That fresh post-barbershop feeling isn’t exclusive to humans with clean fades: cannabis also thrives with a good trim. This is why so many cultivators consider plant pruning essential for growth, aesthetic, and overall health.
Consistently groomed plants enjoy better airflow, more effective sun exposure, and a reduced risk of mold or disease. They also make for better consumption, resulting in smoother hits and prettier-looking products.
For such a wide variety of benefits, pruning marijuana plants is relatively easy. It’s not time-consuming or costly and it renders trimming a whole lot simpler down the line. And just as barbershop upkeep is much more straightforward when you don’t skip your standing appointments, trimming your trees becomes streamlined once you have a solid system in place.
What is pruning cannabis?
Pruning cannabis is exactly what it sounds like: removing parts of the plant with a pair of shears or scissors. This removal, largely of the plant’s fan leaves, helps the rest of the cannabis grow quickly and evenly, exposing the lower areas to much-needed sunlight and airflow.
Some breeders prune mother plants and remove branches during the vegetative stage for the purpose of cloning, but for most growers, pruning is a cheap and easy way to ensure the entire cannabis plant is receiving the nutrients it needs to thrive.
“Similar to how you might prune trees, staying on top of your plants by removing excess undergrowth and nurturing those strong, healthy new shoots will give you the best results when it comes to cloning mother plants,” said RiverRun Gardens Director of Operations Will Ried. “Beyond cloning, a lot of people prune lower parts of the plant for light and air exposure–especially in indoor grow spaces where the light source is coming straight down and only hitting the top of the plant.”
How to prune cannabis
The best method of pruning always begins with fresh and clean tools, just like your favorite barber. Dirty tools can lead to dead, diseased plants if not dead branches over time.
“When you prune, you’re essentially creating a wound on the plant, so if you’re using dirty equipment, your plant will be more prone to infection,” Ried said.
Once you have the right tools, remember to cut as close to the main stem as possible.
“You don’t want to cut right in the middle and leave half a stem cut in half. That stem will die off, and that open wound can be another source of infection for the plant,” Ried said.
9 benefits of pruning cannabis
Armed with your required equipment and tips for success, you’re ready to start pruning cannabis plants. Here are nine benefits that tend to come with all types of pruning, in case you need any further encouragement to work this process into your growing schedule.
Pruning promotes plant growth
Just like consistent haircuts help your hair grow faster and fuller, the right pruning technique and schedule promotes cannabis plant growth, which usually results in bushier and fluffier buds.
“Trimming down those big fan leaves early on in the flowering stage can help promote larger bud development, since the plant is able to put more energy on the buds and less on leaf production,” Ried said.
That’s what pruning is all about when growing cannabis with attention: redirecting energy from where it isn’t that useful and ensuring it’s saved for the parts of the plant that require focus and strength.
Pruning improves airflow
Removing unwanted parts of the plant allows the rest of your cannabis to suck up tons of oxygen, which is essential for health and growth.
“After pruning, air can flow more freely through the plants, which also helps reduce the risk of mold and pathogens,” Ried said.
Pruning keeps your plant healthy and well
Mold, bacteria, and pests are common annoyances among plants and growers, but with consistent and proper pruning, your plant has more energy to fight off these unwelcome guests and keep them at bay.
Pruning helps with sun exposure
Fewer fan leaves means the rest of the plant has a better chance of soaking up direct sunlight, and that leads to higher yields and more potent product.
Pruning improves the consumer smoking experience
Pruning isn’t just useful for cultivators looking to streamline the growing process. It’s also ideal for consumers.
Keeping your plant tightly trimmed removes the small sugar leaves that tend to cause excessive coughing and harsh hits, so consumers will enjoy a much smoother experience.
Pruning is pretty
All of the grower and consumer benefits aside, pruning cannabis is aesthetically pleasing. Well-manicured products are more eye-catching for retailers interested in stocking your cannabis, as well as for consumers perusing the aisles for a new strain of flower.
Pruning is ideal for making clones
Clones come from mother plant cuttings, and keeping your mothers pristinely pruned will ensure you’ve got healthier top growth to trim from. This will help provide healthier, stronger, and more potent clones.
Pruning isn’t time-consuming or costly
All you need to acquire is a clean pair of scissors shears within reach. If you don’t own any, you can can purchase a decent pair for under $10. The process is as low-maintenance as it gets–affordable, intuitive, and easy to accomplish in a short period of time.
Pruning renders down-the-line trimming much easier
Trimming cannabis is always necessary at some point, and whether you opt for dry trimming or wet trimming, it can be a time-consuming process that’s tough on your back and other joints.
Keeping your plant pruned throughout the growth cycles makes the end-of-harvest trim a lot easier and faster.