Cannabis Cultivation

How To Prune Cannabis Plants for Better Growth

Pruning Cannabis Plant Header
Pruning the tops of Cannabis Plants
Pruning the tops of Cannabis Plants

Pruning cannabis plants correctly is a skill that every cannabis grower should have in their tool set. It is a very important part of growing large cannabis buds and healthy plants. As many ways as there are for growing cannabis, the same will go for how to prune cannabis plants for better growth. 

Why Prune Marijuana Plants?

When your cannabis plants are left untrimmed this will grow into a christmas tree shape with the bottom branches stretching out over the longest with the other above branches being shorter until you get to the top of the plant with one large main flowering cola. While this may be just fine with many growers outdoors, it is not the best way to grow cannabis plants indoors. 

Using different techniques to prune marijuana plants indoors can help to keep your plant’s height under control, and create more budding sites.  When growing cannabis indoors, the lights will not penetrate down into the plant as the sun would outdoors. So growing 7 foot tall plants indoors is considered a waste of space. You can grow your plants much shorter using cannabis pruning and training techniques, and grow larger harvests so this is really the best reason why it’s good to prune marijuana plants. 

Main Stem of the Cannabis Plant has been Pruned
Main Stem of the Cannabis Plant has been Pruned

By removing parts of the plants the cannabis grower is able to rid the plant of weak, damaged growth and allow the plant to focus on the parts you want to grow for larger buds at harvest time. Pruning can also help with air flowers in and around your growing plants. While not as important in vegetative growing stage, this can become very important in the later weeks of flowering. 

Incorrect pruning can also lead to buds that become light and fluffy, by blocking much needed light to the all important budding sites. 

Where to start Pruning Cannabis Plants?

Pruning has been used for years in regular agricultural crops to boost production, and keep harvest crops healthy, as well as productive. Like with all agricultural crops there is a correct way to prune cannabis plants to get the maximum benefit. Growers need to trim at the correct time, the correct way to create the largest harvest they can. This involves removing branches, leaves and growing tips to create the plant you would like before getting to the flowering stage of growth. Pruning cannabis plants also has much in common with defoliation of cannabis. If you would like to learn more about defoliation we recommend this article. 

Bottom of Cannabis Plant that has been Pruned
Bottom of Cannabis Plant that has been Pruned

Pruning the Bottoms of the Plant for better upper growth

One of the first places that most growers can start to prune cannabis plants is the bottom of the plant. Once the plant is about one foot high it is a great time to start removing branches, stems and leaves from the bottom of the plant. There are a few excellent benefits to trimming the bottom of your cannabis plants first. 

Bugs: When bugs get on your plants for the first time they will generally jump out of site. This will mean that the new bugs will start to hang out on the bottom of the plants or in the corner plant. This is mostly to avoid detection from other predator insects and also to start building up their numbers. By removing all the bottom growth of your plant you can limit the hiding places of cannabis insects. Many insect pests will hang out on the bottom leaves close to the soil where they can lay their eggs and expand their numbers. 

Better Air Flow: Having good air movement under your plants is also very important for growing great cannabis. Great air flow under your plants can help to limit soil borne pests and even more importantly mold issues that may get their start down there before moving up into your plant. The bottoms of your plants are a perfect place for bud rot and mold to start growing and get a foothold on your growing cannabis plants. 

Most of the time the grower will not even notice that tiny little patch of mold growing down at the bottom of the stem. Once this mold sets into the stem it can and will kill your entire cannabis plant. The leaves will start to droop and hang as if they need water, however when the grow waters the plants this will only create a larger issue with more mold growth. Before the grower knows it the plant will be completely dead. We have seen this happen before, with small seedlings all the way up to large plants. 

The Great Balancing Act with Pruning Cannabis Plants

The leaves on your cannabis plants are like little energy motors, taking in light from the sun or grow lighting and converting it into energy for the plant to use to grow more stems, leaves and branches. The move leaves the plant has for growing, the faster the plant will tend to grow. 

For this reason any time you remove parts of the cannabis plant you will want to be aware that the more that is pruned from the plant the more it will slow down growth of the plant itself. When the grower prunes their plants it is always good to remember that the plant will grow slower, depending on how much it is pruned. 

Pruning Cannabis Plants
Pruning Cannabis Plants

What happens if you trim a plant too much?

When pruning cannabis plants remember that you never want to remove too much of the plant’s foliage at one time. Removing stems, leaves and branches can cause the plant overall stress that can slow down your plant growth, and stress your plants. 

Removing too much growth of the cannabis plant at one time can even kill that plant if it is unable to recover.  

Does trimming plants stimulate growth?

Indirectly pruning cannabis plants can stimulate growth by removing light blocking branches from the plant and allowing more light to get into the plants growing tips. These growing tips contain the most growth hormones in the plant. Once they are able to receive more light from pruning they can start to grow much faster than if they were shaded. 

Pruning Cannabis Plants for more even Growth

One of the main reasons for pruning cannabis plants is to allow for more even upper growth. Every time the grower removes the upper growing tip of the plant it will grow two new growing tips to replace the removed single growth tip. This is a way for the grower to create many growing tips of the plant, instead of just one growing tip. Before flowering cannabis it is best to have four to six main growing tips on your plants rather than one. Having six growing tips close to your lighting is far better then having only one and will also yield far more buds at harvest. 

How do you Trim Bud like a pro?

The first rule to prune cannabis plants from the top is to never trim them too early in the growing cycle. It is best to wait to start pruning cannabis after it has reached the 5th or 6th node of growth. (Where the plant’s branches meet the main stems). 

First make sure you have good sharp tools to work with. We recommend using a good sharp pair of scissors. Cannabis growers should make sure that the trimming tools are sharp and clean. This will mean cleaning them well before and after each use to prevent the spread of mold or pathogens from one plant to another. Before using the scissors it is a good idea to soak them in 70 to 99% rubbing alcohol to sterilize them well. 

Trim the plant just after your 5th or 6th node just above where the plant branches meet the main stems. Below this point the plant will start to grow two new main stems on each side of the plant. Growers can repeat this process three to four times to create 4 to 6 main growing shoots. These new stems will replace the one main stem that would grow if there was no pruning at all.

After pruning growers will want to make sure that the plant has water and light to help it recover from the stress. Keep a close watch on your plants, and if all goes well they should start to grow new shoots in only a matter of days.  

ew Growth Shoots Grow after Cannabis Plant Pruning
New Growth Shoots Grow after Cannabis Plant Pruning

Does pruning affect flowering?

Yes, you never want to prune cannabis plants when starting flowering. If you are pruning cannabis plants before flowering we recommend doing so no more than two weeks before the plant is placed into the flowering cycle. Cannabis flowers from its main growing tips everywhere on your plant. Removing these will cause the plant to stop growing new flowering tips and seriously reduce your overall bud harvest. 

What is the Difference Between Pruning and Defoliating Cannabis?

Pruning cannabis is removing growing tips of the plants to create new, as well as more growing tips on your plants. Defoliation cannabis means removing larger fan leaves before putting your cannabis plant into the flowering cycle of growth. Each of these growing techniques has their own purpose to help the plant grow more buds before harvest. If you would like to learn more about defoliating cannabis plants we recommend reading this article. 

Do buds need leaves to grow?

Cannabis buds do need leaves to grow, they are the stores of energy that plants need to grow great and big buds for harvesting. It is only recommended when pruning cannabis plants to remove only the parts of the plant that will block light from getting to the buds while at the same time leaving enough vegetative growth on the plant to keep it growing strong and healthy. 

Final Thoughts 

Pruning cannabis plants is easy to do once you understand how it works and how it can help you grow better cannabis plants. The key is to never over prune your plants, and only to prune the plant when needed and in the proper spots for it to grow well, with the cannabis buds receiving the most light. 

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