Pruning Marijuana Plants - When And How To Prune

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Pruning Marijuana Plants

Pruning Marijuana Plants

If you do it right, pruning your valuable marijuana plants can lead to a much higher yield than otherwise. It’s one step more advanced than the basics of giving the plants life and keeping them happy and healthy. It is not something to be done without much thought, planning, or understanding. If you don’t fully know what you’re doing, don’t prune at all.

Some experienced growers will actually never prune their plants. Their philosophy is more about allowing nature to do its thing. They have a good point – without pruning, they are probably doing quite well as marijuana farmers and are completely avoiding the risks that come with pruning.

That being said, pruning in a controlled, moderate way can be extremely useful. When done correctly, pruning in this way can be a crucial way of getting the healthiest, best growing plants with the most THC in your final product.

In this article, we will equip you with the knowledge you need to properly (and safely) prune your marijuana plants. Keep reading and learn to prune like a pro!

Pruning basics

Pruning basics weed

By definition, pruning marijuana is simply the process of clipping pieces of a plant off. If the grower can remove these pieces in small and specific amounts, they will actually achieve a stronger plant. Especially when taking off parts of the plant that are already dead (such as discolored leaves), it can be compared to removing dead tissue from a human’s wound.

The death of a certain amount of leaves is a normal part of a marijuana plant’s life cycle, and their swift removal could save your plant the resources that are being wasted on dying limbs. These leaves don’t die quickly, so by clipping their stems early, you might be saving your plant weeks of extra effort. These resources are then focused on more important things, like the still-healthy leaves on the plant, or growing brand new leaves. Because of a more efficient use of resources, the end result will be a larger, healthier plant.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more pruning techniques

Pruning also encourages new branches to grow on your plants. Once your plant begins having a pair of leaves sprouting from the very top on a daily basis, the topmost leaf will grow some new branches. That’s good news because more branches mean a higher yield. One way of pruning, you may want to consider is, once these new branches start sprouting leaves, removing the original shade leaves from which they grew. They will yellow and die eventually anyway, so by removing them earlier you can allow your plant to focus its valuable resources on other things. Removing these leaves also provides more sunlight to the smaller leaves closer to the base of the plant, which gets them to grow faster and produce more chlorophyll.

You can also take away the plant’s top, as well as the ends of its branches. This will also help to stimulate branch growth. When you cut off the end of a branch, the growth there will slow down for a while, but then two new branches will come out from that spot. It can lead to bushier plants with more branches – and, therefore, more leaves. Some people prefer not to do it since it slows down growth to a certain extent.

You will need to decide which of the following pruning methods will be best for you. Each one comes with its own set of challenges and benefits, so choose carefully. You can also sometimes use more than one method together to form a combined plan of sorts. Keep reading to learn the advantages of using certain pruning techniques.

Topping

Topping weed plant

Topping marijuana plants involves cutting off the main shoot at the top, thus stimulating the growth of more shoots and branches. Over time, it will turn the plant’s overall shape into a downward-facing cone, which will help your plant maximize the sunlight that it receives. This is especially important if you have a grow room indoors since your light is limited (and expensive) compared to natural sunlight.

You can decide to start topping as soon as your plant seems strong enough. Check for the secondary growth that is located near the low nodes – this is a reliable sign that your plant can withstand topping. After your plant’s fifth leaf pair has popped up, you can safely cut off then main stalk. Read the article Topping marijuana plants for more information

Take note: topping should not be combined with super cropping.

Super cropping

Super cropping cannabis pruning

The basic idea behind super cropping is crushing the stem’s soft interior. When done correctly, super cropping should stimulate health, bring a higher yield, and increase potency. Just like with any injury, animal or plant, breaking the tissue down will cause it to be rebuilt more strongly. When you crush the inside of the stem (which is where nutrients and water are transported), it will be rebuilt thicker and stronger, allowing for even more efficient transport for these key elements.

The whole plant will become healthier if you pinch the center stem. If you pinch the branches on the side, you can control the shape of your plant. You can simply (and gently) bend the branch in whatever direction you want it to grow.

The best time to carry out super cropping is the second or third week of your plant’s vegetation stage. Simply pinch and twist the branch simultaneously between your thumb and pointer finger, and bend the branch (without breaking it). Let it go as soon as you’ve felt it give way; even if it droops a bit, it will heal in time. Read the article Super cropping marijuana plants for more info

Low stress training

Low stress training cannabis pruning

The letters “LST” stand for “Low Stress Training.” Topping and super cropping are methods that can be considered opposite – they are High Stress Training or HST. LST is a safer option than HST since HST actually damages the plant at first. That being said, you can combine topping and LST training nicely (although plenty of successful growers choose the LST-only route and don’t do any topping at all).

LST is a type of pruning (or, more accurately, a type of training) that involves tying down your marijuana plant, thus stimulating the growth of all the shoots newly placed above the main stalk. This is because your plant has been tricked into thinking it no longer has a main shoot, meaning it prioritizes its resources into growing its other stems faster. This will allow your plant to become denser and bushier. The key thing to remember with this method is to never rush. This is a technique that takes time and patience, and anyone who tries to do it too quickly will have poor results.

There are many other techniques out there for savvy growers, so if you are interested you should do some more research to find out what the perfect pruning technique is for you. There are also other ways of “training” your plant that could come in handy, so make sure you know all of your options before beginning. Read the article Low stress training marijuana plants for more info

Monster cropping

Monster cropping weed plants

Monster Cropping (a.k.a. flowering clones) is new method of growing that one of our members brought to my attention. Monster Cropping essentially involves taking clones from flowering marijuana plants, and then rooting those clones. They will reenter vegetative state and eventually create super-bushy plants with a large amount of nodes and branches. This method was dubbed “Monster Cropping,” because that’s exactly what you’ll end up with—huge, monster plants.

Flowering plants typically aren’t a source for clones, and most experts will tell you that it goes against most rules of cannabis cultivation. Even so, the science behind Monster Cropping is legitimate, and you will certainly enjoy the results. Read the article Monster cropping marijuana plants for more info

Overpruning

Overpruning cannabis plants

Plenty of new, excited growers make the mistake of overpruning their cannabis plants. This can often happen because these new growers want to take off as many THC-filled leaves as possible, even before harvest time. It’s true that you will probably get more enjoyment from it than from buying a bag of pot in the meantime, but you must proceed with caution. Remember: the best weed won’t come until it’s actually harvest time. You must not do anything that could slow down growth and reduce the productivity of the flowering stage.

There are a few things to avoid when you are pruning your plants. First of all, if there are no branches growing out of a leaf’s basal stem, never cut that leaf off. Don’t strip one branch or stalk of all its leaves. When pruning, don’t tear a leaf away with your hands; rather, cut them with scissors or a knife (make sure your tool of choice is quite sharp before use, check these pruning tools). It is also important to remember to water your plant immediately after pruning it. It will reduce the amount of shock to your plant, and will stimulate growth. This will be especially effective if you include plant food when watering. If you follow this advice, you will be able to prune in a productive, helpful way rather than harming your plant or slowing down its growth.

Download my free marijuana grow guide at this link for more pruning techniques

Unfortunately, any leaves that you prune when your plants are less than 3 months old will not be very smokable. This may feel like a waste, but remember that the point of pruning is not to have an early stock of weed, but rather to improve your overall yield in the end. The reason your plants won’t have enough THC until they are three months old is for an ingenious reason. In general, leaf-eating bugs typically start becoming active (and hungry) roughly three months into the growing season. Because THC repels insects, this is around the time when marijuana plants need to have lots of THC to keep those hungry bugs away. Therefore, they increase their levels of THC around the three-month mark.

If you are really curious and impatient, you can go ahead and try smoking some leaves earlier than mid-July, but don’t be disappointed when it doesn’t end with a successful high. You will, therefore, have to throw away most leaves that you prune, but make sure you do even that with care. Burning is the best option, since it won’t leave any evidence of your marijuana possession.

If you are planning on jumping into the growing scene without proper research, be very aware of the fact that there is no guarantee for success.  Sometimes even a fully mature marijuana plant’s buds won’t have enough THC to achieve a high. This will only occur when the plants are improperly tended, so as long as you do the proper research and tend your plants responsibly, it should not happen to you. If you want to be extremely cautious, you should only prune the leaves that already look unhealthy. If they are turning yellow or have brown tips, if their lobes are partially eaten, and if they are withered at all, you can (and should) safely remove those leaves. When the bases of leaves have branches coming out of them, you can remove those leaves. Always begin with leaves that are the highest up, as this will encourage smaller leaves down below to speed up their growth.

Responsible, strategic pruning will allow your plant to enhance its ability to produce THC and repel insects. It will increase your yield in the end, and could provide you with some weed to smoke in the meantime. All in all, when done responsibly, pruning your plants could be a very wise decision for you.

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or questions below and don’t forget to download my free grow bible

Robert

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Comment Section

7 thoughts on “Pruning Marijuana Plants


By Steve on 26 August 2013 at 10:40

Excellent article, just what I needed to know. Thanks.


By [email protected] on 27 March 2014 at 19:52

great info!!!! I might be crazy but i never top my plants.


By Marilyn Olsen on 3 June 2015 at 04:14

The information you offer is the most concise that I have found! But, again, it’s called “weed” for a reason. I am growing plants that come from 40-year-old seeds and they are in the flowering stage. I followed your ‘lighting” information and that certainly helps, but my plants get their light from the sun that pours onto the windowsill. I’m a newbe, so wish me luck!


By Jennifer ILGM on 3 June 2015 at 09:00

Marilyn, thanks for sharing. Good luck and keep us posted!


By Debbie on 15 June 2015 at 21:09

Your tips are awesome and I couldn’t do what Im doing with out you! thanks! Debbie


By Kelsey on 18 July 2015 at 06:23

I’ve been wanting to grow for a while and this has just what I need to hopefully get beautiful healthy buds… thank you!


By MJCTHC1 on 2 August 2015 at 11:54

I always thought you could combine topping and super-cropping, why do you recommend against it?, thanks in advance.

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