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Everything You Need To Know About Popcorn Buds

What are popcorn buds?

Oversized flowers with a thick layer of crystals are the ideal outcome of cannabis cultivation. What if you get popcorn buds instead? Did you make a gardening error, and are these small nugs suitable for smoking?

Popcorn flowers develop on lower branches with low light exposure. They might also result from plant health issues and improper care. Once you know their causes, it’s easy to avoid them and harvest only big, dense buds.

Join us for a complete guide on popcorn cannabis buds. We cover what they are, why they appear, how to use them, and tips on preventing their formation.

What are popcorn buds?

What are popcorn buds? They’re loose cannabis flowers that don’t get the chance to develop. They typically sit at the bottom of the plant underneath the dominant canopy.

These flowers have thin trichome coatings. The flavor profiles are generally a toned-down version of those found in the strain’s larger buds. Dispensaries consider this weed “B-grade” due to its lower bag appeal.

What do popcorn weed nugs look like?

What do popcorn buds look like? They seem immature and reach the size of popped corn. To some, they might resemble bits of broccoli.

Popcorn nugs are hairy and fluffy, with a visible stem and sugar leaves. The bud mass is round and doesn’t take much space, and the orange pistils cover the green surface.

If you’re cultivating weed from indoor seeds, you’ll see these flowers at the base of your plant. Outdoor growers notice them on stressed crops and those close to the surrounding vegetation.

popcorn buds
Popcorn buds

Causes of popcorn buds on plants

What causes popcorn buds? Stress is the leading cause of small buds on a weed plant. Damage hinders marijuana’s ability to make flowers large and dense.

Pest and disease

Pests and plant diseases wreak havoc on cannabis. Instead of focusing on flower production, it uses its energy to avoid dying, so the harvests suffer. Check your garden for insect activity and proactively respond to infestations to sidestep a yield of popcorn buds.

Overwatering or improper watering

Overwatering can drown the root system, hindering the plant’s ability to feed and fatten. An underwatered weed plant is similarly incapable of sustaining prolific growth. The flowers are small and somewhat dry even as they ripen.

The plant’s moisture needs depend on the pot size, climate, and stage. Water your weed when the soil feels dry to avoid both extremes.

Overcrowding or overshading

The lower bud sites don’t get enough light when the plants sit too close or become very bushy. As a result, they end up small and weak.

You can prevent popcorn buds by appropriately spacing and regularly pruning your marijuana. Maintain a distance of at least six inches between the canopies and remove the large fan leaves that shade the branches.

Everything You Need To Know About Popcorn Buds

Improper training

When done right, low-stress training techniques drastically improve your harvest potential. They have the opposite effect if you do too much damage, so carefully manipulate the branches and ensure optimal recovery conditions.

Heat or humidity stress

Heat stress and excessive humidity open your grow room to pathogens, mold, and damage. Plants defend themselves by developing wispy, airy buds less susceptible to harm.

Maintain optimal temperature to bypass marijuana popcorn buds. Establish the ideal humidity for growing weed and appropriately space your lamps for the best results.

How to avoid popcorn buds?

How to avoid popcorn buds? When left unattended, cannabis prioritizes its top cola, and the lower flower sites remain underdeveloped.

You can counter this natural tendency with training. These three techniques effectively minimize the number of popcorn buds at harvest time.


Marijuana plants in nature develop one large top and several side flower sites that might carry popcorn weed nugs. Mainlining cannabis means splitting its stem in a Y shape to double the number of those top colas.

This technique happens in the seedling stage and determines the growth patterns of your garden. It’s advanced but has excellent results, especially when paired with lollipopping.


Lollipopping is an effective way of preventing popcorn nugs from weighing down the yield. The technique involves removing the foliage and bud sites from the bottom of your plant in late veg or early flower.

The resulting weed plants have a lollipop shape. Their base is clean, and the top carries big, bushy colas.


ScrOG (Screen of Green) is a complex growing technique that involves low-stress training, pruning, and potentially mainlining. It teaches plants to develop across a mesh, creating an even canopy. You prune any vegetation under the screen to direct energy to the upper colas.

This approach optimizes space and lamp usage and prevents overshadowing. As buds are forming, they receive full light and become fat and dense.


What to do with popcorn buds

What to do with popcorn buds if it’s too late to prevent them? Assuming you shopped with a reputable weed seed bank, they’re still smokable, tasty, and potent. It’s all about knowing how to use them.

Trimming popcorn buds is straightforward. Remove the stem and sugar leaves to ensure the smoke is smooth. If making edibles or concentrates, you don’t have to be as detailed.

These tiny flowers dry and cure relatively quickly. Leave them on a wire rack till the branches easily bend and snap. Let them spend 2–3 weeks in a mason jar to bring out the flavor.

Here are our favorite uses for a dried and cured popcorn bud:

  • Smoking: These buds produce delicious smoke, especially after proper trimming to eliminate their leafy sections.
  • Making edibles: If you want to smoke only the best of your harvest, use the smaller buds for cookies or brownies. You won’t notice any flavor imperfections this way.
  • Making concentrates: Dabs are a unique way to enjoy weed, and your popcorn pot is perfect for preparing them.
Preparing a joint
Preparing a joint

FAQs about popcorn cannabis buds

Let’s answer the common questions our shoppers ask about popcorn cannabis buds.

Are popcorn buds less potent?

Popcorn buds’ potency is close to what you’d get from the top cola. The THC and CBD levels might differ slightly, but not enough to influence your smoking experience.

Popcorn buds vs. shake: What to choose?

Cannabis shake consists of bits of flower that collect at the bottom of a bag or jar. Like popcorn weed, we consider it “B-grade” due to its lower bag appeal. The two are comparable in flavor and potency and offer a similar toking experience.

Popcorn buds vs. flowers: Which is better?

Tokers prefer full-sized flowers to popcorn marijuana because they have a higher bag appeal. They’re also somewhat tastier and might have slightly higher potency.

How to recognize the quality of popcorn buds?

Quality popcorn buds don’t smell funny, crumble, or appear pale. They’re the smaller and looser version of the cola, just as green and almost as sweet-scented.

Popcorn nugs: Still quality weed

Now that you know what popcorn buds mean, you understand they don’t signify failure. While it doesn’t look like much, this weed offers an enjoyable experience.

Employ training techniques and pay extra attention to stress to avoid popcorn buds on plants. Good gardening practices make every flower site as prolific as possible.

Why not put the theory behind growing top-tier cannabis to practice? Visit our store to buy the highest-quality regular, feminized, or auto seeds and set yourself up for success.

About the author: Derek LaRose

Also known as Kronic from The Cannabis Kronicles, Derek LaRose is a young ambitious cultivator and a staple educator for indoor cultivation

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