As a proud marijuana grower, you know the main goal is to grow the largest and healthiest buds possible. It is incredibly disappointing to spend several months caring for your plants only to receive a setback in the form of a mediocre harvest. To be clear, some cannabis strains provide higher yields than others. For the record, high yield strains include Cheese Quake, White Widow, Critical Kush, Blue Dream, and Purple Trainwreck.
Genetic considerations aside, there are a variety of tactics you can use to increase the size of your cannabis buds whether you grow the plants indoors or outdoors.
Why Should I Care About my Cannabis Bud Size?
The buds on the marijuana plant are what contain THC, the psychoactive compound in weed, and a host of other important cannabinoids used for medicinal purposes. The bud is what pops out during the flowering phase, which is a big moment because you know that harvest time is just around the corner. While the plant’s leaves also contain THC, there is a far more concentrated amount in the buds. This is why experienced growers take such pride in the sticky, resinous buds their plants produce after several hard months of work.
It is incorrect to assume that male marijuana plants don’t produce usable buds. Male buds look very different and are capable of producing potent weed, albeit nowhere near as strong as in female plants. The main issue is that males easily pollinate females when grown in proximity. When this happens, your females begin producing seeds and less THC. Most growers only use males to produce seeds and ensure they are kept well away from the females.
For the record, female buds appear approximately two weeks later than males. In this guide, we show you how pruning, feeding, lighting, and training are the keys to growing gigantic buds on your female plants.
Pruning Your Cannabis Buds
For the uninitiated, a plant’s node is where a branch or leaf grows off the stalk. The node is also where you’ll find your cannabis buds. The bigger the plant, the more nodes that spring up. As a result, there are more places where buds can grow. However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that an increase in nodes automatically means more abundant and bigger buds.
In fact, too many nodes can become a serious problem. If there are a lot of nodes with buds near the bottom of the plant, they will attempt to develop during the flowering stage, but as they don’t get enough light, there is no way they can grow to an appreciable size. As a result, pruning away the plant life that isn’t getting enough light is the key to success.
When it comes to pruning, removing the small shoots between the trunk and branches helps the marijuana plant develop huge buds. Which would you prefer; a lot of small and light buds or a few large and heavy ones? We recommend pruning during the vegetative stage to ensure the plant has time to recover and grow large leaves. Wait a minimum of 72 hours after pruning before forcing your plants into the flowering stage.
As a bonus, remove dying leaves when the plant reaches the flowering stage. You will spot such leaves due to their yellow hue. Unfortunately, these leaves are a dead loss and do nothing other than take up resources and energy better spent elsewhere. Don’t throw these leaves away! They have a high enough THC content to make cannabutter as long as you dry and cure them properly.
How to Feed Your Marijuana Plants for Bigger Buds
Almost every grower knows that you must ensure marijuana plants receive enough Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) at varying stages of the growth cycle. As a rule of thumb, your plants need more N during the vegetative stage and more P and K during flowering.
Buds thrive on Phosphorus, so try a mix of 30% P, 10% K, and 10% N; also known as NPK 10-30-10. When you add the right amount of P, you help the buds fully develop and become denser. If you’re using soil as a growing medium, add a layer of worm castings or bat guano to boost P levels. You can also add a compost tea mixture to the soil during flowering. This process boosts mycelium in the soil which ensures your plant absorbs a higher percentage of nutrients.
There are a few other things to consider when feeding your plant:
- pH: If growing in soil, keep the pH at around 6.0. Reduce it to 5.5 if growing hydroponically. The pH level of the soil impacts its ability to absorb nutrients. For instance, marijuana plants don’t absorb magnesium well when the pH level is too low.
- Carbon Dioxide: Also known as CO2, carbon dioxide is crucial to the flowering and overall growth of your cannabis plant. When it comes to plants, more CO2 is better. For the record, there is normally 350-400 ppm of carbon dioxide in the air. Your plants combine that CO2 with light energy to create the sugars it needs. If you decide to add more carbon dioxide to a grow room, be careful because high levels of it are very dangerous for humans.
- Temperature & humidity: For seedlings, the ideal temperature range is 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit with 70% humidity when the lights are on. When the lights are off, turn down the temperature to between 59 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, make sure the maximum difference between day and night temperature is 18 degrees. When plants reach flowering, they can tolerate up to 82 degrees but cut humidity by 5% a week until it reaches 40%.
The Right Lighting for Your Cannabis Plants
The light intensity that your plants are exposed to will dictate whether or not you benefit from big buds. Remember, when you see premium quality cannabis in dispensaries, those strains have been exposed to an optimum amount of light whether they were grown indoors or outdoors. As a general rule, 100 Watts covers one square foot. For instance, you need a 400-Watt light to cover a 4’ x 4’ area.
When plants don’t receive enough light, they fail to produce large buds. In fact, they may become tall and thin because they ‘reach’ to desperately find the light source. Poor lighting during the vegetative stage means your plants will grow uneven colas. From that point onward, it will become very difficult to distribute the light evenly and effectively.
As a result, it is imperative that your lighting is at the right height from the get-go. Otherwise, your marijuana plants could suffer from heat stress. If you are growing your weed indoors, you can move your lights a bit closer to the plants as long as the temperature the plants are exposed to doesn’t exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
When growing outdoors, please ensure that there is ample space between the pots to ensure that all of the plants receive a relatively equal amount of sunlight. Here’s a quick tip: Make sure your plants grow on a south-facing slope.
Training Your Cannabis Plants
If you leave your marijuana plants alone, they normally develop a large stalk with several smaller stalks growing around it. The big stalk will grow an impressive cola, but its height also dictates where the lights must be placed when growing weed indoors. As a consequence, the lower branches receive far less light, which negatively impacts growth.
Fortunately, there are low-stress training (LST) methods available to train your cannabis plants without cutting. Through LST techniques, you can manipulate your plants to grow wider and flatter instead of them becoming tall and skinny. One of the best LST tactics is to tie down the top branches and help the surrounding branches to grow and develop.
When you train your marijuana plants, you ensure the main stalk’s growth hormones are redistributed to the other branches which ensure even growth for the whole plant. Ultimately, you benefit from an even group of branches that grow a large cola apiece, and they are all a similar distance from the light.
Final Thoughts on Growing Bigger Cannabis Buds
If you are serious about growing marijuana, cultivating your weed so that it has big, sticky buds should be your top priority. Remember, large and healthy buds are filled with THC and other cannabinoid goodness, so if you want the most potent marijuana, gigantic buds are a must. However, don’t assume that you can follow a simple guide and learn how to grow bigger buds quickly and easily.
No matter what anyone tells you, gardening – especially growing marijuana with big buds – is a hard skill to learn and it takes time and patience to master. It is unlikely that you will produce monster buds at the first attempt, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do so. We recommend keeping a detailed journal of your cannabis’ growing cycle that outlines what you are doing each day. When you experience the joys of a bountiful harvest, you can refer to your journal and discover what it was that you did correctly.