It is difficult to overstate the importance of light when growing cannabis. Marijuana plants (and other green plants) need light for photosynthesis, i.e., the process by which they convert light energy into chemical energy.
If you are serious about growing marijuana, then cultivating it so it has large buds should be your top priority. Remember, large and healthy buds are filled with THC and other cannabinoid goodness. Therefore, if you want the most potent marijuana, large buds are a must. However, don’t assume that you can follow a simple guide and learn how to grow bigger buds quickly and easily.
For the uninitiated, a plant’s node is where a branch or leaf grows off the stalk. The node is also where you’ll find your cannabis buds. The bigger the plant, the more nodes spring up. As a result, there are more places where buds can grow. However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that an increase in nodes automatically means more abundant and bigger buds.
The Right Lighting for Your Cannabis Plants
The light intensity that your plants are exposed to will dictate whether or not you benefit from big buds. Premium quality cannabis strains in dispensaries have been exposed to an optimum amount of light. This is true whether they were grown indoors or outdoors.
We recommend pruning during the vegetative stage to ensure the plant has time to recover and grow large leaves. Wait a minimum of 72 hours after pruning before forcing your plants into the flowering stage.
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Harvest at the Right Time
Pruning, i.e., removing the small shoots between the trunk and branches, helps the marijuana plant develop huge buds.
When plants don’t receive enough light, they fail to produce large buds. They may become tall and thin because they ‘reach’ to desperately find the light source. Poor lighting during the vegetative stage means your plants will grow uneven colas. From that point onward, it will become challenging to distribute the light evenly and effectively.
Some cannabis strains tend to grow really big and tall no matter what you do. If a strain is labeled as “XL”, stay away! However, some strains stay super small without you having to do much of anything.
Quick Summary (how to keep plants small without sacrificing yields)
Autoflowering Tip: Top an autoflowering plant after it’s started growing a few pistils (white hairs that will become buds) to keep it shorter. Topping in the flowering stage is normally considered a bad idea because it stunts autoflowering plants, but can be a good tactic if you want to stunt the plant on purpose.
2.) Grow Setup
I grew these plants in the same waist-high grow tent, but this time using a T5 fluorescent light. A T5 is another great choice for small spaces since they can be kept just inches away from plants. The downside is they produce more heat than LEDs. If you’re struggling with cold (for example growing a tiny garden in a garage or basement), fluorescent lights can help keep plants warm. If you want to minimize heat, LEDs are the way to go.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The GroBox can help grow cannabis plants in a small space. (Courtesy of GroBox)
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.