Why Does Cannabis Turn Purple [Myths and Facts]

Ever wondered why weed turns purple? We separate the myths from the facts

There is no doubt that purple weed looks impressive. Many purple strains have become world-famous due to their unusual color and potent mind-altering effects. But does being a different color really mean that a particular strain will be stronger or have more medicinal benefits than others?

In this article we will help you to separate the myths from the facts, exploring why weed turns purple and what that means for cannabis lovers around the world.

Why Does Weed Turn Purple?

Some strains of marijuana turn purple due to a high content of chemicals called anthocyanins in their leaves.

Anthocyanins are naturally occurring pigments found in many plants. They are the chemicals that make blueberries blue, blackberries black, and red grapes red. They are also found in some strains of cannabis and account for the variety of colors that can be seen in buds from different plants.

Anthocyanins do not just make weed purple. They can turn it a variety of colors, including reddish, gold, dark green, blue, or black. The color of cannabis all depends on the genetics of the plant itself and how it is grown.

Most of the time, weed looks green. This is because of another pigment called chlorophyll which helps plants to make energy from sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. Under normal circumstances, chlorophyll is dominant, meaning that marijuana leaves appear green rather than purple. However, in certain conditions this can change and the anthocyanins become more visible than before.

Just as trees change the color of their leaves in fall, cannabis leaves can change color as the plant reaches maturity. If you imagine a cannabis plant growing in nature, this would also happen in fall as the temperature decreases and the nights become longer. Cold temperatures cause chlorophyll to break down, and this is what allows the other glorious colors to shine through.

What are Anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins are a group of over 600 compounds which belong to the class of flavonoids. Flavonoids are a type of plant chemical which is commonly found in fruit, vegetables, cereals, teas, and nuts. They are also abundant in cannabis plants along with two other types of compound – cannabinoids and terpenes.

As well as giving plants their vibrant colors, anthocyanins are also thought to have certain health benefits, although the evidence for this is limited. Since anthocyanins are usually consumed as part of your diet, they are almost always found in combination with a myriad of other compounds, making their precise effects unclear.

However, flavonoids, including anthocyanins, have been reported to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. They could potentially provide a wealth of benefits, including protecting the heart and liver, improving vision, and preventing obesity, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.

Many plants with a high anthocyanin content have been used as herbal medicine for millennia, with ancient societies from North America, Europe, and China among those who have taken advantage of these naturally occurring remedies.

So with this in mind, is purple weed better for you than the green stuff? Unfortunately, probably not. The majority of anthocyanins are absorbed by the digestive tract, meaning that to notice any significant difference you would have to eat a ton of edibles. Probably not the greatest plan!

How to Grow Purple Weed: Myths and Facts

There is a lot of different, sometimes conflicting, information out there on how to grow purple weed, but it is not as simple as some people would make it sound. In fact, do it wrong, and you could end up damaging your cannabis plants and ruining your yield. So if you want to grow purple marijuana for yourself, you will need to know the facts.

FACT – You need to choose the right strain

Making weed turn purple is down to a combination of environment and genetics. Some strains of cannabis will easily turn a beautiful shade of violet, while others will stay green no matter how hard you try.

To successfully grow purple marijuana, choose a strain that is known to be high in anthocyanins. Finding one that has “purple” in its name is usually a pretty good starting point, but other purple strains are less obviously named.

Some of the best purple cannabis strains include:

MYTH – You can turn weed purple by depriving it of nutrients

Many people believe that cannabis leaves turn purple when the plant is stressed and that by denying it nutrients such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen, they can force it to change its color.

However, like people, plants need nutrients to survive. If you take these away, your plant will soon become sick and die.

FACT – Cannabis can turn purple in the cold

Cold breaks down chlorophyll and allows anthocyanins to become dominant, giving weed a purple hue. Exposing your cannabis plants to cold can make the leaves change color, but only if you have a strain which is genetically programmed to do so (see above). You also need to be very careful, as too much cold will damage your plant, and could even cause it to die.

To make your weed turn purple, you need to gradually reduce the temperature during the dark cycle as your plants get close to harvest time. A nighttime temperature of 50°F/10°C is ideal, but reduce the temperature slowly to avoid shocking your plants, monitor them carefully, and only do this just before harvesting as keeping your plants cold for too long could reduce your yield.

If a strain is genetically predisposed to turning purple, it may well do this by itself if it is grown outdoors, especially in temperate regions.

MYTH – You can turn weed purple by freezing it

Although marijuana does turn purple when exposed to cold conditions, it is not a good idea to use flash freezing or ice water flushes to do this. Although these methods could change the color of your weed, they are not recommended due to the risk they pose to your crop.

Sudden exposure to extreme cold will stress your plant. After all, how would you like it if someone suddenly dumped a bucket of ice water over your head? Plant stress could result in lower THC levels which is definitely not what you want, and worst case scenario, you could even kill your plants by doing this. So if you’re going to chill your weed for purple buds that still pack a punch, do it gradually, and only towards the end of the flowering phase.

FACT – Your pH levels could affect the color of your weed

Anthocyanins display different colors when exposed to different pH levels. Acidic conditions (low pH) can turn them shades of red, while alkaline conditions (high pH) can make them look closer to blue. A neutral pH is more likely to result in a purple tone.

That said, the pH of your growing medium affects your plants in many other ways too, and it is essential to keep your pH within the recommended levels for your particular strain.

MYTH – You can dye your weed purple with food coloring

Okay, you could try this if you really wanted to, but why bother? If you are intent on growing purple cannabis, this method will never give you the satisfaction that doing it correctly would.

Instead, focus your efforts on choosing a suitable purple strain, setting up your grow room or garden well, and carefully adjusting the temperature as your plants begin to flower. If you put in a little extra thought and effort at the start of your grow, you will ensure that you enjoy reaping the rewards later on.

Why Does Weed Turn Purple? Final Thoughts

Certain strains of cannabis are naturally predisposed to turn purple under the right conditions, and if you decide to grow one of these, you will be rewarded with a stunning display of foliage come harvest time. However, most strains cannot and will not ever turn purple no matter how hard you try. In these cases, you are more likely to harm your plants than change their color, so it is better not to attempt it at all.

It is doubtful that purple weed has any additional benefits over regular cannabis. The strength and medicinal benefits of a particular strain depend on its THC and CBD content, not its color. However, as humans, we are naturally attracted to anything that is different, and nobody can deny that purple weed is staggeringly beautiful in itself.

So if you are bored with green and feel like doing something a little bit special, why not give growing purple weed a try? Let us know how you get on!