If you are a cannabis grower, you know the underlying goal is to grow the biggest and healthiest buds possible in your garden. You also know the feeling of disappointment when a strain you’re growing never fully develops the dense sticky buds you hope it would. While some strains are low-yielding, you should always be able to produce a high-quality bud if you’re taking the right steps.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways to improve the size of your buds. Pruning, training, feeding, and lighting are the most common ways to dictate how your plant will develop.
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Cannabis buds will form at most of the plant’s nodes. A node is where a leaf or branch grows off the stalk. The larger the plant grows, the more nodes will appear, which means your plant will have more locations where buds can grow.
Intuitively, you might think that more nodes means more and larger buds, but this is far from the truth. Nodes with buds that are lower down on the plant away from the canopy will try to develop in flowering but will never become fully developed because they do not receive adequate light.
If you want to improve the yield of your plant, the best method is to prune away any plant life that isn’t receiving quality light. Trim away the buds and foliage that are under the canopy to “lollipop” your plant. This strategy will send all the energy into the canopy where the buds are receiving the most light, thus giving you bigger, denser nugs.
Another simple way to increase your yields is by training your cannabis plants. If left alone, plants generally grow one main large stalk with other small stalks growing up around it. A cannabis plant will grow in the shape of a menorah, where the center candle highest up represents the main large stalk. While this one large stalk will grow a beautiful large cola, the height of this one cola will dictate where the lights can be placed if growing indoors. This results in the lower branches receiving significantly less sunlight than would be possible with an even canopy.
By super cropping (high-stress training) or using LST (low-stress training) methods such as tying down the top branches, you can motivate the rest of the surrounding branches to develop, thus creating a more level canopy. What happens when you train your plants is the growth hormones that are focused on the main stalk are redistributed to the surrounding branches, promoting growth for the entire plant. This results in an even canopy of branches that will all grow large colas while being equal distance from the light source.
Correctly feeding your plant is absolutely necessary when trying to grow large buds. Nitrogen is associated with vegetative growth, while phosphorus is the nutrient that is most closely associated with flowering plants. Feeding a plant nitrogen while it is vegging creates a healthy, vibrant plant at a young age that will grow rapidly, which leads to increased yields.
Once your plant switches to flowering, decrease your nitrogen levels and increase phosphorus levels to help the buds fully develop and become dense. If growing in soil, when switching from vegetative growth to flowering, top dress the soil with bat guano or worm castings as a great way to increase phosphorous levels while you liquid feed your plant other nutrients.
Another tip for growing bigger buds involves regularly feeding compost tea to your soils. Compost teat helps develop healthy mycorrhizal relationships between the soil and mycelium. The more mycelium in the soil, the more nutrients the plant is going to take up, which will result in bigger buds.
If you want to grow big buds, you need to have big lights. When you identify the highest-quality cannabis in stores or dispensaries, you’re looking at cannabis where growers provided optimal indoor and outdoor lighting. You can’t cut corners when it comes to properly lighting your grow area. A basic guideline for lights is generally every 100 watts can cover one square foot. For example, a 600-watt light can cover a 6’x6′ area.
Make sure your lights are at the right height so your plants are not suffering from heat stress. The plants should not feel hot, nor should your hand if you hold it at the top of the canopy. If you want to be precise, you can use a digital thermometer to figure out the precise temperature. By providing the right amount of light and keeping the lights the right distance away from your plants, you’ll keep your grow happy, resulting in the desired bigger buds.
If growing outdoors, make sure your pots or trenches are spaced far enough apart so that the sides of the plants can receive full sun. Growing on a south-facing slope will guarantee your plants are receiving as much sun as possible.
Growing bigger buds is a lifelong ambition for most gardeners. However, bigger buds won’t happen overnight. Gardening is a skill that takes time to refine since you can’t speed up a plant’s growth process. One of the best things you can do is to write down what you’re doing to your grows every day; that way, if you have a successful harvest, you can revisit what you might have done differently in your garden and replicate it with future grows.
Do you have any experience growing big buds? Leave a comment below with your own advice!