For those who are unfamiliar with the benefits of drying or curing your marijuana plants, it is considered a three-step process. It will taste better when dried and cured, and will help you not damage your lungs. Drying can take up to two weeks, and curing can take 14-60 days, depending on the variety.
Drying time is dependent on variety, weather in the drying location and where you put your plants to dry. Desert locations will dry marijuana plants faster than tropical locations. After you harvest your marijuana plants, step one is to dry them. You will want to dry your marijuana plants upside down, allowing the fan leaves to cover your marijuana buds. You will want to place them in a dark and cool location that is not humid and has plenty of ventilation. You will want to check your buds daily so you can spot signs of mildew or mold immediately, allowing you to correct any problems right away. Once the fan leaves break off crisply, it is time to trim off those fan leaves. This part can also be done before you dry your marijuana buds as cutting them after they are dry is much more difficult.
We recommend that you cut those fan leaves off prior to drying your marijuana leaves to simplify the process. The goal with drying is to dry evenly and slowly. Drying too quickly will cause your marijuana buds to smell like hay or pine needles, or can give them a bad taste.
You do not want to dry too slowly, either, because they will be more susceptible to mildew or mold attacks. You will need a fan in the drying room to ensure your plants get adequate air circulation. After those fan leaves get trimmed up, your marijuana buds will have to be hung upside down again to allow the buds to completely dry out.
They will again need a cool, breezy and dry location to finish drying to a crisp point. Once the leaves and buds are crisp, you want to remove them from the stems and get rid of the unnecessary leaf materials. This is known as a "manicure" for your marijuana buds. This is still easier to have done prior to the drying process, so we still recommend it. You will likely notice your marijuana buds being slightly moist, both on the outside and the inside. Some varieties are able to be smoked now, but you will get a better taste and smell if you follow these additional two processes.
After your moist marijuana buds have been trimmed, you will want to use a paper bag to try them a bit more. We recommend using grocery store paper bags because they have not been bleached and you don't want something you plan to smoke having bleach in it. This step can be a little tricky.
First you want to place your trimmed marijuana buds about 3-4" (7.5-10 cm) deep into a paper bag, loosely.
You will want to leave the bag open to still prevent mildew and mold. Check your buds daily and rotate the buds around so your marijuana buds can dry evenly. Turning the buds now and again or shaking the bag gently will accomplish this task. You will notice that as your buds dry, they naturally shrink down into a state that preserves the buds best. Once this happens, the bag can be closed and the buds will naturally compact down. This should leave you with buds that can be smoked, even if there is still a little moisture within the center of the buds. Remember that your climate and environment will potentially change the timing of this step, and only regular checking can prevent any type of damage to your beautiful crop of marijuana buds.
Your final step is creating the best flavor and smoke you can from your crop of marijuana buds. You will want to use either an air-tight container, like a jar, or something that will protect your crop from air and light. You will want to loosely place your marijuana buds that are totally dry inside the jar.
You do not want them compacted down. For the first week to ten days, you will want to open the jar, remove and replace your marijuana buds, and exchange the air daily. This ensures they finish drying evenly and would let you spot a mildew or mold problem immediately.
After this time period, you will still want to still open the jars daily for a while to look for mildew and mold. If you happen to notice some, you should remove the affected buds and place the rest back into the paper bag for a couple days before attempting the jar-step again. The longer you check them daily (up to two months), the more flavor characteristics you will impart on your marijuana buds, and the better the results will be. You will know your marijuana buds are totally dry once the stem in the center of each bud can snap easily with just your fingers. The more you practice this, the easier it will be for you to tell.
Once it is completely dry, the marijuana buds can be sealed and stored for quite a long time. You will find many different opinions on how to dry and cure your buds, but this is the best method we have ever found and it has not failed us.
Want to read more about marijuana? Go to our marijuana grow guide.