colors of marijuana

Marijuana Colors

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The colors of marijuana plants can vary depending on the type of crop you’re growing and the kind of climate that you’re growing it in. On more than one occasion, experienced growers wake up to find that at some point in their plants’ life cycle some strains have changed from green to purple, maybe blue and in some cases even black. Sometimes this happens simply due to the genes of each strain, like the famous Purple Haze or Blueberry; there are certain phenotypes that can go black in parts during the last few weeks of the flowering period with a minimum temperature of 18ºC and 24ºC indoors, although original Blueberry strains tend to go slightly blue and Purple Haze tends to go from lilac to dark purple, although some Panama and Colombian strains can go slightly pink.

The change in color is generally attributed to the appearance of anthocyanin, a water-soluble pigment that plants generate either due to their genes or due to potassium deficiency, and low temperatures can also influence color change. Sometimes your plants might trick you, showing colors due to nitrogen excess and you end up thinking that the color change is due to its genes; you need to make sure you’re using the right substrate and fertilizers. Nitrogen excess doesn’t just manifest itself by making your plants’ leaves darker; it also shows up in the stems and trunk, which will turn purple. Plants that change color due to genes tend to do so in the buds as well, making for some extremely attractive colorful buds. This color change isn’t adjustable, so it’s not possible to stop your plants changing color if it’s in their genes.

If it’s not in their genes, it could also be due to a lack of phosphorus which tends to come out during the flowering phase, maintaining a healthy green during the growth period and at around the fourth flowering week the leaves will begin turning purple, lilac or slightly red. Although, if you automatically assume that this is because of the temperature, then you’ll continue with your crop as if this feature was simply aesthetic, but it’s an easy mistake to make as your plants are actually giving you an important indication that they’re lacking something, and you’ll definitely notice it in the final yield of your crop. If this is the case, the coloring will sometimes be accompanied by yellowish welts on the leaves which is quite easy to fix; a few waterings with a good fertilizer rich in potassium should be able to improve your plants health, although this solution doesn’t always fix the problem completely. Sometimes the lack of potassium can be due to an excess of salts, in which case you’d need to wash your plants’ roots out and then fertilize. There are some cases in which you can find this balance of nutrients in the substrate but due to an incorrect pH level the coloring can still appear. To solve this, wash the roots and adjust the pH: remember to always water your plants with the correct pH. You’ll know the issue has been solved when your plants’ color doesn’t begin getting worse or darker, and the new leaves grow out green and healthy. This almost always happens with acidic pH levels, and basic pH levels tend to turn the leaves a slight yellow color.

Some strains can also turn purple or blueish in cold temperatures, around 10ºC; remember that cannabis plants prefer temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees, although indica strains can put up with colder temperatures than sativa strains. If you correct the temperature, your plants should go back to their original color. This phenomenon is called Ruby, and it’s the same thing that occurs in blood oranges, which need cooler temperatures to turn red. The appearance of these pigments is due to a change of DNA in just one section of the plant, known as retrotransposons.

Like we said before, these colors are due to anthocyanins, flavonoids that are naturally present in plants and can be found in the leaves, stems, branches, flowers and even in the roots. Depending on the strain and crop conditions, these flavonoids might choose to show themselves, and an acidic pH can also increase the chances of the anthocyanins being released, causing a dark purple color to appear. Their initial function is to protect the plant from UV rays as well as pathogens by changing color, thought of as a defense mechanism against predators.

It seems that anthocyanins have a series of important properties as well; anti-inflammatory, pain relief and neuro-protectant. There are some strict relationships between anthocyanins and CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as having come to light that a diet rich in anthocyanins can improve health, including the cardiovascular system, preventing obesity etc. although in this particular case anthocyanins in cannabis don’t have any direct effects when smoked, although they might be more effective in infusions like tea.

Author: Fabio Inga
Translation: Ciara Murphy

Marijuana colors are due to the presence of anthocyanins, flavonoids that can appear due to genes, temperature changes or deficiencies.

Colors of marijuana

For cannabis connoisseurs, the intoxicating effects of THC are only one aspect of the overall marijuana experience. Past the high, there’s the scent, the taste, the bud structure, and of course, the colors.

From vibrant green buds and strains that are undeniably “purp,” to flower varietals with bright red and orange hairs, cannabis cultivars can embody a whole medley of hues and pigments. So what gives weed its diverse array of visual tones, and what strains should you seek out when hoping for that perfect purple nug? We’ve got you covered.

How Does Weed Get Its Color?

Like most plants in nature, cannabis is packed full of chlorophyll, or a chemical compound that uses the sun to generate energy for plants. And so the same thing that makes your grassy lawn sparkle is also what turns your Sour Diesel green.

But what about strains that end up with purple, red, pink, or even black hues? For those, we need to dive even deeper into plant science. The colorful culprits are anthocyanins, a class of water-soluble pigments that provide the range of blues, reds, and purples to fruits and vegetables like berries, cabbage, and eggplants. In cannabis, different strains are more apt to produce anthocyanins than others, but it also depends on the plant’s environment and nutrients.

When cannabis plants reach the latter part of the flowering stage, they need less help from the sun. Subsequently, they slow down on chlorophyll production, and ramp up on anthocyanins as the temperature starts to drop. For cannabis cultivators, this means that typically purple, red, and pink strains will only start to show their true colors during harvest season, and even still might end up as green buds, depending on individual grow temperatures and trim jobs.

What Role Does Temperature Play in Cannabis Color?

Take a second to think of your favorite fall foliage. You probably conjured up an image of majestic trees with hundreds of golden, red, and orange leaves shaking in the wind, yeah? Well in the same way that maple and oak trees transition with the temperature drops of seasonal change, cannabis also produces more anthocyanins in the colder months.

For outdoor pot growers, that means that no matter the strain, the final color of your buds will rely at least somewhat on the weather conditions towards the end of growing season. For indoor cannabis cultivators, it could mean lowering temperatures in grow rooms during flowering in hopes of adding an extra spike of bright color.

What Do pH Levels Have to Do With Cannabis Colors?

In addition to genetics and temperature, at least some research indicates that cannabis color could also be influenced by the plant’s acidity levels. In recent studies of non-cannabis plants and vegetables reported by Leafly, scientists found that fauna with higher acidity levels often give off red and pink vibes, neutral plants give off more purples, high pH brings out blues, and alkaline-packed plants tend to turn out yellow.

What Strains Are the Most Colorful?

So, with all of that information about how cannabis gets its color, what strains should you look out for if you want to smoke the rainbow? Well, as we’ve shown, no strain is guaranteed to produce any one color in its buds, but here are a few of our favorite flower varietals with genetic dispositions prone to vibrant hues.

Grandaddy Purple

Grandaddy Purple — or GDP for short — has been a staple in California’s indica-heavy diet since the start of the new millenium. A cross between Purple Urkle and Big Bud, GDP is one of the weed world’s most notorious purp strains, with a heavy dose of berry flavor to match its typically dark purple coloring.

First introduced by cultivator Ken Estes in the San Francisco Bay Area, Grandaddy Purple has become the poster child for purple strains around the globe, with more name drops in rap songs than we can count.

Pink Panties

Like most cannabis strains with a pop of color, Pink Panties has its expected hues right there in the name. A cross of multiple OG Kush varieties, and first released by Mr. Sherbinski, don’t let the close-to-vulgar name turn you off to this citrusy strain with light purple coloring that often borders on magenta.

And while Pink Panties will have a heavy couch-locked indica effect on its own, the strain has also been used to cross some of the most popular pot of the past few years — namely Sherbinski’s most famous strain, Sunset Sherbet, which gets its colorful name and looks from mixing GSC and Pink Panties.

The Black

A pure purple strain that can be traced back to both Canada and California in the pre-millenium cannabis era, The Black gets its heavy metal name from its dark coloring, with buds so densely purple that they’re often mistaken for black.

Of course, every batch of flower will come with its own unique scents, potency, and color. But if you’re looking for a purple strain to impress your smoking buddies nearly every time, pick up an eighth of The Black when you see it at your local dispensary.

Orange Crush

Outside of colorful dense bud structures, weed also takes on bright appearances and names from its hairs, aka stigmas. For the sativa Orange Crush, vibrant orange hairs cover the bud so thoroughly that it will often block the naked eye from seeing the green beneath.


A new strain on the block, 4G is a genetic super-cross among some of the cannabis industry’s favorite heavy hitters. A threeway mix of GSC, Gelato, and GG#4 (hence the 4G name), this potent indica hybrid is new, exclusive, and downright gorgeous — with a mix of bright green and deep purple coloring to match its fragrant perfume scent.

Originally bred by Purple Caper Seeds, 4G is hard to find. But if you can get your hands on it, you’ll want to consider framing the bud instead of smoking it — this flower is pretty much picture perfect.

As always, if you can’t find these specific strains at your local dispensary, you can always ask your budtender for their favorite purple, pink, or orange strains. After all, like everything in nature, each individual cannabis flower contains its own multitudes of interwoven colors.

What flower strains should you look out for if you want to smoke the rainbow? And why does certain weed look dark purple, while other varietals are bright orange or pink?