How to Boost Trichome Production on Cannabis Plants?

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Added 23 December 2022

Do you know what gives your plants the flavor, aroma, and effect? 


Yes, these qualities exist due to terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds. But these compounds exist in trichomes.

The more trichomes your cannabis plant produces, the more cannabinoids and terpenes the buds will contain. This is why you should consider boosting the trichome production of your cannabis plants.

Read on to know all about boosting trichome production for your cannabis plant along with various tips and tricks. 

Why are Trichomes Important for Cannabis Plants?

Why are Trichomes Important for Cannabis Plants?

Trichomes are tiny hairs or resin glands that develop on the cannabis buds once it starts maturing. These hairs are essentially resin that contains all the terpenes and cannabinoids responsible for the effects of cannabis on your mind and body, aromas, flavor profile, and sometimes, even the color of the buds. 

For most growers, these small hairs are common and accurate indicators of the plant’s potency and health. Yet, it may not always indicate success in terms of yield. But since it is an indication of its potency and flavor, many users especially look for resin on the cannabis buds they purchase. 

Apart from these qualities, trichomes also serve other purposes for the plant. Biologically, they are a form of self-defense for the female plant — it helps cannabis defend itself against harmful pathogens.

This is thanks to their aggressive flavor and aroma — due to terpenes — that deter such pests. 

Additionally, trichomes cover the buds, protecting them from the sun’s UV rays that could be harmful. Cannabis plants use trichomes to receive the appropriate light the flowers get, preventing light stress.

Types of Trichomes Produced by Cannabis

Types of Trichomes Produced by Cannabis

Trichomes are produced by female cannabis plants and they come in a variety, depending on the strain and some other factors that are discussed later in the article. Here are some of the most common types of trichomes found on the cannabis plant.

1. Glandular Stalked Trichomes

These types of trichomes are mainly responsible for producing cannabinoids and terpenes sought by users. You should aim to boost trichomes to improve your plant’s flavor profile and effects. 

2. Sessile Trichomes

These trichomes are relatively small — around 25 microns — and lack any stem or foot. And they develop on the plant’s leaves and anthers (on anthers, they are larger). 

3. Unicellular Trichomes

Not all trichomes appear on the buds — some appear on the leaves too. And unicellular trichomes are one of them. They start appearing on cannabis leaves from the initial stages of growth and are somewhat responsible for regulating the temperatures and transpiration processes. 

4. Cystolithic Trichomes

Like unicellular trichomes, cystolithic trichomes also start appearing at the start of the cannabis growth cycle. What sets these trichomes apart from the previous one is that they give a rough texture to the plant surface, which may be related to the plant’s defense against pests.

5. Bulbous Trichomes

The bulbous trichomes are the smallest trichomes found on the cannabis plant with their size ranging from 10 to 20 microns. And these trichomes are found on all parts of the cannabis plant, including the stems.

How to Boost Trichome Production on Cannabis?

How to Boost Trichome Production on Cannabis?

When given ideal conditions to grow, any cannabis plant would develop trichomes, depending on its strain genetics. But that may not be enough. If you want to make your cannabis more potent and flavorful, you need to increase trichome production.

Fortunately, doing so is quite easy. Follow the techniques listed below to boost trichome production on your cannabis plant.

1. Choose the Right Strain

The two most crucial factors for trichome production on a cannabis plant are the environment and genetics. Genetics is of the utmost importance right off the bat because if the plant is genetically predisposed to grow fewer trichomes, it won’t produce flavorful buds, even if you choose the highest quality seeds.

So, the first step if you want to boost trichome production in cannabis is to choose the right strain that can produce higher levels of trichomes. Always purchase seeds from reputable seed banks that lab test the seeds and provide accurate information about the plant’s health.

A few strains that come to mind concerning trichome production are Silver Haze, White Widow, Gorilla Glue, and Indica Crystal Extreme among others. 

These strains get their names due to the shiny trichomes that cover the buds. They are bound to contain extreme levels of terpenes and cannabinoids. On the other hand, Gorilla Glue is obnoxiously rich in trichomes with THC levels hovering around 27%.

Of course, genetics go hand-in-hand with the growth environment. But the latter can be divided into segments like lighting, temperature, humidity, nutrients, etc., which are dealt with in the following sections.

2. Consider Lighting

Light is one of the most important environmental aspects while growing cannabis — it is responsible for a lot of things apart from photosynthesis. Light plays a role in a plant’s health, growth cycle (in photoperiod plants), metabolism, and much more. Trichome production is one of them. 

So, you must focus on the lighting, too, when growing cannabis. You need to use specific lights that tend to promote trichome production.

Generally, most growers rely on high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps or sodium-vapor lamps to boost trichome production. These lights produce the right spectrum of light that aids the production of trichomes in cannabis.

On the other hand, many growers also use LEC or light-emitting ceramic lights, which use ceramic arc tubes to produce light with natural hues. Growers have found these lights to improve plant growth as they produce UV-B lights, which simulate the natural light of the sun. 

As a result, LEC lights can boost trichome production in cannabis plants. But with the advent of LED lights, more and more growers are resorting to upgrading their lights to LEDs. 

LED lights, although relatively expensive, allow you to fine-tune the spectrum and intensity of the light, so you can mimic the sun’s light during different times of the year. And some LED lights can produce UV-B rays. 

  • Importance of UV Rays 

When boosting trichome production, you must use grow lights that produce UV-B rays. This is because cannabis produces trichomes to protect the buds from UV-B rays. When there are excess UV-B rays that fall on the plant, it forces the plant to produce more trichomes

And the difference is drastic. According to various studies, with UV-B rays, buds can produce up to 28% THC, although the production of other cannabinoids may not be affected. 

  • And a Lack of Light Entirely During Late Flowering

Many growers also deprive the plant of light during the flowering stage — specifically during the last 2 to 4 days before harvest — to produce trichomes in a surge.

Growers claim that keeping the plant in complete darkness during the last few days boosts trichome concentration, which makes the buds way more potent and flavorful. However, this technique does not yet have any scientific backing and more research is required for any conclusive answer. 

Another problem with this technique is that it is risky — light deprivation can increase humidity, which may lead to mold development. Mold development during the last days of the growth means ruined yield since there isn’t much you can do before the harvest window ends.

3. Fine Tune the Heat and Humidity

In a natural environment, cannabis produces trichomes to protect itself, and terpenes and cannabinoids are merely secondary metabolites and don’t regulate the yields or the growth. 

At the same time, trichomes serve a different purpose — to protect the plant from bad weather conditions. And you can use this feature of the plant to your advantage.

You can intentionally stress out the plant — to the right level — and encourage it to produce more trichomes. The principle is the same as giving your plant UV-B rays. To protect itself from stress, your plant will produce more trichomes. 

  • Humidity

To fine-tune humidity for better trichome production, you need to reduce the RH (Relative Humidity) of your grow room or greenhouse to slightly stress the plant. Remember, the keyword here is slight. 

So, during the late flowering stage, you should aim to bring the RH to at least 30%. 

  • Heat

On the other hand, you want to aim for a temperature range of 21°C to 26°C (70°F - 79°F). Avoid taking the temperatures too high or low as it can affect the plant’s health and even affect its ability to produce terpenes. If the temperatures are too high, the trichomes may even get degraded.

4. Try Hydric Stress — Intentional Drought 

A study published by the American Society of Horticultural Science states that a slight amount of drought can also boost the cannabinoid profile of cannabis plants. This study does not necessarily talk about trichomes, but since trichomes produce cannabinoids, it is no surprise that the higher the cannabinoid concentration, the higher the trichome concentration.

During the study, researchers deprived the plant of water for 11 days after week 7 of bloom. This led to a 50% increase in THC levels in the buds.

Also, this method may or may not work on the strain you are growing. Some strains cannot handle drought even in the slightest; in this case, this method may backfire. Understand how well the strain you are growing can handle drought and tread accordingly. And take it slow during the initial stages until you have confidence that your plant can handle this method.

5. Use the Right Supplements to Increase Trichome Production

A cannabis plant that does not get adequate levels of nutrients may grow unhealthy and slow — let alone produce enough trichomes. So, you need to give your plant nutrients, including the ones that promote trichome production. 

As a rule of thumb, a cannabis plant needs the following nutrients for proper growth during bloom:

  • Macronutrients — potassium and phosphorus
  • Micronutrients
  • Amino acids
  • Vitamins 
  • Other flowering stimulators, microbial life, sugars, and carbohydrates

Here, you can add more supplements to boost trichome production, such as the following:

  • Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB)

Not all bacteria are bad, many species are quite beneficial for the plant’s growth. Lactic acid bacteria is one of the good ones, especially for trichome production.

You can add LAB to your grow medium, which will break down and convert sugars into short-chain fatty acids. Your plant will use these fatty acids to produce more trichomes (terpenes and cannabinoids).

  • Molasses

On the other hand, molasses also serves as a terrific supplement to boost trichome production in cannabis plants when added to the growing medium. It is loaded with various sugars, vitamins, and minerals that aid trichome production.

  • Amino Acids

And amino acids can also help you boost your plant’s trichome production. They are building blocks of proteins. Essentially, organelles in the plant cells, ribosomes, link various amino acids together in chains to create proteins. The plant uses these proteins to create trichomes.

6. Train Your Cannabis Plant

As mentioned earlier, the right amount of stress can significantly boost the trichome profile of your cannabis plant. Training cannabis involves shaping the canopy, bending or cutting off branches or leaves, and otherwise manipulating the physical form of the plant.

Typically, training is used by growers to improve light penetration and aeration within the foliage to improve bud development processes and prevent mold. But since training cannabis is a type of stress for the plant, it can push the plant into survival mode, making it produce more trichomes than usual. 

The key here is to only provide good stress to the plant, not bad. The latter may hamper the plant’s growth and even kill it. Slight stress activates the self-defense mechanisms — good stress. On the other hand, a lot of stress can slow down its growth and lead to other complications — bad stress.

All training methods can be grouped into two sections — low-stress training (LST) and high-stress training (HST). Both help increase yields and boost trichome production, but HST seems to be more effective despite being riskier.

If you are a relatively new grower, you should stick to low-stress training as it is more forgiving with a lot of room for errors. High-stress training is suitable for experienced growers who know their way around the plant and its potential problems.

Low-stress training includes the following methods:

1. Bending and Tying 

In this method, you have to gently bend and tie down branches to create an even canopy. This improves light penetration and aeration, so that all bud sites get an equal amount of light, leading to better trichome production in cannabis.

While bending and tying, it is essential to be gentle and only use soft ties, like gardening ties. Hard ties like metal wires can bruise plant tissues.

2. Sea of Green

This is a weird training method where you don’t necessarily manipulate the shape of the plant. Instead, you grow multiple small cannabis plants close to each other, creating an even green canopy of multiple plants. Hence the name sea of green

This method allows you to switch the plants to bloom earlier, where the apical nodes develop big, bushy buds with a lot of trichomes. 

3. Screen of Green (ScrOG)

ScrOG is similar to bending and tying, but here, you use a screen to support the plant. You have to use a screen made of soft ties and a wooden frame, hang it over the canopy, and push the stems out of the screen holes. 

Doing so eventually creates an even canopy, much like bending and tying, which leads to better light distribution and bud development. The result? More trichomes across the bud sites.

On the other hand, high-stress training includes the following methods:

1. Pruning

When pruning, you have to selectively cut off parts of the foliage to eliminate lower bud sites that tend to grow popcorn buds. This allows the plant to redirect energy to higher bud sites that are likely to grow big and bushy. 

2. Lollipopping

Lollipopping is the more hardcore version of pruning, where you turn your plant’s shape from a Christmas tree to a lollipop by removing the lower branches entirely. Lollipopping as a training method is meticulous and only recommended for experienced plant trainers.

3. Topping

Cannabis plants have apical dominance, where one bud site grows above all else and grows the biggest buds. During topping, you cut off the dominant bud site to break the plant’s apical dominance.

After topping, the plant grows two dominant bud sites, and you can top your plant several times to create multiple dominant bud sites that grow big buds with higher trichome concentrations.

4. Super Cropping

Super cropping is another HST method where you have to intentionally break the inner cell walls of the plant using your finger and thumb. This activates the plant’s defense mechanism, leading to better bud development and trichome production.

Other common high-stress training methods include mainlining and manifolding.

Cold Shock

Cold shock is a unique training method but can be quite effective in boosting your plant’s trichome production. Here, you have to flush your plant with ice water, which stresses the plant out and activates its defense mechanism.

This method should be used during the late flowering stage of the plant only. 

One Important Tip for Training Cannabis

When training your cannabis plant, you must avoid touching the buds as much as you can. This is because trichomes are fragile and can be dislodged easily. So, even if your plant does end up producing more trichomes, using a heavy hand on buds may dislodge them and defeat the purpose.

7. Harvest at the Right Time

Lastly, you need to harvest your cannabis plant at the right time so you can actually benefit from the plant’s trichome content. You can use various methods to take a look at the trichomes when it's time for harvest — more on this below.

If the trichomes are clear, the plant is not yet ready for harvest. Once they turn milky white, the plant is nearly ready. And when the trichomes start turning amber from milky white, you should harvest the plant. This is an indication that the trichomes have reached the peak of their development cycle.

How to Get a Good Look at the Trichomes on Cannabis?

How to Get a Good Look at the Trichomes on Cannabis?

Identifying the trichomes can be a little tough as they are tiny hairs that aren’t always visible to the naked eye. Here are some ways you can take a closer look at trichomes on your plant:

  • Jeweler’s Loupe
  • Magnifying glass
  • Phone Camera
  • Digital Microscope

All of these have their own pros and cons. Jewelers' loupe is great but doesn’t always show the entire picture and may not be comfortable to use for many people. On the other hand, magnifying glasses are quite effective but you need to find ones with the right power; otherwise, you will be busy dancing with the glass just to find the focus.

Taking pictures is also an effective way, but your phone camera must have a good camera or at least a macro lens. You can also use lens attachments for your phone, but the good ones tend to be a bit expensive.

Lastly, a digital microscope is the best way to look at trichomes and allows you to even take a video of them. But they can be a bit expensive to purchase.

Summary: How to Boost Trichome Production on Cannabis Plants?

In each stage of your plant’s growth, you have the opportunity to try out some things that can boost your plant’s trichome production. And if you want your buds to have a terrific shelf appeal, flavor, and potency, you must boost the plant’s trichome production.

Trichomes are what contain cannabinoids and terpenes, making your plant more desirable for you or other users, especially when you want to create resin concentrates or hash.

Use the tips listed above to effectively boost your plant’s trichome production, but be gentle. In most techniques, you are stressing out your plant, so you shouldn’t stress it more than required. 

A little stress goes a long way, but too much stress won’t take your plant anywhere.


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El silicio también juega un papel importante en la producción de tricomas