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How To Prune Cannabis Plants

How to Prune Cannabis

Your cannabis plants need a lot of care to ensure that they produce optimally. One aspect of caring for them involves providing the right inputs–that includes quality, nutrient-filled soil, adequate lighting, and viable seeds, like the Durban Poison feminized seeds from Growers Choice.

But it doesn’t all end there. What many people won’t tell you is how essential extra practices like pruning cannabis plants could be to ensure their optimal, well-rounded growth. Pruning is twice as needed in indoor setups to maximize the available space and increase the bud yield.

Many cannabis cultivators think such practices are strenuous, and, to some extent, they are. The extra care can be a little daunting, especially if you aren’t sure of the specifics. And that’s what our blog post offers you today. We have some pruning benefits, techniques, and a comprehensive guide waiting for you in the following lines.

Stay tuned.

Close-up photo of a weed bud.
Before you start pruning, you have to get familiar with the parts of a cannabis plant.
Source: Juan Miguel Restrepo Barrera pexels

What is Pruning?

Pruning is simply cutting leaves off your cannabis plant to achieve a particular purpose. But why would anyone want to do that? Now, there are several reasons for pruning cannabis plants, but they all come down to the same objective; removing deadweight and allowing the plant to focus its resources on the useful parts.

At the end of your production cycle, only the bud and the sugar leaves around it are marketable. Essentially, most parts of your cannabis plant are not profitable, so pruning helps you reduce the plant’s efforts on such parts and direct more nutrients to the buds and the high-terpene-containing leaves. Now, that brings us to the various reasons for pruning your weed plants.

Why Should You Prune Cannabis Plants?

While you might insist on not pruning, here is what you might be missing out on if you don’t trim your weed plants:

  • Bigger, better cannabis buds: As we said earlier, pruning ensures that your plants don’t waste their resources on unnecessary parts like fan leaves or the innermost buds. The result is more nutrients passed to the uppermost buds and sugar leaves, making for larger yields at harvest.
  • Better sunlight exposure and aeration: You might not notice issues like this if you grow your cannabis plants in an indoor set-up, or if you cultivate sativa-dominant strains like Panama Red that tend to have tiny, scanty leaves. For indica plants like the Wedding Cake strain, the leaves are very bushy, resulting in a dense cover that reduces sunlight exposure to the buds. Hence, you need to prune your cannabis plants to expose the uppermost parts to direct sunlight. Also, pruning helps improve air circulation in the farm, ensuring that the plants get adequate aeration to promote optimal bud growth.
  • Outdoor plants could get overexposed to the wind, bringing up the need to prune (top) the plant so that it is not affected by the excess wind.
  • Disease control and prevention: When your marijuana set-up is attacked by pests or infected by pathogens, your best bet for curbing the spread on leaves is to prune the dead and affected leaves. Pruning your cannabis leaves regularly makes for healthier plants that are protected against most pests and pathogens.
  • Aesthetics: Your cannabis set-up, whether indoor or outdoor, appears neater when the plants are well-pruned. It also makes harvesting easier, and when you burn up the excess plant material post-harvest, it doesn’t give off as much smoke.

When Should You Prune Cannabis Plants

You can start pruning as early as two weeks into the vegetative stage to allow the plants to grow properly. Pruning runs throughout the cannabis plant’s growth stages, even up till flowering, and you must be ready to cater to the plants as they develop. You can leave at least a week between each pruning session for recovery, and you should ensure that you administer the appropriate post-pruning care to the marijuana plants to prevent stress.

Close-up photo of an indoor ScrOG set-up.
Pruning is one of the important operations in ScrOG set-ups.
Source: pexels

Cannabis Pruning Techniques

Depending on the purpose of your pruning exercise, there are several methods for pruning your cannabis plants. Your procedure might not follow a specific pattern if you simply wish to aerate the cannabis garden. There, you could simply top the plants (for the tall, slender sativa cannabis species) or remove the lower, broader leaves in the shorter, bushier growth of indica plants.

Some of the more popular cannabis pruning techniques include:

  • Topping: Topping refers to the removal of the topmost growth on a cannabis plant by trimming the plant at the first or second uppermost node (apical pruning). Here, you might get two or three more stalks growing from the pruned spot, and it is more commonly practiced among cannabis cultivators who use the ScrOG method. Topping is chiefly a pruning method directed at increasing productivity, although it could also be adapted for reducing the height of your weed plants, in case they are getting too tall.
  • Fimming: Fimming is a pruning technique that can come in later in the weed plant’s life, probably at the flowering stage. The technique focuses on cutting smaller leaves, leaving only about 30% of the foliage for photosynthesis. With fimming, you can condition your marijuana plants to pump more nutrients into the formation of their buds since there are only a few leaves and branches left on the plant.
  • Lollipop pruning: This simply refers to a pruning technique where the cannabis plant ends up looking like a lollipop, with the leaves and buds concentrated at the top of the plant. Fimming can lead to this, especially when you want the only buds at the upper part of the plant exposed to the light.
  • Harvest trimming: The harvest trimming in cannabis plants could occur in two forms; wet and dry trimming. Of course, whichever you choose is down to your preferences, as both have their peculiarities.

Dry trimming: The dry trimming technique involves cutting the cannabis branches at a particular node and hanging them to dry before you pick out the leaves. With dry trimming, you don’t have to deal with the messy oil resins that are associated with wet trimming, but you have to handle the buds with care after the drying process.

Wet trimming: With wet trimming, you can prune the cannabis buds as soon as you harvest them, cutting through the sugar leaves and forming your desired bud shape. You’d have to deal with the oily mess after cutting the fresh leaves, but at least you don’t have to go through hanging them again.

What Parts of the Cannabis Plant Do You Need to Prune?

We already stated that the point of pruning cannabis plants was to get the unnecessary parts of the plant off and boost nutrition to the buds. But you aren’t going to cut the entire plant off, are you?

Here is a list of the cannabis plant parts you should cut off during pruning:

  • Fan leaves are found at the lower aspects of the cannabis plant. They contain low levels of terpenes and cannabinoids, so they aren’t very marketable.
  • Buds are placed too close to the shoot, where they only get minimal sunlight. They will reduce the growth rate of the well-placed buds even when they won’t grow to marketable sizes.
  • Low branches are usually the ones bearing the fan leaves.
  • Leaves that are dying from lack of sunlight.
  • The topmost part of the plant, in case they are getting too tall, or you want to scrog them soon.

Cannabis Pruning Equipment

Your typical pruning kit would contain a mix of actual pruning tools and harvesting tools since you still have to trim your cannabis plants post-harvest. Some of the required equipment include:

  • A pair of pruning shears, without which your pruning exercise is incomplete.
  • Pruning (trimming scissors), for a more precise trimming session. Sharp scissors are best for post-harvest operations.
  • Gloves, because post-harvest trimming or not, you will still have to deal with the cannabis resins when you cut through the green branches.
  • Drying racks, for hanging your cannabis branches after harvesting.
  • Bucking machines are used on commercial scales to speed up the harvesting process.

Pruning Cannabis Plants: A Step-by-step Guide

Pruning in the Vegetative Phase

As stated earlier, your pruning process should start in the second week of vegetative growth, allowing the cannabis plant to get the sunlight to the right parts. There is so much leaf growth in this phase and removing the fan leaves and other excess foliage on the stalk allows the buds to get direct sunlight and enter the flowering phase faster.

You should check for the branches bearing large and yellowing (distressed) or dead leaves, and carefully clip them off without affecting the main stem. For outdoor setups, you can clip off branches that are obstructing airflow to the plant.

Pruning in the Flowering Period

Here, your buds have developed, but so have the rest of the leaves around them. But you have to be even more careful with defoliating the plant at such periods. Any form of distress can impede the bud development and reduce the maximum yield.

Many cannabis growers suggest stopping pruning the cannabis plants two weeks into the flowering phase so that the bud matures unhindered. Like we said, so much care is needed at this stage and you don’t want to take the wrong step.

Post-Pruning Care

Pruning, like many plant cultivation practices, causes some amount of stress in cannabis plants. So you should have measures in place to alleviate the stress and help them continue their growth seamlessly.

Here are some of such measures:

  • Water your plants after each pruning exercise to reduce stress and stimulate healthy growth.
  • Don’t use fertilizers on your plants a few days before and after pruning to avoid shock, although a dose of vitamin B-complex in the soil could help deal with the pruning stress.
Picture of a room filled with growing cannabis plants.
Growing your cannabis indoors? You have more than just pruning to worry about.
Source: Ryan Lange unsplash

Tips to Consider While Pruning Cannabis Plants

Here are some extra tips to make your pruning process even more successful and error-free:

  • Avoid cutting too many leaves at once. This can lead to shock and distress, thus unbalancing the plant’s growth cycle.
  • Space the ‘big day,’ with at least a week between each proper pruning session.
  • Indica-dominant strains grow at a slower rate than their sativa counterparts, so you should start their pruning at least a week later than the Sativa-dominant strains.


Overall, pruning is one of the steps in cannabis cultivation that can take your yield from average to sky-high. From promoting aeration to improving cannabis flower growth and maturation, your simple cutting and trimming can help you maximize your resources even better.

And speaking of resources, there’s one thing that is better than excellent pruning–pruning plants from marijuana seed stock! And that is all we do at Growers Choice. So do you want Bruce Banner feminized seeds or the White Widow autoflowering strain?

Growers Choice online store has them all, and more, should you change your mind. Check our available stock and get your cannabis farming with the best marijuana seeds around today!


1. When Should You Start Pruning Weed Plants?

You can start pruning them two weeks after they start their vegetative phases, although indica strains generally need a little more time compared with the sativa variants.

2. Is it advisable to Prune Weed Plants in the Flowering Phase?

You’d have to be careful while pruning your weed plants in their flowering phases, but it is advisable to ensure the buds develop without any hindrance.

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