Grow Tip: How To Prune Cannabis Plants
Pruning is an age-old practice used throughout the agricultural world to boost crops. From hobbyists and allotment holders, all the way to big industrial players, everyone prunes their veg to encourage bigger yields. Even the humble tomato plant produces bigger fruit when pruned properly. So, if this is a technique that can, and is, applied to pretty much all fruit and vegetable cultivation out there, you can be sure as hell it can be applied to cannabis – with great results.
Pruning, at its essence, is the art of removing unnecessary shoots, branches and leaves in order to force the plant to refocus its limited energy into its current and established growth. Quite often, when left to its own devices, a cannabis plant will grow too big to support itself efficiently with the amount of energy it produces. If left unchecked, this can result in multiple small bud sites as the plant struggles to sustain itself while producing bud during flowering. By removing unnecessary and weak growth, you force the cannabis plant to focus on what is left, resulting in a stronger plant able to produce a few large buds instead of loads of small ones. This often results in bigger overall yields.
Why do we call pruning an art? Because it can be a hard balance to get right. Every time you cause damage to your cannabis, it has a hormonal response that tells it to focus on defence over growth. This means over-pruning can cause stunted growth. Even worse, if you over prune to the point where the plant can no longer produce the energy required to sustain itself, it can die. If you don’t prune enough then very little difference will be made. It is a fine line to walk.
PRUNING YOUR CANNABIS
Firstly, pruning must only ever take place during the vegetative stage of growth. If you prune during flowering, you will be reducing the amount of energy available to your cannabis plants during bud production, which in turn will result in smaller buds. Also, always allow your cannabis at least three days of recovery after pruning before moving over to the flowering phase.
Method 1: Limbing
The best way to prune your cannabis is to watch very closely as it grows, and assess which branches are going to perform the best. The branches you cut away should either be very low on the plant, and thus get very little light, or be those with long distances between nodes. Both of these types of branches will take more energy for the plant to maintain than they produce. Cut them away at the stem to minimise stress. This technique is often referred to as “limbing”.
Method 2: Defoliation
Another method often used is defoliation – the removal of leaves. Whatever you decide to do, never cut away all the big fan leaves – these are the main energy producers for the plant, and cutting them off will severely inhibit its efficiency. However, some growers believe cutting away leaves, especially when they are under the canopy, can boost the focus on bud growth. Other growers do not think it makes a difference, or can even take away from bud growth. We tend to agree with the latter, although you should experiment yourself, and see what works for you.
Method 3: Topping
The last pruning technique we are going to look at is topping. This can be used in conjunction with limbing.. Topping involves removing the top of the main stem. While it may sound counterproductive, it causes the cannabis divide its energy into producing two more tops, as well as boosting growth in lower branches. The result is a stronger overall plant with larger yields. It is a method that also causes the cannabis to grow wider, rather than taller, making it great for those who need to control size. In order to top your cannabis, cut just below the highest fully developed node of the main stem during vegetative growth. It is worth noting, topping can add an extra 1-2 weeks to grow time, but for the overall boost in performance and yields, many believe it is worth it.
There you go! Three pruning techniques that can be applied to most growing situations. Which you choose will likely depend on where you are growing, as well as the techniques you have already used. Just remember don’t overdo it – only prune what needs pruning, and you will soon master this art and boost yields like never before.