Pruning is a vital part of cannabis growing and will help plants reach their full potential. However, we shouldn’t just jump in and get to snipping. There are a lot of variables attached to proper pruning, just like with any aspect of growing. As always we need to listen to the plants and let them tell us what they need. If we do this and prune properly we can improve the yield and overall quality of the buds. If we don’t listen and just prune every plant in the same way we can do a lot more harm than good. This article is a basic beginner’s guide to cannabis pruning that will get us on track to fully understanding and listening to our plants.
When we prune we cut off little pieces of the plant. This can be to make room for more of the plant to grow or maybe to stop a dying part of the plant from stealing nutrients. There are all sorts of reasons for pruning a plant, but it should always be to help the plant grow.
When Should We Prune?
Pruning can be done as soon as the second week of the growing phase. Before the plant has done any developing pruning is pointless and likely damaging. Pruning can be done up until about 2 weeks into the flowering phase. Pruning after this point can stop the plants from getting the energy they need to form the buds.
What Should We Look For?
The plant will get most of its energy and nutrients from the top of the plant since this is where most of the light is hitting. Other parts of the plant that aren’t catching the light or helping the general growing effort are just using up unnecessary energy. We want to snip off any leaves that are dying due to a lack of light, any low down branches, and any low down bud sites that won’t get any light. Often plants that are a little slimmer or don’t have too much foliage won’t need a huge amount of pruning. Some of the bushier plants, however, will need a bit of help to ensure proper energy use and airflow. If the plant gets too bushy it can also collect water and moisture which could then turn into mould.
Why Should We Prune?
As I’ve already said pruning can increase yields by up to 25% and can help the plant properly use its energy resources. However, if we prune in the early stages of growth we can train the plants to grow in a certain way. This means the plants will need less attention further down the line. If the plant is trained it will produce fewer large leaves and is less likely to become overcrowded in flowering. Pruning can also alter the shape of the plant for maximum light absorption and thus maximum energy collection.
How To Prune
Let’s move onto the technical aspects of pruning and the varieties of pruning available. There are a few types of pruning to be considered and the ideal pruning style will depend on the plant and the growing environment. Today we will cover the three most popular pruning techniques used by growers.
This pruning style will create four buds where there would usually be one. Of course, this is a popular pruning method for increasing yield. This is accomplished by partially snipping the newest shoot. Fimming creates more high up leaves and wider plants which results in better light absorption. The more light a plant can absorb the more energy they process and the more buds they can grow. This gives the plants the ability to grow more buds whilst also improving energy creation.
To Fim we need to find the most recent shoot on the plant and cut off the top two-thirds of it. Once the shoot has been cut it will create a second shoot that will grow with its very own leaves. This means that it will form new axils which will turn into new buds, if it’s been done properly there should be four buds rather than two.
Topping is an extremely popular form of pruning that involves snipping off the very top shoot of the plant. This may seem to be counter intuitive but with this top section gone the rest of the plant can absorb a lot more light. It also stimulated the production of more shoots and branches, thus increasing the yield. This means there are more leaves to take in more light and more branches to produce more buds. The buds also tend to be larger on plants that have been topped.
To Top a plant just take sheers and snip off the very top shoot of the plant. In a similar way to Fimming, this will allow the shoot to grow into two axils creating more branches. We want to inflict minimal damage so just snip the most recent shoot. We don’t want the plant to expend too much energy on healing once it has been damaged.
This final technique gets rid of the lower down leaves and stems to increase energy use on higher buds. It directs energy to the main cola sites and can therefore result in much larger buds. For an environment where most of the light is coming from directly above this is a great idea. Taking away the lower parts of the plant can improve air circulation and direct energy straight to where it’s needed.
This can either be done from the top down or the bottom up. Top-down just means selecting a section at the top of the plant and trimming down from there. Bottom-up is more common and starts by removing short lateral branches at the bottom of the plant and slowly working up the main stem.
Never over prune plants, if we injure them too much all of their energy will be used on healing. This means smaller yields and stunted growth, basically the opposite of what we want.
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