If you’re done buying medical marijuana from a third party and you’re ready to start growing your own, pruning your marijuana plant is an important aspect of plant maintenance to consider. Pruning is crucial to a healthy plant and good yield, and there are many methods you can choose from to best treat your plant. Read on for an explanation of some of the top pruning methods when growing cannabis.
What is Pruning?
Pruning cannabis is the act of cutting the branches and leaves off the plant. This helps direct more energy and resources to where it needs to go. This will also help the buds get more sunlight. As you’re growing cannabis, you will notice yellow or dead leaves on the plant. You can go ahead and prune it off since they’re no use for them and they waste resources like water.
Pruning is pretty much a very important part of improving the quality and yield of your weed plant. It’s very essential for the grower to take part in this because it’s a process that lets the grower get an up-close check up on the plant’s health.
When to Start Pruning Your Cannabis Plant
This will depend on if you’re going to be pruning your marijuana plants at all. Sometimes you may want to let nature take its course with your plants. If you’d rather control the growth pattern yourself, it’s best to start pruning your cannabis plants in the second week of their growth phase. At this point, your plant will have a few internodes and you’ll be able to see how it’s growing. If you’re growing an Indica plant, you may want to wait another week, as they grow slower than Sativas. You can prune your plant until the second week of flowering, giving it a few days to recover in between.
What to Look For When Pruning Your Marijuana Plant
There are three things that you need to look for when pruning marijuana: low-hanging branches, dead or dying leaves, and low-down bud stalks.
Low Hanging Branches
You want to make sure you identify and trim low-hanging branches because they’re not getting much sunlight or nutrients. Without the proper amount of light and nourishment, these lower branches will likely lead to die or produce a low yield.
Dead and Dying Leaves
Going after dead and dying leaves is crucial since they take up space and have already lost a lot of valuable light energy. With too many dying leaves and branches, a plant can suffocate itself.
While it’s not crucial to the care of the plant itself, the dying parts of the plant can also be a bit of an eyesore.
Low Down Stalks
Pruning low-down bud stalks is also important since they’re not likely to be getting the nutrients that they need to grow properly, and they’re also taking nutrients away from other parts of the plant that are more viable for strong growth.
Required Tools and Supplies for Pruning Marijuana Plants
For most pruning tasks you need several different types of cutting tools. A safe strategy is to find a tool that can shear through a plant at varying thicknesses. You’ll need one tool for the smallest branches, one for medium-sized branches, and one for larger branches. You likely won’t be trimming anything larger than an inch in diameter, so make that your largest tool. You can use everything from an Exacto knife to scissors, to pruning shears on your plant. Just make sure all the edges are sharp and can cut the branches without bruising them
Techniques for Pruning Your Marijuana Plant
There are several techniques for pruning your plant including no pruning, super cropping technique, fimming, topping, and low-stress training. You’ll also learn about both the wet and dry trim methods.
The No Pruning Method
The No Pruning Method, as it’s sometimes called, is exactly what it sounds like: not doing it at all. The philosophy behind this method is that letting your plants grow unfettered produces a happier, healthier plant. Growers who don’t prune trust in nature and biology to produce the best possible plant within their controlled environment.
Letting your cannabis plants grow without restrictions can let floral hormones collect in your plant’s branches’ tips, which can lead to denser floral growth. However, this is more advantageous to growers who have a lot of space — usually outdoor space — for these plants to grow freely. If you’re growing denser plants indoors, this can lead to cramming a lot of vegetation into a space that’s too small and can be very detrimental to your plants.
The Removing All But Four Technique
This method refers to removing your plant’s central stem, also known as the meristem, above the four primary branches that grow outward. What this does is that it makes these four main branches stronger. It also allows them to receive more of the hormones than they would have received otherwise, making the yield on these branches stronger.
It’s important NOT to remove the leaves on these remaining branches so they can flower effectively with this newest boost. Make sure to keep it at an even four, removing any additional sets on the same level of the stem so they have the ability to flourish well.
The Pinching Tips Method
This method involves pinching the tips of your plant’s smaller stems on each of the larger stems and pruning off any extraneous leaves. What this accomplishes is allowing bigger and more flowering shoots to continue growing. In addition, the number of budding sites increases when branch tips are pruned. This is a great way to increase, not just the amount, but also the effectiveness of your yield.
There are some sources that encourage pruning these tips by actually using your fingers instead of pruning shears since this allows your plant to heal itself more effectively from each pruning session. Make sure you’re gentle, but also firm when pinching these tips and removing the smaller stems and your yield shouldn’t suffer.
The Super Cropping Method
The super cropping method, most commonly known as scrog involves pinching back the branch tips to encourage fluid flow within the cannabis plant. The idea is that there is a richer cannabinoid resin that is released along with creating more compressed and effective female flowers on the plant. It’s not completely clear if this is a fully effective method, but there are many growers who adhere to it religiously and there is some evidence that it works.
To prune in this manner fold the branch on itself about 2-3 inches below the tip that’s growing to create a wound in the plant. This is where the cannabinoid-rich resin is supposedly released. If the branch position is maintained, it should produce a very strong yield.
The FIMming Method
FIM, is an acronym that stands for “Fuck I Missed”. In short, it involves pinching and/or cutting your plant at a young age, so instead of only one cola (which is the part of the cannabis female plant where the buds bloom), you’re going to get four once the plant matures.
The benefits of the FIMming method should be obvious from the start — your yields will increase dramatically from this. This counteracts the inefficiency of letting a plant take the natural course in its growth. This can result in many parts of the plant not receiving enough light and nutrients. There are also growers that prefer topping to fimming, but it’s definitely a way to maximize your yield that you might want to consider.
The Topping Method
The topping method involves nipping off the top of your plant’s main shoot. This effectively promotes growth within the main branches and shoots on the rest of your plant. It turns your plant into a shape akin to an upside-down Christmas tree. It maximizes the amount of light that your plant will receive while it’s growing.
This is the best method to use when you’re constrained for space and need to grow indoors. If you utilize this method, make sure to only cut the newest shoot, so you don’t hurt your plant too much. You can do this more than once during your plant’s growth, but don’t overdo it. It needs to recover each time you do it and that can ultimately harm your yield.
The Low-Stress Training Method
The low-stress training (or LST) method of pruning your cannabis plant is actually a type of training that you put your plant through. It’s often less stressful on your plant than other methods such as super cropping or topping. This method is closer to treating your plant as a bonsai tree and encourages your plant to grow in a certain direction through wiring. You use 12 – 22 gauge wires to shape your plant’s branches down in a certain way that makes it think its main shoot is gone.
Now your plant will devote its resources to stem growth speed and allows for a strong, bushy plant. This can be a time-consuming and more detail-oriented method of growing and cultivating your plant, but its results can really make a difference.
How to Prune Your Cannabis Plant
When it comes to actually prune your cannabis plant, there are two primary methods that you need to take into consideration: the wet trim method and the dry trim method. Each has its own pros and cons and should be considered along with the various pruning techniques already discussed.
The Wet Trim Method Pruning
Wet trimming is done before you dry out your plant and only allows for one round of trimming. It’s great if you’re pressed for time. The drying process occurs after it’s been trimmed and as it sits in the canister that you’re placing your clippings into. When you trim wet, the process is much easier and the buds tend to look better at the end.
The Dry Trim Method Pruning
While many dry trimmers remove the biggest fan leaves with their hands, some don’t touch the plant until it has completed the drying process. The dry trim method allows the bud to shrink down to its final form in an effective way while ensuring the leaves protect the buds and slow down the drying process.
Growing Your Own
Whether you’re already an experienced grower or you’re a beginner looking to start, following these tips will help you find the best methods for pruning your cannabis plants, and soon you’ll be smoking or vaping cannabis in no time.