While it is understandable to want to grow potent weed and enjoy a massive yield, too many growers focus so much on THC or CBD content that they don’t consider the smell and taste of their cannabis.
The marijuana plant contains well over 100 cannabinoids and hundreds of terpenes. It is a strain’s terpene content that is primarily responsible for the flavor and aroma. Whether you like it or not, the smell of your buds will do a lot for the perception of quality, but should also improve the actual experience, and perhaps even the potency!
The modern grower is utterly spoiled for choice in almost every aspect of cannabis cultivation. This includes the tools necessary to create weed with intense scents like skunk and diesel, not to mention fruity, sweet, and delicious aromas, such as chocolate, pineapple, mango, or strawberry.
When you think about it for a moment: What is the first thing you do when deciding which marijuana strain to purchase at a dispensary? For most buyers, it involves getting a good smell of the bud to see if it appeals. Alas, novice marijuana growers often make one of a series of mistakes that prevents their strains from being as fragrant and delicious as possible.
It’s All About Terpenes!
Terpenes are unquestionably the key player in improving the aroma and flavor of weed. These compounds are found in plants, and you will also notice them in aromatic products such as shower gel and perfumes. On marijuana, the terpenes are formed along with cannabinoids on the trichomes of the flowers. You need to take measures to improve the production of terpenes to boost the smell and taste of your cannabis.
One of the best methods of improving terpene production is to place some stress on your plants. We only recommend proceeding if you have prior experience in growing weed. If you stress your crop too much, you will halt production and could even kill your plants! The best time to add stress is near the middle of the life cycle or more than a couple of weeks before harvest.
It is also important to apply stress over a long period, rather than a lot at once. Low-Stress Training (LST) is ideal as it is a gentle method. It involves bending or moving the stems with minimal pressure. The aim is to force the plant to grow outwards as well as upwards. When using LST, do not break any branches, and don’t make physical contact with the buds.
High-Stress Training (HST) is potentially more effective, but it is also more dangerous for your crop. It involves breaking specific parts of the stems without causing exterior damage. You also have the option of strategically pruning or trimming unnecessary leaves.
Now that you know a little bit about terpenes, here are 5 tips that can help your weed smell sensational!
1) – Use Specialized Nutrients & Supplements
There are probably too many supplements and nutrient options on the market these days. You can narrow things down by focusing on products specially designed to improve the taste and smell of marijuana buds.
First and foremost, don’t use too many nutrients during the flowering stage. Ideally, you will have loaded up during the vegetative stage. By the time your crop is flowering, it needs specific nutrients, such as those contained in special ‘Bloom’ products which are low in Nitrogen, but high in Phosphorus and Potassium.
It is easy to fall for the lure of chemical nutrients. For the record, these are nutrient sources with molecular compound names such as Potassium Nitrate and Ammonium Phosphate. To be clear, chemical nutrients are often effective. They can boost vegetative growth and possibly increase potency.
However, experienced growers will tell you that organic works best. You are more likely to get great smelling buds when nutrients are naturally broken down in the soil. There are a few brands that sell organic nutrients, but you can do it yourself by adding amendments such as worm castings, bat guano, and fishmeal to the soil.
Blackstrap molasses has gained a loyal following. Add them to your plants a few weeks before harvest time. The molasses provides your crop with crucial minerals, carbohydrates, and amino acids that help your weed develop its best possible smell and taste. The ideal dosage is half a teaspoon of molasses per gallon of water when watering the soil. It also works well if you use coco coir as the growing medium.
In general, it is best to avoid providing your plants with a lot of nutrients after they reach the 6-week mark in the flowering stage. At this point, they are no longer growing stems and leaves, so they don’t need as many nutrients. It is especially important to cut Nitrogen intake. If you use too much near harvest time, you could be stung with an unpleasant chemical tasting crop.
2) Use Strong Lights with UV-B
Anyone with basic marijuana growing knowledge is aware of the need for exposure to strong light. When growing outdoors in a suitable climate, the sun provides the right kind of light (UV light) needed for strong and great smelling plants.
However, growing outside is not practical for most cultivators, so they grow indoors instead. The most common type of lighting is HPS. However, UV-B lighting is optimal for weed because it could help increase the production of trichomes and improve the smell of the bud. We can’t see ultraviolet light, but it has a profound effect on life.
While UV-B lighting could hurt plants, it is probable that trichomes protect them in a manner analogous to how humans use sunscreen. If you decide to use UV-B lighting on your plants, make sure you wear protective glasses. There is also UV-A light, but UV-B is better for growing cannabis. Apart from the sun, which is the best possible source of UV light, indoor grow options include LEDs and CMH/LECs.
Please note that glass blocks a large percentage of UV light, so make sure there is no such barrier between your lights and the plants.
3) Use Living Soil
In the marijuana world, living soil is often called ‘super soil.’ This type of soil has an active colony of microorganisms designed to help your plants thrive. It is basically an improved version of ‘natural’ soil because it includes important supplements and amendments. It seems as if weed grown in living soil has a greater terpene profile which results in awesome smelling buds, that taste pretty great too.
Living soil includes a host of organic amendments and is then composted. This process causes the growth of microorganisms in the soil which break down the nutrients and feed them straight to the roots of the plants. Thanks to these wondrous microorganisms, your role involves watering the soil and watching your weed grow! The living soil takes care of the plant’s nutrient needs and keeps pH levels in check.
Growers chasing massive yields may not choose living soil because it results in slower growing plants. Such individuals prefer liquid nutrients, but miss out on the complex aroma and flavor of the bud.
4) Temperature and Humidity
Ideally, you will have total control of your crop throughout the growth cycle, but it is especially important once your plants have hit the 6-week mark during the blooming stage. For reference, indoor growers can force their plants into flowering by ensuring they get 12 hours of consecutive, complete darkness, and 12 hours of continuous light, each day.
By week 6 of flowering, the temperature in your grow room must be below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you expose your plants to higher temperatures, you could lose some of the aromas in your buds as they are ‘burned off.’ This means you must ensure your plants aren’t too close to powerful grow lights.
By week 6 of flowering, the terpene content of your bud begins to increase. Ideally, you will reduce the temperature by up to 10 degrees at night. It is believed that having cooler nights boosts terpene production, and could also bring out purple and pink colors in your weed if it has the genetics.
It is also necessary to reduce the Relative Humidity to 50% or less for the duration of the flowering stage. In fact, experts believe you could boost trichome production by bringing the RH down below 30%! The very dry air stresses your plants and results in them producing more trichomes.
5) Dry & Cure Your Buds
Unfortunately, your work is far from done once you have harvested your crop. Proper drying and curing are arguably the most important aspects if you want fragrant buds. Don’t make the mistake of drying too quickly or else your buds will have a potent minty taste. It is a lengthy and delicate process, so don’t rush it!
Keep your drying room’s temperature at around 60-70 degrees with an RH of around 50%. It is arguably better to keep the temperature in the high 60s to help prevent the appearance of mold. You will know your buds are dry when you can snap them off. If they bend, you need to wait a little longer!
The curing process significantly improves the taste and smell of weed. First of all, put the buds in large mason jars and fill them 80% of the way with your dried buds. Close the jars and open them a couple of times a day for the first week or so.
Take note of the humidity in the jar. You can purchase special humidipacks that keep humidity at a specific level. If you find that the buds are sticking together, it means there is too much moisture in the jar. When this happens, open the jar for up to an hour. A hygrometer is a worthy investment. Place it in a jar, and it will monitor the humidity for you.
The ‘golden’ number for curing is said to be 62% RH. After a week or so, start opening your jars once every couple of days. Your buds should be properly cured after a month, but the smell and quality are likely to continue improving if you leave the weed alone for a few months.
Final Thoughts – Choose the Most Fragrant Strain!
If you follow the above tips, you should be able to get the very most out of your marijuana. However, what you can do is limited by the plant’s genetics. If you choose a strain that lacks the genes to make great smelling buds, all the care in the world can’t change it. Here are a few strains that have the right genetics for fantastic aromas:
- Aurora Indica
- Pineapple Chunk
- Blue Cheese
- Wonder Woman
- Liberty Haze
- Super Lemon Haze
- Alpha Blue
- Death Star
- Cripple Creek Kush
When growing your marijuana, try to avoid making a basic error that could cause issues with how your cannabis smells and tastes. We were aghast to learn that some growers (presumably novices) spray an air-freshening spray on or around their plants! When your plants are exposed to such chemicals, you will almost certainly compromise the taste and smell.
Another issue that can occur, especially during flowering or drying, is mold or mildew. Make sure you immediately throw away any cannabis that shows signs of either because they can spread incredibly quickly and ruin a crop. Smoking moldy weed can do terrible things to your respiratory system.
Finally, no matter what, choose a marijuana strain that can thrive in your growing environment. Consider the kind of taste and smell you want your weed to have, and go for it! Don’t cut corners and don’t be afraid of spending a few extra dollars if the final result is going to be amazing.
Please note, not all aromas are going to be delightful. Don’t expect to purchase Cat Piss seeds, use the tips above, and transform the scent from dreadful ammonia into a perfumed paradise!