What is the ultimate growth for every cannabis cultivator? To grow healthy plants that produce high yields and potent buds. Cannabis cultivation is not a walk in the park: the intricate process requires patience, skill, and flexibility to achieve the best results. This is especially true when it comes to small, compact plants. It is difficult to get a bountiful yield from small cannabis plants, especially without prior cultivation experience.
There are multiple advantages of growing small plants, such as the utilization of small grow spaces, discretion, and minimal maintenance required. However, with such plants, one does not expect big buds or an above-average yield with such plants. Well, this piece provides multiple tips and tricks to help you change the narrative. We cover ways you can manipulate the grow room conditions, utilize training techniques, and pick the right genetics for a bountiful harvest characterized by massive buds. Without further ado, let’s begin…
Autoflowers and Indica strains grow into small, compact plants compared to Sativa strains. Their small size makes them quite easy to cultivate and maintain. If you are working in a grow space with limited vertical space, such as a cabinet, wardrobe, grow tent, or spare bedroom, autos and Indicas are an excellent pick. To make the most out of these plants;
Choose the right genetics
First, pick feminized seeds to eliminate the hassle of dealing with male plants. Choose a reputable seed bank that guarantees a 90+% germination rate. This places you at an advantage of attaining your goal without struggling with a difficult germination process and male plants.
When selecting auto or Indica seeds, pick strains that are genetically predisposed to produce big buds. Even with the finest cultivation skills, getting much from a strain that naturally produces low yields will be impossible. Look out for strains like Big Bud, Green Crack auto, Northern Lights auto, and Purple Kush. These strains produce over 500 grams per square meter indoors and 300/ over 700 grams per plant outdoors for autos and Indicas, respectively.
Advance Your Grow Setup
The grow setup is your best bet for increasing small plants with big buds. Here is what to review in your grow setup and improve the bud growth from your small plants.
Fluorescent lights such as CFLs and T5s are great options for lighting plants in small grow spaces. Both these types of lights are low profiles and offer flexibility since they are small and can be placed close to the plants.
Certain LED lights can also be helpful, considering they have different shapes and sizes to fit any setup. LEDs are also a great option since they are low on heat and can help produce twice the yield compared to fluorescent lights.
The light spectrum is also vital in helping produce big buds from small cannabis plants. The optimum light spectrum for cannabis growth is between 400nm blue to 700nm red. The best way to utilize grow lights is to ensure that every 100 watts cover a square foot.
Most grow lights have a recommendation of the distance one should place them away from the plants. Try out different distances until you establish one that allows your plants to thrive without being deprived of light/heat or overheating. Remember that each strain is unique, so what works for one isn’t guaranteed to work for the next, especially during the different growth stages.
Right planting pots
For cultivators opting for a soil medium, different pot sizes are sure to yield different results. Regular pots, for example, are easily affordable and accessible but do not provide optimum conditions for the plants to thrive. These ceramic and plastic grow pots retain water and do not have aeration holes for optimum root development.
Fabric grow pots are the best alternatives. They allow for proper drainage and aeration, conditions necessary for root temperature control and growth. With healthy roots, the plants can grow optimally to produce better yields and bigger buds.
Hydroponic growing is another ideal choice since it maximizes small spaces without constricting plant roots.
Room temperature and humidity
The room temperature and humidity should be ideal to ensure great conditions for growing big buds. Typically, the perfect room temperature for indoor growth is between 24-29 degrees Celsius. The plant experiences stunted growth from slowed metabolism if the temperature is too low.
If the temperature gets too hot, the cannabis plants start to wilt and curl up, eventually dying. Too much humidity is also dangerous since it provides the right condition for mildew, bud rot, and root rot, killing the chances of dense buds. The ideal humidity setting should be between 40% and 70% for the vegetative phase and 40% and 50% for the flowering stage.
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The appropriate nutrient levels are essential throughout the plant’s cycle to ensure proper health and growth. Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus are the vital elements that come into play when looking to grow bigger buds in the N-P-K ratio.
During the vegetative stage, marijuana plants need Nitrogen as the primary nutrient since they need it the most for their robust growth. Once the plants enter the flowering phase, their nutrient needs change. At this point, the plants need more Phosphorus and Potassium and less Nitrogen to stimulate bud strain growth. With the right feeding schedule (provided in the pack), the plants enjoy a seamless budding stage, leading to massive and healthy buds.
Plant training involves different strategies designed to regulate the plants’ height and push the plants to produce higher yields and bigger buds. Some of the tactics one can utilize to help with big buds include;
Tying and bending the plant
Tying the plant is a simple trick to facilitate lateral growth and prevent vertical growth. The trick is to tie down the bent plant stems to keep them in place, allow light to reach the lower leaves, and stimulate the growth of low-level buds. This low-stress training technique also manipulates plant growth in a particular direction, fueling more considerable bud growth.
Plant topping is cutting off the main cola to discourage apical dominance. The method ensures a better distribution of plant resources with multiple toppings letting more of the lower branches grow. The result makes your plant resemble an upside-down Christmas tree with a leafy top and a skinny bottom. As a result, light source and other resources are evenly distributed, leading to more high-quality bud sites and healthier, massive nugs.
Fimming is an HST strategy proven to increase yields similar to topping. This strategy aims to increase the main colas by cutting down the plant’s top vegetative parts instead of the growing tips. Like topping, the fimming process helps plants develop more lateral branches alongside side shoots. The result is a more prominent vegetative plant with more resources for considerable bud growth.
This high-stress technique provides multiple benefits: it helps with bud size, potency, and resin production. The technique involves bending and damaging the inner fibers of the plant while ensuring the outer lining remains intact. This triggers the plant’s defensive mechanism, leading to accelerated growth, increased phytochemical production, and increased bud size. Super cropping is best done by experienced cultivators, as a slight error can compromise the plants’ health and, ultimately, the final yield.
SOG and ScrOG
These are quite popular techniques used by cannabis cultivators to boost yield and bud size. SOG involves growing multiple plants in a small growing space. The growers shorten the vegetative phase and promote apical dominance, allowing the plants to grow one massive cola at the top. Pruning the lower branches helps to keep the focus on the top branches.
ScrOG focuses on weaving the branches via a screen to encourage lateral growth and an even canopy. This allows for light to penetrate the lower branches, thus encouraging multiple bud sites and healthier buds.
This technique increases yields and grows big buds by chopping and pruning non-essential leaves and branches. This helps with light penetration and airflow for the growth of big buds. Pruning also helps to put focus on bud growth and health by diverting the plant’s energy from unhealthy leaves and branches.
NB: Autoflowers have a short growth cycle and hence, do not have enough time to recover from some of the high-stress techniques. As a cultivator, you need to pick the right techniques that suit your strain of choice. Indica strains are more flexible as their growth cycle is longer.
Before engaging in any high-stress technique, ensure the plants are healthy and strong enough to withstand the bends, cuts, and other changes. The plants will take anywhere between 3 and 10 days to recover, so give them ample time to do so before trying other techniques.
Additionally, do not try these high-stress methods during the flowering stage. During this time, the plants solely need to focus on creative massive, healthy buds.
Harvest at the right time
Before starting the cultivation process, conduct thorough research on your strain, including the duration it takes to grow from seed to maturity. Additionally, look into the early signs of maturity and the right time to harvest and optimum bud size. Harvesting the buds before they are mature means they won’t have time to grow to their full potential. The best harvest time for maximum potency and flavor is just before the flowers reach peak maturity.
Peak maturity occurs when 50–75% of the white hairs on the buds have darkened or turned amber, usually 6–8 weeks after the plant has started flowering. In general, the best time for heavy harvests is when the majority of trichomes have turned from clear to a milky white or amber color. This will typically occur between 8 and 10 weeks after flowering time has begun. Once most of the trichomes have changed color, it’s time to harvest your cannabis plant.
Seedling Stage: This is the first stage of growth in a cannabis plant’s life cycle, and usually lasts between 1-2 weeks. During this time, the seedling will sprout its first set of leaves and begin to grow rapidly.
Vegetative Stage: This is when your plant has grown beyond its initial two leaves, and is maturing into an adult plant with more stems, leaf nodes and branches forming near the base of the stem. In this stage, you can prune your plants to direct them into desired shapes or sizes for your final harvest bud size goals!
Flowering Stage: At this point, buds start forming on your cannabis plants as they prepare for harvest time! You should be able to see calyxes that contain crystals which will eventually mature into big sticky trichome-covered buds by harvest day if given proper care throughout their life cycle!
Ripening Stage: This is the last stage of growth before harvest. During this time, your buds will swell and mature into beautiful big buds with a strong aroma that signals they are almost ready to be harvested! Make sure you monitor closely during this period as it’s important to know when the optimal time for harvesting is so you don’t miss out on any potential yields or quality.
The key to getting big buds is making sure your plants get the right nutrients, light, water and air. You should also make sure you’re pruning and trimming correctly, as this can help promote bigger buds. Lastly, make sure you’re using quality genetics so that your plants have the natural ability to produce large yields of high-quality flowers. Good luck and happy growing!