Fattening Up Your Buds For Your Best Harvest Yet

How to get dense and chunky buds every time!
09 November 2020
15 min read
Fattening Up Your Buds For Your Best Harvest Yet

Contents:
  • 1. Light intensity
  • 1. a. Light spectrum
  • 2. Temperature and humidity
  • 3. Nutrients
  • 3. a. Macronutrients
  • 3. b. Micronutrients
  • 3. c. Ph level
  • 3. d. Synthetic nutrients
  • 3. e. Organic nutrients
  • 4. Plant training
  • 4. a. Low-stress training
  • 4. b. High-stress training
  • 5. Harvesting at the right time
  • 5. a. Stigmas
  • 5. b. Yellowing leaves
  • 5. c. State of the trichomes
  • 6. The right genetics
  • 6. a. Indica-dominant vs sativa-dominant
  • 6. b. Bud limits
  • 7. How to grow big buds?
  • 8. In conclusion

There are many variables that can determine how fat and trichome-rich your nugs will be, so in this article, we explain how to grow bigger buds during flower, what to consider, and how to avoid smaller low-producing popcorn buds. 

 

Learn best tips on how to grow huge Cannabis flowers from Sebastian Good.
 

The quality of your flowers depends on nutrients, light, and growing conditions so make sure you have everything on point to get denser and chunkier buds.

1. Light intensity 

Light is the most important factor when trying to get denser cannabis flowers because lights help cannabis plants produce sugars through the photosynthesis process which helps them grow, just have in mind that not any light will do, weed needs an optimal light intensity to produce big fat buds.

 

How to fatten up your buds: light intensity

The proper light intensity is vital if you want your marijuana plants to thrive and produce the biggest buds.
 

Outdoor growers don’t have to worry that much because they’re growing under the sun which is the best light possible for plants, obviously, the number of light hours the plants get outdoors will influence the quality but as long as you are growing in the outdoor season you’ll be fine.

 

Optimal wattage to get denser flowers

Number of plantsHPS wattageLED wattage
1100w120w
2250w200w
4400w280w
6600w350w

 

Indoor growers have to choose between different light fixtures, nowadays you can easily find light bulbs and LEDs suited for every grow tent and grower, each one with its pros and cons so that’s why you should research a lot before buying expensive equipment.

Either way, professional indoor growers provide approximately 1000w per m2 to have the best results, obviously, not all home growers can afford this but make sure you provide at least 100w per plant to increase bud density.  

Light spectrum

Not only the light intensity but also the light spectrum emitted by your light will affect how dense your buds get, each wavelength in the light spectrum plays an important role in a cannabis plant’s growth process.

As you may know, light bulbs (like MH and HPS) don’t emit a full-spectrum, while MH emits the blue spectrum, HPS emit the red spectrum that’s why Metal halide bulbs are used in the vegetative stage while HPS bulbs are used in the flowering stage.

 

How to fatten up your buds: light spectrum

LEDs are the best way to provide a full spectrum for your plants to grow under.
 

Now with LEDs you don’t have this problem because most LEDs emit almost the whole spectrum, which is crucial to harvest denser flowers because each wavelength is responsible for a certain aspect of a plant’s growth.

  • Green/blue wavelength (490-570nm)

These wavelengths are critical in the vegetative stage because growth and water absorption are boosted.

  • Yellow wavelength (570-585nm)

These wavelengths encourage plants to stretch and start budding, plants use them to encourage photoreceptors to absorb more light and get denser buds, increasing yields.

  • Red wavelength (520-720nm) 

These wavelengths signal to your marijuana plant that autumn is near and this not only increases resin production but also helps increase bud size.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much light do I need to grow fat buds?

This can vary a bit depending on the type of light and brand but in general, you should provide a minimum of 75w per plant to get good results.

Will I grow bigger buds with LEDs? 

It is possible to grow bigger buds with top-notch LEDs but you can have similar results with light bulbs, it’s just a matter of knowing how to use and adapt your grow space to the different types of lighting.

2. Temperature and humidity

The growing conditions also have a huge influence on bud density, cannabis plants thrive between 18-26°C and in relative humidity that starts at 70% and slowly decreases until it reaches around 45% during the last weeks of flowering.

 

  Optimal Humidity and temperature to get denser flowers

Plant stageWeekDay Temp.Night Temp.Relative humidity
 122-28°C18-22°C70%
 222-28°C18-22°C70%
Vegetative 322-28°C18-22°C65%
 422-28°C18-22°C65%
Pre-flowering520-26°C20-26°C60%
1st half of flowering620-26°C20-26°C55%
 720-26°C20-26°C50%
2nd half of flowering818-24°C17-20°C50%
 918-24°C17-20°C45%
 1018-24°C17-20°C40%

 

If you fail to maintain optimal conditions, the buds will end up airy just like popcorn buds so it’s essential you ensure the growing conditions are constant and, if you need to, use equipment such as fans, heaters, or AC units to be able to do so.

Unlike indoor growers, outdoor growers have less control over the conditions so it’s essential you plan when you’re germinating your seeds to have the best conditions possible, and if needed, build a greenhouse or if you already have a greenhouse, install fans in it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do the growing conditions affect cannabis plants?

The temperature and humidity can affect how your plant photosynthesizes and produces sugars, so in less-than-ideal conditions, your plant may grow slower or grow less and this can make it harder to get big buds. 

3. Nutrients

The nutrients make a huge difference, even though you may be able to harvest buds without feeding your plants, providing the right minerals at the proper ratio will result in denser flowers.

Marijuana plants need different nutrients that are divided into macronutrients and micronutrients which should be given at the correct time, and to know exactly how much and when to provide them you need to know your plant's life cycle, so by knowing approximately how long your auto will grow for and how many weeks of flowering before harvest you'll get an idea of what to give and when.

For example, if you are growing an autoflower that takes around 10 weeks from seed to harvest you'll know that it will take approximately 4-5 weeks for your plant to vegetate and another 5-6 for it to flower, knowing this you'll be able to plan ahead and calculate the nutrient doses because, as you may know, you should start with a lower dose and increase it gradually when growing autoflowers.

Macronutrients 

Macronutrients are the widely known NPK and are the minerals cannabis plants use the most, NPK refers to Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.

Nitrogen is responsible for plant growth in the vegetative stage, Phosphorus helps in photosynthesis, and Potassium is essential in bud and terpene production so it’s essential you provide these nutrients if you want to have good results.

 

How to fatten up your buds: NPK

NPK are the main nutrients your weed needs to grow.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are minerals used in lower quantities but they’re also essential for a cannabis plant's growth, failing to provide them will also result in signs of deficiencies even though they’re needed 10x less than macronutrients.

These mainly trace elements such as Boron, Copper, Calcium, and Magnesium among others, and all of them play a role in helping your plant achieve the needed structure and preparing it to successfully go through flowering.

Now, plants depend on the pH level to be able to absorb nutrients properly so it’s essential you check and adjust it but it’s vital that you provide just what your plants need, nothing less, nothing more.

It’s recommended you start with a lower dose than recommended because you may end up burning your plants, which will have the opposite effect than what you were looking for; Instead of denser buds, your plant will show symptoms of deficiencies.

 

Light nutrient solution cannabis feeding schedule

Week StageNutrients
1SeedlingPlain water
2Vegetative¼  grow nutrients
3Vegetative½   grow nutrients
4VegetativeFull dose grow nutrients
5Pre-flowering⅛ grow + ¼ bloom 
6Flowering½  bloom nutrients
7FloweringFull dose bloom nutrients
8Flowering & ripening⅛ bloom
9Ripening & harvestPlain water

 

To avoid this, you should feed your plants with a 2-1-3 ratio in the vegetative stage and 1-2-3 in the flowering, this means you have to feed more nitrogen while your plants are growing and more phosphorus and potassium when the flowers are developing.

Just have in mind that different nutrient brands have different feeding schedules and there are several different fertilizers for cannabis which can be quite different.

pH level

Checking and adjusting the pH level is essential if you really want to harvest great buds, pH ranges from 1 to 14 and is a way to measure how alkaline or acidic a liquid solution is.

Pure water has a neutral pH of 7, depending on the medium you’re growing in, the pH should be a bit lower but shouldn’t differ too much, for example, in soil the pH should range between 6.0-7.0 and in soilless medium (such as coco, clay pellets or hydro) should range between 5.5-6.5.

 

PH range for cannabis in different mediums

MediumpH range

Soil

6.0-7.0

Hydro and soilless

(like coco or clay pellets)

5.5-6.5

 

Maintaining these pH levels is essential if you want your plants to absorb nutrients properly because marijuana plants depend on certain pH levels to absorb nutrients properly.

Synthetic nutrients

Synthetic nutrients are the most common cannabis fertilizers available, these bottled nutrients contain salts that feed your plant’s roots directly.

This type of feeding is usually simpler and cheaper than organic nutrients but as you may know by now because you’re feeding the roots directly it’s super easy to overfeed and may bring more deficiencies if you haven’t grown weed before.

Organic nutrients

Organic nutrients, unlike synthetic nutrients, consist of maintaining a healthy medium that is filled with beneficial microorganisms that have a symbiotic relationship with your marijuana plants.

 

How to fatten up your buds: organic nutrients

How organic nutrients work.
 

Organic feeding is usually more expensive but there are several ways to make your own super soil, KNF, or composting at home where you can customize to your own needs.

This way, you are not feeding the roots directly, but making the nutrients available in the medium for the microorganisms to break them down and making it easier for your plants to absorb them when they want and need to, decreasing the chances of overfeeding and other deficiencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will flower enhancers or flower boosters give me bigger buds?

They probably won’t hurt your plant when used correctly but have in mind that most flower boosters just provide phosphorus and potassium which any good-quality fertilizer designed for the flowering stage will too.

How can I identify an NPK deficiency or excess?

 

MineralsExcessDeficiency
Nitrogen

Leaves get greener, weak stems and foliage, less water uptake.

Leaves turn yellow, small leaves and leaves curl or drop.
PhosphorusBladed leaves, burned tips, and spots on leaves.Purple stems, brown spots on leaves, and slow growth.
PotassiumBurned tips, spots on leaves, and burned tips.Weak stems and pale leaves, leaves with rusty color and slow flowering.

 

Which nutrients grow bigger buds?

Unfortunately, nutrients alone won’t be enough to get you big buds of weed. To grow bigger buds you will need the right combination of good-quality nutrients, enough light, and the proper growing conditions.

If you're already providing these elements and feel like you can still improve your harvest you should take a look at plant training techniques.

4. Plant training

Cannabis plants usually grow one main cola and several side branches, depending on your grow space it may not be a problem but this growth pattern isn’t ideal for a lot of growers that want to make the most out of their equipment.

Plant training techniques such as LST and HST can be used to re-shape how a marijuana plant grows, this way growers can open up the branches and canopy, and when done correctly the flower sites will receive more light and airflow, resulting in denser flowers and ultimately better yields.

Low-stress training

Low-stress training (aka LST) are plant training methods that do not mutilate your plants, the idea behind this technique is to bend the branches and stem horizontally to improve light usage which results in bigger buds and better yields.

 

How to fatten up your buds: SCRoG LST

LST allows you to shape your cannabis plant with as minimal stress as possible!
 

These low-stress techniques include the tie-down method, SCRoG, and SoG which are different methods that are better suited in different scenarios but end up having the same results.

 

LST technique explained under 1 minute.
 

As you can see in the video above, our grower not only tied the branches but also topped his autoflower. When done properly, you will be able to reach the desired plant structure that can improve yields and the overall quality of your harvest.

High-stress training

High-stress training (aka HST) are plant training methods that consist of mutilating your cannabis plants, techniques like Topping or Fimming consist of cutting your plant in a certain way, ending up with results similar to what LST offers but taking less time while also being more stressful to your plants.

Although it's not recommended to perform HST on autoflowers if you're not experienced enough, you can get away with it and have great results, also, it's common among growers to perform LST in combination with HST to get the results you desire.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the basic difference between low-stress and high-stress training?

If you’re looking to get bigger buds both will have similar results, the main difference being that low-stress training consists of shaping your plant little by little without mutilating it while high-stress training consists of mutilating your cannabis plant to shape your plant.

Is high-stress training better than low-stress training?

No, both are good training techniques and will result in similar results, it’s just a matter of knowing how to apply them properly and when to do it.

5. Harvesting at the right time

Beginner growers tend to harvest sooner either because they are anxious and want to smoke their buds or simply don’t know when the right time to harvest is.

As you may know, buds develop really fast during flowering and even just a couple of days may make a big difference in the quality of your flowers.

Stigmas

Stigmas (pistils) are the white hairs that you start seeing in the pre-flowering stage, these hairs come out of the calyxes and when marijuana plants are getting ready to get harvested, these hairs will start browning and wilting.

 

How to fatten up your buds: stigmas

Brown pistils all over a cannabis bud.
 

Have in mind that some in some strains these hairs start browning earlier and in others, the majority doesn’t even brown so you should not harvest based just on the stigmas.

Yellowing leaves

At the end of your growing cycle, you will see the big fan leaves yellowing, this could be a big problem if it happens in other stages but when nearing harvest it’s completely normal and a sign that your plant is getting ready to be harvested.

State of the trichomes 

Apart from the other factors that will help you know when the right time to chop down your plant, the standard practice is to look at the state of the trichomes so you shouldn’t harvest your plants based on the other factors until you take a look at the trichomes.

 

How to fatten up your buds: trichomes

The state of the trichomes are the standard practice to know when to harvest.
 

Depending on the type of effect you prefer, you shouldn’t harvest unless most of the trichomes are cloudy (cerebral effect) or amber (corporal effect), harvesting at just the right time will result in not only denser flowers but also a more potent effect so remember that being patient is essential.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does flushing do?

Flushing removes the nutrient build-up in the medium and roots, this way your plant won’t absorb more minerals and will finish consuming the nutrients stored in it before harvesting, providing better tasting buds without that harsh smoke that some flowers have.

Why do trichomes change color?

Trichomes do not change color, what happens is that the cannabinoids react to temperature and humidity, so THC will turn into CBN in oxidizing environments. This is why you need to control the relative humidity, and sometimes oxygen levels when curing cannabis buds.

6. The right genetics

Genetics is a crucial factor if you are looking to grow dense buds, nowadays there are lots of strains that have different characteristics, these characteristics influence the type of effect, aroma, flavor, plant structure, and bud structure also.

 

How to fatten up your buds: indica vs sativa

Indica vs Sativa bud structure.
 

Some strains (usually Sativa-dominant) produce airy and fluffy buds but this doesn’t mean they’re not strong, lighter buds are a characteristic of Sativa strains while Indicas produce thicker and denser flowers. So have in mind that some strains won’t produce dense flowers even in optimal conditions but it doesn’t mean they lack quality.

Purple Lemonade Auto
Purple Lemonade Auto
Genes
Sativa 30%/Indica 70%
Genetics
Purple Lemonade
Flowering
9 – 10 weeks
Harvest
400 – 500 gr/m2
Height
70 – 120 cm
THC
Up to 22%
CBD
< 1%
Autoflowering
Yes
Buy seeds from 13,00 €
1 fem
13,00 €
2 fem
24,00 €
3 fem
36,00 €
5 fem
55,00 €
10 fem
99,00 €
25 fem
215,00 €
50 fem
365,00 €
100 fem
590,00 €
500 fem
1 950,00 €
1000 fem
3 400,00 €
Pack
3 fem
Add to Cart
36,00 €
 

Luckily, you can find hybrids that contain a fine genetic mix and offer the best of both worlds, like our Purple Lemonade Auto which is a 30% Sativa / 70% Indica, resulting in super long and dense buds.

Indica-dominant vs Sativa-dominant

Cannabis plants have nodes along their stems, these nodes are where the leaves grow from and are where buds form. 

This is the same for all marijuana plants but Indica-dominant strains tend to have shorter internodal spaces while Sativa-dominant has longer internodal spaces so it may end up affecting the shape and density of flowers.

 

How to fatten up your buds: indica vs sativa

Hybrids offer the best of both worlds, there surely is a strain that better suits you.
 

Even in the same conditions, cannabis Indica flowers usually grow denser and in clusters around the nodes of the stem and branches with short internodal spaces between them.

Now, Sativa buds usually grow larger than Indica buds but instead of the nodes being all together, they develop along the whole branch so the buds tend to weigh less due to their lower density.

Bud limits 

As said above, some strains have certain characteristics that will not change even in optimal conditions.

This means that even if you have the best-growing tent in the world, an Indica strain will have denser buds than a Sativa strain in the same conditions and you won’t be able to change that even if you provide the best light fixture, growing conditions, and nutrients.

 

How to fatten up your buds: bud limits

If your buds don't get denser you should look for other genetics that will give you the result you desire.
 

That’s why you should choose the strains carefully, first have in mind what your grow tent can handle, and, second, choose what you prefer.

We recommend going for balanced hybrids because they will provide the best of both worlds when talking about effect, density, flavor, and yields.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are autoflowers the same as fast-flowering strains?

No, autoflowers don’t depend on a light cycle to trigger flowering, so you can grow them from seed to harvest under 18/6 while quick-flowering strains are photoperiodic so you still have to provide 18/6 for veg and 12/12 for flowering but they will flower faster than regular photoperiodics.

How long will it take for my auto to start growing buds? 

This depends on the genetics and phenotype you get but most autoflowers will start flowering 4-5 weeks from seed.

7. How to grow big buds? 

If you're following everything said above and you're still getting popcorn buds, here are some extra tips to help you get the bud density you desire.

Feed properly during the flowering stage

Cannabis plants are usually more forgiving in the vegetative stage, you can feed slightly more or less and it won’t matter that much because your plants will still grow green and healthy, obviously, feeding a lot more will stress your plant but you have a minimal margin for error.

Once you’re in the flowering stage and the buds are developing things change, when your cannabis plants are blooming you have to be more careful because the nutrients you provide will affect the quality and density of the buds.

 

How to fatten up your buds: tips

Tips to get the biggest buds!

Avoid too much nitrogen when the flowers are forming

Watering with high levels of nitrogen in the vegetative stage will cause nutrient burn which will make the leaves yellow and in more serious cases, dry and die but these symptoms are basically cosmetic and won’t affect your flowers because they haven’t started forming yet.

Now, in the flowering stage giving too much Nitrogen can affect bud development and end up affecting their density, luckily for you, Nitrogen toxicity is super easy to fix, just lower the dose and your plant will recover.

Don’t ignore nutrient deficiencies

As you may know, flowering cannabis plants need more Phosphorus, Potassium, and less Nitrogen, so when the buds are forming you should feed Bloom nutrients at the right amount, feeding properly will ensure your buds dense up properly.

8. In Conclusion

Some cannabis cultivars are bigger yielding than others, that's the case of Sativa-dominant hybrids that grow stacked flowers and will naturally produce big yields. Indica-dominant also are good candidates because most hybrids end up being heavy feeders and are well known for producing big fat buds. 

So if you were wondering how to increase cannabis yield, you need to know that there is a balancing act when it comes to boosting your plants during flowering, adding too much nutrient during flowering can cause plants to burn, show deficiencies, and the worst case being ruining your yields.

If you're an experienced grower feel free to leave your tips and tricks to help beginner growers get bigger buds! 

External References:

  1. Improving Cannabis Bud Quality and Yield with Subcanopy Lighting. HortScience. - Hawley, Dave & Graham, Thomas & Stasiak, Michael & Dixon, Mike. (2018). 
  2. Apical bud removal increased seed yield in hemp ( Cannabis sativa L.). - Ačko, Darja & Flajšman, Marko & Trdan, Stanislav. (2019).

 

This post was most recently updated on January 22, 2021.

09 November 2020
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