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How to Trim Cannabis: Guide to Achieving the Perfect Buds

After spending months of time and effort cultivating your cannabis indoor or outdoor garden, there is a time to perform some final touches that can increase your harvest quality. Nevertheless, lost of people are terrified of the trimming process of cannabis plants, but fortunately, it can be something you can enjoy that doesn’t give a disappointing result. To be successful in manicuring (that’s how they sometimes term it), you’d have to know the fundamentals. In this article, we will show you how to trim cannabis plants.

The Reasons Behind Trimming

There are three main reasons why we trim our cannabis buds. The first is the harshness. Don’t make a mistake, cannabis leaves can sometimes be harsh when smoked, especially when there’s a lot of leaves. This can be harsh on the throat or lungs, compared to flowers that are relatively smoother, leaving you coughing. That’s why trimming some extra leaves off of your buds is important and does improve the quality of smoking your cannabis.

Another reason is appearance. As you can see in magazines and other mediums where cannabis is commercialized, almost all of them display buds that are manicured professionally or trimmed decently. This means that the good-looking appearance of these buds are what we usually see as “good weed” and untrimmed ones are just not that appealing to others.

The third reason, and economically important, is the THC concentration of the cannabis buds. When we say cannabis buds, that include the flower itself and some of the leaves in it. The leaves closest to the flowers are called sugar leaves. They are called so because, compared to other leaves of a cannabis plant, sugar leaves have higher cannabinoids producing glands. But compared with the flower, sugar leaves are way far lower in concentration. So, trimming some of the leaves will produce a higher THC content per gram ration, hence, higher cannabis bud quality.

How to trim Cannabis Buds: The Time of Trimming

The next question, of course, is when should you trim your buds? You may not believe it, but trimming should begin just days before your harvest time, the time where fan leaves of larger size are already removed. Growers sometimes trim the fan leaves off weeks before harvest (the beginning of senescence), a plant cycle period when bigger fan leaves start to die or wither away due to age. It is safe to start removing these withering foliage before harvest days, or, if you can, all fan leaves can also be removed during this period.

Wet Buds or Dried Buds 

Growers trim buds in two methods, should I say, two periods. The first is wet trimming, or trimming or manicuring the buds while they are still fresh and wet. The second method is dry trimming or manicuring after drying the buds. Both methods are valid and have their benefits. The result in each method will always have mixed reactions when tested by enthusiasts blindfolded. So, that’s up to you to decide.

Wet Trimming

Trimming methods are named about drying the buds. Hence, wet trimming is before drying, and dry trimming is after drying. The wet trimming method usually takes place on the day of harvest where the buds and vine are still intact. Perform this method if you’re worried that your bud will get mold. Moreover, you should also be concerned if you have a high humid level, with an RH level above 60%. In that case, wet trimming works best.

Further, wet trimming is a better choice if you want to dry buds faster. Once you have removed the extra leaves, the buds will have less material to dry. Further, this method is much easier since the leaves are still extended are easier to trim. It is probably the most used method.

Dry Trimming

Dry trimming takes place after the buds have been dried up. This method, contrary to wet trimming, works best if mold is not your concern. This is usually performed in low humidity and dry climates area. You want a slower drying process to avoid a dank or hay smell, because faster drying will leave the bud’s inside unaired and a bit moist. However, dry trimming can lose the color vibrancy of the buds.

How to trim Cannabis Buds: The Tools of Trimming

When speaking of tools, we can also ask if we are to use the hand-trimmed method or machine-trimmed method. It may not be relevant to most people, but cannabis production houses should consider the options. Machines work best in large-scale production, and it’s being used by many companies, though some still employ human trimmers. There are only setbacks to using machines as they use a standard trimming measurement that can under-trim or over-trim buds. Because of this, companies have a way of extracting trichomes from trimmed parts to minimized loss. On the other hand, hand-trimmed buds have the highest-quality. However, it takes more time if you do it yourself, or more expensive if you’re paying someone to do it.

But if you decide to use the hand-trimmed method, you have to provide these tools in your trimming:

Sharp Trimming Scissors

If you will be trimming, let’s say, forever, then invest in high-quality scissors. There are a lot of brands out there that offer all kinds of gardening tools and even cannabis-specific brands. Consider buying pointy scissors for trimming sugar leaves, and big pruning shears for cutting out branches. You can also provide two pairs of scissors in case the other is covered with sticky trichomes to avoid stopping and cleaning.

Rubber Gloves (Disposable)

The reason we recommended having two pair of scissors is the same reason why we are recommending using disposable rubber gloves. They keep your hands from being covered by sticky trichomes and avoid the buds from sticking onto your hands. Also, keep you from stopping and cleaning your hands. (which is hard to clean). Use natural, unscented oils such as coconut or olive oils if you’re comfortable with gloves.

Silk Aprons

You’re not only protecting your hands but your shirt and pants, too. Use silk aprons as trichomes do not stick to silk.

Trays (Preferably Baking Trays)

You can use any decent, flat containers in trimming. We recommend flat baking trays because you can spread the buds or trim materials and see everything. Another reason is they are non-absorbent, stainless steel, and can easily be cleaned. You need three trays: one for the untrimmed buds, the other for the buds of you have trimmed, and the third tray for the trimmed materials from the buds (aka, “trim”).

How to trim Cannabis Buds: The Techniques of Trimming

Setup your Workstation

Prepare your scissors, trays, gloves, and apron. Set up a nice, comfortable working area as trimming cannabis buds can be longer than you thinker. There should be a clean, spacious table, sanitized tools, and a neatly washed hands. You can also set up some good music, podcast, or movie to make sure you’ll never get bored with trimming.

Cut the Branches Off

Using your big shears, cut the branches off of your cannabis plant. If you are doing the wet trimming, make sure that you will start trimming once you cut the branches off. But if you think it will take you longer than the normal trimming time, you can harvest in stages by cutting off a branch that you only intend to trim. If you are doing the dry trimming, you can cut off all the branches at once and hang them till they dry (the days or weeks vary).

Pull the Fan Leaves Off

Here, you can just use your hands to pull the fan leaves off. Fan leaves have the smallest amount of trichomes and heavier plant material so you can dispose of them. With wet trimming, do this before starting trimming the sugar leaves. With dry trimming, do this before drying the branches.

Trim the Sugar Leaves Off

Some growers don’t cut the buds off of the branches when they are trimming the sugar leaves. Once they’re done with the sugar leaves, only then that the buds will be cut off, and the stems and crow’s feet will be removed. Some cut the buds off right away to have a sense of the bud size and weight (bucking down). Whichever technique you use, these steps will be the same basically:

Step 1: Place the three trays on the table. Have one empty tray in front of you, put all the buds (or branches with the buds) on either tray on the side, and keep the other tray empty, too.

Step 2: Pick up a bud and cut the stem off as short as possible without breaking the bud. After that, remove from the nugget’s bottom the crow’s feet or little branches.

Step 3: Manicure the bud and trim any extra plant material left on the bud. Double-check the entire bud by rotating it to make sure you have trimmed everything properly.


  • If available, swap out the scissors if they’re overly coated with resin.
  • Avoid trimming off large parts of the bud at once to make sure you won’t reduce the targeted yield and ruin the shape.
  • Always remember that scissors tips should be used when trimming. Don’t use the sides to keep the scissors cleaner for a longer time and away from too much stickiness.
  • As much as possible, remove anything that does not produce many trichomes. A surface area that is uniform is commendable. If this means trimming the red pistils off to its foliage, it’s totally fine. Pistils produce cannabinoids from little to nothing. They’re only left on the buds for appearance or aesthetic purposes.
  • Leftover trim can be used for edibles, budders, and tinctures. Even though they produce a lesser amount of THC, they still have a good amount of trichomes for other purposes. Be economic.
  • Trimmed buds should be stored properly. Use airtight containers such as transparent mason jars or other similar containers for long curing.


Trimming can be daunting since it takes a lot of time, effort, and focus. But if you keep your hearing occupied with music, podcast, or have someone to work with you, or even just talk, then it will be less difficult and less tedious. After all, once you’re done with it, you can finally enjoy the fruit of your labor. We hope this article about how to trim cannabis plants has been helpful. Keep safe and keep medicated.

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