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12 Tips on How To Identify Quality Weed Bud: Ultimate Guide

Weed bud

If you are a newcomer to the world of cannabis, you are probably wondering how you can tell apart a good weed bud from a lousy one. You’ve come to the right place!

Marijuana is one of the most extraordinary recreational plants out there, which also happens to have many medical benefits. 

Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of many activists worldwide, the consumption of marijuana is beating social stigmas and quickly becoming a legal activity. 

With many states creating well-intended legislation to facilitate the process, you can even grow weed buds in your garden at home. 

Now join us as we take a complete look at how to identify good weed vs. bad weed and everything you need to grow a top-shelf crop.

Cannabis bud
Cannabis bud

Types of Weed Bud

A weed bud is the trichome-covered part of a female cannabis plant. This is the smokable part and the one that determines the quality of the marijuana you are consuming.

Weed buds are essentially a cannabis flower that has been dried out and cured to make its consumption more pleasant.

The variations you’ll find are low-quality, medium-quality, and top-shelf weed—and here’s the difference.

Laced Weed

It is strongly discouraged to purchase weed from sources other than reputable dispensaries, as doing so carries significant risks. When obtaining cannabis from unofficial channels, there is a heightened possibility that the product may be laced with other substances like cocaine, heroine, crack, fentanyl, and others.

These adulterants can range from harmless additives to dangerous chemicals that pose serious health hazards. Purchasing from licensed dispensaries ensures that the products undergo rigorous testing and adhere to safety regulations, mitigating the risk of contamination or lacing. Dispensaries provide a controlled environment where knowledgeable staff can guide customers through their selections, ensuring quality, safety, and accurate information about the strains.

Low Quality Weed

Low quality weed buds don’t have the best appearance at first glance. They usually experience some form of mistreatment during harvesting or transportation

The cultivator’s experience level often coincides with the quality of the weed. Low quality weed buds usually come from plants cultivated with a restricted growing space and contain seeds and traces of pesticides.

The smoking experience from low quality buds is also disappointing as it can be rough on the throat and the effects fade quickly.

Medium-Quality Weed

The average weed buds produced by domestic marijuana growers fall under this category. Medium quality buds—also known as mid grade weed—are visually pleasant, showcasing better coloration, richer scents, and great flavor that manages to stand out without having to tax our senses. 

This type of weed gets ranked on this level because they feature a few stale flavors, and the trichomes found on them are pretty short. 

These buds can leave a dry sensation in your mouth, burn faster, and have less impurities than low quality weeds.

Top-shelf Weed

As the name implies, we use this wording to refer to high grade weed buds. The strains that fall under this category are fully trichome-covered and have the best flavors with very potent effects. 

These buds are grown by highly experienced marijuana farmers typically from areas  such as Colorado, California, and Illinois. 

Cultivators of top-shelf weed generally follow a strict trimming and care routine to avoid excessive fluffiness. 

High quality weeds are well known for bearing intense aromas and longer lasting effects than lower-quality strains. They also require special storage to maintain their properties.

Marijuana Flower
Marijuana Flower

Good weed vs. Bad Weed: The Ultimate Guide on How to Differentiate Them

If you’re looking to distinguish good weed from bad, there are quite a few features to note to avoid getting duped. 

While many rely on the visual aspect when selecting a good bud, even a healthy-looking bud could deliver a subpar experience.

To be on the safe side, you should pay attention to different traits instead of going for a single one. After all, the more aspects you identify in your weed, the better you’ll be able to tell when you are getting a great bud. 

If you want to learn how to tell if your weed is good, you should focus your attention on its distinct features—color, aroma, pistils, crystal, resins, fluffiness, seeds, trims, stickiness, taste, mold presence, or pests. 

It probably seems like a lot, but you don’t need to identify every single aspect of all the weed that comes to your hands—identifying at least three features should keep you on the safe side to avoid bad weed.

To determine the quality of the strain you’re buying, find out about its genetics and the cultivation process and location.

Let’s discuss the various aspects to look out for as you become an expert in weed quality.

1. Aroma

Terpenes are the name of the game for this one. As a newcomer to the marijuana community, identifying the various weed aromas may be challenging.

As you grow more familiar with different strains, the similar undertone will disappear, allowing you to tell each weed apart by its signature smell. 

Think about it the same way you would perceive your morning coffee—freshly made, the aroma is strong and welcoming, but as it stands, it begins to fade. 

The minute you open your bag, good weed you’ll find a strong, sweet, earthy smell. Stronger aromas indicate higher terpenes and freshness. 

So how can you tell if you’re getting a bad bud? The answer is pretty simple: you won’t be able to notice any smell at all on bad weed, or at most a generic hay-like aroma that dissipates quickly.

Remember: A strong smell is always the best!

2. Color

While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you should absolutely judge cannabis by its looks. A trained eye would detect the finer details that make quality weed. 

For good weed, the healthiest color is the greenest tone you can find. It’s not uncommon to find great buds with different pallets, thanks to anthocyanins and trichomes. 

When a crop has been specially grown to its full potential, trichomes will cover the flowers. This is a tiny part of the plant that resembles microfibers and makes the plant look frosted. Bad weed usually looks darkened and dried up. 

Depending on the type of strain you’re cultivating, you can see different variations on the color schemes of these buds. A perfect example of this is the reddish hue of Predator Pink, one of the rarest strains of marijuana you can grow under a controlled environment. 

Colorful Weed Bud
Colorful Weed Bud

3. Orange/Brown Pistils

A close inspection on any cannabis flower reveals a tiny ecosystem composed of the glands and organs in your weed plant. You’ll also notice a large presence of pistils

Pistils interact with the oxidant properties of the anthocyanins to make your flower show diverse stages of coloring—these range from a frosty white in the first weeks to diverse shades of orange. 

As the orange surface expands it gets darker, signaling the ripeness of your harvest—when the pistils cover at least 70% of the flower’s surface, it’s time to harvest. If the pistils turn too dark or brownish your plants are probably compromised.

Orange Pistils
Orange Pistils

4. Crystals/Resins

We’ve already mentioned trichomes as one of the most distinct features in a weed bud when they’re growing. If you’re handling the cultivation process, a flower ripe with trichomes crystals is an early sign of success, so congratulations!

If you keep up the good work, you’ll get cannabis buds with a high count of cannabinoids and terpenes, which means enhanced flavor. Unfortunately, the lack of the sparkly glow offered by trichomes means average buds. 

The texture of trichomes is very similar to resin. To assess the state of the crystals, you’ll need a magnifying glass to keep an eye on the evolving state of the ripeness of the plant. 

If you make the call and harvest too early when the resin is too clear, the plant will not be able to offer all its benefits. If you harvest when the crystals are milky white with a shade of amber, you’ll get a high quality weed bud that is 100% on point.

Weed Trichomes
Weed Trichomes

5. Denseness/Fluffiness

The primary goal of every weed cultivator is to harvest heavy top-tier buds at the end of the season. Some buds can’t help their fluffiness given their strain, but almost all buds can be grown to be tight and dense

Indica buds appear tighter and more dense while sativa buds are fluffier and lighter. If you’re growing hybrids, you can mix some of these traits with the proper knowledge on hand. 

In the end, a heavy bud is the one that brings overall better quality to the table. These heavier flowers, when ground, can yield large amounts from a small piece of bud. They’ll also bring a better smell and more flavor when smoked. 

Fluffy buds can’t hope to achieve this since they lack the mass, hence the enhanced content and properties.

Outdoor Cannabis Plants
Outdoor Cannabis Plants

6. Seeds

If your aim is to grow cannabis for consumption instead of breeding, be sure to remove all males to avoid fertilisation and seeds.

If your female plant is fertilised and produces seeds, your harvest will be of lower quality and yield. The plant will divert all resources to sustaining the seeds instead of growing larger and producing juicier buds. 

Seeds in your marijuana are a sure sign of inferior quality weed buds.

Homegrown Cannabis Seeds
Cannabis Seeds

7. Stems

The presence of stems in your weed indicates that the weed you’re consuming wasn’t trimmed before rolling the first joint. Stems aren’t an issue, but if you have grown your own weed, you should have taken a little more time to trim your flowers properly. 

If you’re purchasing from a dispensary, ask your budtender to trim your buds before packing your bag. 

Stems in your weed produce a harsher smoking experience, a potentially sore throat, and low CBD/THC count.

Weed Purple Stem

8. Trimmed Vs. Leafy Weed

Aside from the stems we already mentioned, quality weed tends to grow a minor presence of sugar leaves, usually around the flower itself. These should be removed manually.

Getting rid of them before rolling the first joint can make or break your experience. Taking the time to trim your buds will not only improve its appearance, but you’ll also experience a purer flavor

By trimming these sugar leaves, you’ll also improve the quality of your weed in the long run, removing potential moisture pockets.

9. Mold

Mold or bud rot is another thing you don’t want near your marijuana plants, much less close to your harvested crops. 

By storing your marijuana correctly and controlling the humidity levels, you can prevent mold in your weed buds.

Consuming moldy weed could be hazardous to your health, not to mention ruin your experience. If you spot any sign of mold in your weed bud, it’s best to get rid of it entirely. 

10. Pests

The presence of pests in your weed buds can be attributed to two reasons depending on which end of the spectrum you are: 

  • If you’re growing your weed, finding pests in your buds means you didn’t take good infestation protocols for your flowers
  • As a consumer, bug-ridden buds means that the cultivator is inexperienced and didn’t follow the correct protocols. 

11. Stickiness

Stickiness is directly related to the texture of your weed buds. Stickier buds mean a more concentrated flavor and valuable properties like content of cannabinoids per gram

If you touch a flower and it leaves a resin residue, you’re very likely dealing with top-tier stuff. If the residue comes off the plant directly and feels dry, this could be a sign of bad weed.

Marijuana Flower
Marijuana Bud

12. Taste

When it comes to weed, taste is the literal trail of fire as it indicates high quality weed. These buds leave a distinct taste in your mouth, like other guilty pleasures like coffee or ice cream. 

After smoking (or inhaling) good weed, you’ll feel its softness on your taste buds and the added flavors thrown in the mix, especially if you’re dealing with a hybrid. The sensation comes along with a cloud-like smoke and a strong smell akin to certain fruits, flowers, or even sweets such as chocolate.

Bad weed tastes like grass—making you cough and leaving you with a sore throat.

Tips to Grow Your Own Top-shelf Weed Buds

The topic of growing marijuana plants is no longer a social taboo, so do all the research that you can before you start. To make things easier for you, check out our Homegrown Blog and some top tips to boost the quality of your weed buds.

Control your Growing Environment

If you plan to grow your pot buds indoors, be prepared to take full control of the conditions like room temperature and humidity. 

You can also learn the timing of the pollination cycle of your buds to know the right time to separate them by sex. Avoid mold and fungus in your plants by controlling moisture levels in your growing space.

Cannabis Grow Room
Cannabis Grow Room

Boost the Terpenes

As a novice grower you can give your first batch a boost by selecting seeds to enhance the smell and flavor of your crop.

Keep the Pests Away

Before implementing pest protocols, we advise you to learn about the symbiotic relation some of these insects have with your weed plants. Since the crop will be ingested, it’s best to implement organic pest control methods.

Time Your Harvest with Precision 

Keep track of that little detail of your plant’s development to time the moment of your harvest. Some strains take a bit longer than others to be on point, so better take the time to get familiar with a strain before moving to another.

Trim and Dry Your Weed Buds

Once you’ve grown your first weed flowers successfully, take the time to dry them out properly and get a beautiful bud. Trim the flower and take away those pesky sugar leaves to avoid the presence of unwanted humidity. 

Trimming Weed Bud
Trimming Weed Bud

Keep it Organic All the Way

If you’re growing your own weed, keep the process as organic as possible. Any synthetic products you use will alter the flavor of your weed buds. 


How to trim a weed bud?

There’s only one correct answer to this question: manually. No single-precision tool works better than a steady hand and an old-fashioned flower clipper. Any mechanical device you use for this task will chop off a perfectly good chunk of your buds.

How to make a weed plant bud faster?

That depends a lot on the strain you’re looking to grow. Growing indoors is the best tip you can get

Some strains are immensely favored by the amount of light and nutrients they receive. While indoor growing gives you full control of the conditions and stages, you cannot rush perfection. Forcing different stages prematurely could destroy your crop.

How long does it take for weed to bud?

An average indoor growth can take three to five months, including the germination time. Some strains may require extended periods since they demand more resources and special care.

What part of weed bud makes you high?

The flower. The stem doesn’t do much for you, so it’s best to avoid it. However, the flower can get all your attention and care to get the best experience out of it.

Why is my bud on the weed plant drying out?

This is primarily caused by environmental issues like excessive heat, excess of water, lack of nutrients, or even old age.

Amazing weed buds
Weed buds

Now that was a whopper full of information!

Now that you know how to identify top-shelf weed from lower quality, you’re ready to evaluate your crop of weed buds. Remember to keep a close eye on the various aspects mentioned above to ensure that you have the best possible experience. 
If you’re still unsure, join our community for advice from other cultivators. Visit the Homegrown Cannabis Co. online store to purchase the best strains for a full sensory experience.

About the author: Parker Curtis

Parker Curtis has around a decade of cannabis-growing experience, specialising in soil-less and hydro grows. He’s mastering outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor grows.

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