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Guides | 05.09.2022

Learn How To Trim & Weed With Our Ultimate Cannabis Pruning Guide

Our cannabis pruning guide can make this tedious task a little more bearable.

Did you know you can manipulate your plant’s growth with a simple trim? 

While trimming cannabis is the final stretch of hard work before you dry, cure, and enjoy your harvest, pruning is a little different. 

In this guide, we’ll breakdown;

  • the differences between trimming and pruning
  • their benefits
  • how to trim and prune cannabis plants

The process is simple but can be a little tedious and time-consuming. 

What Is Pruning?

Let’s say your plant starts looking a bit wonky, with some parts growing more than others. In that case, pruning is great for;

  • promoting growth in certain areas
  • encouraging new growth
  • maximizing yields

And all it takes is a simple trim, err–prune. When some parts of the cannabis plant aren’t looking too healthy, pruning these areas can help promote growth in stronger areas. 

This process calls for cutting unhealthy and damaged areas to encourage new growth. 

It’s also used to manipulate the size of your plant. Doing this lets the plant direct all its energy into growing whatever you’ve left behind. 

When pruning the sides of cannabis plants to extend upward growth, your plant will likely shoot up and grow tall. 

The same goes for widening plants; prune the leaves blocking sunlight on top to spur horizontal growth. 

What You Need To Trim Cannabis Plants

Photo by FatCamera / iStock

Let’s circle back to trimming cannabis plants. This process is done right before harvest.

For trimming, you’ll want to use a small pair of trimming scissors.

Trimming your plants is ideal for a smooth and clean smoke. Most professional cultivation sites have expert trimmers who make the plant presentable and remove the excess dry leaves.

Smoking cannabis trimmings is not advised, considering these dry leaves can cause a sore throat, intense coughing, and headaches.

The blades of your scissors should be about one-and-a-half or two inches long. These smaller blades will give you more control, allowing for a more precise trimming process.

It’s also highly recommended that you use a pair of scissors that fits comfortably in your hands. Many trimmers recommend spring-loaded scissors to help prevent your hand from cramping up.

Take a look at the packaging and try to find scissors that say “ergonomically designed.” Also, look to see if the scissors are made from a material that’s easily cleaned.

As you trim and resin builds up on the blades, you’ll want to be able to scrape it off easily and get back to work. For this reason, some blades will have an additional coating.

Bonus: you can either save this resin for smoking or wipe your scissor blades periodically with an alcohol wipe to keep them sharp and functional.

While the scissors you use may seem like an excessive consideration, keep in mind that the trimming process is long, requiring multiple hours of work.

For example, trimming one pound of cannabis flower will take approximately six to eight hours.

It’s also recommended that you wear rubber gloves while trimming. The resin will collect on the rubber gloves as you trim.

Once you’re finished trimming, put these gloves in the freezer overnight so that the resin hardens, and the following morning you can remove the resin from the gloves and consume it or make it into hash.

What You Need To Prune Cannabis Plants

Photo by Gina Coleman / Weedmaps

To begin your pruning process, you need one solid pair of shears. 

For a smooth pruning process, ensure your shears are;

  • clean
  • sharp
  • ergonomic

By ergonomic, we mean a pair of pruning shears that fits comfortably in your hand. Like trimming scissors, ergonomic pruning shears may come with springs for an easier bounce-back. 

In terms of clean pruning shears, this is important for keeping your plant in tip-top shape. Unwanted pathogens or bacteria can stick onto your shears and travel directly into the plant’s stem when pruning. 

Sharpening your pruning shears right before use helps make the process quick, easy, and less strenuous. It also makes each trim more precise. 

Trimming Tips

Trimming can be a messier process than most expect. 

Don’t wear your finest clothes to trim cannabis. Wear old clothes you don’t care about. 

If you want to really protect your clothes from getting coated in resin, you could always wear an apron. (This might be a little overboard but to each their own.)

1. Trim with the tips of your scissors, not the base of the scissors. The tips of the scissors are more precise, and if you learn to trim with the scissor tips, you’ll have more success.

2. Prepare yourself for boredom. Try putting on music you like. Or maybe play a movie in the background while you trim. Podcasts are another great option. Better yet, enlist some friends to help you trim. You can bribe them by offering a portion of your harvest.

Pruning Tips

While trimming can be a long process, pruning can be shorter depending on what you’re looking to do.

1. Because pruning shears have smaller blades than trimming scissors, it doesn’t matter which end of the blade you use.

2. Gentleness is the name of the game. When your shears are sharp, you’ll have more control over your trims, and likely won’t damage the surrounding areas

3. Pruning isn’t as tedious as trimming until it is. If your plant requires some intense pruning to promote new growth, turn on some music, hit a joint, and make the most of your time.

How To Prune

Photo by
Cannafornia

There are a few different ways to prune your plants and different methods. Here’s the rundown. 

1. The most common pruning method is trimming the central stalk. 

Yes, it may seem a bit scary. However, pruning the stalk near the top encourages new, wider growth. 

When your plant has grown to your preferred height, prune the central stalk and watch as your plant begins to focus on lateral, bushy growth. 

2. Next, take a look at your plant’s mid-section

Healthy cannabis plants will have excess airflow through their mid areas. To achieve this, prune the small branches in the middle of your plant near the stalk. 

By doing this; you’ll

  • maximize central airflow
  • reduce the risk of molding
  • let your plant focus on its bigger, more substantial branches

3. Try pruning the larger branches if you’re up for it. 

I know this is a bit contradictory to the above, but this process is also great for increasing your plant’s airflow. It also moves the plant’s energy into different areas, growing those smaller areas and giving them more strength. 

The same goes for the large, energy-sucking leaves. These leaves are packed with plant energy, so pruning them can help spread energy throughout the plant and produce new, even growth. 

4. Another common method is pruning the branches and leaves at the bottom. 

This process helps spur upward and lateral growth. Come harvest, your buds near the bottom will likely be the ones to suffer the most damage. 

This process is called lollipopping. Pruning the bottom areas is great for;

  • minimizing the risk of mold near the bottom/roots
  • increasing healthy airflow
  • encouraging upward, tall growth

By the end, your plant should resemble a lollipop. Thin on the bottom and bushy on top. 

5. Finally, this last step is simple. Prune any unhealthy-looking areas. 

If leaves or buds are starting to brown and don’t look so great, who needs ’em? These suckers are quite literally sucking up energy to heal themselves, which likely won’t happen. 

Pruning these areas allows your plant to focus on its stronger and healthier areas. 

How to Trim

1. The first to go are the fan leaves.

These are the largest leaves on the plant. They’re easily recognizable, with the distinct seven-pointed leaf shape that is almost always used to represent cannabis on T-shirts, flags, posters, advertisements, etc.

There are no trichomes on the fan leaves. These can be easily plucked or snipped off of the plant and discarded.

2. Trim the buds from their stems.

Cut the stems as close to the base of the buds as possible. Nobody likes stems whether you’re selling your cannabis or keeping it for yourself.

Just get rid of them! When you’re done, your buds should only have a tiny piece of stem on their base.

3. The next to go are the sugar leaves.

These are the small triangle-shaped leaves that extend from the buds. You’ll be able to identify them by the resin dust that sits like particles of sugar on the pointed leaves.

These are easily snipped off the bud with your scissors. Snip these leaves off as close to their base as possible. Many cannabis growers save their sugar leaves and use them to create edibles or tinctures.

They can also technically be smoked, although they’ll be harsh and not very flavourful.

4. Finally, remove any extra small leaves that protrude from the bud.

Everybody has their own level of meticulousness when it comes to trimming. Some will put up with more small leaves and plant matter than others.

But if you want to end up with buds that taste the best they can, and smoke the smoothest, you’ll want to get rid of as many small leaves as possible.

By the end of the trimming process, your buds should look as if they went to the barbers and got a buzzcut.

Once you’re done trimming, it’s time to dry and cure your cannabis flower. Here is the best way to dry your cannabisHere is the best way to cure your cannabis.

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