Is Bright Red Cannabis A Real Thing?

You’ve seen those amazing photos of red cannabis on the internet. But are they real, or is someone just “painting the roses red?”

Comparing cannabis to roses may seem like a stretch, but for true lovers of the plant, the analogy is a perfect one. Cannabis is extensively bred for strain-specific qualities, nurtured to the point of obsession, and to the appreciative eye, the flowers it displays are a work of art. Prize lineage plants also sell for incredible sums, just like prize roses. However, while the most common image of a rose is red, red cannabis is a rare delight.

Art imitates life

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An annual plant, cannabis completes its entire life cycle in a single year. Sprouting in late spring, it grows vigorously in the warmth and sunny days of summer. When fall shortens the days and cools the nights, cannabis converts to flower production to reproduce before dying.

The plant world goes through a parade of color changes in autumn, and cannabis is no exception. Shorter days inhibit chlorophyll production, letting the hidden genetic gems of color come out to play.

There are four areas of the plant that can change color: the pistils or hairs on the buds, the leaves, the trichomes on the buds, and the buds themselves.

How red cannabis happens

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Anthocyanins and carotenoids are compounds produced by cannabis and other plants responsible for the colors that appear during the flowering stage. The primary factor for their production is genetic.

However, experienced growers can increase the natural production of these colors by manipulating grow temperatures, nutrients, pH, and stress on plants.

Not always a good thing

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There are instances where plants not predisposed to red coloration can appear pink or red, but they aren’t positive ones. Certain nutrient deficiencies cause redness to appear. In some cases, these deficiencies are intentional on the part of the grower to enhance the color in the plants.

However, starving a plant to get a color change only limits its potential bud production and potency. The color of buds in now determines its potency, and going for color instead of power sounds counterintuitive, but people do it.

When unintentional, irregular discoloration can be a sign of disease in a plant. Growers forums have plenty of dubious DIY methods to artificially add color to cannabis. Some people try adding food coloring to the water, others even cut the stems and attach what amounts to an IV of coloring before the last weeks of harvest.

Painting the roses red

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But if showing off colors is so vital, there remains a far easier and widespread way to do it, which most people see quite often. It’s called photoshop. Across the internet, images of buds in a riot of colors are everywhere. Some are real, but if it looks too intense to believe, it might be someone simply ‘painting their roses red.’

The red cannabis in the image above is a result of the LED grow lights above the plant during the photo, a common occurrence. Take a look at the beautiful images throughout this article and ask yourself:

Which ones are real?

Unless it’s a page trying to sell you the seeds, or you happen to be there in person to smoke it, what does it matter? People love cannabis, and sometimes art imitates life. Just enjoy the view.