Growing cannabis plants take knowledge, dedication, and patience. Pruning is just one part of what cannabis plants need throughout their lifecycle. While simple sounding, pruning needs to be done correctly or it could cause damage that affects the outcome of the plant’s crop.
Pruning a cannabis plant is all about promoting the health of the plant, maintaining its quality, and pushing its boundaries to produce high-testing buds. There are several types of pruning that are done throughout a plant’s life, and each type is designed for a different purpose to help the plant.
Pruning starts as early as in the vegetative cycle and continues throughout the plant’s lifespan.
The life of your plant begins in the nursery. During this time in your plant’s life, it needs care and dedication. Pruning is an integral part of preparing a cannabis plant for the flowering stage in its life cycle.
Many growers will use certain pruning methods to help control the shape and size of the plant. For example, some strains naturally grow taller or wider than others. Pruning will help curb some of the growth and train the plant to grow into the desired shape and size.
Pruning also helps encourage root growth during the plant’s vegetative cycle. By removing select branches, the plant will focus on root growth. However, knowing which branches to remove and when to remove them takes experience and patience.
Canopy consistency is also achieved when using certain pruning methods. Many growers will often grow multiple strains at the same time, and oftentimes, these strains will grow at different rates and have height differences. Maintaining an even canopy can help prepare your crop for the flowering stage of its lifecycle. The goal is to maintain each plant at a certain height to help prevent stretching and overshadowing smaller growing plants, both of which can have an impact on the crop’s final yield.
Pruning also assists by allowing growers to maintain plants at a height that prevents light burn. No matter what kind of light is used in an indoor grow, having a plant reach too high could burn the plant and impact the plant’s health and crop.
According to Vivosun, a brand that produces grow lights designed for commercial cannabis production, “when plants [are] exposed to strong light, chlorophyll in the leaves degrades and [turns] white. Because of this, it is also called, in cannabis, light bleaching. The light stress that causes light burn mainly comes from the intensity and heat of the light.”
During this stage in a plant’s life, it is important to be selective with what is pruned. If vegetative plants undergo too many stress factors, it could result in;
Pruning during a plant’s vegetative cycle is a beneficial process, however, requires an experienced hand. If done properly, pruning can help set your cannabis plants up for success in their flowering stage.
Once the cannabis plants move from the veg room into the flower room, the need for pruning continues. During the first few weeks of the plants’ time in their new home, many growers will continue to use pruning as a way to train their plants as a way to maintain even canopy growth and prevent excessive stretching.
Around the 21st day of the plant’s time in the flower room, a process typically called “Day 21” will take place. Each grower has their own method of accomplishing this task, but the fundamentals are the same. The excess plant material and smaller lower branches are removed from the plant, opening up light throughout the canopy.
The process is designed to mimic the effects of a hail storm. As your cannabis plant encounters stressors, it will compensate by producing more THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found within all cannabis plants. While different strains produce varying amounts of THC and other cannabinoids, all cannabis plants can benefit from using pruning to help stimulate the plant to produce more THC.
When it comes to pruning, having the right scissors matters. Using a pair of sharp grow scissors will help prevent damage to your plants. According to the National Parks Service in Singapore, “Using the wrong type of tool can lead to excessive exertion of effort, which may lead to undue strain on your hands after prolonged use. It can also cause damage to the plant.”
Maintaining the scissors used to prune your cannabis plants is important as well. As the scissors are used, over time they will become dirty and dull. Keeping them clean and sharp will go a long way toward keeping your plants healthy.
As an extra precaution, it is advisable to sterilize your scissors in between crops and even between plants in some cases. This can help prevent the spread of pests and cannabis diseases between rooms. Some growers will go the extra step and assign scissors to a designated room to help prevent cross-contamination. If a plant is infected and quarantined, this method is particularly useful.
Pruning can be an effective method of keeping your plant happy and healthy. However, knowing when and what to trim is important. Using and maintaining your trimming equipment is important as well. But if done properly, it can set you up for a successful harvest.
While pruning is just one of the many details it takes to keep a plant healthy, it is one that continues throughout its lifecycle. Pruning may look different at each stage of a plant’s life, but never diminishes in its importance.
When it comes to growing cannabis, there are a lot of fine details one has to learn in order to produce high quality buds. Pruning is just one of the hundreds of detailed tasks that the profession requires. However, with time and practice, anyone with a desire to grow great cannabis can learn to do so.
Deng, Lexie. “Light Burn and Light Stress in Cannabis Plants.” VIVOSUN, 21 May 2022, https://vivosun.com/growing_guide/light-burn-and-light-stress/. Accessed 12 March 2023.
National Parks Board. “How to Get the Right Hair-cut for Your Plants.” National Parks Board, 2013, https://www.nparks.gov.sg/nparksbuzz/issue-17-vol-2-2013/gardening/how-to-get-the-right-hair-cut-for-your-plants. Accessed 12 March 2023.
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