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Harvesting, Drying And Curing Indoor Marijuana Plants

Harvesting, Drying And Curing Indoor Marijuana Plants

It can be difficult to know exactly when your cannabis crop is ready to harvest. After harvesting the plant matter you’re after, you have to process it. Curing and drying are vital steps towards getting a tasty, usable product.

Harvesting your crop can be the ultimate victory for any marijuana grower, However, the key to reaping the best marijuana lies in knowing when to harvest and how to dry your plants properly.

In this section, we’ll teach you the basics of what to look for, and how to handle the harvesting process when the time is right. We will explain the drying process and give a lot of tips to produce the best buds possible. Without these steps, no one with a nose or tongue will touch your buds - so pay close attention!

When to harvest

When to harvest indoor cannabis

After your plant has gone through its flowering phase, it will begin to slide into a decline in health. There are a number of different symptoms which can flag this for you. You’ll notice that the pistils of the cannabis plant are turning red. The stem might begin to broaden. Any resin on the buds will begin to brown and darken, and the leaves of the plant will start to yellow and die back. If your plant has flowered and you begin to notice any of these symptoms occur, chances are good that you are ready to harvest!

There’s some contention between growers on the precise ‘best’ time to harvest your cannabis. It depends in part on your own personal tastes. It’s not so different from harvesting other plants, even fruits or vegetables.

The best way to be able to properly see if your plants are ready for harvest is to use a magnifying tool of some sort. You should be looking for trichomes in your buds that are glittery and filled with resin. If you are seeing them this way, you will be able to harvest at the perfect time.

Magnifying Tools
There are a number of different kinds of magnifying tools you can use to look more closely at your plants. Each will get the job done, but like with any aspect of growing and harvesting your marijuana plants, you need to understand what they all do and what the best tool for you is.

Jewelers Loupe
A Jewelers Loupe is perfect for someone working on a budget. It’s not very high-tech, making it the least helpful in seeing the details for the stage of life your buds are in. That being said, it should give you enough information to identify if it is harvest time yet or not.

Handheld Magnifier
More powerful than a jewelers loupe, a handheld magnifier of some sort will zoom in enough to give you an even better idea of your buds’ status. Such high magnification can cause some problems, however, since sometimes it makes it difficult for you to focus.

Digital Microscope
If you’re someone who likes state-of-the-art technology, this might be the route for you. It’s more expensive, as these types of technologies always are, but it will give you a black-and-white answer to your question: Are my plants ready for harvest? You just need to connect it to your laptop to see the information at hand. You should read up on the methods of using it before purchasing one of these.

The latest possible harvest will net you the best results, but with cannabis, that can mean an overpowering and unpleasant flavor if you wait too long. The color of the pistils is the most common way for growers to determine when they want to harvest their plants and begin processing them for use.

Some growers harvest as soon as the pistils begin to turn red. Others wait until the pistils are almost entirely red and the resin of the plant is dark. In general, the later you harvest, the more you will get, but it is also likely to have a stronger flavor. If you wait too long, you could see decreased effectiveness of the active ingredients.

Besides the color of the pistils, examining the resin on your flowering plants is probably the best way to know if they’re ready for harvest. You will notice that the glands covered in resin become enlarged when the plant is mature, and they will also start to swell and look deformed. The resin will darken from transparent to opaque amber as it becomes more mature. When the resin is still sticky and transparent, the plant is ready to be harvest. Once that resin darkens and becomes more amber-hued, you should make sure to harvest quickly because the plant will go through a deterioration of active ingredients.

Red pistils

red pistils harvesting cannabis

The pistils of the cannabis plant will be white before the flowering phase. When they begin to turn red, you’ll know you’ve entered the period of time during which you can harvest your crop. If all of the pistils are white, it’s too soon: don’t try to harvest. A safe bet is when anywhere from 25-75% of the pistils have turned red or are beginning to turn red. Although it’s not a bad idea to remain patient during this harvesting phase, you don’t want to wait too long. If you let the plant go too far, you’ll end up with a lower quality product. If the plant goes too long without being harvested, the entire crop could actually be ruined.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more harvesting tips

When you choose to harvest will also affect the qualities of the bud. Harvesting earlier will give the plant a more stimulating effect when the ingredients are activated, while harvesting at peak ripeness will offer a more numbing hazy effect. This is another area where it comes down to personal taste. To figure out where you stand on the matter, a good bet is to harvest some of your plants early and some late. That way you can decide for yourself which is a better fit for your style as a grower.

Watch the trichomes

Trichomes harvesting cannabis

There is a second method of identifying whether your plants are ready to be harvested or not, in case the pistil method isn’t quite working for you. The trichome method is actually considered the more accurate one, so read carefully for it to truly benefit your judgment around harvest time.

The concept is simple: you simply need to take a look at the trichomes on your plants’ buds to be able to establish whether or not they are ready for harvest. Trichomes are the growths that resemble mushrooms in shape. Some trichomes are known as resin glands, which have a crystalline structure or appear frosty as they grow on the leaves and buds of your plants. If you have ever noticed the stickiness of weed, this is also responsible for that texture.

The trichomes you need to be paying close attention to are the ones that have a little ball on top of them since that is where much of the THC and other fun chemicals are housed. The key is being able to determine when they are at their highest THC level, so when is the peak time for harvesting them. Since it’s difficult to see with the naked eye, you should use one of the magnifying tools listed above to get a closer look.

So when do you know that the trichomes are ready? You need to compare them with the following color and texture rules:

Clear, White Hairs
This is definitely not the time to harvest. If the trichomes are clear, they won’t be potent enough for harvest, and your final yield will suffer because of it. You should wait until nearly half of the hairs are darker in color and are no longer sticking out so straight.

Half Clear or Cloudy Trichomes
It is still rather early for a harvest. The buds have not reached their full-size potential, although they will still produce a high if you harvest them now. This type of high will most likely be more energetic or “speedy.” The strain’s odor will develop further if you wait to harvest.

Mostly Cloudy Trichomes
Congratulations, you have reached the perfect stage for harvesting your buds! This is the point when they have the highest levels of THC, so if you want to maximize your yield outcome then you have to act fast. You will know your plants have reached this stage when 50 to 70 percent of the hairs have darkened from their original white color. Because of this peak amount of potency, the high that comes with the buds harvested at this time will give you some serious euphoria and will even relieve pain. This can be considered the most “intense” high you can get.

Amber and Cloudy Trichomes
This is a bit later than the absolute peak time for the greatest amount of potency, but only because the buds have slightly less THC and more CBN. If you are looking for a more relaxing, anxiety-reducing high, then this could actually be the perfect time for you to harvest. This high is heavier and often results in a “couchlock” result. You will be able to identify this stage when 70 to 90 percent of all the hairs have darkened.

You can look even more into the effects of harvesting your buds slightly earlier and later, depending on the exact type of high you are looking for. You can even harvest some during the peak time and some later, giving you a variety of options. Just make sure to label correctly so you don’t find yourself extremely relaxed when you were looking for a more energetic effect.

How to harvest

how to cut harvest cannabis

When you’re ready to harvest, you’ll carefully cut off all the sticky buds from your plant so that you can finish the cultivation process that you started months ago. You’ll want a heavy duty shears or scissors to handle the thickness of the plant matter, and a dish of isopropyl alcohol on hand so that you can clean sticky resin off of your scissors and hands. You’re best off wearing gloves for the cutting process, it can get pretty gooey.

Take off any of the biggest leaves that don’t have any resin: you can dispose of these. Remove small leaves and leaves which are curled up around the buds. These will usually have a lot of resin, and if you’re being thrifty, you’ll want to keep them.

Then simply remove the remaining buds from the plant and continue with the drying process.

How to dry marijuana

How to dry cannabis

Finally! You’re almost done with the cultivation process. You’ve got a bunch of buds sitting there, just waiting to be dried and processed. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet, though. The drying process is the most important part of making sure your Cannabis product has a good taste. It’s easy to ruin your product with poor practice, so dry your buds with care.

Right after you harvest, the plant matter will still be chock full of chlorophyll. Remember that you want as much chlorophyll as possible to be changed into glucose. It will taste bitter, and it definitely isn’t ready to be used. You still need to activate the tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) in the plant. This only takes a few days of drying, but it’s absolutely vital that it’s done right if you want a smokable bud.

During the first phase of drying, you will need to make sure that your buds are drying out fairly slowly – between 4 and 10 days. The key thing to look out for, during this process, is preventing mold from developing while you are drying them.

It’s very important to put the same amount of care and effort into drying and curing your Cannabis buds that you did into growing them. This is where you can have the most control over what the plant actually tastes like. If the process isn’t done properly, you can easily ruin all of your hard work thus far. Right after you harvest the plant, it will still be full of chlorophyll, and activating the THC only takes a few days, so remember to stay patient until the whole project is complete. The light is at the end of the tunnel.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more drying tips

You’ll want to stop photosynthesis from occurring in the plant after you harvest, so put the buds in a cool dark location. This will prevent transpiration from occurring due to heat and light.

Hanging the buds upside down will help you trick the plant matter into thinking that it is still alive, as long as there is still circulation inside the plant tissue. The last thing the plant will do is use up the remaining chlorophyll in its cells as energy. You want the plant to dry relatively slowly because of this, so there is time for the plant to convert all of the chlorophyll into sugar. Don’t use fans or heaters to quicken the process.

The ideal temperature for drying is somewhere around 18 degrees Celsius. Keep the humidity moderately high, too (around 60%). Again, you don’t want the plant matter to dry out too quickly.

During this process, always remember to treat the buds gently and with care. All that sticky resin will stick to anything it touches, and will pick up dust, so don’t forget about the importance of the environment. Stay mindful!

Harvesting leaves

harvesting leaves cannabis

Within a few days, the leaves of your Cannabis plants will have bent around the buds, curling up over them. Some growers advocate removing these leaves before drying the plant, but there are a number of disadvantages to doing this.

If the big leaves have been removed, the plant will have less mass and a smaller quantity of chlorophyll. Having less mass means it will dry more quickly. Again, just because you want the plant to dry doesn’t mean you want it to dry quickly.

When the leaves are present over the buds, moisture has to evaporate through them. In addition to slowing the evaporation process, this will help lower the risk of mold developing on the buds. Plus, it will help protect against dust and other negative factors.

After a couple weeks, the leaves will be totally dry, and the buds and stem should still be a little bit flexible (and likely very sticky). Keep handling them carefully so that you don’t lose any of the precious resin. If the plant matter has become brittle or easily crushed into powder, it’s too dry. The bud should be sticky and have a sweet fruity flavor.

Fast drying buds

fast drying weed

If your final product is bitter, it’s very likely that it was dried too quickly. Keeping humidity up in the drying room will help prevent this. It’s important to remember this. Sometimes it can be tempting to use fans or ventilators or dehumidifiers to speed the process along, but you’ll only do yourself a disservice by doing this.

The one time you are ok using these extra tools is if the environment you’re drying is naturally too moist. Also, if you’re in desperate need of accelerating the drying process, you’re better off using a dehumidifier than a heater.

Throughout the drying process, make sure that you’re keeping a weather eye out for mold. Don’t let the plants touch or crowd each other during the drying process. If some of the buds are just too big to dry at the center, cut them up into smaller pieces and dry them on a sieve or filter which allows air to circulate.

How to cure cannabis

curing indoor cannabis

There are a number of reasons why you should cure the buds right after you’ve harvested them. There are even more (and more important reasons) for why you should make absolutely certain that you’re curing them the correctly.

Curing is the best way to make your buds taste good. It’s as simple as that. This is because curing them breaks down the chlorophyll. It allows the most subtle flavors that make your harvested buds taste unique to come out. The smoke itself will be smoother and less likely to cause you to cough or have a headache.

Curing even makes your buds smell better. Instead of smelling like fresh hay or newly cut grass (which is typical in buds that have just been harvested), they will have a more unique and enjoyable scent. They even will have a better smell and taste for turning into edibles, in case that is what you would like to use some of them for.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more curing tips

Enjoyment aside, curing your buds is useful from a purely practical perspective. When you cure your buds, they are less likely to develop mold. Their potency increases, giving you “more bang for your buck,” and the response to them will even be different – you probably won’t feel as anxious or paranoid, nor will you develop racing thoughts. All in all, curing your buds just makes them better.

If you are still not convinced, you should try it out for yourself. Smoke some weed that comes straight from the plant, then compare it to smoking a cured or dried version of the same harvest. You will certainly see a distinct difference, and this is all it will take to convince you.

How to store buds

Storing indoor buds

The final step is safely storing your cannabis harvest after it’s been dried and cured and processed. Above all else, remember that it will keep longer if it isn’t exposed to oxygen, heat, or light.

Before you put the buds away and seal them, make sure that they haven’t gotten too dry. It should remain flexible, soft and supple. Without a little moisture, it will crumble into an unpleasant dust.

The best bet for storage is air-tight jars. Some growers favor vacuum sealing the end product in plastic, but the jars are sturdier and less susceptible to being torn open or letting pressure be applied to the plant matter itself.

Check the buds 24 hours after you first store them and make sure everything still looks and smells right. If it smells strange, let it air out. Repeat this step as many times as necessary until the cannabis has a pleasant smell, rather than smelling of leaves/freshly mowed lawn.

Using smaller jars will help the buds last longer since they won’t be exposed to as much oxygen over the long term. If you’re trying to maximize the amount of time you store the buds, you can also use a freezer.

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or questions below and don't forget to download my free grow bible


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Comment Section

56 thoughts on “Harvesting, Drying And Curing Indoor Marijuana Plants

By doug on 13 June 2015

hi Robert
In a grow room,3.5 x 5, during the flowing stage, If you have a 400hps. and a florescent 100wtt. overhead... will it hurt to also run 600 red, LED rope lights on the walls surrounding the plants?? Getting tons of buds on lower branches.
Will the extra light improve THC levels and other good things???

By Rainco on 9 September 2016

Sporadic shade leaves are' yellowing & spotting ". Whats the problem?, secondly- should I just leave' em be or remove them?

By latewood.ILGM on 12 September 2016


We cannot really tell you what the problem is without more info.

I strongly suggest that you join our support forum. Do some reading and fill out a support ticket for us to evaluate, and then we can help you through all the issue you may have. See you there 🙂

By Phil420 on 4 December 2016

Try cal-mag plus.Anything that is not contributing to the plant,dead leaves,get rid of them.

By RUSSELL AULTMAN on 30 April 2018


By latewood on 15 June 2015

I always use sidelighting. Beware of getting the LED too close to the plants. This is a great idea as long as you have the room to keep the lamp at a safe distance. Remember, despite less Radiant Heat omitting from your LED, the lights can burn ther plants. Good Luck and Happy growing.

p.s. I advise you to join our support forum in order to communicate with all our expert growers. 🙂

By bojizzle on 12 August 2015

Does anyone else wash buds before the dry/cure process post harvest?

By latewood on 14 August 2015


In general; No. it depends on circumstances. If I pray plants with insecticide, or pesticide, or DE; I will give them a shower, followed by drying with 3-4 fans.

By Anonymous on 14 August 2015


By Tami on 3 September 2015

Hi!! I'm learning a lot by browsing these articles- thank you!!
QUESTION: What is the best method for "curing" large quantities of bud? Last season (my first multiple plant harvest), I started out curing in jars, but quickly ran out of jars and time. So I put the bud in brown paper grocery sacks, closed the bags loosely, and gently "stirred" them every day or so.
How do you cute large amounts of bud?
Thank you!!!
T from NoCal

By Tami on 3 September 2015

CURE, not "cute".....LOL.

By latewood on 4 September 2015

I do it just like that. It is a 3 step process. Air dry in dark, after stem "snaps", place in brown paper bags. You have to have air movement initially, or you will develop mold issues. Then in glass jars. However; You can leave bud in paper bags for a while. You also need to be diligent in airing the bags, or jars every day or so, in order to prevent mold.

By trikes on 13 September 2015

if you run out of jars,,,place in brown bag, and place in freezer ,even a little greener than needs be can be improved

By marty on 22 September 2015

for the second year in a year im having catepillars,,i sprayed with neem oil,,and i used B,T,,the powder,,,,i dont know what else i could have done,,the plants i had last year i waited unti august and let them grow until end of october and i didnt have a problem,,but the plants i put out in april,,,all had worms,,,,,what else could i have done??

By Bill on 23 September 2015

How do you rid an infestation of Russet Mites? A good friend of mine has a real problem because his plants are so large. What's the fix?

By david on 3 July 2016

I started having spider mite issues, after doing some reading I found the best option during flowering is too drop it down to a 10 hr light cycle as mites cannot grow in less then 12hrs apparently, and use 5ml of 100% neem oil with 2 litres of luke warm water and a drop of washing up liquid once a week. My plant is big, it stinks and I cant wait to smoke the fucker:p

By Kidkodak on 2 November 2016

Off topic, buddy. Read again: "harvesting-drying-curing"

By latewood on 25 September 2015

Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade Codex.

By Maryjane on 28 September 2015

I have a zillion questions first time grower is there any way i can private msg?

By Jennifer ILGM on 29 September 2015

Maryjane, I advise you to join our support forum and start a topic, using our “Support ticket”. We have many growers who love to help new growers.

By Dave Williams on 14 October 2015

I am very close to harvesting some Shiskaberry Indica. I have recently stopped Nutes and an now flushing.
My problem is this: I have noticed small leaves starting to grow out of the flowering Cola.
I am leaving the lights on for aprox. 15 hrs per day.
Is this too long to have lights on, and have I reverted the plant back to a veg state?
Any thoughts are appreciated.......
Many Thanks

By latewood on 16 October 2015

Dave Williams,

oh my. 15 hours is too long a photo period for the veg stage. I usually use 15-165 hour periods of lights on in the beginning of my grow. Especially Sativa.

You should change your photo period schedule to 12/12.

Perhaps you would gain some more knowledge if you downloaded and read our Free Grow Bible

By Dave Williams on 25 October 2015

: Sorry, I do not know what is meant by 15-165 hour periods for lights.
I have changed the photo period back to 12/12 and sure enough, white flowers all over......
Does this also mean I have to wait another 6-7 weeks for the plant to fully mature before culling?

By latewood.ILGM on 27 October 2015

Sorry; I had a typo/ and missed it. I meant to post; 15 hours is too long a photo period for bloom/flower phase. Yes you reverted back to veg. phase, photo period...etc

Continue to flower and observe the progress of the thc development in the trichomes. Happy Growing. lw

By Dave Williams on 27 October 2015

Thanks for the clarification.
\My plants are looking rather sad right now. I am at week 9 flowering and a lot of the buds have all gone dead looking. The funny thing is, is that all the Tricomes still are cloudy, but none of them have gone amber!
Lots of healthy green leaves still remain, although I trim the dying ones off daily.
I know the importance of amber tricomes,, but my gut is saying that culling is coming very soon. (amber or not)
Would really appreciate your observations Robert.
Many thanks,

By IAN HADDLESEY on 24 October 2015


By IAN HADDLESEY on 24 October 2015


By latewood.ILGM on 27 October 2015

Please refrain from posting the same query on different topics. I answered you in a different topic.

Download our Free Grow Bible. Read it. Happy Growing


Pingback: How to Grow Huge Marijuana Buds

By latewood.ILGM on 27 October 2015

You must totally dry buds before you can cure the buds harvested. Curing under optimum circumstances takes a minimum of 4-6 weeks. 2-3 months is better.

By latewood.ILGM on 29 October 2015

Dave Williams,

All growers sooner or later find that they have to make a choice. After all; You are the only one in the room 🙂

You do not have to have Amber trcihomes in order to have quality herb. It is optimum, but after all; Amber trichomes means THC is deteriorating. So we never want more than 33% Amber trich's; Unless your goal is too create a couch lock, sleepy time cure for purely medical purposes.

Harvest when you feel that going on is detrimental to the overall yield. lw

By Tammy on 11 November 2015

So I am drying my first crop. I am using the indoor hanging method. The room temp is kept between 70-75 degrees no heat added humidity is around 38% I have two fans running but not blowing directly on drying buds but over near my plants. I don't have a way to keep the drying area totally dark as a few of my plants were not ready so they are still on a 12/12 light cycle. I use only the red spectrum lights meant for the growth and budding phase so the drying bud is getting some indirect red light that is reflected off back wall into the drying area. The bud seems to be drying fast it's only been 4 days now I can't see waiting another 10 days. In your guide you say 10 to 14 days to dry is that a rule or an estimate. How do I know when to cut the leaves and start the cure?

By latewood.ILGM on 12 November 2015


You should be OK. As long as direct light is not hitting them. However; You say light is reflecting off back wall. I would hang some newspaper in front of them with a few tacks or whatever.

Your plants are not dry in 4 days. The outer part of the buds may seem dry, but the inside part of the buds is still wet. If you were to put these 4 day drying buds in a glass jar, you would find that the dry outside is has become moist again. This is due to the moisture build up from the inner buds.

Be patient and wait a few more days. Perhaps kill one of the 2 fans you have there.

Good Luck & Happy Growing

By Ike on 24 December 2015

I got some sativas that got root bound while flowering an the leaves are turning yellow from the tips inward an the buds are really thin looking like as if the plants were 3-5 weeks in 12/12 anyway to fix or just cut my losses?

By Rick La'Donne on 20 May 2016

Nice article. I use a centurion pro trimmer during harvest. Cost me some money, but it paid for itself very quickly. I did not like hand trimming at all, the machine now does it all for me! It's the best investment I have ever made. I would highly recommend getting a trimmer if you hate hand trimming like I do.

By bmorgil on 4 June 2016

The only place I have to dry is an attic. It varies in humidity from 30% to 90% but in general, it averages 50%. The temperature swings from 16c to 32c averaging 23c. It is naturally vented with a ridge vent however it is not breezy. Will this work? Can I expect bad taste if I dry it here?

By latewood.ILGM on 12 June 2016


You really need to have more control in your grow environment. The temperature and humidity swings that you are descring will cause you issues on both ends of the spectrum.

I advise you to join our support forum. We have many knowledgeable members and experts always willing to help. 🙂

By sammy wight on 24 October 2016

Excellent reading of Cannabis knowledge, thank you! This is a great book to have on hand.

By Tim V on 30 October 2016

I wish you could put all your lessons in a book, or is there. If there is a book,
I'd very much like to buy it. Thanks

By Jay on 26 April 2017

Hey, would it be acceptable to dry the plants in a sealed container buried in the ground?

By latewood.ILGM on 27 April 2017

If plants were buried in the ground while still containing chloriphyll and moisture; It will rot. Cannabis must be dried properly, then allowed to cure. (which involved "burping" of the container during cure period) – I❤️GM

By Kathy on 24 June 2017

Outstanding ./Mknowledge

By Humboldt215Chick on 20 September 2017

How long are you able to freeze your cured flower for?
Thanks for all your help. Learning a lot from your page! Your girls look great.

By Bill on 5 October 2017

I dry upside down after removing the shade leaves and trimming other leaf tips the night before harvest. Harvest before light. When the stems snap, I use a bowl trimmer and then into jars. Open jars every day for a few weeks, then less often. Shake daily. 6 weeks from harvest, it is ready. Seems to work for me.

By Deborah Nash on 7 October 2017

Is ther anyway to rehydrate my buds... i read that my Pot should

Is there anyway at all to rehydrate the cut on my harvest.. i dried some out side like tobacco ( i read that somewhere) in my gazebo. Not in the sun at all but it’s really dry not to a power but crunchy.. i just took it all down and put it in some shoe box’s.. don’t know what i’m Doing anc i save this outdoor long grow.??

By latewood_ILGM on 9 October 2017


Look up Boveda dual humidity packs. 58 and 62% They will work.

Also; If you have a fresh pot leaf, throw it into the container overnight and see what happens. Good Luck

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