 12/12 during flowering for best results. Yellow, orange and red color frequencies work best on your plant while flowering as these replicate the colors of autumn. Keep in mind, however, that your plant uses all frequencies of the color spectrum, so choose lighting that enhances these color spectrums rather than using one exclusively.
In order to make sure your plant grows healthy and strong, you need to provide it with plenty of space. With enough space your plant won’t be overshadowed by any other plants, which will allow your plant to receive the maximum amount of light to all parts of its structure. In addition, with more space, your plant will receive better air circulation, helping it to breath easier and protecting it from the threat of mold or pests.
Make sure each cola is at least several centimeters away from any others in the area. Also, make sure that the leaves and buds of your plant do not share space with any others. Having a large pot will help ensure that your plant remains separate from any others in the area.
Without proper airflow, your buds will not become as fat and dense as you would like. One way to ensure all the buds on your plant receive the right amount of airflow is to expose them through defoliation. Defoliation removes certain leaves on the plant that are covering up these buds. If you are worried about taking too many leaves off, you can also try tucking leaves to expose the bud sites. Not only will this allow the plant to develop thicker buds, but better ventilation will protect it from mold, diseases and pests.
You need to find the optimum balance between temperature and humidity in order to produce the best results. You should keep the ambient temperature for your plant no lower than 20C at night and no higher than 30C during daylight hours. For best results, keep it between 20 and 25C during the seedling stage, 22 and 26C when vegetative, and back to 20-25C during the flowering stage. If your plant is outdoors and the temperature exceeds 30C, try spraying water on the parts of the plant not receiving direct sunlight.
Humidity levels also need to be adjusted for each stage of the plant’s life cycle. For the seedling stage, humidity should be between 65 and 70% for better water absorption, then drop it down to between 40 and 70% during the vegetative stage as the roots will have absorbed plenty of water. During the flowering stage, a humidity range of between 40 and 50% will encourage the growth of thicker buds covered in sticky resin.
Read our guide for more information on the right temperatures and humidity for weed growth.
To achieve the best possible bud density, you need to feed your plant the right amount of nutrients and water. When it comes to growth nutrients, nitrogen works best during the vegetative stage, but you will need to reduce it when the plant reaches its flowering stage. Phosphorus and potassium will help your nugs become full and dense during this stage. You can also use black strap molasses and amino acids to make the plant stronger and increase the thickness of your buds. Make sure not to overwater your plants: if the growing medium is still wet, leave it until dry and make sure the pot has enough drainage holes.
Both pruning and training methods can greatly influence the density of your buds. Low stress training techniques involve tying back the highest branches so that the rest of the plant can receive more light. You can combine this with pruning any lower branches that will not receive any light. Another method for training your plant is super cropping. This high stress training method involves bending back the branches into 90-degree angles, allowing more light to penetrate the plant’s colas and strengthening the plant, leading to denser buds. To find out more about these techniques, read our guides on Super Cropping and Low Stress Training.
Once the flowering stage is near the end, you might be tempted to start harvesting your plant. However, harvesting too early will not give you the best results, and you should let your plant complete the flowering process before harvesting the nugs. One way to determine when the right time is to harvest is by observing the color of the pistils growing on your plant: once these little hairs turn from white to orange or a reddish-brown color, it is a good sign the buds are ready to harvest.
Another way to determine if the plant is right for harvesting is by observing the trichomes. Take a look through a microscope, and you will notice them go from being clear to milky white, followed by amber color. At this stage they are ready to be harvested. In addition, the leaves will turn yellow and start to curve. Finally, you should see the buds becoming noticeably denser and ready for taking.
Read our guide about the right time to harvest plants.
Grow some Dense Buds yourself!
Now that you know how to grow dense buds, it is time to try it for yourself! Why not try our Amnesia Haze, Blue Dream or Somango XXL strains for growing thick nugs. For these and more high-yielding weed seeds, check out our range at Weedseedsexpress.