Everybody is talking about purple buds these days. It is the latest buzzword, and growers are doing everything they can imagine to get them. Is there any real benefit to gaining that purple tint, or is all the hype just that? Furthermore, is it even possible to attain that hue by feeding a little extra, taking it away, or by manipulating the environment in which it grows?
What the Science Says
Color involves pigmentation. Therefore, flavonoids, a class of plant pigments, are responsible for giving any purple tones to buds. They work in tandem with other compounds to provide plants with their unique coloring. Derived from the Latin word “flavus,” which means yellow, flavonoids typically appear yellow. Despite their name, flavonoids have nothing at all do with flavor.
Common flavonoids include Kaempferol, carotenoid, and quercetin, but according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, when it comes to purple cannabis, the flavonoid of most importance is anthocyanin. Depending on the pH, this flavonoid is what gives plants their red, blue, or purple tinges. An alkaline pH turns plants blue, but a more neutral pH, with balanced acidity and alkalinity, turns plants purple.
During the growth phase, the greener chlorophyll overpowers anthocyanin, which is why plants are green during the spring and summer growing seasons. This is necessary for photosynthesis, since green captures more of the sun’s energy. However, during the fall, chlorophyll breaks down and flavonoids become stronger. This includes reds, oranges, yellows, and even purples that suggest winter is coming.
Like chlorophyll, flavonoids also serve a purpose, attracting insects for pollination and discouraging animals and pests from feeding on the plant. Additionally, whether the plant shows red, yellow, orange, or purple, its genetics are what determine which flavonoids will be present. Unless a plant already has anthocyanin, there is no way you can force it to turn purple, despite what anyone tells you.
Knowing where plants get their purple hues from, and when the chances are highest for it to occur, during the fall, will make all the difference in helping you get those purple buds you so desire. Of course, having the right genes for anthocyanin is also an important factor to remember. People try for purple strains in many unsuccessful ways. Myths abound, all of them wrong, even harmful to your plants.
Purple Weed Myths Debunked
Now that you know where the color purple comes from, and you have some knowledge of anthocyanin, you can avoid making mistakes that other people make. Most myths about purple buds revolve around how to get them when growing cannabis. However, if you believe them and try it on your own plants, you will just end up with unhealthy plants lacking in cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
You do not want problems. Some folks deprive their plants of oxygen, even carbon dioxide, in an attempt to get purple hues. Some overload their crops with nitrogen, burning root systems and killing their plants. Altering the light cycle, using a different grow medium, and varying the amount of water you give your plants will make not help one bit in achieving purple color anywhere. Not one bit.
Health Benefits of Purple Weed
Anthocyanin does offer a myriad of important health benefits. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, this flavonoid has antioxidant, antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-obesity properties. It also plays a crucial role in preventing cardiovascular diseases. For this reason, companies are now extracting anthocyanin for pharmaceutical and other therapeutic applications.
This flavonoid is not unique to cannabis. It is abundant in other plants too, many edible ones, such as blueberries, grapes, and raspberries. Evidence suggests that eating foods high in anthocyanin, or consuming it in purple weed, can effectively relief a myriad of ailments, particularly inflammatory ones, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and others.
Growing Purple Weed
Now that you understand that manipulating a plant’s environment, or starving and overfeeding oxygen, carbon dioxide, water, and nutrients will never give you purple buds, and potentially only harm your plants, we can talk about actually growing them successfully. Two factors determine whether buds will turn purple, and they are genes and temperature. Having said that, this is how you do it:
Invest in the Right Seeds
To get purple plants, you need them to have the right genes, and therefore, the right flavonoid, anthocyanin. Without this flavonoid, your buds will never turn purple, so it makes sense to buy the right seeds at the outset. If genes have carotenoid, for example, instead of anthocyanin, your buds will turn yellow, and you will not be able to anything at all about it. Nothing you do will ever work.
For this reason, you need to plant seeds that you know will contain anthocyanin, and not carotenoid. Fortunately, this is easy to achieve, since you can use strains that already have a tendency toward purple. Some good examples include Granddaddy Purple, Purple Haze, and Sour Grape, so if you buy these particular seeds, or those from other purplish strains, you are more than likely to find success.
Mimic Fall Conditions
Cannabis plants, all plants actually, change their colors in the fall. This is when temperatures plummet from their summer highs. You need to mimic these conditions in your grow space to give anthocyanin the time that it needs to turn your buds purple. As mentioned above, chlorophyll dominates during the growing phase, so this is only possible, and only necessary, during the flowering stage.
When your plants begin to flower naturally, or once you have created conditions to flower them indoors, lower the temperature to below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night. This will help to break the chlorophyll down and activate the anthocyanin flavonoid. If you are consistent at this temperature drop every night, your buds should develop a nice purple hue a few weeks before they are ready for harvest.
Purple Weed in the Future
With scientists discovering more and more about the miraculous health benefits of cannabis, purple buds certainly have a long and interesting future ahead. Abundant in medicinal properties, it is likely they may even become the gold standard of marijuana. However, other colors have benefits too, most notably pink, red, and blue, so be aware of this when searching “weed dispensary near me” in Google.