Why are Some Cannabis Strains so Colorful?

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Added 11 December 2022

In pop culture, cannabis is almost always associated with the green fan leaves — it has become a symbol of the subculture that keeps showing up in movies, music videos, merchandise, and even in brand logos. 

While the green color represents some strains, you may still find a rainbow of colorful buds at your local dispensary. And these colors are what many consumers enjoy. 

But this colorful variety is not limited to cannabis alone — many fruits and vegetables also have colorful variations. Perhaps the best example is the bell pepper, which is usually associated with green color, but you can also find it in yellow or red colors. You’ll also find carrots, tomatoes, and salad leaves in various colors. 

The color does not necessarily add any value to the cannabis strain’s effect (or high), but for growers and consumers, it does offer a sense of choice or luxury. But what causes these strains to develop colorful buds? And since there are so many variations, what do those colors mean? 

Keep reading to know all about the colorful varieties of cannabis strains and why they are so colorful.

What Makes Cannabis Buds so Colorful?

What Makes Cannabis Buds so Colorful?

There are a few reasons why some cannabis strains develop colors — sometimes, it happens naturally, and other times, it could be due to environmental factors. Here are some of the most common reasons why some cannabis buds develop color.

1. Anthocyanins

One of the two most important factors behind cannabis buds’ color is anthocyanins. 

Anthocyanins are flavonoids that are partly responsible for the color purple, blue, and red in not just cannabis plants but the entire plant kingdom, including cranberries, cherries, purple tomatoes, and blueberries. 

While research is ongoing, scientists have so far identified over 700 types of anthocyanins, which are produced by plants as secondary metabolites. The plants use these to attract insects (pollinators) and combat biotic stressors. 

Do note that anthocyanins don’t work individually — they work with the pH range of the substrate in developing different hues, as discussed later in the article.

2. Carotenoids

The second most important factor is carotenoids, which are responsible for the colors red, yellow, and orange in plants. Apart from just color, these phytochemicals also act as antioxidants, attract pollinators, and other functions like helping the plant absorb solar energy, just like chlorophyll, while also protecting it from free radicals. 

Carotenoids, as the name suggests, give carrot its orange color, but they also give papayas, bell peppers, and squashes their brilliant colors. 

Experts have identified over 750 carotenoids, such as B-Carotene, Lutein Violaxanthin, and Neoxanthin. 

3. Growth Stage

Plants are green due to chlorophyll — the green pigment responsible for photosynthesis in plants. And when cannabis is in the vegetative stage, it is rich in chlorophyll, so it can create the required energy to support vigorous growth.

However, once it enters the flowering stage, its focus shifts from growing big to growing buds, and here, chlorophyll takes somewhat of a backseat. 

At the same time, the plant starts developing colors to attract pollinators — buds, after all, are just flowers. This is one reason why some strains develop color when they reach the flowering stage.

4. Temperatures

Another common reason cannabis buds develop color is the temperature range of the grow room or climate. And this is related to the growth stage, too. For example, during the end of the growing season, when daylight hours are shorter, the long dark hours force the plant to stop chlorophyll production, which leads to an increase in anthocyanin production.

Carotenoids and anthocyanins start developing at a higher rate at this time, and they become more visible, which can make the buds more colorful. How exactly do these two compounds give color to the cannabis plant? More on this later. 

5. pH

pH, the environmental underdog when it comes to growing cannabis, is surprisingly one reason why some cannabis strains become colorful. This is because, at different pH ranges, anthocyanin expresses itself in different colors. 

For example, if the soil is acidic and low in phosphorous content, anthocyanins turn red or pink. And if the pH is neutral, the compound turns purple. And in alkaline conditions, it turns yellow or blue. 

6. Trichomes

The little hairs you see on your cannabis buds are called trichomes. They contain resin and the cannabinoids responsbile for producing myriad effects. 

During the early stages of flowering, these trichomes are clear, but as the plant closes its maturity, they turn white and amber. And some strains have such dense trichomes that their buds appear white or amber, depending on the stage of their growth.

7. Genetics

Genetics also play a major role in the color of the buds — they carry a lot of the characteristics from generation to generation. And since colorful buds are a thing of preference among many users, growers tend to selectively grow plants with colorful genetics.

Sometimes, this works, but it may not work always. The grower cannot control the genetics, and the buds sometimes turn out to be completely different. 

8. Stress Factors

When growing, cannabis plants are likely to experience a lot of stress factors — no garden is perfect — and some of these factors can affect the color of the buds. The most notable stress factors include UV radiation, anthocyanin production, trichome production, incorrect temperatures or pH range, etc. 

What do the Colors mean on Cannabis Buds?

What do the Colors mean on Cannabis Buds?

There is a play of all these factors, especially anthocyanins and carotenoids, that give color to the buds, but how exactly does that work? In addition, can you change the color of your cannabis buds?

The answer to the latter is yes, you can. Read on to know why some cannabis buds turn colorful, and how you can achieve similar results. But remember that not all strains can grow colorful strains — it depends on genetics just as much as it depends on anthocyanins or carotenoids.

Here’s an explanation of the most common colors of cannabis.

1. Green Cannabis Buds

If the buds are green, it means they are rich in chlorophyll. The compound gives your plant its vibrant green color, and many strains retain this color throughout the growing cycle and even make the buds green.

To get this color, you don’t have to do a lot because this is the primary natural color of cannabis buds. Just ensure the growing conditions are ideal and your buds will turn out green if the genetics support as well.

2. Orange and Yellow Cannabis Buds

But green buds aren’t really that fun, are they? If you want your buds to be orange and yellow, you need to look for strains rich in carotenoids. 

Carotenoids are phytochemicals that give yellow, orange, or red pigment to the buds. But the shades depend on the concentration of carotenoids in the buds. 

Strains that are known to grow orange or yellow buds include Agent Orange, Tangerine Dream, Alien OG, Grapefruit, and Lemon Kush.

If you want your cannabis to grow orange or yellow buds, you need to boost its carotenoid production, and here is how you can do that:

  • Boost the pH level of your plant, but don’t go overboard as it can cause a nutrient lockout in the last few weeks of the flowering stage 
  • Maintain soil quality at the highest levels 
  • If possible, add organic amendments to the soil, like worm castings

And of course, choose strains that are known to grow yellow or red buds; otherwise, these tips may grow slightly colorful buds, but not always. Genetics, remember?

3. Red and Pink Cannabis Buds

But if buds appear red and pink, it is because of the combination of carotenoids and anthocyanins. Essentially, when the bud is rich in carotenoids, the compound absorbs more blue light, reflecting more orange to red high.

Along with that, anthocyanins also develop a red-to-pink shade when the pH of the soil is slightly acidic, between 5.8 to 6.2 — also the ideal pH range for cannabis plants. 

Some of the most popular strains known for growing red or pink buds include Black Russian, Panama-Sedena Red, Red Poison Auto, Pink Flower Shaman, Pink Lemonade, and Pink Lady Kush.

To grow red or pink buds, the first step is to choose strains genetically designed to be concentrated in both carotenoids and anthocyanins. Additionally, you can follow these tips to keep the conditions ideal for these hues:

  • Drop the temperatures of your grow room slightly and reduce the light intensity during the bloom stage of the plant 
  • You can also reduce the amount of phosphorus your plant receives during the final few weeks of bloom, but you need to do this at the right time to avoid phosphorus deficiency 

4. Purple and Blue Cannabis Buds

Perhaps the most sought-after colors in cannabis buds are purple and blue — they just look so exotic, don’t they? Here, anthocyanins are largely responsible for color. The most popular purple strains include Purple Haze, Purple Queen, Purple Afghani, and Platinum Purple Kush — it’s usually in the name.

Getting your plant to grow purple buds is not so difficult because you mostly have to rely on genetics. Choose strains that naturally grow purple or blue buds thanks to higher anthocyanin conditions.

Additionally, you need to maintain the right environment for the bud to grow. Here, the most important factor is the pH range of the substrate — it must be neutral to boost anthocyanin production in the plants.

5. Black and Brown Cannabis Buds

When the shade of purple is too deep, the buds appear almost black or brown — another quality many growers and users look for in their cannabis buds. Think of these shades as they appear in aubergine — technically, it’s purple, but it appears black or brown sometimes. 

Again, these shades are caused due to high concentration of anthocyanins in the buds, but also due to a recessive gene that boosts the conversion of glucose into anthocyanins, making the buds more purple. 

The most popular strains that grow black or brown buds include Black Tuna, Vietnamese Black, Black Mamba, Black Willy, Black Widow, and Black Diesel — most of these strains belong to the Vietnamese landraces. As Vin Diesel would call it, it’s a “family”. 

Here are some tips on achieving these colors with your strains, as long as they are naturally more likely to grow black or brown buds:

  • Drop the nighttime temperature below 50°F or 10°C — this is a risky trick as it can shock your plant, but if you pull it off carefully, your buds will turn black or brown by the middle of the bloom
  • Apart from that, you need to maintain a neutral pH that will promote anthocyanins to produce more purple hues 

6. White Cannabis Buds

White buds, on the contrary, get their color from trichomes, not anthocyanins or carotenoids. When the buds are lush with a thick coating of trichomes, the buds appear white in color. Popular white bud strains include White Widow and White Rhino.

The best thing about white buds is that, since trichomes are responsible for cannabinoid production, white color usually denotes higher potency in the buds. 

But there’s a catch — white buds aren’t always a sign of high trichome concentration. Sometimes, it can occur due to mold. So, if your buds are growing white, you must prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

Mold on buds is common, especially in humid conditions, and you never want to consume moldy buds. Never. They can cause serious health complications. Look for tiny spiderweb-like structures on the buds where they appear white. If you don’t see any mold-like structures, it is due to trichomes — the latter is a good sign.

You can also verify this by using a magnifying glass on your buds. Look for trichomes — tiny white hairs. 

Are Colorful Buds More Potent?

Are Colorful Buds More Potent?

Colorful buds are pretty to look at — so much so that they have become a sort of novelty in the cannabis community. They make the buds more attractive to the buyers and give a sense of exclusivity or luxury to the user. 

But these colors don’t always signify higher potency. Even with significantly low THC content, some cannabis strains grow purple or red flowers. And some strains that grow fully green buds are sometimes the most potent ones. 

So, if you are looking for potency, don’t look for color. It is not a reliable sign of potency.

But white buds are somewhat of an exception. Since white buds are rich in trichomes, they tend to be rich in cannabinoids, too. Here, you need to check which cannabinoids they are rich in. Some white bud strains may only contain CBD and very little THC — again, this defeats the purpose.

What are the Most Colorful Cannabis Strains?

What are the Most Colorful Cannabis Strains?

There are thousands of strains, and when you want to grow cannabis, you can’t purchase all the strains you get your hands on just to get your favorite colored buds. Let’s make the process easier.

Here are some of the most popular and best cannabis strains that grow colorful buds. This is a starting point that will set you on the right path to finding your best colorful strain.

1. Northern Lights

Is any list of the best cannabis strains, be it in any regard, ever complete without Northern Lights? This strain is everywhere, but for the right reasons.

Northern Light is a mix between Thai and Afghani strains, and this strain boasts crystal-colored leaves that almost twinkle under the right light. These shimmery trichomes cover the flower and make it a potent strain that is ideal for relaxing after a long day and gives it a sweet, spicy flavor. 

This crowd-favorite cannabis strain may not be purple, black, or red, but it sure has a fanbase of its own when it comes to color. The glittery buds set it apart from most other strains. 

2. Black Russian

The Black Russian strain, as the name suggests, grows black buds, and many users consider them sensual. This strain is a mix between White Russian and Black Domina. Along with the overall black appearance, this strain’s buds also contain purple, lilac, and red hairs over it. 

But don’t go by the name when it comes to its effect — it is a surprisingly uplifting strain with mango and lemon flavors. But it offers a mellow high ideal for relaxing or resting or alleviating aches and pains in your body. 

3. Blueberry Cheesecake

Another crowd favorite strain is the Blueberry Cheesecake — best for people with a sweet tooth. This strain offers a strong cheese and blueberry flavor and is terrific for a high during the day — it helps you stay focused while relaxing your body. 

Sure, it’s not as colorful, but the subtle hints of blue and violet tones and some orange hairs give it a pretty touch, making it a highly sought-after bud.

Be prepared for some serious munchies, though!

4. Pink Panties

It’s in the name — Pink Panties have pink buds. Although the name is somewhat NSFW, this bud is worth a try.  

Pink Panties is a cross between various OG Kush varieties and was developed by Mr. Sherbinski himself, and it offers a citrusy flavor and a heavy couch-lock high. This is an ideal strain for relaxing or sleeping. 

Pink Panties has also given birth to various other popular strains, specifically Sunset Sherbet, which is a mix between Pink Panties and Girl Scout Cookies. Even that strain is worth a try for colorful bud lovers.

5. The Black

A strain so highly concentrated in anthocyanins, it almost appears black due to the deep dark hues — that’s The Black. This is a rare strain from the 1980s, the good ol’ days, and little is known about it.

Theories claim that this was either developed by BC Bud Depot or Mr. Dank, but no one knows for sure.

What we do know is this is a terrific strain to try at least once for every cannabis enthusiast. With a unique flavor profile of tea, wood, and chestnut, this strain gives you a relaxed high with intense munchies — perfect for when you want to chill out and eat your favorite pizza while watching The Lord of the Rings.

6. Granddaddy Purple

Granddaddy Purple, or GDP, is one of those classic cannabis strains that has become a staple in the Californian community. This is a cross between Big Bud and Purple Urkle, and it comes with a potent berry flavor and dark purple buds. 

This strain was first developed by Ken Estes in San Francisco, and since then, this strain has become, quite literally, the granddaddy of purple strains around the world. 

7. Pinkman Goo

This is a unique strain on this list. Pinkman Goo does not get its color from the unique hair colors, but due to the resin droplets on it that resemble maple tree sap. This resin, or goo, is high in THC, and it gives this strain a dewy appearance. 

Additionally, Pinkman Goo buds also contain purple-rimmed leaves and a dense purple tint, which makes the entire package even more appealing to both growers and buyers. 

8. Rainbow Kush

If it’s named Rainbow Kush, it’s bound to be as colorful as a rainbow. This strain is bright, bold, and full of color, with a tropical flavor profile of citrus and berry. And it gives you a euphoric, creative high since it is a mix of Blueberry and Dancehall strains. 

One look at it and you will be enamored by its color — red, orange, green, blue, purple — it is essentially a rainbow in the form of a cannabis flower.  

Summary: Why are Some Cannabis Strains so Colorful?

While the world may see cannabis as only green, it’s enthusiasts like us that know the various shades of cannabis and appreciate it. And if you are new to the culture, it’s time you get your hands on some colorful strains.

Thanks to this guide, you know what makes some cannabis strains so colorful, how you can turn your green buds colorful (as long as the genetics support it), and what are the most colorful cannabis buds. 

With this, we leave you to explore the various colors of cannabis. 



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Hi, Ok,The new gd icon is a bit greener 😉