What To Do If Your Cannabis Buds Are Growing Too Slowly?

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Added 25 April 2023

Harvesting buds glistening with trichomes is the most exciting time of growing cannabis. It’s when the fruits of your labor — literally — come to a realization, and you get to enjoy them. But what happens if your buds are not ripe when you expect them to be? 

Each strain has a specific window when the buds reach peak ripeness, but sometimes, it may grow past that window and still not be ready for harvest. This is because the bud may be experiencing slow growth, or you may have miscalculated the expected harvest time.

In any case, if your buds are growing too slowly or not ripe on time, it can be scary. But if you take the right steps, you don’t need to worry much. Read on to learn more about why your cannabis buds may be ripening slowly and what you can do to fix it. 

What is the Cannabis Ripening Process?

What is the Cannabis Ripening Process?

Cannabis grows in three major stages, beginning with the seedling stage. It’s then followed by the vegetative stage and finally comes the flowering stage, where the plant ripens. Typically, the flowering stage lasts for around 10 weeks for photoperiod strains.

As the flowering stage begins, the plant will start growing pistils (white hairs) at the calyxes and the bud sites also start developing flowers. During the early bloom, the plant also stretches in height

As the flowering stage progresses and reaches harvest, the buds put on more weight — sometimes even the branches start sagging under their weight — and the terpenes and trichomes change in color. 

The same stage of autoflowering strains is much shorter. Autoflowering strains grow really fast and don’t put on a lot of weight, so the flowering stage only lasts for a few weeks. Still, the process remains the same. 

Why are Cannabis Buds Taking Too Long to Ripen?

Why are Cannabis Buds Taking too Long to Ripen?

When growing cannabis, you’re probably already aware of how long it may take to mature. But what if your plant takes a little longer than you’d expect? And should you worry about it?

Before we get into the details, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why your cannabis buds may be taking too long to ripen.

1. You have a Slow Growing Strain or a Procrastinator

This reason is especially true for growers who are unaware of the strain they are cultivating. You might expect your cannabis plant to grow typically, but if your strain is a slow-growing strain, it will ripen late.

In fact, some strains take a lot longer to ripen compared to traditional cannabis strains — Haze or XXL strains can take up to 13 weeks to mature! 

Apart from long-flowering strains, some strains are just lazy and don’t look mature for a long time. Generally, these strains look mature within a night — almost as if they were procrastinating to bloom!

This is why keeping an eye on your plant’s pistils is crucial. They are an accurate sign of your plant’s maturity, even if the buds still appear immature. More on this is below. 

2. You Have Unrealistic Expectations 

The second most common reason why growers often think their cannabis is taking too long to mature is unrealistic expectations. This is a common mistake many new growers commit, and it falls back on miscalculation, which leads to unrealistic expectations. 

For example, if you are growing outdoor plants, you must start counting the flowering stage from the day the first flower appears, not when you switch the light cycle to 12/12. So, as an indoor grower, you should generally add 2 weeks to the estimated flowering time for your strain. 

3. The Light Intensity or Temperatures are too High

Two more factors that can delay your cannabis plant’s ripening are light intensity and temperature. For example, if the temperature crosses the 80°F (27°C) mark, your plant may not ripen on time due to heat stress. The same thing happens when the light is too bright. 

Under light or heat stress, your plant starts putting on new growth to cope with the stress, and this process diverts energy from the buds to other parts of the plant, leading to slower bud development. 

Lookout for signs of light or heat stress on your plant during the flowering stage. Under such stress, the top leaves of your plant will start turning yellow or look burnt, and the buds closest to the top may grow white pistils or become foxtail buds (airy, fluffy buds). 

So, if you see your plant growing new parts closer to the light and the canopy top turning yellowish, you need to take immediate action and dial down the heat or light intensity.  

4. You Use the Wrong LED Light Settings

If you participate in online forums for cannabis cultivation, you may have come across some growers getting odd results with LED lights. One of the common effects of LED lights is that the buds take a lot longer to ripen, and while this is common in autoflowering strains, it can also happen in photoperiod ones. 

While experts aren’t sure if this is caused due to specific LED lights or spectrums — LED lights come in a variety and perform vastly differently from one another. In any case, if you’re using LED lights and notice the buds are taking too long to mature, you should consider reducing daylight hours by some time. 

5. Your Plant is Re-vegging 

Re-vegging is a phenomenon where a flowering cannabis plant goes back to the vegetative stage, and during this time, the buds stop maturing entirely. Re-vegging is a nasty problem that usually occurs if there is a light leak in the grow room during the dark hours, which confuses the plant’s internal clock. 

Even something as small as an indicator light on one of the sensors can cause your plant to start re-vegging. 

6. Insufficient Light

Cannabis plants need a lot of light to grow and produce healthy buds. This is because light is essential for photosynthesis, where plants convert light into chemical energy to fuel growth and development. Without enough light, plants cannot produce enough energy to support healthy growth. In addition, the plants may also begin to stretch and leggy as they try to reach for more light, eventually affecting which can affect bud development and overall yield.

When growing cannabis indoors, it's important to use high-quality grow lights that provide enough intensity and spectrum to support healthy growth. LED grow lights with the right spectrum are wonderful as they are energy-efficient. 

Other options include high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights and metal halide (MH) lights, but you may get better results with modern LEDs. The amount of light the plants need can vary depending on the stage of growth. For example, most growers provide at least 18 hours of direct light per day during the vegetative stage and up to 12 hours of light during the early flowering stage. During the late flowering stage, some growers will reduce the light a little more to trigger bud development.

You can control the environmental conditions when growing cannabis indoors, but if you’re growing outdoors, factors such as location, weather conditions, and seasonal changes can affect the amount of light the plants receive. Typically, cannabis plants prefer a sunny, warm, and dry climate with plenty of direct sunlight. You may need to adjust the location of the plants or use shading techniques to ensure they are getting enough light.

7. Nutrient Deficiency

Cannabis plants require a specific balance of nutrients to grow and develop properly. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are the three primary macronutrients that cannabis plants need, along with a range of micronutrients such as calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and iron (Fe). Each nutrient plays a specific role in plant growth and development. Nitrogen is essential for healthy vegetative growth, phosphorus is important for flower development, and potassium helps the plant build strong stems and resist stress.

A deficiency in any of these nutrients can cause slow growth and other symptoms such as yellowing leaves, stunted growth, or poor bud development. For example, a nitrogen deficiency can cause the leaves to turn yellow, and the plant can become stunted, while a phosphorus deficiency can cause the leaves to turn dark green and the buds to be small and spindly.

To avoid nutrient deficiencies, you must provide the plants with the right nutrients in the correct amounts and ratios. You can use commercial fertilizers or compost, or worm castings. You should also monitor the plants for signs of deficiencies or toxicities to adjust the nutrients as needed. Over-fertilizing can cause nutrient burn, which can damage plants and slow down growth, so don’t overdo it.

8. Overwatering or Underwatering

Cannabis plants need the right amount of water to grow properly. Overwatering or underwatering can both cause slow growth or other problems. When plants are overwatered, the soil becomes waterlogged, which can suffocate the roots and prevent the plant from absorbing nutrients. This can lead to slow growth and other problems such as root rot and nutrient deficiencies. Overwatered plants may also have droopy or yellowing leaves.

On the other hand, underwatering can cause the plant to become stressed and dry out, which can also slow down growth or lead to other problems, such as wilting leaves. Therefore, it's important to find the right balance of watering for each plant, considering factors such as the size of the pot, the type of soil, and the stage of growth. It’s a good idea to water the plants only when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. 

Slower ripening time can also occur due to other reasons, but these are the most common ones. What can you do next? Read on to know more. 

How to Make Cannabis Buds Mature Faster?

How to Make Cannabis Buds Mature Faster?

The above section explores why your cannabis buds may not be maturing as fast as expected, but can you do something about it? Like almost every other problem your cannabis plant may face, even this problem can be fixed with prompt action. 

There are various ways you can make your cannabis buds mature faster — either by fixing the problem of delaying ripening or by giving your buds a slight nudge in the right direction. Here are some of the most effective ways to make cannabis buds mature faster. 

1. Know as Much as You Can About Your Plant

The first step is to do enough research about the cannabis strain you are growing. This begins when you order the seeds — always choose reputable seed banks that give you all the information about the strain.

Additionally, understand your local weather and how it may affect your cannabis plant’s growth. You should also participate in local forums to learn some growing tactics that work well in your local region. Start by asking questions if you have any, and be a part of our wonderful community! There’s no better way to learn more about growing cannabis. 

2. Reduce the Daylight Hours

If you’re growing a photoperiod cannabis plant, you must’ve switched the light from 18/6 to 12/12 to push your plant into the flowering stage. When the light cycle switches, your plant thinks the winter is coming and it starts developing buds

But some strains, especially Hazes, and Sativas, have a long flowering cycle — as long as 14 weeks. On the other hand, LED lights can sometimes cause cannabis plants to flower for longer. 

In either case, it is recommended that you shorten the daylight hours by 1 to 2 hours. So, instead of a 12/12 light cycle, switch to a 10/14 light cycle. This technique also works for autoflowering cannabis strains that don’t even rely on the light cycle.

Essentially, the shorter light cycle tricks your plant into thinking winter is too close and, as a defense mechanism, it starts developing buds much faster. However, this technique does have a downside — lower yield. Only use this technique if you’re okay with a slightly smaller yield.

3. Bring Down the Temperatures, Light, and Humidity

As mentioned earlier, high temperature and light intensity can extend your plant’s flowering cycle. So, it is wise to keep the temperature, light, and relative humidity on the lower side of the recommended ranges. 

Depending on your local weather and the cannabis strain, use ideal temperatures and light intensity, and keep the relative humidity below 50% during the flowering stage. This will trick the plant into thinking winter is closer, encouraging better bud development and trichome production. 

You can even invest in UV light supplements to boost cannabinoid and terpene production of the cannabis buds, which will enhance the ripening process. 

4. Ensure Completely Darkness During the Dark Hours

For a photoperiod cannabis plant, the dark hours are just as crucial as daylight hours. And even a small light leak can extend the flowering cycle by messing up the plant’s processes, and in severe cases, push it back into the vegetative stage. 

To avoid this from happening, ensure your grow room is completely dark during the night. It should not have even a single source of light (or light leak) when the lights are off, although this is harder than it sounds. 

Modern technologies often have various lights, which can act as light leaks at night. If that’s the case, consider using gaffer’s tape to cover any indicator lights on the grow room devices. 

5. Use the Right Nutrients

Cannabis consumes two types of nutrients — macronutrients, and micronutrients. The latter is required in small quantities and is usually available naturally in tap water or soil. On the other hand, macronutrients often need to be supplemented.

Macronutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and cannabis requires these nutrients in different ratios during each growth stage. During the early flowering stage, you need to maintain an NPK ratio of 1:3:2 and switch it to 0:3:3 during the late stage. 

This is because potassium and phosphorus are crucial components of bud development and if your plant does not get enough of them, the bud development process may be hampered or stunted. 

You can even consider using bloom boosters if you don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of nutrients. These bloom boosters are specifically designed to give your plant all the nutrients it needs for healthy and develop buds quickly. 

6. Be Patient

Lastly, you must learn to be patient. Sometimes, the plant’s growth is not in your control, and if your plant looks healthy, you should let nature take its due time. Your plant may be growing slower than usual for several reasons, but as long as it is not a problem, you need not worry. 

The tips mentioned above help you improve the ripening process for your plant, but they are in no way shortcuts. You may even come across many shortcuts to make your plant mature faster, but most of these techniques come at the expense of your buds’ development. These shortcut methods often compromise bud size and effects, so are generally not recommended for most growers. 

On the bright side, a longer flowering time may also mean bigger buds than usual!

How to Know if Cannabis Buds Are Ripe?

How to Know if Cannabis Buds Are Ripe?

When growing cannabis, you must know the right time for harvest. Once you consider all the factors and use the right techniques to boost your plant’s ripening, you will get a rough idea of when your plant will be ready for harvest.

But a rough idea is only useful as a milestone for when to start keeping a close eye on your plant — it is not an accurate reflection of your plant’s ripeness. 

The first thing to do here is to figure out exactly what you expect from your cannabis buds. Some growers prefer slightly unripe buds, while others prefer perfectly ripe ones — both produce different effects and highs. 

To get a better idea, let’s look at the stages of ripeness.

  • Immature Buds

The first stage is when the buds are not ripe enough for most cannabis growers. Here, the trichomes on the buds are clear and colorless, and they grow in small numbers. Once these trichomes start turning milky or cloudy, it’s a sign your plant is inching toward maturity. 

Many growers prefer harvesting their buds during this time because immature buds tend to create an energetic high. However, the yield may not be up to its full potential just yet, and the buds may not contain enough cannabinoids as expected.

  • Mature Trichomes

As your cannabis approaches maturity, you must keep an eye on the color of the trichomes — most of them should have turned cloudy now. This is the stage when some trichomes may even turn amber. 

When most of the trichomes are cloudy and some are amber or colorless, it is the sweet spot for harvesting for most growers. These buds will produce a balanced, stimulating high that will not be very sedating.

  • Overripe Trichomes

But if you wait further until most of the trichomes have turned amber, your buds will produce a more sedating high. This is because the buds are overripe. If you want a sedative high, you should add an extra week before harvest. Another benefit of overripe buds is a bigger yield since your plant has more days to grow the buds. 

The best way to check trichomes on your cannabis plant is to use a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe to inspect the trichomes. But remember to keep your personal preferences in mind when harvesting your cannabis plant, whether you want your buds to be smaller but more energetic or big, bushy, and sedating. 

Can You Harvest Cannabis Buds that Are Not Yet Ripe?

Can You Harvest Cannabis Buds that Are Not Yet Ripe?

Sometimes, the buds are not ripe yet, especially if they are taking too long to mature. You may still need to harvest your buds. There are multiple reasons for harvesting your buds even when they are not mature yet, such as the following.

  • Buds are Turning Brown

If your buds are turning brown or appear toasted, you should harvest them immediately, even if the buds are not yet ripe enough for harvesting. This browning can happen due to various reasons, including high-intensity lights, stressful temperature or humidity, or other underlying issues. 

  • The Plant is No Longer Alive

In an outdoor environment, the plant begins its life in spring and, by the end of the year, it reaches maturity and eventually dies. By design, cannabis grows to produce buds before perishing. 

So, if you notice your cannabis has stopped being alive due to its age or weather conditions, you should harvest the buds immediately and take down the plant. Once your plant has stopped living, the buds won’t grow bigger and can even wither if not harvested early.

  • Your Plant has Turned into a Hermaphrodite

Hermaphroditism is a phenomenon when a cannabis plant starts growing both male and female sex organs, mostly due to environmental stress. This is a defense mechanism for the plant so that it can reproduce. But you don’t want it to pollinate itself, which will cause the buds to grow seeds. 

If your plant has turned hermie, you should carefully harvest the buds immediately. After the buds are harvested, cover the plant in a plastic bag and gently remove it from your garden so the pollen does not pollinate any other plants in the vicinity. 

  • The Buds Have Developed Mold 

Mold is a nasty problem that plagues many cannabis plants, and sometimes, it attacks the plant during the worst of times. If your plant catches mold during the flowering stage, it can suffer from bud rot, where the mold starts growing within the buds. 

Whether the mold is growing within the bud or anywhere else on the plant, you must act immediately by harvesting the buds and checking each and every bud for any signs of mold. Moldy buds are dangerous for your health and should be avoided.

At the same time, you must carefully toss your cannabis plant so that the mold spores do not land on other plants in your garden. It is always better to cut your losses and salvage what you can instead of losing an entire plant to mold. 

  • Or Your Plant is Attacked by Pests

Similarly, you should take quick action if your cannabis plant has a pest infestation. Even in this case, you should avoid using pesticides, organic or not, on your plant as they can hamper your buds’ flavor and aroma profiles. So, you should harvest the buds and dispose of the plant immediately. 

Summary: What To Do If Your Cannabis Buds Are Growing Too Slowly

Every cannabis strain you purchase from a reputable seed bank will come with an expected flowering duration. But that is just a rough idea so you can prepare for the harvest in advance. 

But due to various factors, your cannabis may not ripen within the expected time window. This can be due to environmental factors like high temperature, too much light, light leaks at night, or genetics. 

In any case, you must learn to recognize the signs of this problem and work on fixing the issue that may be causing it. We have mentioned various techniques you can try, but do not rely on shortcuts that promise early ripening of buds. 

Lastly, learn to recognize when your buds are ready for harvest. For most growers, it is when most of the trichomes are cloudy, with the rest amber or transparent. If you want a more cerebral high, you should harvest the buds a little early, and for a more sedative high, you should harvest a little later. 

Harvest time is exciting, but this is also the time when you must be patient and keen. Minor mistakes can cause major losses, but you can make the best out of your situation with the right approach. 


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