If you are a cannabis enthusiast, then you’ve probably become well acquainted with the trademark fan leaves that comprise our favorite plant. It may surprise you to hear then that pruning these leaves is a controversial option among growers, with some arguing that you don’t even need to worry about the process.
While it may seem like a simple thing to ignore your plant when it should be pruned, after all, that was how the plant existed in nature, but that may not lead to the best possible results for your crop.
Today, we are going to explore the wild world of cannabis pruning to better understand the process, its benefits, and how you can follow suit at home with plants of your own.
Why Do We Prune Cannabis Plants?
Pruning a plant isn’t solely a cannabis-related activity. Gardeners around the world prune just about every type of plant to keep them tidy, trim, and looking their best. Traditionally, pruning a plant is an aesthetic choice to keep the plant under control. A relatively harmless action, pruning offers tremendous upside by way of its nigh limitless benefits.
Before we delve deeper, let’s take a closer look at what pruning is when discussing cannabis.
Pruning Your Cannabis Plants
Put on your favorite pair of gloves and grab some nice trimmers because pruning is detail-oriented work. Pruning involves the careful selection and removal of plant growth to help encourage further healthy growth. Pruning can be utilized to remove damaged leaves, unproductive growth, or plant material that has caused sunlight blockages to potential budding sites.
The process of pruning requires the delicate and careful extraction of plant material. In doing so, gardeners can make sure that their plant is growing as efficiently as possible, preventing the plant from wasting resources on dying limbs. By clipping off potentially dying leaves, you can spare your plant the energy expenses required to try and save those limbs.
When Should You Prune Cannabis
Pruning is vital to the health and vitality of the cannabis plant, at least from the perspective of certain growers. However, more important than the act of pruning is when you decide to prune.
Pruning is a process almost exclusive to the vegetative growth stage. The veg stage is the stage in your plant’s life cycle that exists before it is ready to mature and flower. Your plant should be at least 12 inches in height with a variety of leaves already functionally grown. Bushy plants that are small and squat should be left alone until they are further along.
Note – Avoid pruning plants that have entered the flowering stage. Plants that have entered into this latter phase can potentially experience trauma when undergoing pruning. Pruning a more mature plant can stunt the flowering phase or otherwise prevent it altogether.
How To Prune Your Plants
To enjoy a successful pruning session, you need little more than some time, a pair of clean pruning shears, and a set of gloves. Sterilize your shears before you begin pruning to limit the exposure of potential pathogens to your plant. Pruning sites can be prone to disease or infection until the site has actively healed, so prioritize sterilization and sharp trimmers to limit potential issues.
To prune your plants, simply follow the ensuing process.
- Topping – Topping is the trimming of the central stalk, removing it when the plant has entered its desired height. Below this central stalk, growers will watch as axial branches grow and form into new limbs. This process changes the trajectory of the plant.
- Branch and Leaf Removal – Pruning away large leaves and big branches can best be done when cut at a 45-degree angle. Larger branches should be pruned first, leaving the smaller and more detail-oriented tasks for later.
- Lollipopping – Small branches and limbs at the base of the plant can end up atrophied. Remove these limbs entirely to allow nutrition to better reach the upper leaves, buds, and stems. Fewer resources are wasted on these dead and dying limbs.
- Recovery – Finally, you are going to need to set time aside for your plant to recover from the pruning process. Provide the appropriate level of water, nutrition, and light following the pruning process to help the plant recover from the shock. You’ll notice that your plant bounces back within a week with new shoots and leaves ready to manifest.
Note – Avoid excess pruning to limit potential bud development inhibition. The shock from over-pruning can limit the overall growth and bud development of your plant.
Benefits of Pruning Cannabis
Far from an aesthetic action, pruning your cannabis plant can bring about very real benefits at the present and toward the end of its flowering stage. Let’s explore how a few of these benefits can manifest for your crop, leading to a better overall product.
- Improved Airflow – When you properly prune your cannabis plants during the vegetative stage, you remove blockages that would otherwise hinder airflow. Without this limited airflow, your plants will be less likely to succumb to insect infestations, popcorn buds, or potential rot.
- Make New Clones – Pruning correctly can lead to healthy clones. Healthy clones and cuttings can be set aside for growth to expand your garden. Cloning is a great way to learn the ins and outs of cultivation.
- Improved Yield – With fewer resources wasted on dead limbs and dying leaves, your plant will have more energy to focus on what matters: budding. When you properly prune your plant, you’ll allow it to focus on curating large, dense, and compact nugs.
- Free Benefits – Pruning is a relatively simple process that doesn’t require much by way of time or effort. Giving yourself time to prune during the veg stage can be a free and effective way to set yourself up for success in the future.