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3 things color can tell you about the quality of your cannabis

3 things color can tell you about the quality of your cannabis

By Allison Cohn

Despite what your parents taught you growing up, when assessing cannabis, it’s actually permissible to judge a book by its cover. One way to do that is by observing its color palette. The color of cannabis is an indicator of freshness, ranging from vibrant to muted and everything in between. A bud’s color tells you whether or not it looks alive (it is a plant, after all). Is it fresh and healthy with technicolored peach fuzz? Or is the bud lacking nutrients or suffering from stress or light burn, resulting in a monotone appearance?

Color is considered qualitative data information when conducting a grading analysis. Graders carefully observe the bud’s tone, depth, shade and brightness to determine details about how the plant was grown, cured, stored and aged. Certain strain characteristics and processing also influence a plant’s color.


Temperature and light cycle affect the colorization by influencing the plant’s pH levels and chlorophyll production. The same way that the leaf colors on deciduous trees turn to lovely hues of yellow, orange and red during cool autumn weather, cooler grow temperatures inhibit cannabis chlorophyll production, causing bud to display colors other than green. One color isn’t better than another, it’s just the science behind the variables of the plant’s growth environment. Bud that stays consistently green is likely grown in a warmer, more controlled environment.

The consistency of a cannabis yield is also reflected in its color gradient. If the bud doesn’t share a similar color across the board, it may be exhibiting defects such as browning leaves or gray coloration caused by mold or pests.

Regardless of the color, bright hues alert you to the fact that the plant is fresh and healthy and was likely well cared for and exposed to proper nutrients. Brightly colored cannabis — whether it’s green or purple or orange — generally receives high grades.


A good cure promotes terpene development, encouraging the aroma and flavor profile of cannabis to develop completely, but it also affects color. If curing is done improperly and the cannabis becomes exposed to too much light and/or oxygen, its colors may fade away or become dull. It’s also possible that improperly cured cannabis exhibits signs of light damage or leaf burn, or it could become moldy if it’s cured in too humid of an environment, resulting in a lower grade. The better and more vibrant the bud’s colors are, the higher grade it will get during its qualitative analysis.


Storing cannabis properly is very important. If the plant is exposed to light, air or moisture, it may develop defects or become dried out, discolored and potentially lose its desired flavors. Cannabis is also very sensitive to extreme temperatures and humidity.

Poor storage can damage the color of the plant, resulting in a lower grade. A bud’s color reflects its freshness, and when the plant is oxidized while it’s being stored, decomposition can occur, causing that bright color to fade. If the color fades, there’s a strong likelihood that the trichomes and terpenes were also damaged which will negatively affect the taste and smell.


The color of your cannabis has the potential to bring you joy in the same way that changing fall leaves or catching a glimpse of a rainbow does. Colors soothe us, they make us happy. A vibrant color spectrum is a desirable trait, from sunsets to cannabis. Multicolored bud means it’s healthy, fresh and tasty. The bolder the plant’s colors, the more pungent the aroma and dynamic the flavor palette. That’s why the brighter the color, the better the grade.

Read more in this series:
3 things aroma can tell you about the quality of your cannabis

3 things structure can tell you about the quality of your cannabis

3 things trichomes can tell you about the quality of your cannabis

Allison Cohn
Allison Cohn

Allison Cohn loves gold spray paint and nonsense. She also has a very difficult time sitting still and keeping quiet. She can often be found dancing like a fool when she isn’t hiding out in her mountain lair or gallivanting around the globe.