Cannabis in flower: how to tell when the flowers are ripe

How to recognize cannabis flowers when they are ripe?

Modified on: 20/09/2022

Here are tips on how to tell when cannabis flowers are mature or not

When marijuana plants are flowering, it can be tricky for the inexperienced to know whether the flowers are ripe and therefore ready to be harvested or not.

We often hear about standard times, but are these reliable or is it better to refer to the appearance of the flowers of the plants in front of you?

In the following few lines, we at Sensoryseeds will talk about how experienced cannabis growers deal with flowering cannabis: what do they evaluate to determine the maturity of the buds? 

What are the criteria that lead them to harvest?

Here are all the clarifications you are looking for.

Cannabis in bloom

Cannabis in flower and harvesting: tips to avoid mistakes

For cannabis growers, the flowering period is crucial: it marks the end of a very long journey that, since the planting of the marijuana seeds, has required work, care and attention for the plants.

However, for all the effort to pay off, it is essential to identify the exact moment when the flowers ripen.

Depending on when the cannabis buds are harvested, you can get different aromas, different concentrations of cannabinoids and more or less high-quality products.

So what do you need to consider in order not to make mistakes?

Each variety of cannabis has different ripening times; plants from fast or auto-flowering seeds, for example, are pretty fast, while those from other types of seeds have much longer ripening times.

Knowing the genetics of the plants is very useful for planning the harvest time, but it is not enough.

Depending on the location where the plants are grown, the type of cultivation used and many other factors, the time taken for the flowers to ripen may be longer or shorter.

The only way to avoid making mistakes is to examine the anatomy of the plant and the flowers themselves

Let’s find out how.

Read also: Marijuana, hours of light and dark: the best cycles for indoor cultivation

Ripe cannabis flowers? Pay attention to botanical indicators

To recognise the maturity level of the female hemp flower, cannabis growers have learned to observe the plant’s signals carefully.

As the flowers reach maturity, both in the flowers and in the rest of the plant, a series of changes can be noticed: let’s examine them one by one.


On the tops of cannabis plants and on the small leaves that surround them (sugar leaves), there are lots of tiny glands that look like mushrooms: these are the trichomes. 

The purpose of trichomes is to protect the plant from insects, pathogens, and heat, but they are also responsible for the production of resin. This substance drives most cannabis growers to cultivate their plants. 

But how can trichomes help assess the maturity of flowering cannabis?

Using a magnifying glass or, even better, a microscope, it is possible to notice the changes in trichomes as the buds mature.

Initially, when the flowers are small, the trichomes are very light in colour, almost transparent. However, as time passes, they will become opaque and milky (an indication of cannabinoid production). 

The flowers can be considered mature when more than half of the trichomes have become opaque – at this stage, in non-light genetics, there will be high concentrations of THC – but, to obtain buds with more relaxing effects, you can also wait for some of them to take on an amber colour.


At the base of the cannabis buds (with a support function) is the chalice and inside it are the reproductive organs of the flower.

The chalices are the part of the flower in which the most resin is produced and these also undergo changes in the ripening phase.

To evaluate the development of the flowers, hemp growers examine the calyxes of the flowers, one by one, with a magnifying glass: when these enlarge (to accommodate the new cannabis seeds) it means that the flowers are now ripe.

Cannabis flower


Pistils, also known as stigma, are the reproductive organs of female hemp flowers and are responsible for catching the pollen produced by the male plants. 

As mentioned earlier, pistils are found in the chalices and are also used by hemp growers to examine the maturity of the flowers.

When the flowers are young, the pistils are whitish, but as the flowers mature, the colour of the pistils changes to orange or brown.

Flowers are usually considered mature when about 70% of the pistils have become darker.

Fan-shaped leaves

To get an idea of the maturity of cannabis flowers, it can also be beneficial to examine the fan-shaped leaves of the plant. 

Cannabis growers in particular pay attention to the colour: if the leaves are turning yellow, this means that most of their nutrition is going to the flowers, which have now reached maturity.

Read also: Marijuana grow box kits: what are they?


To assess the stage of maturity of the flowers and obtain quality harvests, cannabis growers have learned to examine the messages from the plants, and we have explained how in the previous paragraphs.

Hoping you enjoyed this informative article and reminding you that it is illegal to grow cannabis in UK, we invite you to visit our Sensoryseeds store, specialising in selling cannabis seeds online.

Choose from our wide range of quality weed seeds to complete your collection: feminized seeds, auto flower seeds, fast growing weed seeds, there is something for every taste! 

We look forward to seeing you on!