“Look at those colas!” “Those colas are amazing!” “You grew those colas?” Survey says…name three phrases you might hear at a cannabis grow.  So, what is a cola? The simplest answer is it's where the bud grows. Those pretty flowers, stanky and sticky from top to bottom, are the cannabis colas. Sometimes they are classified by their section on the plant,  as “tops,” or sometimes “mids.” Way down at the foot of the plant are the popcorn buds.  Big or small, they’re all cannabis colas. Today, we will review these blooming flowers from start to finish. Keep reading to learn the inside-out of your favorite frosty friend.

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Cola? Like the Soda?

Asking “What is a cannabis cola?” in the weed world carries two meanings these days. Thanks to the magic of edible professionals such as Keef Cola and other canna-beverage producers, there are in fact THC infused colas. Yes, they’re awesome. No, that is not the type of cola we cannabis growers are referring to.  The colas are the buds. These sticky flowers are the epicenter for all the medicinal oils of THC, CBD, and all those wonderful terpenes. The cannabis cola is the area where flowers are growing together tightly on a cannabis plant. There is typically a primary, singular top cola on a cannabis plant that is bigger than the rest, and the term “cola” is often used to describe that specific main one, however as mentioned above, a plant can have multiple “top” colas, either naturally or through growing techniques.

large healthy green cannabis plant growing There’s typically a main cola on top, with smaller colas growing on the sides. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
When you walk into a grow room, or even within 50 feet of a cannabis plant, colas are where that stank is comin’ from. 

Cannabis Stages of Growth

There are roughly 435,000 species of different plants on land. Consider all of those that bloom some type of flower or fruit — it certainly doesn’t appear in the early stages of growth, but down the line. Those apples won’t be shining until the crisp of fall. So, what about growing cannabis? Each stage of life is different and eventually leads to that sweet cola production. Here’s how it goes down. 

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cannabis seeds, with a white sprout coming out of each, on a paper towel This stage takes place in the first 1-7 days. There are multiple ways to germinate seeds, such as the paper towel method or planting your seeds directly in moist soil. Typically, strong genetics will emerge with sprouts within 24-48 hours.


a tiny cannabis seedling sprouting out of brown soil in a small black container This stage takes place from about 2-3 weeks in the growth cycle. The seeds will pop up into cute baby plants that call for an “aww”. 

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a cannabis plant in vegetative stage, with fan leaves 2-8 weeks is the grow cycle during veg and can vary depending on your strain. Cannabis plants in this stage are mostly growing stalks and leaves, though you will begin to see early flowers during this stage. But these cannabis colas are far from the finish line.

Flowering (Colas)

green cannabis plant growing with buds emerging At last, the stage all growers await. Flowering can last 6-8 weeks depending on your strain, sources of food, etc. Check the flowering schedule for your strain since not all cannabis colas produce at the same time. 

Breaking Down the Cannabis Cola

The cola is where all the lovely compounds of THC, CBD, and every terpene are produced. These compounds comprise the many oils of cannabis and are responsible for their taste, arom and effects. Although two or more strains may appear similar, each one is unique.  Each cannabis cola is made up of pistils, calyxes, and trichomes

The Pistils

cannabis plant growing, with a lot white and yellow pistils growing outwards These tiny hairs are called the pistils. They collect pollen once the plant has bloomed and are the plant’s sex organ.  These same hairs are one of the best visible indicators of the cannabis cola’s readiness. They will begin changing from white to yellow-ish, and fall into orange before darkening further to brown. Experienced growers can eyeball these and know when to pull their plants. For the rest of us, the best recommendation is to use a jeweler’s loupe and examine our next topic, the trichomes.

The Trichomes

close up of small sparkly trichomes growing on purple cannabis leaves These tiny hairs on your cannabis cola are the magic production house for the resin, aka the stuff that makes you feel funny. Resin gives you the mental and physical effects that cannabis consumers enjoy.  Growing in three different sizes, capitate-stalked trichome heads are the largest. They begin clear in color and will change to white over time, eventually turning into an amber or brown color at the end of a grow. If most of the trichomes are milky or frosty, it’s about time to harvest. The grower’s goal is to pull their plants while the trichomes are at their peak frostiness. Timing is key. In general, the frostier the cannabis cola, the better the high. Although effects vary due to terpenes and individual consumers' experiences, a very frosty cola is almost sure to represent the plant’s truest profile.  Cannabis that needs to be questioned will not have as much frost. It’s possible that the grower wasn’t as experienced or the strain itself is lower strength. If growing CBD, those milky trichomes will be more on the amber side when harvesting rather than milky.

The Calyxes

green cannabis calyx with pistils and small leaves The final part of the cannabis cola are the calyxes. Calyxes are a collection of leaves near the stem of the flower. Not to be confused with sugar leaves, these leaves fold in more of a teardrop shape. Calyxes will either carry the fertilized seed or carry gobs of trichomes as the plant matures. Their folds and swirls are what gives cannabis colas a distinct shape. 

How Do You Grow Big Colas?

If you want the absolute biggest top cola, skip the low-stress training. Topping or bending will ultimately take away from getting a really fat top. If that’s not your main priority, definitely use these techniques for the highest yield.  Following the feed schedule and defoliating are going to be huge factors as well for getting big colas. Lighting is very important, so figure out the best situation for your plants.  Some growers might tell you their secret recipe for nutrients, otherwise, just follow the directions on say, Tiger Bloom or one of the many other nutrient options. Your plant knows what to do and it will do it well. Try adding some compost tea to keep your plants extra healthy as well.