Cannabis Flower: Everything You Should Know About Weed Flowers

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Cannabis Flower
Author avatar By Nate Hammer
September 16, 2021
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What is a cannabis flower? How do I ensure the highest yield possible from my marijuana flowers? Is there anything I should know about the weed flower to succeed in growing pot? These are some of the questions most commonly asked by those interested in cultivating ganja. 

The cannabis flower is certainly one of the most important elements of a marijuana plant. Without it, there’d be little to no use in germinating weed seeds in the first place. 

We’re going to take an in-depth look at the cannabis flower, its anatomy, the differences between photoperiod and autoflower varieties, some common mistakes made when cultivating, and how to cure and store your buds properly.

It’s always helpful to know what you’re working with to grow and harvest your buds successfully.

Let’s get started.

Weed Flower
Weed Flower

What is the cannabis flower? 

Cannabis flowers are the source of all those delicious aromas and flavors that pot growers across the globe breed for. They are the holders of all the plants THC and CBD, making them the final, most waited for, component of the marijuana plant. Without bud flowers, there’d be no weed industry.

A cannabis flower is the trichome-covered part of the plant that contains all the cannabinoids. Weed flowers can also be referred to as nugs, buds, or herbs. The most common practice is to smoke them once dried and cured.

What is the anatomy of the marijuana flower?

To fully understand how marijuana flowers came about, you’ll need to know a bit about their anatomy and physiology.

Let’s take a look at the most important parts of the cannabis flower. 

Trichomes

Trichomes are the crystalline, mushroom-shaped glands you find on the top of a weed flower. These crystals are rich in THC and serve as a good indicator of how strong a weed bud will be. The size and color of trichomes vary depending on the strain and what stage the plant is in its growth cycle. 

Cannabis Trichomes
Cannabis Trichomes

Bracts

The bracts enclose the female reproductive parts. They are the tear-shaped parts found above the leaves but below the flower. Bracts are heavily covered by resin glands, making the highest cannabinoid concentration of all the herb’s components. 

Calyx

The calyx is often mistaken for bracts. It’s made up of small leaves that spiral where the stem and flower meet. This provides structural protection to the cannabis flower’s reproductive organs and gives them rigidity. The calyx is the most resinous part and holds the pistils and most of the trichomes.

Stigma and pistils 

The stigma, style, ovary, and ovule (reproductive parts of the cannabis flower) are contained in the pistil. 

The vibrant hair-like strands of the pistil are known as stigmas. The purpose of these strands is to collect pollen from the male plant. They start white and darken to yellow, orange, brown, or red when the bud flower is ready to harvest. 

Cannabis Pistils
Cannabis Pistils

How is the cannabis flowering stage in photoperiod and autoflower plants?

You may have heard of the terms “photoperiod and autoflower” in the marijuana world. These two varieties have altering cannabis flowering times, owing to different daylight needs. 

Let’s look at the main differences between photoperiod and autoflower marijuana plants.

Photoperiod

The prefix “photo” means light, and the suffix “period” means time. By this logic, photoperiod plants flower depending on the amount of time they’re exposed to light. 

Photoperiod marijuana flowering plants convert from the vegetative to flowering stage when daylight dwindles. Outdoors, this will mean plants will begin to bloom in late summer as the days begin getting shorter and be ready for harvest by September or October. 

When germinated indoors, growers will need to reduce their light cycles to a 12/12 cycle to encourage marijuana flowering. 

How long does the marijuana flowering period last?

You can expect your cannabis flowering period to last anything from 4–8 weeks. Indica and hybrid varieties tend to ripen for about 4–6, whereas sativas can take anything from 6–8.

Autoflower

Autoflower varieties aren’t dependent on the amount of sun they receive to start blooming. Bud flowers appear automatically depending on age. This usually happens around 3–4 weeks after germinating. 

Autoflower variants’ vegetation time depends on the strain being cultivated. They generally produce yields faster than photoperiod shrubs and can be grown outdoors all year. They’re also much easier to clone, and one single snipping can develop a whole new root system.

Autoflower Cannabis
Autoflower Cannabis Plant

How long does the bud flowering period last?

Autoflower strains have a similar bud flowering period from first nug appearance to harvest as photoperiod variants.

5 mistakes to avoid when you’re cultivating your cannabis flowers

No matter the level of weed farmer you are, you’ll likely make a few mistakes when growing your cannabis flowers.

We’ve compiled some of the most common propagation mistakes that may lead to plants not flowering and tips on avoiding them.

1. Not knowing the strain you’re germinating

There are vast differences between the needs of indica, sativa, and hybrid strains. The same goes for autoflowering and photoperiod shrubs. If you aren’t sure what type of cannabis you’re dealing with, you won’t be able to provide the lighting, temperatures, humidity, or nutrients your flowering marijuana plant requires. 

Our suggestion is to do your research, identify which seeds grow best in your region, and consider how much care is required during the harvesting period. That way, you’ll know in advance what you’re dealing with.

2. Over-feeding

If you’re a novice grower, one common mistake is being overly keen to fertilize your marijuana flowers. By giving either too many or the wrong nutrients, you may end up damaging your entire crop. 

Overfeeding can lead to nutrient burn, which can be deadly if left untreated. This is why it’s important for you to make sure you buy fertilizer specifically designed for weed and follow the instructions on the bottle or package you purchase. 

3. Over-watering

Watering any plant too often can cause a whole variety of problems. It’s important to allow your crops to dry out a little.. Moisture-logged soils may lead to root rot, and your cannabis won’t be able to absorb nutrients from the earth efficiently. 

Watering Weed
Watering Weed

4. Harvesting too early

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when harvesting your weed plant flowers is doing it too early. By cutting them before they’ve fully matured, you don’t allow them to reach full potency, and you’ll lose out on both THC content and cannabis flower weight.

5. Ignoring soil pH

Soil pH determines how many nutrients plants can absorb. Elements such as potassium (K), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) are crucial to the marijuana flowering process. Cannabis requires slightly acidic soil (5.5–6.5) to thrive. 

The best thing would be to buy a soil pH monitor from your local nursery and test your medium regularly. If your ground is too acidic, you can add lime to alkalize it, and if it’s too alkaline, both sulfur and sulfate can assist in lowering the pH. Be sure not to overdo it when adding components to the soil and add small quantities until the ideal pH is reached. 

How can you identify your flowering marijuana is ready for harvest? 

One of the most important elements to growing ganja is knowing when to harvest. If you do this too early, you’ll lose out on yield quantity and potency. Collecting too late will mean THC degradation and weed plant flowers that could cause a sedating, lazy high. 

Below are the components to look for and how they can help you identify that your flowering marijuana plants are ready for harvest. 

  • Pistils. The hairs will darken and curl inwards. When 50% of the pistils are dark, then the plant is reaching maturity. It’s recommended only to begin harvesting when 70-80% have darkened. 
  • Trichomes. The best way to observe trichomes is with a magnifier. When they turn a milky white color, they’ve reached their highest level of THC concentration. Trichomes that have turned gold or amber are lower in THC but tend to relieve stress and anxiety better when ingested. 
  • Fan leaves. When your foliage begins to turn yellow, it’s a good indication that harvest time is near. When a weed plant flowers, it uses all its energy to create nugs. Therefore leaves don’t acquire as many nutrients as before and begin to turn yellow. 

How to cure your bud flowers properly?

Many newbies tend to confuse drying with curing cannabis flowers. Drying means decreasing the amount of moisture in a nug for a smoother smoke. Curing, however, is the process of preserving marijuana flowers while maintaining flavor, aroma, and potency. 

To cure bud flowers efficiently, you can place them in either a glass jar or tote for 4 – 8 weeks. For the first half of the curing process, you’ll need to open up the container every day to allow air circulation. During the second half, reduce this process to every 2 – 3 days. 

Cannabis Buds
Cannabis Buds

What is the right way to store your cannabis flowers?

If you want to keep your weed plant flowers fresh, you’ll need to store them correctly. Buds that have been housed the right way can maintain their freshness for up to two years. If preserved incorrectly, you can risk degradation of your previous nugs.

You can use the following guidelines to keep your cannabis flowers fresher for longer.

  • Control temperatures. The ideal temperature to keep your marijuana plant flowers is at around 70°F. Higher temperatures may cause mold and mildew when combined with humidity or have the opposite effect and dry buds out.
  • Reduce light exposure. Light has been mentioned as the single fastest way to age bud flowers. Dark spaces or brown containers are most efficient at protecting them from illumination.
  • Store in an airtight container. Oxygen will oxidize terpenes and cause THC to convert to CBN, drastically reducing potency. When storing weed flowers, you’ll want to reduce air exposure as much as possible. 

Key Takeaways

Weed plant flowers are the most crucial component of the cannabis plant. By understanding the anatomy and importance of nugs, you’ll set yourself up for a bountiful harvest. Knowing whether you’re dealing with a photoperiod or autoflower marijuana type and what mistakes to avoid when cultivating, you can better prepare yourself to care for your crops and have them reach their full potential. 

Once you’ve identified when your cannabis flowers are ready for harvest, you’ll need to cure them and know the proper storage methods to ensure that you lock in all the THC and goodness your buds have to offer. 

If you enjoyed this article and are itching to find out more about how you can reach new heights in weed growing, why not sign up to our Homegrown Forum today. We offer advice on everything cannabis, including nutrients, deficiencies, illness, best growing practices, and of course, what seeds to buy. 

Sativa Dominant Plant in Flowering Stage
Cannabis Plant in Flowering Stage

FAQs

We’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions and answers to help guide you on your cannabis flowering journey.

How to flower cannabis?

The answer to this question depends very much on what type of cannabis plant you’re cultivating. Photoperiod and autoflower variants have particular needs and will require different levels of care to encourage flowering. The first step here would be to find out what type of weed flowers you’re dealing with.

If you have photoperiod plants, then a change in the lighting schedule should do the trick. 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of dark will trigger flowering in this variety. 

Autoflower plants, on the other hand, don’t need any encouragement to flower, and as long as you care for them, they’ll do it all on their own.

When to flower cannabis indoors?

In ideal conditions, photoperiod flowering marijuana plants should be left to mature in their vegetative stage for 60 days. On the other hand, if you have autoflower weed, cannabis flowering should naturally occur after 3–4 weeks. Not all strains fit into the same category, and some will flower faster than others, depending on their genotype, phenotype, and environmental factors.

How long does cannabis take to flower?

Flowering time varies greatly from plant to plant. Most photoperiod variants take anywhere from 7–10 weeks for weed plant flowers to start showing up, depending on the strain. The majority of autoflowerers have an 8–12 week flowering time, provided they’re on the correct lighting schedule. 

How to prune cannabis plants in flower?

It’s not advised to prune flowering marijuana plants. Snipping should happen mostly during the vegetative phase. If you’re giving your babies a quick trim during budding, it’s advised to trim only dead or yellowing leaves as all the energy will go to herb production, and new leaves can’t recoup during this phase.


About the author: Nate Hammer

Since working with Kyle Kushman, Nate Hammer has taken his indoor skills to a whole new level, showing a special interest in the flowering stage and cure.