Every first-time grower’s top concern is: “how do I get buds growing on my cannabis plant as soon as possible?” For experienced growers, it’s not just about growing buds but growing big cannabis buds. Can cannabis growers influence how their plants produce buds? Where do these buds come from, and how do they grow? We are here to grow with you.
Where do Cannabis Buds Grow?
Cannabis plants enter the flowering phase when they stop developing foliage and begin to produce buds. However, the size of a plant has little to do with how many buds it will produce or how dense those buds will be when harvested.
Buds develop on the plant’s nodes, commonly called bud sites. Approximately 4–6 weeks into the plant’s life cycle, these spots begin to develop pre-flower structures where budlets form. From there, several factors contribute to how big and dense a bud becomes, including genetics, light, nutrients, and some other variables to watch out for.
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What Happens During the Flowering Stage?
Cannabis plants flower for eight to twelve weeks, and the flowering stage has four phases. It takes 8-10 weeks for indica strains to flower, but not longer. In the case of sativa varieties, it can take up to 10-12 weeks.
The Beginning of the Flowering Stage
When growing cannabis outdoors, the plants will enter the flowering stage when the days get shorter—typically around the beginning of fall.
When growing cannabis indoors, the plants will enter the flowering stage when you switch the photoperiod to a schedule consisting of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
When growing auto-flowering cannabis, you don’t need to change the photoperiod to enter the flowering stage. Their vegetative state will last approximately four weeks, and then the flowering stage will automatically begin.
How Long Does It Take?
The flowering stage’s duration depends on the cannabis strain. Typically, this stage goes from 8-11 weeks, depending on which strain you’re growing. For Indica strains, the flowering period is around eight weeks but can take up to ten. For Sativa strains, flowering can take up to 10-12 weeks. For hybrid strains, it can take anywhere from six to ten weeks for the flowers to fully develop.
Here are the four phases of the flowering stage:
Weeks 1-3: Start of Flowering
When you grow cannabis indoors, the flowering stage begins when you switch your light source to a 12/12 light cycle—12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. For cannabis plants to begin flowering, they need 12 uninterrupted hours of darkness every day. Buds will not produce if the plant is exposed to light for even one minute during the dark period. As female cannabis plants enter this phase, they begin to form pistils, which are responsible for the development of buds. However, they won’t grow actual buds just yet.
You’ll want to look at the color of your fan leaves and the overall plant to get a better idea about their health and needs. The plant’s fan leaves should be a vibrant green color, not too dark or light. For example, dark leaves can indicate nutrient burn and light or discolored leaves can indicate a nutrient deficiency.
It’s also crucial to check for fungi, mold, and pests before your plant starts forming budlets. And it’s much easier to eliminate these early than doing it late into the flowering stage.
Weeks 3-4: Forming Budlets
In this phase, tiny buds, or budlets, begin to form where the pistils are. However, instead of just hairs, you’ll start to see actual buds, with pistils that are now white and sticking straight out. Meanwhile, the plant is still actively growing.
Weeks 4-6: Mid-flowering
At this point, your cannabis plant will stop growing, but its buds will begin to fatten. The most important thing now is to gently support any buds that become too heavy for your plant. Depending on how your plant grew to reach the light, you may need to bend the stems at a 90° angle.
During this stage, ensure that you:
- Lower the humidity levels to 40 to 50%.
- Slightly lower the temperature
- Avoid high temperatures, especially when using growing lights. Keep it around 18-26 °C
You’ll start seeing lots of changes during this stage. If you need to move or tie your plants, be careful; since the plants are putting all of their efforts into growing buds, any damage or stress can slow the process down significantly.
You might see some old leaves turn yellow, brown, and then fall off—that’s perfectly normal. Some nutrients are mobile; they’ll get distributed around the plant as needed, and an old leaf might send its nutrients to newer ones. However, if you notice many leaves turning yellow, it can be a sign of nutrient burn or deficiencies.
Week 6 and On: Late Flowering
Cannabis plants in this phase have stopped growing vegetatively, so they won’t produce new leaves or stems. The plant will focus primarily on growing buds until harvest. However, your plant may become more sensitive to nutrient deficiency in this phase. To prevent lowering your quality or yield, make sure your plants are well cared for and respond quickly to potential problems.
During the late flowering stage, you’ll want to:
- Lower the humidity levels to 35 to 45%
- Increase the day/night cycle
- Increase temperatures—when using lights, aim for 18-24 °C
- Check the trichomes for ripening so that you know when to harvest
- Don’t forget to flush your plants a couple of weeks before harvesting!
Your buds should now be covered in trichomes, which are the glands that secrete THC and cannabinoids! These trichomes are responsible for the stickiness of the buds. Depending on the strain, the buds will emit their strong aromas now.
During this stage, pistils will likely show white, brown, and cream colors. They’ll also begin to curl inwards while getting covered in trichomes. Similarly, the trichomes will start to change colors, which is one of the best cues for knowing when it’s time to harvest.
Flushing Your Plants
Flushing your cannabis plant means running plenty of water through its soil to get rid of excess mineral nutrients and salt. This step forces the plant to use up its absorbed nutrients, resulting in buds with more prominent aromas and flavors. Any excess fertilizer in your cannabis plant can result in harsh buds. You should flush your marijuana plants with clean, room temperature water to get rid of any excess fertilizer in the soil.
Two weeks before you harvest is the best time to flush your plants, and then you’ll continue watering it like normal but not add any fertilizers.
If you’re growing your cannabis plant in a pot, you’ll want to use enough water to fill the pot’s volume about three times when flushing. For example, if you’re using a 5 liter pot, you’ll want to flush your plant with 15 liters of water. An easy way to flush them is to place your pot and plant in a large bucket, barrel, or bathtub and gradually add water to the soil (being careful not to drown the plant). This way, the excess water will drain slowly out of the bottom of the pot.
At first, the water will come out dark, but it will gradually get lighter, which is a good sign. Flushing your plants with three times the volume of its pot worth of water will flush away the majority of salt buildup away from the soil.
Cannabis Cultivation: How to Grow Big Buds Indoors
Growing big cannabis buds is not an overnight process. If your cannabis buds are not growing or are growing slowly, it could be a problem with nutrition, temperature, ventilation, or some other vital growth factor. If you want to grow lots of weed indoors, you should consider these factors.
Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are the three essential nutrients cannabis plants need to grow and develop. To grow large buds, you must give your plants the proper nutrients. When your plant is in the vegetative growth stage, feed it nitrogen for a healthy, vibrant plant that grows rapidly. As your plant begins to flower, reduce the nitrogen levels and increase phosphorus and potassium levels to help the buds grow dense.
If your cannabis buds are not growing, you might want to check your light source. In most cases, the increased light intensity will produce larger buds during the flowering stage. To put it simply, if you want big buds, you need big lights. As a rule of thumb, plan for 100 watts of light for each square foot. Be vigilant when it comes to lighting your grow area; remember, light is the lifeblood of your plants. You should also make sure your lights are set at the right height so your plants do not suffer heat stress.
Your grow room must have proper airflow and ventilation if you want to grow larger buds. For top-grade buds in an indoor setting, you need top-notch air quality. Cannabis plants require air and proper ventilation to grow and breathe and prevent mold and fungi growth. For a large grow room with hot lights, plan for oscillating fans or an exhaust system. Do not point fans directly at the buds.
When cultivating cannabis indoors, you need the right level of temperature and humidity for your plant to grow big buds. During the blooming stage, temperatures between 65 and 80°F (18 and 26°C) are ideal for growing quality buds. In the final stage of flowering, slightly cooler temperatures are ideal for producing the best bud color, density, and smell. If the temperature is too high, your buds will not have a strong aroma.
Along with keeping the temperatures in the correct range, taking care of your environment’s relative humidity is crucial. The relative humidity measures the percentage of humidity in the air. Ideally, you want to keep it between 40 and 50% in the flowering stage. If your humidity levels are too high, you might see problems like fungi and mold.
During flowering, you’ll need to regularly water your cannabis plant with clean, safe water. For best results, we like to use filtered, chlorine-free water. You also need to watch out for overwatering and ensure your plant’s have good drainage. If the soil is dry about an inch into the soil, you’ll know it’s time to water.
For growing cannabis, you want to maintain pH levels in the soil between six and seven. Most of the beneficial nutrients available for your cannabis plant are only available in that pH range. Levels that are too low or high can expose your plant to toxicities and nutrient deficiencies—even if the nutrients are in the soil, the plant won’t be able to absorb them.
The container size you use should always relate to your cannabis plant’s size. The bigger your container, the better chances of you getting a large plant. Don’t forget to transplant your plant before it enters the flowering stage—you don’t want to stress out or damage your cannabis plant while it’s flowering.
Common Cannabis Growing Questions
How Many Buds Does a Cannabis Plant Grow?
A larger plant has more nodes, which means your plant will have more places to grow buds. However, more nodes don’t necessarily mean more buds or larger buds. For example, buds lower on the plant and away from the canopy will not receive enough light. As a result, they’ll likely never fully develop. For maximum yields, prune away foliage and buds that aren’t receiving enough light.
Do Male Cannabis Plants Grow Buds?
Male cannabis plants grow pollen sacs instead of buds. Unlike females, who produce buds high in THC levels, males only produce pollen to fertilize the females. It is common for growers to discard male plants because if they fertilize your females, they will produce seeds instead of buds.
How Long Does It Take for Cannabis to Grow Buds?
There is no definitive timeline since growth greatly depends on genetics and the strain. In general, the first buds usually start appearing by the third week. An autoflowering strain can begin producing buds at three weeks old and be ready for harvest by the fifth or sixth week. Certain strains may, however, take longer to start making buds.
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