Tie the bent stems to thin bamboo sticks with twine to keep them in place—just remember not to cinch the ties so tightly that you cut off the circulation of vital fluids in the stem and branches. This low-stress training technique is more effective at increasing bud size and quantity than snipping off the top leaves (known as topping) as many growers do.
Take note, though, that these supplements are on the alkaline end of the pH scale and that at a pH above 7 (neutral), plants are less able to absorb phosphorus. When using bone-meal supplements, check the pH of your nutrient solution and, when needed, use natural acids to bring it down.
Carbon dioxide is the fuel for photosynthesis, the process that plants use to convert light into growth. The atmosphere has about 400 parts per million (ppm) of CO2, enough to sustain plants outside. In an enclosed indoor space, CO2 levels can drop as plants absorb it from the air, slowing their growth.
4. Bone Up On Your Feeding.
Plants need the macronutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium throughout their growth, but the proportions of each element—collectively called the N-P-K ratio—change as the plant grows. In the early stages, you want the plants’ energy directed into growing stout stems and dense leaf canopies. The bigger the leaf area, the bigger your buds will be. Nitrogen is the nutrient needed most for this green growth.
As plants begin flowering, reduce the humidity in your indoor garden to 50 percent, enough to ensure that there is sufficient moisture during this intense stage of plant growth but not so much that you lose buds to mold. The simplest way to reduce humidity is through ventilation with outside air, which outside of tropical climates is closer to your ideal.
Consistent ventilation with outside air is all the CO2 plants need during budding. More CO2—as much as 1,500 ppm—will amp up your plants’ growth rate and yields. Pushing the level to as much as 1,500 ppm of CO2 makes the maximum amount available to your crop during the crucial period when the buds are forming and fattening up. You can get a simple CO2 generator for less than $120.
Plants are most vigorous when the temperature is 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day (or when the lights are on inside) and 70 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s dark. In warmer conditions, plants tend to wilt. When it’s colder, plants are stressed and stop growing. Disruptions such as these diminish the plants’ energy for bud production.
Phosphorus is the critical nutrient during the budding stage. Bone meal, a natural plant supplement, is loaded with phosphorus and calcium, which activates key growth-regulating hormones essential for flowering. Weekly doses of bone meal, starting just before budding begins, ensure that your plants have the phosphorus and calcium they need to bud abundantly.
Compact fluorescent and LED bulbs produce enough light for plants to grow and even to flower, but high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures provide the most light in the spectrum that plants need during their budding stage. HPS lights can get hot, so you need a well-ventilated room to use them.
When you see buds maturing, you’ll be tempted to harvest them. If you can wait, you’ll see that buds bulk up noticeably in the last couple weeks before they finish growing. Give the plants only water—no nutrients—after you see the buds are mature. Hold off on picking them for another 10 to 14 days, when they’ll be at their peak.
5. Control Temperature and Humidity.
Humidity helps keep your plants hydrated, preventing the drought stress that can slow their growth. With water used constantly in indoor gardens, grow rooms tend to have high humidity, often as much as 80 percent. Too much humidity can lead to fungal diseases, including those that can turn your buds into a mildewy mess.
You want the biggest and the best harvest? Then it’s all about the details! With these seven key strategies, your crop will be bigger and better than ever. Achieving these results is easier than ever. Read on to learn mroe about how you can increase the size and quantity of your harvest.
You want to keep the lights 18 to 36 inches above the tops of the plants. Check to be sure they’re not too hot by putting your hand under the lights at the same height as the tops of the plants—if it’s too uncomfortable for you, it will be for your plants as well.
As plants grow taller, the bigger leaves on top shade the lower leaves and branches. That can lead to small plants with buds on only the highest tier. By gently bending the top of a plant, you bring light to the lower leaves, increasing the colas (nodes where buds form) and bringing light to lower-level buds.
When plants reach their mature size and begin flowering, they need more phosphorus, the nutrient most essential for budding. Check the N-P-K ratio listed on every package of nutrients to be sure that you’re using a high-nitrogen formula during the vegetative stage and a high-phosphorus fertilizer when your plants are flowering.
7. Be Patient.
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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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The GroBox can help grow cannabis plants in a small space. (Courtesy of GroBox)
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you have any experience growing big buds? Leave a comment below with your own advice!
Many of our readers write in to ask about speeding up the time to harvest.
Note: There are special light schedules, that involve lowering the amount of light each day in the flowering stage, which can sometimes get harvest to come a little quicker. For example a 10-14 schedule (10 hours light, 14 hours dark each day) during the flowering stage may get plants ready to harvest a week or two sooner for some strains, but lowering the amount of light each day combined with harvesting sooner really hurts your yields.
Outdoors, you must plant in the spring, and wait until late fall to harvest. That means that oudoor grows can take 6+ months. Given the right conditions (high-yielding strain, direct sunlight all day, good soil, avoid pests, etc) you can grow huge plants in that time, that produce pounds of buds.
1.) Fewer Hours of Light Each Day in Flowering Stage.
Many Indica hybrids (such as AK-48 and Northern Lights) naturally have very short flowering periods of only 7-9 weeks, which is a shorter flowering time than most other strains.
Medical m arijuana has had a huge impact on my life, and I'm dedicated to showing you how easy it can be to grow your own medical-grade buds.
Now that you're equipped with the information to get you to harvest as soon as possible, let's quickly address another common question we receive about time.
The more you tend to and baby your plants, the better they will grow, and the faster you will be able to harvest.
How can this technique reduce yields? The less light you give your plant overall during its life, and especially in the flowering stage, the less your yields will be in general. A strain that takes longer to finish flowering usually produces bigger yields than a short-flowering strain because it gets so many extra light-hours where it's making energy and fattening buds.
Long Answer: These factors have the greatest impact on total time to harvest:
3.) Give Plants 24 Hours of Light per Day During the Vegetative Stage.
Hazes and Sativas often take much longer. For example a haze strain (like Haze from Nirvana) can take 3-4 months in the flowering stage before being ready to harvest.
Some growers will also flower marijuana clones as soon as they have formed roots, for basically the same effect, though clones tend to start flowering a little faster than a plant put on 12-12 directly from seed.
You can get faster vegetative growth with almost all hydroponic methods compared to what can be achieved with soil. That means that you could speed up time til harvest by using Deep Water Culture (DWC), Coco coir/perlite, or pretty much any non-soil growing medium. During the flowering stage, this isn't as important, but this can shave weeks off your vegetative stage time (get straight to growing buds sooner!)
In this auto-flowering grow, I harvested more than 6 ounces in less than 3 months!
5.) Grow Indoors.
Because of that, it's recommended to give plants 12 hours of light each day, and 12 hours of dark to get the plant to start flowering, because plants usually finish maturing in about 8-12 weeks after the switch to 12/12.
You can get a marijuana plant to start flowering by ensuring that it gets 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night, often referred to as the 12-12 light schedule.
With photoperiod (regular) strains, you can manipulate the light schedule in the flowering stage to get buds to mature faster. Although most plants will start flowering when they get less than 13 or 14 hours of light a day (that's when plants usually start flowering outdoors), it can take them a long time to "finish" and be ready to harvest with days that long.
Growing method – differing grow methods/setups can add or subtract a few weeks or even months!
Growers often write in to ask us how much time it will take per week to grow a marijuana plant. We understand that many of you have busy schedules, and want to know if growing your own weed is a realistic goal for you.