All hail the uber sweet weeds! Enhancing cannabis terpenes is not only pretty simple, it’s also about not doing things that you may do without thinking about it. The terpenes represent all those wonderful smells and flavors of your cannabis resin/buds.
Like I said above, there are some things you just don’t want to do when in flowering; and especially during the 2nd half of flowering. I’ll lay those things out. All my knowledge here is empirical from just shy of a half century of growing cannabis. Yeah, I’m an old guy … with a young soul, heh heh.
Let’s get the show on the road with a tip right out of the gate for you all. Bird and bat (but especially bird) guano, not the high-P type, are really good at giving the cannabis plants what they need to get extra stinky and tasty—just sayin’—I have done side by sides, many times. I always add about 1 or 2 level teaspoons, as a top-dressing (one time only) to a 3-gallon pot, at about 1 week into flowering. Okay then, let’s rock and/or roll…
Negative Effects on Cannabis Terpenes
Using chelation, more specifically way-overkill-chelation, especially utilizing synthetic fertilizers are the worst possible thing you could do here to mess up your terpene profile. I’m sure we are mostly all familiar with growing several different strains out using synthetic nutrients, only to find at harvest they all share pretty common (meh) smells and flavors. They all smell and taste alike to a fairly large degree.
The next big culprit here is organic chelation. This is done by having excess organic acids or certain salts present in order to “force feed” the roots. This organic methodology is much less destructive to enhancing terpenes, but it still takes a toll. Products like Nectar, Sweet, Tonics, Elixirs, etc., all have as a rule of thumb, very high levels of organic acids. Phosphoric, humic, fulvic, and citric acids are common in an over-abundance in most of these products.
The third big assailant to enhancing cannabis terpenes is nitrogen. Specifically, highly available ammonium nitrogen. A little too much of this during flowering and you not only bone your terpenes, but all your resin production takes a hit. Plant stages are super important here…
Negative Effects During Stages
- Always transplant just before starting to flower. Never transplant once flowering has begun, like within the first week is okay, but still, better just
- In later flowering, if you use something that contains high levels of organic acids, like a serum or booster of some kind, along with something like fish fertilizer. Your buds may indeed taste a bit fishy.
- Never use a powdered bird or bat guano top dressing after 4 weeks into flowering.
- Don’t use blood meal at any time during flowering, not as a top dressing, nothing, no-no-no.
- Allowing your plant tops to get too hot for too long in later flowering will lean your resin/terpenes towards the tar-like end of the spectrum, terpenes are greatly affected negatively.
Plants gauge their environments constantly. Especially their container resources. As long as you transplant just before flowering, the plants will “get a grip” on the resources they have to work with during the flowering stage. They will adjust accordingly. Causing the plant to react to a sudden influx of too much available nitrogen causes it to actually switch modes to some degree back into vegetative. This often results in some mutant looking growth. But the huge damage is that plants don’t make much resin while vegging, so resin production takes a big hit along with terpenes.
Micropond style is an effective way to goose your plants safely and effectively without negative outcomes, as long as you obey a few rules. Top Dressings are another awesome way to supplement your plants’ nutritional needs safely, while keeping resin properties at maximum production levels. Things like alfalfa meal, when used in moderation can keep plants jamming at full power, while not causing them to try and vegetate some more from the available N (nitrogen) influx.
At the beginning of this article, I told you about my little bat/bird guano move I make at the beginning of flowering. There are other things I have come to find that enhance terpenes without a doubt in my mind. Being good at fading your plants at the end of flowering is really key. Making sure your buds are actually dry before sealing them up is huge. Here’s an article you might like with more on getting a good dry on your buds: Too Humid to Dry Cannabis – Skunk Magazine.
Positive Moves During Flowering for Enhancing Cannabis Terpenes
- Drying: Better too dry than too wet. You can always rehydrate jars of super-dried weeds. Sealing up your buds with even a little too much moisture degrades the terpenes a lot.
- The Fade: Fading is your true keystone move here when looking to enhance terpenes. The fade isn’t vital, you can have very fine results with unfaded plants. But it brings up the intensity of the terpenes a big ol’ notch.
- The Right Kind of N: A better kind of N for your flowering plants is a more slowly available type, like found in things like crab and bone meals. Feather meal is another one. These type sources will supply N without sacrificing resin production. Full power resin production equals full power terpene potential.
- Epsom Salts: Made of magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S). Both of these elements, but especially the S, have profoundly positive terpene effects. This is a dangerously potent addition. I add it to my plant water via my Churn system in uber small A little too much is very damaging.
- Bee Pollen: One of my favorite additions. I use local pollen I get at a health food store. I add it to my Churn at about 1-teaspoon. Nutritional values can vary, but I think it’s a great terpene enhancer myself. This would work as a top dressing as well.
- DE (diatomaceous earth): I also add this via my Churn, about 1/16th teaspoon at a time. Not only a great calcium source, but it contains silicon (Si) as well. Si isn’t found in a lot of plants in any real amounts; however, it is found in cannabis resin. I think that speaks for itself. If you have live worms in your containers like I do, you won’t want to use DE as a top dressing.
For more info on The Churn, check out this article: Letters to Rev – General Cannabis Growing. Basically, The Churn is a 1-gallon bubbling pitcher like you would use to make an organic tea with. I blend The Churn water with my groundwater to reach my desired PPM level before watering.
My hours are so weird these days. I’m up by 4 AM, and like this morning, I was BBQing a burger on the porch at 5:50 AM this morning, all baked after ice-bonging some hash. Super early morning is when I do a lot of book work, and article work a few days as well. Grab yourself a copy of my TLO Book 2nd Edition, learn how to grow truly all naturally indoors in containers, and recycle your soil—WoW!
About today’s article, enhancing terpenes is a beautiful thing. Once you accomplish this, you will not be able to “un-see” it, as it were. You will become a bit of a weeds snob—LoL—being able to recognize things like tar heavy terpenes from overheating, or any deviation from mold influences. I like storing my cannabis in jars, in a very dry state. This preserves the terpenes in a big way I think. Smaller jars work best, and as I open each new one up, I rehydrate it simply by leaving the jar open for a day (8 to 12 hours) when the relative humidity is between 55% and 60%, and it rehydrates perfectly.
Grab some killer seeds over at Kingdom Organic Seeds to start your next run enhancing terpenes and grab yourself some La Smush seeds while you’re there, ooh la la! I’m outty for now folx, catch ya all back here next Tuesday for another article. L8r G8rs…
- REv ?
I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for about a decade now. I hail from Southern California, spent mucho time in Northern California, and now reside in Southern Oregon; always coastal. I am an all natural style cannabis grower and I have written a couple books on the subject - check out True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon - I have been growing for over 45 years, and I have been breeding cannabis for over 30 years. Check out kingdomorganicseeds.com to see some exotic selections. Growing connoisseur cannabis is what I teach mostly, growing it in living soil without using liquid organic nutrients to feed the plant. I am also a highly skilled synthetics grower, hydroponics, aeroponics, DWC/SWC/NFT, Ebb and Flow, and soilless, but I cringe when smoking synthetic grown herbs, so for the last 15 years or so I preach the artisan style of all natural growing, specializing in container growing. Cheers and welcome aboard.