Cannabis plants that just aren't producing buds the way they should

Published Sep 18, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / OlyaSolodenko

It’s getting to be that time of year again when growers anxiously await a bountiful harvest that they’ve earned through the season's hard work, but not everyone is satisfied with their results. Some who grew cannabis this year will be looking at their plants, wondering why they have no buds to show after months’ worth of growth, and in many cases, this happens even in what appears to be healthy-looking plants.

What probably happened

As long as your plant looks healthy, the chances are pretty good that it’s either not the female that you had hoped for or that it lacked something along the way that interfered with its bud production abilities. If your cannabis plant is towering overhead and yet still doesn’t have any flowers, then you might want to take a look for signs of a male.

On the other hand, if you do see some carefully scattered buds, then the plant wasn’t cared for properly. It might have had too much sunlight, or it may have been shaded, forcing it to put all of its energy into sprouting tall, reaching branches just to get a cannabis leaf or two positioned well enough to absorb the nutrients that it needs.

In some cases, it’s a matter of a lack of nutrients or water that causes this annoying side effect, but the truth is that the reason differs significantly from one case to the next because, despite its popularity as a bud producing species, there is quite a bit that can get in the way of that happening. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to catch before it’s too late, but knowing what to look for can help you to intervene earlier.

Signs to look for

Sometimes a cannabis plant can take what feels like forever to start producing real buds, but the beginning of these powerful things begins quite early on. Once your cannabis plant is reaching more than a foot tall, small hairs and the beginning of clumps of buds should be relatively noticeable, and if they aren’t, then this is the time to assess what you might need to change.

Is there any way to make a cannabis plant produce more?

If you manage to catch the problem early enough, you can help to boost your plant's production by making a few small changes to its care like:

  • Trimming
  • Extra nutrients
  • More or less water
  • Better access to sunlight

How late is too late?

Once it’s nearing the end of the growing season, it will be hard to reverse any of the damage that has been done along the way, because the cannabis plant will only live so long before it naturally dies. That is its life cycle and trying to stretch outside of the norm can cause more stress for you and the plant than it’s likely worth at this point.

How to do better next time

Everybody thinks that they can grow a cannabis plant until they try it out for themselves and run into problems like mold or no buds, because this species is a tropical one that in general, prefers to be pampered in just the right way, and like any fruit or vegetable bearing plant, it must be tended to with the utmost care for the largest and most worthy crop.

If you’ve personally come across this problem for yourself, then don’t get discouraged because all you really need is a few pointers to take you in the right direction towards success. Water often, feed appropriately, and when you can, pick up on some pruning and trimming techniques that will give you a true power over how your cannabis plant develops, and you’ll be sure to have a greater chance of success next time around.

Ways to salvage your failed endeavor

If you’ve got a cannabis plant that has no buds for you to enjoy, that just means that you’ll have to get a bit more creative in how you use it, because if it’s healthy, there will always be some cannabis leaf for you to harvest from the endeavor. Though it might not be the most powerful or enjoyable on its own, cannabis leaf and stem does make the perfect base for creating cannabis concentrates like oil, cannabutter, hash, or kief, so don’t let a single bit of it go to waste.

It’s all a learning experience

Experimenting with cannabis can be a whole lot of fun, but the road also tends to be paved with disappointment and heartache as you learn what does and doesn’t work with this finicky plant. Soon you will find that some strains are just easier than others, and eventually, you’ll be able to spot exactly what your cannabis plant needs long before damage has been done. It’s a learning process that takes time, dedication, and plenty of patience, so keep that in mind as you venture into growing cannabis.

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