Table of Contents
4 Different “Parts” That Can Turn Colors (Buds, Pistils, Leaves & Trichomes)
- Start with Colorful Genetics (Most Important!)
- Choose Dark Colors (“Black” Strains)
- Warm Days & Cool Nights
- Strong, Direct Light
- PH at the Roots
Examples of Colorful Strains
Would you like to grow colorful cannabis buds? You may have come across or seen marijuana buds that are pink, purple, red, orange or possibly even blue! But how do you grow colorful buds at home?
If you want to grow buds that are pink, red or purple, you must choose the right genetics!
The tendency to turn colors is almost 100% determined by strain / genetics, so unfortunately, you can’t force any plant to produce colorful buds. However, you can purchase seeds of strains that naturally turn vibrant colors, and there are tricks to bring out the colors of your buds to maximize their genetics.
You simply cannot produce buds this purple without a strain that has been bred to makes purple buds. There are tricks to maximize the natural color of your genetics, but you have to start with good genes!
When people are talking about “colorful” buds, most people imagine brightly colored buds in their hand. But there are actually different parts of buds that can display non-green colors, and sometimes people will lump all them all together. Each one is a little different from each other, and some have a big effect on what your final buds will look like, while others don’t make much difference.
Many different parts of a cannabis plant can turn purple, including the whole plant!
The parts of the plant that can become colorful are…
- Pistils (Hairs) – some of the color remains after drying/curing
- Calyxes (Buds Themselves) – very strong effect on final color
- Leaves – relatively small effect on final bud color after trimming
- Trichomes – small effect on final color
Buds are made up of different parts and are usually more than one color
Most growers want the buds themselves to appear colorful, so the color stays even after the buds are dried and cured.
There are two parts of the buds that can turn color. One part is the pistils/hairs that stick out. There are several strains where the pistils turn pink or purple.
Sometimes just the pistils/hairs turn pink or purple, while the leaves and buds may still be green
When buds are dried, they retain some of their pistil color but you will still be able to see the color coming through underneath.
Colorful Calyxes (Buds Themselves)
Calyxes are what make the buds themselves. Cannabis “buds” are actually made of hundreds of calyxes stacked on top of each other, and some or all of them may become colors other than green.
This amazing picture show how the overall appearance of buds is changed by the ratio of colorful vs green calyxes
Nearly all Smooth Smoke buds (by Tropical Seeds) produce at least a few pink calyxes here and there, and some plants in the correct conditions can produce buds where almost every calyx is deep purple.
Calyxes are what give the most color to your buds. Even a few purple calyxes can give the buds an overall purple tint, and when you break open the buds there will be some pieces that are completely purple.
This nug contains several purple calyxes
After being ground up you can see the purple pieces distributed throughout. The greater percentage of the calyxes that are purple, the more vibrant your final bud color will be.
With some strains, the leaves may turn purple while the buds stay mostly green. This can make for absolutely gorgeous plants, but since leaves mostly get trimmed off after harvest, usually a lot of the purple will no longer be visible on the buds after the trimming process.
For some strains, the leaves may turn purple while the buds stay green. This often happens after the plant is exposed to chilly night temperatures (but not always). The leaves exposed to direct light are most likely to turn purple, while leaves in the shade often stay green.
Although the leaves have turned purple, the buds themselves are mostly green.
Only the tops of buds exposed to direct light have any purple left after trimming off all the leaves. Nearly all the purple was trimmed away.
Why Do Cannabis Leaves Turn Purple?
In general, cannabis trichomes go from clear (not ready) to white (highest THC) to amber/yellow (more of a mellow effect) before they eventually wither and die. These color changes are often used to determine the best time to harvest cannabis.
However, sometimes trichomes can turn purple or pink, making it difficult to know when to harvest. In that case, you want to also look at the pistils to determine best harvest time!
Purple or pink trichomes can make it tough to know when to harvest, but they’re exotic and beautiful! The color of trichomes may leave a slight tint on the buds after they’ve been dried and cured, but the bud color underneath will be the dominant color.
Now on to making purple buds at home!
Before you do anything else, you need to start with the right genetics. If the genes of your plant don’t make colorful buds, there’s nothing you can do! So, you must start with a colorful strain to get the best results with maximizing color.
- Choose Colorful Strain (Most important!)
- Choose Strain that Produces Very Dark Colors (if you want buds to maintain color after being harvested and dried)
- Temperature – Warm days & cool nights
- Bright Light – Strong light levels can help bring out color
- PH at the Roots – Some strains may express colors at higher or lower pH ranges
For maximum final effect on your dried and cured buds, you want to choose a strain where as many parts of the plant as possible are colorful. So ideally you want buds where the pistils and calyxes (which make up most of the final color) are both colorful. If the leaves and trichomes are also colorful, that will improve the effect even further.
In this case, the buds are purple but the pistils are orange.
In order to maximize the final color, you want to choose a strain with brightly colored buds and pistils. For example, this bud has purple calyxes and mostly purple pistils. This makes the entire bud appear bright purple.
In order to produce the most colorful buds, you need to make sure the color goes all the way through the buds, and ideally also through all the surrounding leaves. This is most likely to happen with very darkly colored buds. Buds that are more pale in color often lose a lot of their vibrancy in the post-harvest processing.
These buds were mostly pink at harvest, but the color doesn’t go all the way through the buds
There was still a lot of green on the parts of the buds that didn’t get direct light
After they’re trimmed and dried, the pink color has become more subtle
You will “keep” the most color after drying/curing by choosing strains that are dark purple through and through, from buds to pistils to leaves if at all possible. Deeply colored buds keep more of their color after drying and curing than pale purple or pink buds.
These buds were deep purple at harvest
When buds are darkly colored, they tend to keep more color after being dried and trimmed
Note: Your buds will naturally lose some of their overall vibrancy and color during the drying/curing process (but not any of their potency!). That’s why you will likely never run into neon purple buds that have already been dried and cured for 2+ weeks. Even green buds go from being bright green to a more muted green color by the time they’ve been cured for a few weeks. When you see very brightly colored buds, it almost always means the buds are still relatively fresh.
Although color is determined primarily by genetics, there are a few things you can do to help your plant express its natural colors…
Temperature – Some Strains Express Colors When the Night Temperature is a Few Degrees Cooler than the Day
If you’re growing a strain that turns color, some strains will only show their colors when night temperatures are at least a few degrees cooler than during the day in the flowering stage, especially towards the end. However, some plants don’t react to cool night temperatures and many strains (like Panama Red) nearly always turn color no matter what the temperature.
Certain strains like 9 Pound Hammer turn color more easily when the temperature is warm during the day as opposed to cool at night. So, it’s always a good idea to aim for nice warm days, and cool comfortable nights, because that contrast seems to help bring out colors for many strains.
How to Maximize Color with Temperature
- Warm Days (75-80°F / 24-27°C)
- Cool Comfortable Nights (65-70°F / 18-21°C)
Note: Some strains turn color no matter what the temperature. You can sometimes contact the breeder and ask if they have advice on how to bring out colors for a particular strain. I’ve found that most breeders will get back to you quickly if you go to their website and ask questions!
Temperature makes a difference! Some strains need a contrast between day/night temperatures for their buds to turn colors. For example the buds of this Frisian Dew turned bright purple after it started getting below 70°F (21°C) temperatures at night.
In some cases, a plant may produce purple tones in response to strong, direct light (on buds and leaves). Although we’re not certain exactly why, it’s possible this may act as a sort of sunscreen for the plant! The importance of light levels varies on a strain by strain basis.
Outside the cannabis world, there are a few species of plants with flowers that are known to turn different colors based on the pH at the roots.
For example, the flowers of specific types of hydrangeas can turn blue in very acidic soil, but may turn pink if exposed to neutral or only slightly acidic soil (though this type of variation is rare in the plant world).
Yet there have been occasional reports of cannabis strains which produce different bud colors based on the pH at the roots, though unfortunately more testing is needed!
If growing multiple plants of the same strain, you might consider giving plants different pH ranges to see what effect it has on the final bud color!