If you really want to maximize the outcome of your harvest, you are going to need to figure out a few things. You’ll need to be able to identify the type of plants you are growing, and then know exactly how to grow huge marijuana buds.
How to get bigger buds
The bud of a marijuana plant is the prized appendage that appears after a plant enters the flowering stage of its life cycle. The leaves of the marijuana plant contain THC, but the buds of female plants are the most potent product by far.
So as an individual grower, it’s important to focus a significant amount of attention on the buds of your crop.
If you do it right, you can accomplish incredibly huge buds with a high THC content. This guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to accomplish that goal. Keep reading and learn to grow huge marijuana buds.
BONUS: make sure to read the bonus section about splitting the stem of your plant. The purpose of stem splitting is to disturb the flow of nutrients and water right at the base of the stem. This will cause the plant to start producing more trichomes which means heavier and denser buds with higher THC levels.
What are buds
Before you can grow huge marijuana buds, you need to have a bit of background knowledge. For starters, a bud is the growth that pops up during a plant’s flowering phase.
Although marijuana plants’ leaves also have a THC content, the buds have a far more concentrated amount. This is why the buds are the prize possession of any marijuana grower – they are the part of the plant that gets you high. While both male and female buds contain plenty of THC, there are some important differences that distinguish the two.
Male buds vs. female buds
Plenty of people seem to believe that male plants don’t produce smokeable buds at all. While it’s true that female buds contain the most THC levels, male buds are also quite potent and able to be smoked.
Male buds look like round flowers that are jam packed with pollen. Be careful that your males don’t pollinate your females because your plants will start producing seeds and less THC. I only grow males to produce seeds and remove them from my female plants.
Female buds will start showing up about two weeks later than male buds, and they start out as growths that are round, white-colored, and hairy. They show up on the very tip of every branch, as well as at the top of the plant. If treated well, the smallest buds on your female plants will grow to be longer than two inches.
See how this bud develops in 8 weeks
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Since female buds really are the cream of the crop, you are going to want to ensure that their buds get as large (and potent) as possible. The best way to achieve this is simply by getting them to grow at a faster rate.
Tip: make sure to download my free Grow Bible for more tips to increase your yield
The faster they grow, the more time they have to become huge. Read the article Male or female marijuana plants for more information about sexing plants
Remove yellow leaves
Once it has entered the flowering stage, the number one thing to speed up your plant’s bud growth is to remove any dying leaves.
These leaves can be identifying by their yellowing color. They are a lost cause, and they are using up your plant’s energy and resources that could be focused on bigger and better things (namely, the buds). Take away the yellowing leaves to conserve these resources.
Instead of discarding these leaves, keep them and cure them properly. They have a high enough THC content that you can make cannabutter or weed brownies in case you run out of weed or while you are waiting for the big harvest.
The best nutrients
If you want your buds to be fat and juicy, you are going to have to spoil them a bit. Take special care of them during the flowering phase of the plant’s life cycle.
What buds crave most of all is phosphorous, so try a mixture of 10% nitrogen, 30% phosphorous, and 10% potassium (commonly referred to as NPK 10-30-10) to curb those cravings. At the end your buds can use a boost of extra potassium.
Read the article Best fertilizers for marijuana plants for more info on nutrients. For the best result, you can just use the complete nutrient set for your entire grow. It comes in sizes for 5 plants and 20+ plants.
If you haven’t grown marijuana before, you may not know nutrients and pH level go hand in hand. This is because the pH level of the soil (or whatever grow medium you are using) at the roots will affect your marijuana plant’s ability to absorb different kinds of nutrients. Many times, nutrient deficiency or toxicity is actually caused by a pH imbalance.
With the right pH levels you can grow huge buds. And with the wrong pH levels you can ruin your yield. So know your pH…
The main nutrients marijuana uses to grow are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. During vegetation they use a lot of nitrogen, first weeks of flowering a lot of phosphorus and at the end of flowering a lot of potassium. But they also use lots of other nutrients, like iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
Each nutrient behaves differently when it is in an environment at a different pH level. To put it simply, the pH level decides how a nutrient or any chemical compound will “act.” Whether it falls apart, dissolves, or does something else is based on the pH level.
The pH level can be compared to the temperature and chemicals. For example, calcium in tap water won’t even be visible if the water is cold because it has dissolved completely. Once it surpasses the boiling point, however, it will precipitate instead.
Wrong pH levels create nutrient deficiencies
At certain acidity levels, certain elements can’t be absorbed by the marijuana plant’s roots. If the pH level is too low, for example, your marijuana plant won’t take in magnesium very well. Therefore, even if you’re feeding plenty of magnesium to your plants, they still will exhibit signs of a magnesium deficiency.
A magnesium deficiency includes yellowing of leaves and even whitening, but the veins will still be green colored. Simply supplying your marijuana plant with more magnesium will not suffice, however, since the pH level is actually the root of the cause. The key, in this case, is to balance the pH level (or, in the case of a magnesium deficiency, raise the pH level) until your plant can take in nutrients.
If growing in soil, you should keep the pH level right around 6. For marijuana plants growing in other types of media, such as rockwool or other hydroponic setups, keep the pH level at 5.5.
How to lower the pH
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Of course, the other elements of keeping healthy plants in general also come into play with growing big buds. Proper amounts of water and light, along with temperature and good genetics will all affect the way your buds grow.
The electric conductivity, or EC value, illustrates what the salt content is. This salt content is a measure of how much nutrients are in the soil or in the water you are feeding your plants. Water with an EC value of 0 is purified, without any salts or minerals. Its pH level should be 7 if it is balanced and purified.
Regular tap water would not be this balanced since it contains lots of minerals (including magnesium, calcium, and potassium). Generally speaking, tap water in the United States has a value of between 0.2 and 0.5. Tap water does not contain enough nutrients for marijuana plants – you will need to add some.
How to increase EC levels
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The EC value is important because, if it is too low, there aren’t enough nutrients for your plants to access. An EC value that is too high could also be bad news for marijuana plants. If nutrient salts start to build up in the soil, the pH value will decrease, and the roots will not absorb most nutrients as efficiently as they should.
More about EC/TDS in the article The right EC and pH levels
How much light
One of the most surefire ways of increasing your bud growth is by increasing the intensity of the light that is hitting your plants. Light is what helps marijuana plants absorb carbon dioxide and convert that carbon dioxide into useful sugars.
When it comes to marijuana plants, more light is almost always better. Plants that aren’t getting enough light will not grow as fast, or they may even stretch into tall, thin plants that are “reaching” to get closer to the sunlight. These plants will never be able to produce huge buds.
If your plant has already grown uneven colas because of poor lighting during its vegetative state, it will be difficult to evenly and effectively distribute the light. The buds themselves should have direct exposure to the light for best results.
Note: If you are an indoor grower, try moving the lights closer to your plants as long as temperatures don’t exceed 80 degrees. This will increase your yield significantly
Generally speaking, HPS lamps are the best lamps for an indoor growing operation. For every 13 square feet of growing area, make sure there are 400 Watts of light during the vegetation stage. Also, for every 13 sq ft make sure there is a 600-watt lamp during the flowering phase. Fluorescent lighting is a less expensive option that can work well too.
Here are more reference points for how much you can expect to achieve with various setups:
|With a 200-watt CFL lamp||average 1.5 to 2.0 oz (3.5 oz for advanced growers)||using a 3.5 x 1.5 x 6.5 ft. grow cabinet|
|With a 250-watt HPS lamp||average 3.0 to 5.0 oz (9.0 oz for advanced growers)||using a 3.5 x 1.5 x 6.5 ft. grow cabinet|
|With a 400-watt HPS lamp||average 4.5 to 9.0 oz (14 oz for advanced growers)||in a 3.5 x 3.5 x 7 ft grow room|
|With a 600-watt HPS lamp||average 5.0 to 10 oz (21 for advanced growers)||in a 4 x 4 x 8 ft grow room|
|With a 1000-watt HPS lamp||average 9.0 to 18 oz (36 for advanced growers)||in a 5 x 5 x 8 ft grow room (with extra CO2 only)|
Imagine how much you love food. That is how much your marijuana plants love carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is vital for the flowering and growth of your marijuana plant (and any plant, for that matter). Overall, the more carbon dioxide, the better.
If you increase the amount of CO2 that your plant is receiving, you will essentially be “feeding” them more, allowing their growth to be sped up even further and achieve bigger buds. Adding CO2 nicely complements increasing light intensity, since it basically is expanding your plant’s ability to use light.
Between 350 and 400 ppm of carbon dioxide is standard in the air. The marijuana plant will take this carbon dioxide and combine it with light energy to create the sugars it needs to grow.
If the level of carbon dioxide begins to drop, the sugar production in your marijuana plants will also start to decline. This is why ventilation is so important — there always needs to be an incoming supply of fresh carbon dioxide.
Note: CO2 alone will not increase the yield. The more light and CO2 your plant gets, the more efficiently it will grow. This will also keep your plant from ever getting too much light since the added CO2 will increase its light capacity.
Marijuana plants that have access to between 350 and 400 ppm of carbon dioxide won’t make a lot more sugars than is possible with a 600-watt HPS light bulb. Therefore, keeping the carbon dioxide level the same but increasing the wattage of the light you use will have little effect. However, increasing the carbon dioxide levels while also increasing the light will help your marijuana plants be far more productive — expect nearly double yields.
This can be an expensive endeavor with all the equipment that is required, but when your yield is so much higher, it can certainly be worth the trouble and the extra money it costs.
Using CO2 with CO2 reg and timer to get bigger buds
Although it’s pretty tricky to ever reach the light threshold, this is yet another way to “hack” your plant’s speed of growth. If you do decide to pump extra CO2 into your grow room, be sure to seal it off properly – although it works wonders for plants, high levels of CO2 can be very dangerous for humans. Read the article Growing marijuana with CO2 for more info
Temperature and humidity
Temperature and humidity need to be at the right level for your plants to reach their highest budding potential. If the temperature is too high, your buds won’t have as potent of an aroma.
When the light is turned on, an ideal temperature for the cuttings and seedlings is between 68ºF and 77ºF (20ºC and 25ºC). As the plants get older they can evaporate a little bit more and the temperature may increase to a maximum of 82ºF (28ºC).
When the lights are off, the temperature should lie between 59ºF and 72ºF (15ºC and 22ºC). Another important rule is that the temperature differences between day and night cannot be too high, a maximum difference of 50ºF (10ºC). So when it’s 82ºF (28ºC) during the day, it cannot go below 64ºF (18ºF) at night. A temperature difference of 40ºF (5ºC) is ideal.
These are the best humidity levels to grow huge buds:
|Veg week 1||70%|
|Veg week 2||70%|
|Flowering week 1||65%|
|Flowering week 2||60%|
|Flowering week 3||55%|
|Flowering week 4||50%|
|Flowering week 5||50%|
|Flowering week 6||45%|
|Flowering week 7||45%|
|Flowering week 8||40%|
|Flowering week 9||40%|
Controlling your temperature can mean controlling the amount of potency and smell of your buds – when done properly. Make sure you pay special attention to your grow room’s temperature throughout its entire life cycle. If you do this, the results will definitely be to your liking. Read more about temperature or humidity
The limiting factor
If all the factors above are optimally present, your buds plants will grow as big as possible. But there’s always a limiting factor. This is the factor of which the value is furthest away from the optimal value.
Let’s say you have a 250 watt lamp, there’s sufficient CO2 in the room (350pp, just like outside) and the plant gets enough water and nutrients. The light will then be the limiting factor. Because if you use a 400 watt lamp in these circumstances, you can almost double your yield. And you can harvest even more with a 600 watt lamp.
But if you use a 1000 watt lamp, the plant will need more CO2 than standard air can provide, causing CO2 to become the limiting factor. The plant can’t convert all the energy from the lamp, because it needs more CO2 to do so. This is how all factors are connected and influence the functioning of a plant.
Depending on the stage the plant is in, these values slightly differ, but generally speaking, these are the perfect values;
Light: 600 watt per 12 square feet
CO2: 350 ppm
Water: as required*
EC: between 1.0 and 2.0
Temperature: 77 degrees F
*These values depend on the stage the plants are in. Seedlings can’t take as much nutrients as older plants, and they’ll evaporate more and more water as they grow, so you’ll have to water them more. Read more in my article about watering marijuana plants
Pruning is always done by tomato farmers to increase the yield. The small shoots between the branches and the trunk are removed so all the energy is used to maximize fruit production.
But also for marijuana plants it’s very effective to remove these useless shoots so the plant can develop bigger buds. Using this technique you will get a few big, hard and heavy buds instead of many smaller ones.
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Pruning is mostly done by professional cannabis growers who wants to yield the maximum amount of weed per square foot. Because there is no energy wasted on the small buds and small leaves the top ones will grow bigger and heavier. The main colas will also get more light because they’re all at the same height.
Before and after pruning useless bottom shoots
Pruning should only be done during the vegetation stage because the plant needs time to recover and grow big leaves. Wait at least 3 days after pruning before forcing them into flower. Make sure your marijuana plants are growing again and evaporate enough water.
Go easy on the fertilizers and give them a few days to recover. If you have mastered this technique and do it at the right time it will definitely pay off. No more small and fluffy buds. You will only get big, hard, and heavy marijuana buds.
If you use the SCROG (Screen of Green) method you also have to prune your marijuana plants. Place a screen at 50 cm above your plants. Take the top out of every plant when it’s 10 centimeters from the screen and wait until the new tops grow through the screen. Wait until they grow 10 centimeters through the screen, gently bend them and connect them to the screen.
Prune your marijuana plants after the first shoots have grown through the screen. Wait a few days and force them into flowering. During the first two weeks of the flowering phase your marijuana plants will keep growing.
Scrog result after 2 months with 4 plants
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Combine the pruning and the SCROG technique and you can grow 1 gram of marijuana per watt of light. So if you have 1 600watt HPS bulb you should be able to grow 600 grams of cannabis. Temperature, humidity and other factors also have to be right of course.
LST or Low Stress Training
“LST” (low-stress training) is a way of training that doesn’t include any cutting. It is a way of manually manipulating your plants to grow flatter and wider rather than skinny and tall. It uses bending techniques that anyone can do (but proceed with caution, as with anything).
LST is effective because it trains the plant to grow in a way that will maximize its intake of light. Every leaf that is exposed adds another source of energy to your plant so you can see why it is an effective technique.
LST generally begins at a younger stage of life, before the plant has established its own shape. Another form of LST is called Screen of Green, and includes a net. The net (or screen) keeps your plants where you want them, and maximizes your plants’ use of the indoor growing space.
These forms of training can all be helpful in improving your plants’ yield, starting from an earlier stage of your plant’s life. Even if you are a veteran grower, trying a new training technique might be a great way of improving your yield significantly. Read the article How to prune marijuana plants for a list of all pruning techniques like topping, low stress trainging, super cropping and monster cropping.
When to harvest
Ultimately, one of the most important factors in having the most potent and biggest buds possible is to harvest at the right time. You need to make sure you have let your buds become as ripe as possible before harvesting.
Sometimes the amount of growth in a bud’s final two or three weeks can be as much as a 25% increase. In other words, by harvesting too early you could sacrifice a huge amount of weed.
In general, the best time to harvest falls within a window of two or three weeks. Harvesting before this window of time would greatly reduce your overall yield, and will result in less potent weed.
Time of harvest affects the taste, smell and weight of your buds
You can also choose to harvest a bit earlier or later according to the type of high you would like to achieve. Earlier harvests generally get a more energetic buzzing high, while later harvests end up with a very relaxed high. For more harvesting tips read How to harvest marijuana plants or download our free Harvesting ebook now!
The best genetics
Once again, genetics is everything. No matter what you do to increase the yield, poor genetics will prevent a good harvest. If you did choose marijuana seeds with great genetics, you will be pleased with the end result.
Luckily, most strains that people buy today generally have very high yields and potency, which would not have been the case ten years ago. These strains will grow with fewer problems and will end up with plenty of happy, fat, potent buds.
All in all, the most important way you can increase your yield is by investing early on in a high-quality strain. It may seem expensive, but the payoff is well worth the upfront costs. Do your research and pay the money, because the result will be amazing. Check my seed shop to make sure you buy high quality marijuana seeds
BONUS Split the stem
There is one method of increasing the yield of your marijuana plants that not everyone knows about — splitting the stem. This will help your plants’ buds be heavier and denser and will improve THC production as well.
This technique is exactly what it sounds like — it involves splitting the stem of your marijuana plant right at the bottom. It likely originated in China and Southeast Asia.
To be successful with the stem splitting technique, start out by tying the stem right at the base, just above the soil. Tie a second rope or cable tie a couple inches above that. Take a very sharp knife and cut from the top tie to the bottom tie. There should be one vertical cut that is a few inches in length.
The knife should remain inside until you have a pencil, chopsticks, or other objects to replace it with to keep both sides of the marijuana plant from touching each other. Remove the knife partially and rotate it to allow the chopstick or pencil enough space. Leave the ties in place, so the damage does not spread.
The thing about splitting the stem is that it is a tricky technique to master, so you should only try it on one plant per growing season until you are confident you’ve gotten it down. Apply this technique a few days or a week before harvest, not sooner.
Is splitting the stem something you’ve heard of before or are you going to try it? Please give me your thoughts on this technique in the comments below.
BONUS produce more THC
The purpose of stem splitting is to disturb the flow of nutrients and water right at the base of the stem. Because of this, the plant will start producing more trichomes and more THC. Trichomes are responsible for making heavier, denser buds that are just better overall, so you can see why this is a useful technique. All cannabinoids are created in the trichomes
Trichomes are small, white drops of resin that appear on your buds — you probably have seen them at some point, whether or not you knew what they were at the time. Cannabinoids come from trichomes, so they are absolutely crucial to the marijuana consumer.
Harvest by looking at trichomes
Trichomes have the added bonus of serving as protectors of the marijuana plants, specifically against diseases and pests. This is because of the thick, sticky layer that it forms around the marijuana buds. It can also keep your marijuana buds safe against the wind, UV light, and water when necessary.
Because of this protective feature, more trichomes are produced during times of stress. Therefore, inducing a certain amount of stress can have amazing effects on your marijuana plants. Other known techniques are using ice water or keep their plants in the dark for 48 hours just before the harvest in an attempt to get more trichomes to be produced.
Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or questions below and don’t forget to download my free grow bible
The founder of I Love Growing Marijuana, Robert Bergman, is a marijuana growing expert that enjoys sharing his knowledge with the world. He combines years of experience, ranging from small-scale grows to massive operations, with a passion for growing. His articles include tutorials on growing... [read more]