How to Grow Potent Cannabis Plants: A Guide To Increase THC Efficiently

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Added 23 January 2023

How to Grow Potent Cannabis Plants?

Many of us want to grow the strongest, most potent cannabis plants that we can, whether it is for personal consumption or commercial use. High potency never disappoints users that simply want to get high and enjoy their time. 

But how do you grow potent cannabis plants? The answer isn’t so simple.

A lot depends on the strain’s genetics, which you can’t change. But some of it depends on the plant’s growth environment, which you can optimize. In this article, we tackle all this and give you a few tips that will help you grow potent cannabis plants. Keep reading to know all about growing strong cannabis.

Is It Possible to Make Your Plant More Potent?

Is It Possible to Make Your Plant More Potent?

In other words, you’re asking if it’s possible to increase THC. Biologically, no. Your plant’s potency depends on its genetics, and each cannabis strain is genetically wired to only produce a specific amount of THC. You can’t make your plant produce more THC than it is genetically possible — so far. 

However, most cannabis plants that grow in a healthy environment don’t grow to their full potential, which means there's still a lot of THC that a smart grower can squeeze out of them using the right techniques. 

This guide will not show you how to push the genetic boundaries of your cannabis plant, but, instead, we will focus on how to optimize everything your plant has to offer. 

What is the Role of THC in Cannabis?

What is the Role of THC in Cannabis?

Before we move into the hows of making your plant more potent, let’s consider the why — why does your cannabis plant produce THC in the first place?

Female cannabis plants develop trichomes on the flowers, acting as a defense mechanism for the plant. These trichomes are resinous glands that contain over 100 cannabinoids

The trichomes and cannabinoids work in two ways to protect the plant. First, the trichomes act as a filter to block excessive UV light that may damage the buds. Second, cannabinoids like CBD deter pests, animals, and other predators from attacking the buds. 

Other than that, cannabinoids don’t serve a purpose for the plant itself. But one of those cannabinoids, THC, produces a psychoactive effect in humans. 

Understanding why your plant produces THC is crucial — your plant produces it as a defense mechanism. So, if you want your plant to produce more THC, you have to not only ensure a proper environment for it to grow but also stress it out slightly. More on this later.

How to Grow Stronger, More Potent Cannabis Plants?

How to Grow Stronger, More Potent Cannabis Plants?

Once you know why your cannabis plant produces cannabinoids and the factors that affect it — genetics and environment — you can take strategic steps to ensure both genetics and environment work in your favor. And here's how you do that.

1. Choose Potent Cannabis Strains 

Choose Potent Cannabis Strains 

In recent years, cannabis strains have gotten stronger and stronger, but even the most potent strains only contain around 35% THC. Most “potent” strains generally contain 20% to 25% THC. 

And as mentioned earlier, genetics plays a big role in cannabis potency — it dictates the potency window beyond which you cannot push your plant to produce more THC. So, you must choose a strain with high THC content. 

You can’t expect a low-THC strain to produce 25% THC. 

But there’s a catch — you need to ensure the strain you choose is suitable for your growing setup, local climate, and skills. You need to choose a strain that is forgiving, resilient, and not so demanding, so you can squeeze every last hair of trichome out of it. 

Some high-potency cannabis strains you can choose from include Wedding Pie (26% THC), Kush Mints (28% THC), Gelato (17% THC), Bio Jesus (25% THC), OG Kush Breath (25% THC), etc. 

2. Use a Healthy Soil or Grow Medium 

Use a Healthy Soil or Grow Medium 

The next step is to choose healthy, high-quality soil from the get-go. Healthy soil, especially super soil, contains all the right nutrients that your plant requires to grow healthy, so it won’t rely a lot on your nutrient solution. In this case, your nutrient solution will work as an added benefit.

You must use high-quality soil from day one, so your plant grows in a healthy environment as soon as it germinates. Plus, your plant won’t have to acclimatize itself to new soil in the future if you switch soil types.

On the other hand, if you are using alternative grow mediums, ensure that you use the right one that suits your plant in terms of its nutrient needs, pH preferences, aeration, and moisture retention. 

3. Get the Basics Right

Get the Basics Right

When you're growing cannabis, you need to get the basics right and ensure the plant is growing in the right environment before you move on to any other tips. 

This is significant because, as mentioned earlier, the cannabis plant’s potency depends on its environment, too. So, focus on the following aspects of growing your plant and make sure you get them right:

  • Maintain the right temperature and relative humidity in your grow room and keep an eye on unusual fluctuations 
  • Feed your plant the right nutrients and never overfeed it thinking it will help your plant. Overfeeding nutrients can lead to nutrient lockout and burn
  • Maintain a pH of 5.8 to 6.2 at all times to ensure your plant can absorb all the nutrients it needs
  • Use powerful grow lights that produce the right spectrum and intensity of light, depending on your plant’s growth stage 
  • Do not under or overwater your cannabis plants as it can cause a lot of stress and hamper trichome production 
  • Keep your cannabis plant safe from pests, fungi, and mold 

By getting the basics right, you are already there. Your plant will grow healthy and vigorously. The only thing that’s left now is to push your plant a little more so it can produce more THC. 

4. Train Your Cannabis Plant

Train Your Cannabis Plant

As mentioned earlier, a little stress can boost your plant’s cannabinoid content. Essentially, stress activates the plant’s defense system, and as a response, the plant starts producing more trichomes to protect itself from the environment. 

You can use this to your advantage. But you only have to inflict a little stress and allow your plant to recover well. If you inflict more stress or don’t allow your plant to recover, your plant’s growth may slow down and the yield can get affected. 

So, you need to inflict controlled stress, aka good stress, which only activates the defense mechanisms without hurting the plant too much. And you can do this with training. 

What is training? Training, as the name implies, is a collection of techniques where you stress the plant in various ways. You can manipulate the canopy by either bending or cutting parts of it. Doing so improves light penetration and aeration within the foliage, which boosts the plant’s growth and prevents pathogens. 

Additionally, training stresses out the plant and pushes it into survival mode, where it starts producing more trichomes than usual.

There are many training methods, but most can be classified into two — low-stress training (LST) and high-stress training (HST). Let’s take a brief look at some of the common LST and HST training techniques that can help make your plant more potent. 

  • Bending and Tying 

Bending and tying is a basic LST technique where you simply bend and tie down branches to create an even canopy while ensuring the top branches don't overshadow lower branches. Doing this increases aeration and light penetration to the lower bud sites so even they can grow bigger buds.

  • Screen of Green (ScrOG)

ScrOG is a more advanced LST training, which involves the use of a screen. You have to push the branches through individual holes in the screen to create a flat canopy. This method makes most branches grow at an equivalent height so they receive the same levels of light, enabling all the bud sites to grow bigger buds.

  • Pruning 

Pruning is a slightly more stressful method that involves cutting off specific parts of the plant to increase light penetration and aeration. 

  • Lollipopping

A more hardcore version of pruning, lollipopping involves cutting off the lower bud sites that usually grow popcorn buds, turning the plant’s shape from a Christmas tree to a lollipop — hence the name. This makes your plant redirect its energy to higher bud sites so it can grow even bigger buds.

  • Super Cropping

Super cropping involves intentionally breaking the inner cell walls, which activates the plant’s defenses. This leads to better bud development and trichome production, making the plant more potent. 

Pro Tip: When training your cannabis plants, avoid touching the buds as much as possible. Trichomes are fragile and even a slight touch can dislodge them easily. So, even if your plant ends up growing more trichomes, being heavy-handed on the buds can destroy them and decrease the buds’ potency. 

5. Try Hydric Stress

Not necessarily a training method, but hydric stress is another way to push your cannabis plant to produce more cannabinoids. Hydric stress involves slightly underwatering your cannabis plant.

Remember, the keyword here is slightly — you don’t have to create a drought for your plant. You only have to let the soil dry out a little more than usual. This can have a tremendous benefit for your plant’s potency. 

According to a study, hydric stress can boost the cannabinoid profile of cannabis. During the study, experts underwatered the plant for 11 days after Week 7 of bloom, which lead to a 50% increase in the THC levels of the flowers. 

Do note that not all strains can handle hydric stress, even if it is slight. Sometimes, this method does backfire and your plant may start showing signs of underwatering. Thus, you must test it out first and take it easy in the initial stages to minimize the chances of damage.

Once you know that your plant can handle it, you can go ahead it use it on other plants belonging to the same strain. 

6. Use UV Lights in Your Grow Room

Use UV Lights in Your Grow Room

As mentioned earlier, the cannabis plant develops trichomes to protect the buds from excessive UV rays, thanks to evolution. And you can once again use this to your advantage. 

If your plant receives more UV light, it is likely to grow even more trichomes to protect itself. So, you can add a few UV lights to your grow room. And expect drastic results because according to some studies, UV rays can push cannabis buds to produce 28% more THC than usual

7. Decrease CO2 During the Late Flowering Stage

 Decrease CO2 During the Late Flowering Stage

If you are adding CO2 to make your plant grow bigger, you should decrease CO2 during the late flowering stage when the buds begin to ripen. CO2 helps your plant grow bigger but it does not affect THC production. So, giving your plant more CO2 during the late flowering stage will not have any significant benefit. 

Instead, decreasing the CO2 levels can have actual benefits. Lower CO2 levels in the grow room will encourage the plant to produce more ethylene.

Ethylene is crucial for various ripening processes, including the stimulation of trichomes. So, increasing the ethylene production in the plant during this stage pushes the plant to secrete more resins. This eventually leads to higher THC content in the plant. 

8. Turn off the Lights During Late Bloom

 Turn off the Lights During Late Bloom

This is another deprivation method that can lead to a stronger cannabis plant — here, you have to keep your plant in complete darkness 1 to 3 days before the harvest to boost the trichome profile. 

Growers that use this method claim that light deprivation during the last few days boosts trichome production in plants, making them way more potent. 

But how well this method works is up for debate. There aren’t any scientific studies backing this method, only anecdotal claims. Plus, this method is potentially risky as light deprivation can lead to mold development in the buds, which can ruin your plant’s yield.

So, you need to practice caution while trying this method. It is recommended that you first try this technique on a single plant and check the results. If it works for you, you can use it in the next season. 

9. Cold Shock or Ice Water Flush

 Cold Shock or Ice Water Flush

Another method that can boost your plant’s trichome profile is ice water flush or cold shock, which works similarly to light deprivation during the late flowering stage. Here, you have to flush your cannabis plant with ice water during the late flowering stage.

Instead of using ice water, you can also bring the temperatures down or put ice straight onto the soil. 

Doing so mimics the oncoming winter, which will activate the plant’s defenses, and as a last-ditch effort, the plant will start producing more trichomes to save itself. But do note that the effectiveness of this method is still debatable because there is no scientific study backing this method. 

Also, this technique exposes your plant to various risks like root damage due to sudden temperature drops, malformations or hermaphroditism, or rotten buds. So, only use this method at your discretion and know as much as you can about it before even taking the ice out of the fridge. 

10. Harvest at the Right Time 

 Harvest at the Right Time 

The game doesn’t end when your plants mature, the next step is to harvest the buds. During this time, timing is everything. If you harvest too soon, the trichomes will be immature and if you harvest too late, THC will start turning into CBN. 

Fortunately, it is easy to tell when it is the right time to harvest. All you need is a magnifying glass. You can also use a jeweler’s loupe, digital microscope, or your phone’s camera. 

Observe the trichomes when your plant reaches maturity. You can harvest when:

  • 70% of the trichomes are milky-white — mature trichomes with THC 
  • 15% of the trichomes are amber — trichomes where THC has started degrading
  • 15% of the trichomes are clear — immature trichomes 

This is the right balance you should aim for. If 70% of the trichomes appear milky-white, harvest immediately. You may never get more than 70% of the trichomes to turn milky-white, so it’s not worth waiting. 

While trichomes are the most accurate way of checking your plant’s maturity, you can also look at the pistils, and colorful hairs that grow on the flowers, to check the same. If around 90% of the pistils are brown/red, your plant is ready for harvest. If most of the pistils are still white, your plant is not yet ready for harvest. 

11. Dry and Cure Your Buds Properly

 Dry and Cure Your Buds Properly

Once you have harvested the buds, you can’t do anything to make them any stronger, but what you can still do is stop them from losing their THC over time. And to do that, you need to properly dry and cure your cannabis plant. 

Drying and curing the buds prevent THC from degrading into CBN due to external factors like excessive light or heat. 

To dry the buds properly, hang them for around ten days at 70°F or 21°C with a relative humidity of 50%. This will ensure a slow and gradual drying process while preserving the THC or content. 

And after drying, you need to cure them. To do this, place the buds in sealable mason jars and store them in a cool, dry place for 4 to 6 months. And don’t forget to burp them each day for the first couple of weeks to ensure air exchange. You can also add humidity packs to the jars to maintain the humidity levels within. 

These are only baseline parameters and can change depending on your cannabis strain, local climate, and preferences. So keep that in mind. 

How to Test Your Cannabis Plant’s THC Content?


How to Test Your Plant’s THC Content?.j

Testing your cannabis plant’s THC levels isn’t easy. The strain information only gives you a general idea and you can hope that with the right growing techniques, the THC levels are close to what the strain can achieve. 

At the same time, if you want to accurately check your plant’s THC content, you need to send the buds to a lab, which can be an expensive and time-consuming affair.

However, there is one way you can get a good idea about your buds’ THC content without having to spend a lot of money. For this, you need to use HiGrade’s kit and app. This kit comes with a macro lens that you attach to your smartphone and click a few pictures of your buds. The pics are then analyzed by AI for their THC content. 

According to the developers, the potency figures are quite accurate with an error rate of +/-3%. However, we are a little skeptical about anything that claims to project THC results with just pictures, so you be the judge of that. If you’re serious about THC levels, you’re probably better off sending the buds to the lab. 

Summary: How to Grow Potent Cannabis Plants?

Growing cannabis is one thing, growing strong cannabis is another. And getting the basics right doesn’t cut it if you are aiming for the latter. Getting the basics right only ensures a healthy plant.

But your cannabis plant has untapped potential that you need to squeeze out. And you can only do that if you understand the whys and hows of the process.

As for the whys, your cannabis produces trichomes to protect itself from the UV rays of the sun and other predators that may attack the plant. And you have to use this aspect to your advantage by pushing the plant’s defense mechanisms so that it can produce more trichomes.

Use the various methods listed above and see the difference yourself. But do note that some methods may not work — the claims are sometimes debatable. And other times, some methods can be quite risky, such as cold shock. 

So, whichever method you use, always research the method and even discuss it with other experienced growers to get their take on it. And only use the method when you are confident in it. 

Apart from that, keep your plant healthy and keep it protected from environmental stressors. And when handling the buds, be gentle. You don’t want to damage the delicate trichomes that house the THC. 


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Add Silica there's lots in trichomes plus it prevents powdery mildew. No one ever mentions it .use modern horticultural practices...
Great article , I didn't know about the ethenyle increase with reduced co2 and the hydric stress which I may try some time . Good read thanks ✌️🌱