The perfect bud off a marijuana plant is typically tight and dense. However, it is also possible to end up with fluffy, loose, and airy buds and this could be a problem.
Airy buds simply appear soft and thin, and can almost be looked right through. They are the complete opposite of dense, tightly-packed buds. Being left with a harvest of airy buds may not always be a problem. Some marijuana strains are simply predisposed to loose buds. Buds from a sativa plant, for example, often grow long and tall, while indica strains often remain short and tight. Unfortunately, buds that are not tightly packed and dense can also have less THC, so can affect the desired results.
What is the cause of fluffy, loose, airy buds?
There are several causes of airy buds and the good news is, they are all relatively easy to fix.
The first cause is genetics. The marijuana strain chosen is going to determine every aspect of how it will grow. The smell, taste, THC and CBD levels, and of course, the bud’s appearance will all ultimately come down to the genetics. Due to this, growers should always research their strains carefully and then select seeds from a reputable breeder. Again, indica varieties will naturally have the tightest buds. Sativa strains may yield fluffy buds, this does not mean sativa strains will not suffer from buds that are loose and airy. Nor does it mean that indica varieties cannot also present airy buds.
Once a strong strain has been chosen, it then of course needs to be grown properly. One of the main aspects of growing a marijuana plant is the light it receives. It is important to keep both quality and quantity in mind. Fluorescent or CFL lights need to be kept as close to the plants as possible. At the same time, growers need to make sure the light and heat isn’t going to burn the plants. LEDs come with different specifications, meaning there is no ideal height for them. When using LEDs it is best to check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Temperature also plays a big role in how well the plant and the buds develop. Most plants will do well in temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the flowering phase. Any hotter than this and the buds can start to present problems, including airy buds. Genetics will also play a part here. It is important to keep in mind that while sativas generally do very well in hot temperatures. On the other hand, indicas can stand up to cooler temperatures quite well.
The nutrients, or fertilizer plants receive will also have an big impact on how nicely the buds develop. Plants in the flowering phase need a little bit of nitrogen, a lot of potassium, and a generous helping of phosphorous. There are different nutrient requirements in the vegetative stage. Growers need to use two different nutrient mixes.
Light and temperature are important. However, a grower’s effort could be wasted if there is not enough ventilation in the growing space. Plants need plenty of air and movement around them. This allows the lower buds and branches to get the same light and temperature as the top branches and grow well. If many plants are crowded into the same grow space, or there is no movement of the air, it could result in airy buds.
Air and space in the grow area is not the only important aspect when it comes to the plant being able to move. The plant also needs to grow in a container that is large enough to hold it sufficiently. This will give the plant and its roots plenty of room to move and grow. Allowing the roots to have the space needed to fully develop. It will also keep the plants from locking out the oxygen they need.
Overwatering can also cause buds to become loose and fluffy. When the soil or grow medium has too much water, oxygen cannot reach the roots. This will be detrimental to the entire plant overall. This can also often wash out key nutrients the buds need to grow big and dense.
Timing is also important when it comes to the proper growth and development of plants. Once the buds start developing, they will need time to become dense and tightly-packed. If the buds are harvested too soon, they will not have the necessary time to grow big and tight.
Lastly, while all aspects of the growing and harvesting phase are important, the time after harvest is just as essential. The drying and curing phase after harvest allows the buds to fully develop in taste, aroma, and potency. However, it also gives the buds time to become more firmly packed and tight. If the buds are not given time to fully dry and cure, it could cause airy buds.
How to avoid getting airy, loose, fluffy buds
Once growers know the causes of airy buds, correcting the problem is easy.
It really all starts with the container the plant is grown in. All plants will start with a very small container during the germinating phase. After this stage, plants will need to be moved to something larger. Transplanting throughout the growth stage is not recommended. It could place unnecessary stress on a plant. Instead, after the seeds have sprouted, they should be moved to their permanent container. The size of that container will depend on the ultimate desired size of the plant.
Plants that are only expected to grow to about 12 inches in height only need a two to three-gallon container. Plants that are expected to grow to 24 inches in height will need a three to five-gallon container. If the plant is going to grow to an expected size of 36 inches, it will need a six to eight-gallon container. Plants expected to reach over 48 inches in height should really be in the largest of containers that can hold over 12 gallons.
If the lights are too low or too bright, they need to be lifted away from the plants. Switching them to a lower brightness may also help. Additionally, if the temperature is too hot, proper ventilation needs to be put in place. Fans can also be moved into the grow space. Throughout the grow process, proper nutrients need to be given to the plant. Growers need to understand that plants need different amounts of nutrients during different phases of growth.
When the plant reaches full maturity, and not even a week before, the plant can then be harvested. Patience is key during this phase, or the buds may not be as tightly-packed as hoped. After the buds have fully matured and have been harvested, they then need to be properly dried and cured. This step can take a lot of patience, but it is well worth it when the buds are dense and firm afterwards.
Having loose, airy buds may not seem like a big deal. This structure though can have a negative effect on bag appeal and potency. It’s important that growers know what to look for, how to identify the causes, and then how to correct them. This way, growers will get the firm, dense buds they are looking for every single time.