The hard part comes not with knowing that fact, but with knowing how exactly to accomplish it.
Luckily, marijuana growers all over the world have experimented and reported their results. Their experience led to a few basic concepts that are necessary to understand before even hoping to achieve the biggest buds possible. There are also some tougher concepts that can make a big difference as well. Let’s look at some of both.
An introduction to marijuana buds
The buds are what contain THC, the chemical in the smokeable product form of marijuana. This is why they are so important, and why there is so much hype about them. THC, of course, is the chemical that leads to the “high” feeling that smokers (or consumers of any other type) experience.
THC is, in fact, found in the leaves of marijuana plants as well as the buds. However, the buds contain the most concentrated dosage (and simply more altogether) compared to anywhere else on the plant. In other words, the buds of the marijuana plant deserve all the attention they receive.
Marijuana plants have several phases, including the vegetative phase and the flowering phase. Buds don’t make an appearance until the flowering phase. This doesn’t mean the vegetative phase isn’t important, however. The vegetative phase is all about building up the foundation to support the healthy growth of buds when it’s their turn to grow.
Male and female marijuana plants
Male Marijuana Plant [left], Female Marijuana Plant [right]
One important thing to know concerning buds is the fact that there are male and female plants. While both plants have buds that produce THC, female plants are more potent – and when in combination with males, they will not be able to produce their biggest and most potent buds possible.
Some people are under the false impression that male plants don’t have any kind of usable buds at all – making them more or less useless to marijuana growers. That is not, in fact, true. While female buds contain higher concentrations of THC, male buds are also perfectly smokeable and potent enough to be enjoyed.
Generally speaking, the male marijuana plant likely receives a bad rap because they contribute to the female plants not producing the biggest buds possible. If the male plants pollinate the female ones, the female plants will start focusing their efforts on growing seeds rather than buds. Therefore, in most marijuana gardens, the males are discarded as soon as they are identified.
Although both contain THC, male buds are different from female buds in the way they look. They appear to be rounded flowers filled with pollen – and this pollen is what pollinates the female plants. (Again, pollination causes females to produce lower amounts of THC). Male buds usually start popping up about two weeks before female buds do.
Female buds, on the other hand, look like white, hairy growths that appear on the end of each branch and the top of the marijuana plant as well. These are the buds you are going to want to cultivate. If done right, even the tiniest of these buds can end up being larger than two inches in length.
Increasing the buds’ speed of growth
The most important rule, as obvious as it seems, is this: the faster your buds grow, the bigger buds you will have when you harvest. It may seem obvious, but it is a highly important concept.
Once you accept (and understand) this fact, you can start thinking about how you are going to speed up the growth of your marijuana plants’ buds. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to do this.
The first and most effective way to get your marijuana plants to grow faster once they enter their flowering phase is to remove any leaves from it that are already dying. You can tell which leaves are dying because they will be yellowing. They will not bounce back – that’s not how it works – so you might as well cut them off.
They are also doing some harm (with regards to the speed of your bud growth). This is because, while they are still attached to the plant, they will continue to drain precious resources that could be directed at bud growth instead. So, remove those leaves as soon as you can tell they are dying.
Don’t throw away the yellowing leaves, however. Dry and cure them because they actually should contain enough THC to tide you over between growing seasons and the like.
Another form of pruning, called topping (see picture above), is a good way of speeding up the growth of your marijuana plants’ buds. To do it, chop off some of the buds at the very top of your plants. This bud won’t be wasted, since you can cure it and smoke it as well, but it will allow the other buds to grow bigger and faster.
Other types of pruning (or, more accurately, “training”) include LST or low-stress training. This means there is no cutting or removal of plant matter whatsoever. It involves physically moving your plants and manipulating their growth patterns, so they grow to be bushy and wide rather than tall and skinny. Bending is often employed in this process, but the stems of the plant are never broken.
The key to doing LST successfully is to start when your plants are still young. Screen of Green is another LST option that utilizes a net to maintain the shape and growth patterns of your plants. This will allow them to take in the most sunlight as possible, making their growing faster and more efficient in all phases of their life.
When the flowering phase begins for your marijuana plants, you should start a new nutrient regimen. Keep in mind that marijuana plants require more phosphorus during their flowering phase than the previous vegetative phase, so choose a mix that includes 30% phosphorus (as well as 10% nitrogen and 10% potassium). This can be distinguished by the term “NPK 10-30-10.”
It can be rather difficult to find mixtures with this amount of phosphorus, so you may need to add your own. Wood ash and water should provide an ample amount of phosphorus for your flowering plants. Of course, (generally speaking), good nutrition practices will help your marijuana plants grow big buds.
If growing your marijuana plants indoors, there is a lot you can do with the lighting to speed up their bud growth. The intensity of the light is the big part of it – the more intense the light, the bushier the plants will become (as opposed to tall, skinny, and weak).
The way to increase light intensity is not complicated at all. You simply need to move the lights closer to the plants. The light should be directly hitting the buds themselves to get the maximum growth possible.
Carbon dioxide helps plants grow faster in general, and the flowering phase of marijuana plants is no exception. If you combine an increase in the intensity of light with an increase in carbon dioxide, you will achieve the best results. Carbon dioxide helps plants grow efficiently, and it even helps them take in more light energy.
Please note that pumping in extra carbon dioxide into your grow room, while effective for plants, is quite dangerous for humans.
Temperature and humidity
The key to temperature and humidity is to always monitor it and make sure it is consistent and within the healthy range for your strain of marijuana. This is important not only during the flowering phase but also during the phases before that. Make sure that the temperature and humidity are adjusted accordingly for each stage of growth.
Timing the harvest
No matter how fast or slow your buds grow, the timing of the harvest is critical in terms of maximizing the amount of product you end up with. This is because the last couple weeks of growth can add a whopping 25% to the size and potency of your buds.
For that reason, it is crucial that growers wait until the buds have grown for as long as possible before they harvest.
Of course, waiting too long could mean your buds will pass their peak by the time you harvest. It is important, therefore, to not harvest too early or too late. The timing can also be determined by your personal preferences, as the type of high will change according to how early or late you harvest.
As always, everything comes down to genetics. If you start things off with cheap, low-quality seeds or seeds that you happened to discover in some weed you purchased, your plants and the resulting harvest will inevitably be unsuccessful.
If you paid attention to genetics from the beginning and didn’t try skimping on it, you should end up with overall success – or at least a much higher potential for success. In the end, genetics are always worth the cost.