You’re probably most familiar with green cannabis. However, cannabis comes in a variety of colors spanning the rainbow. But what causes cannabis to turn colors other than green? A look at the science behind these color changes will answer your multicolor cannabis questions.
Why Does Cannabis Turn Different Colors?
The two main reasons cannabis can be different colors are pigments and the environment. Pigments are part of cannabis’s genetic makeup, and their vibrancy depends on the environmental factors present or absent while the plant is growing. The right strain of cannabis with the right genetic makeup can be grown to display dynamic colors.
Pigments in the plant are the main reason people can grow different colored cannabis. Remember that colorful weed strains need to contain the correct pigments for them to change color. Common cannabis pigments include:
- Chlorophyll: Plants get their green color from chlorophyll, which is an essential part of photosynthesis. Organelles in plant cells called chloroplasts use chlorophyll to gather photons from sunlight, converting these photons into usable energy. Chlorophyll is most abundant when a plant is in its growth stage before it reaches the flowering stage.
- Flavonoids: Flavonoids are natural compounds that plants produce, which are responsible for creating different colors. Over 6,000 identified types of flavonoids exist. The flavonoids responsible for giving cannabis other colors are anthocyanins. These pigments are responsible for causing blue, purple, and red colors in plants, especially in fruits like blueberries and blackberries. Flavonoids are also vital for plant health, including helping to protect plants against UV radiation and some diseases.
- Carotenoids: Carotenoids are responsible for red, orange, and yellow pigments in plants and animals. Like chlorophyll, carotenoids help plants absorb solar energy. They can also protect against free radicals. Common plants that include carotenoids are carrots and pumpkins. Scientists have identified more than 750 carotenoids that plants produce. In human health, carotenoids are essential antioxidants and sources of vitamin A.
The environment in which cannabis grows also affects what colors the plant displays. As summer moves forward, the plant uses less energy to produce leaves and more energy to produce flowers, which means other colors start to show up. Environmental factors that affect cannabis color production are:
- Temperature: The temperature at which cannabis grows will affect chlorophyll production. Lower temperatures mean less green because the chloroplasts slow down. The anthocyanins and carotenoids have a chance to shine in lower temperatures.
- Soil pH: Whether the soil is acidic, alkaline, or neutral will affect what colors a cannabis plant displays. Only manipulate soil pH when the plant is flowering. Otherwise, you might inhibit the plant’s growth. Also, be aware that cannabis prefers slightly acidic soil, so it will do best when the pH is between 6 and 7.
- Nutrients: Deficiencies in nutrients can also cause color changes in cannabis, although causing a nutrient deficiency is also bad for the plant. Two nutrients plants depend on for hardiness and health are nitrogen and phosphorus.
What Colors of Cannabis Exist?
Explore the rainbow of shades you can find with cannabis.
Black weed strains come from cannabis with a lot of anthocyanins. As a plant with abundant anthocyanins matures, the hue will darken and eventually will look black. Manipulating the soil’s pH and the temperature (go lower with both) will also help the cannabis buds darken.
Blue and Purple
Anthocyanins without carotenoids result in blue weed strains and purple weed strains. Strains need to have a high amount of carotenoids to get the most vibrant colors. You’re not likely to see much anthocyanin action when a cannabis plant is young, but the blues and purples will show up as it matures. Soil with a higher pH (alkaline) is more likely to produce blue pigments, while neutral soil typically yields plants with a purple coloration.
Because chlorophyll is essential for a plant to survive, green weed strains are the most common. The chlorophyll pigment exists in chloroplasts, the parts of plant cells that carry out photosynthesis. Colorful weed strains all contain at least some green due to the chlorophyll. Around fall, other colors will start to show as chlorophyll production slows down.
Red and Pink
When carotenoids and anthocyanins are both present, you see pink weed strains and red weed strains. Because there are so many colors of carotenoids and anthocyanins (over 500), these two pigments operating in combination can create a variety of colors. Acidic soil also adds a red hue, while low phosphorous in the soil can give the leaves a red tint.
Cannabis buds turn white due to trichomes, the tiny hairs that grow from the flowers. The rest of the plant will still be pale green, while lots of white trichomes will result in a powder-like dusting appearance on the bud. White cannabis is known for having less odor and flavor than other strains.
Yellow and Orange
Most plants produce some carotenoids, but the green of chlorophyll tends to hide the yellow and orange hues, especially early in the growth cycle. A common way to create yellow weed strains or orange weed strains is to reduce the temperature.
Another cause of yellow weed strains pigmentation in cannabis is nitrogen levels. Low nitrogen levels in the soil can cause leaves to turn yellow. Keep in mind that nutrient deficiency isn’t an ideal reason for cannabis to change color.
Does Cannabis Color Affect Potency?
For the most part, the hue of cannabis does not affect its potency. However, trichomes are an exception to this rule. White weed strains create powerful highs, according to some reports. Also, note that plants that have turned different colors due to nutrient deficiencies instead of pigments may not be as powerful.
Colorful cannabis offers an aesthetic adventure the next time you partake in it. A combination of genetics and environmental factors gives cannabis a rainbow of hues. While the colors don’t affect potency, colored cannabis is popular for its interesting and attractive looks. If you’re looking for a colorful strain, the name will frequently clue you in. If you want to know more about colorful cannabis strains, contact the experts at Euphoria Wellness in Las Vegas for all your cannabis needs.