Learning how to trim marijuana plants can be a tricky and confusing thing at first. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that cannabis plants are just like your usual household plants.
For this particular guide, I’ll help you understand how you can trim and prune cannabis plants without the fear of dismantling or breaking their overall composition.
For my trimming, I go for the TRIM DADDY 3PLUS. Besides the fact that you can use it for wet and dry trimming, you wouldn’t need to be fully-experienced growers. It’s a simple device that you can use for trimming and pruning marijuana plants on your own!
Getting to Know the Trimming Process
Before I go and talk about what trimming and pruning marijuana plants are, let me first give you an idea of the trimming process.
- Germination Stage
- Vegetative Stage
- Flowering Stage
Trimming is the next part that comes after the harvest and before curing. The harvest is the stage in your marijuana plant’s lifecycle where you’ll be getting what you want from weed plants — the flower or the buds.
From a personal perspective, who would want to smoke and consume cannabis plants with larger branches and main stems still present?
Trimming or pruning cannabis plants is essential to ensure that you’ll get the best quality out of it and keep the plant healthy. Correct trimming paves the way to a better quality of smoke, more fragrant aroma, and better taste because it’ll undergo the appropriate way of drying and then curing — we’ll get to that in the latter part of this guide.
When you trim, you remove the branches and leaves in order to give the user/consumer easier and faster access to the trichomes of the plant. Furthermore, trimming or pruning cannabis is the way to eradicate the components that contribute to giving you harsh smoke when you smoke it.
Trimming vs. Pruning Cannabis Plants: Are They Similar?
Is the process of trimming cannabis plants similar to pruning? How do they differ? If you look at them blindly, you’ll notice that both processes follow the same ruling, and you do the same for each of them.
Technically, yes, trimming and pruning are the same. The distinguishing factor they have is the end goal. Pruning is a preferred method for removing smaller branches and leaves (even larger branches) from the plant for it to look better. And as we know, branches grow quite spontaneously.
Trimming, on the other hand, is a process done to promote better and new growth in the plant. It is a subtractive method, but the main purpose is to make sure that your cannabis plant is healthily growing and that it’s giving cannabis growers the quality they were expecting.
Usually, pruning marijuana plants is done before the harvest; pruning makes sure that leaves and branches wouldn’t dominate the plant. Trimming is done after the harvest, preparing it for drying or curing.
What Happens If You Don’t Trim Marijuana Plants?
For the curious, what do you think will happen if you skip the trimming part and go straight to drying and then curing? There are many different possibilities that could happen. However, the worst ones include:
It Promotes Mold Formation
The first drawback in skipping trimming cannabis plants is that it’s inviting to molds and mildew, especially if you’re preparing for the curing process. Since it will still have leaves and branches, even sugars intact, it’s a tasty treat to these pests and fungi.
We all know what would happen if these types of fungi develop on the leaves — or worse, the flowers.
You’ll Have a Mix-Up of Compounds
Let me get one thing straight, trimming cannabis won’t have any effects on how strong and potent it will be, but pruning marijuana plants do. Why? — Because pruning helps in boosting plant growth by giving it more space for a growth spurt of buds.
By this time, the production of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids in the plant has concluded; therefore, whether you trim it or not, it wouldn’t have any drastic effects on how strong the product will be.
What’s bad with it, though, is that there could be a mix-up of the compounds present. What I mean by this is that the cannabis plant, as a whole, can give you psychoactive effects. Removing several parts of it (leaves and branches) that have low-to-no levels of THC (which is the cannabinoid that gives the “high” feeling) can leave you with a better product.
NOTE: In a sense, trimming can increase yield in terms of the concentrated cannabinoids on the cannabis plant.
Harsh Smoke Effects
Lastly would be the development of harsh smoke that’s coming from the parts of the marijuana plant that does not contain active cannabinoids. If you think about it, there wouldn’t be much sense to leave those parts. In fact, it’ll even do you worse.
These are the things that you will definitely experience if you decide to skip the trim or the prune.
Wet vs. Dry Trimming: Which is Better For Your Cannabis Plants?
Now that you know why you should trim or prune cannabis plants, which method would you prefer? There’s what we call wet trimming and dry trimming. Both of them are effective, but their distinctions might be your deciding factor.
Wet trimming is the process of trimming your cannabis plants while they’re wet or without drying them first. A lot of growers and experts recommend wet trimming because of how fast the process is.
Other than those pros and advantages, though, there are a couple of things you need to take note of when you are wet trimming. So, here’s a table that lists some of the pros and cons of wet trimming!
|Pros of Wet Trimming
|Cons of Wet Trimming
|Yields better and higher flower-to-trim ratio
|Requires more equipment to successfully perform
|Many variations of machines and devices
|Less room for errors
|Faster drying process *naturally*
|Equipment needed are far larger and bigger
|Less breakages to the trichomes
|More likely to develop molds
|Easier to trim
|Quality of products can be influenced and compromised
Dry trimming, on the other end of the spectrum, is the process of trimming your plants while they’re dry or dehydrated. It is the lesser-known method, and, in fact, experts frown upon dry trimming simply because of the space it will require, as well as the tedious steps you will need to follow.
|Pros of Dry Trimming Cannabis
|Cons of Dry Trimming Cannabis
|Equipment and devices don’t get easily dirty as they won’t stick
|You will need a bigger and more spacious drying room and more space for drying
|You don’t have to trim it out all at once, you can spread out the process in a few days
|Products are more fragile and more sensitive when dry
|Less and fewer equipment needed
|Before hang-drying, fan leaves must be removed manually
|Better quality of products
When and How Should You Prune Marijuana Plants?
The purpose of pruning your marijuana plant is to increase yield and to gain better, bigger, and much more potent buds by the harvest time. But when is the best time for pruning cannabis? Is there a timeline every grower follows?
Tips On When to Prune Your Cannabis Plant:
- Most of the pruning will happen during the few weeks entering the vegetative phase or when fan leaves are the most prominent
- 9 times out of 10, you should start pruning during the first or second week of the vegetative stage
- When you see that your marijuana plant is starting to develop growth tips (nodes) and internodes
- You only need to prune fan leaves when they die, have too much shade, have nutrient deficiencies, get swarmed by pests and mold, or if there are space limitations.
In case you didn’t know, fan leaves are an essential component of cannabis plants because they help ensure the plant gets enough light. In some cases, it’s the factor that makes it have more light exposure.
When you cut them off, they don’t regenerate, and they won’t come back any longer. Instead, start pruning your marijuana plant when you notice that the overall plant is slowly being dominated by small branches, dry branches, and foliage.
NOTE: Be mindful when you are pruning your cannabis plants.
Pruning cannabis shouldn’t be complicated. As a matter of fact, this should be done in a fashion that seems natural and lenient. You should never feel that pruning cannabis is stressful for you — it’s already stressful for the plant!
- First off, remove larger branches so you can see through the plant better.
- Then, prune the branches that would not get the light needed.
- After that, continue pruning smaller and lower branches or those that would have unproductive growth.
What to Use to Trim and Prune Marijuana Plants?
When it comes to trimming your cannabis plant, there is a vast library of devices and equipment you can use. Over the years, in fact, these machines have evolved to be able to prune properly and ensure that you don’t cut off and damage the entire plant.
As a novice grower, I’m confident that I was able to use some of the industry’s worst and best products for the flowering period or the vegetative stage.
Not sure which device to use to prune your cannabis plant? Here are the best ones I’ve found:
- TRIM DADDY 3PLUS Power Scissors: Editor’s Choice
- Fiskars Non-Stick Soft Grip Micro-Tip Pruning Snip: Runner-Up
- Happy Hydro Non-Stick Scissors: Most Affordable Pruning Scissors
- Gonicc 8-Inch Professional Pruning Shears: Most Versatile Pruning Scissors
- Grow1 Titanium Coated Curved Blade Trimming Scissors: Most Versatile Pruning Shears
TRIM DADDY 3PLUS Power Scissors: Editor’s Choice
The TRIM DAADDY 3PLUS Power Scissors is an excellent choice for your pruning needs because of how well you’ll be able to control the speed, type, and power of your cut.
It has been rated to have 10,000+ hours of use, which potentially bypasses all risks related to overheating and motor fatigue.
TRIM DADDY 3PLUS Power Scissors come with three (3) different blades, the Kingslim, The OG, and the Biggie, all of which have certain characteristics that differ from one another; guaranteeing the cleanest and freshest cut, you will ever see!
Coming next is the Fiskars non-stick soft grip pruning snip. What other growers and I loved about this is the fact that you’ll be able to use it without overly fatiguing your hand.
Its soft-grip functionality makes it easy and convenient to work on your marijuana plant and makes sure that it continues a healthy growth throughout the end of its life cycle.
Pruning cannabis has never been this simple, basic, and easy with the Fiskars non-stick soft grip micro-tip!
Happy Hydro Non-Stick Scissors: Most Affordable Pruning Scissorsx
When I used this, I was able to prune marijuana without breaking a sweat. I consider this the best quality of scissors at the caliber of its price.
Made with abrasion and corrosion-resistant blades, you’ll literally be delighted when you cut with these.
They’re slim, easy-to-hold, ergonomic, and most importantly — they’re cheap! You’ll be able to prune cannabis without the pressure of purchasing cutting-edge and expensive equipment!
Gonicc 8-Inch Professional Pruning Shears: Most Versatile Pruning Scissors
If you are looking for the best device to prune cannabis in a simple yet professional way, then I would recommend Gonicc’s 8-inch professional shears.
Forged and produced with the thought of keeping the plant healthy, it’s designed to have a bypass groove to ensure that the pruning shears don’t stick to the saps.
Weighing about 0.4 pounds in total, you’ll be able to prune marijuana plants with ease and comfortability!
The product was immensely useful that I was able to prune other plants and flowers using it! No flowering stage is too harsh or the Gonicc pruning shears!
VIVOSUN 6.5-Inch Scissors: Best and Most Precise Cuts
VIVOSUN is a brand that takes pride in the effectiveness and affordability of its products. From their shining lights to their shearing scissors, their offers are true treats!
Among the many products they have, their 6.5-inch gardening scissors stormed the market in the past years. It offered various types of benefits and advantages, but the one that stood out for me was how it was able to do accurate and precise cuts.
Thanks to its sharp blades, there’s no need to apply pressure whenever I’m cutting. It’s like cutting through butter, as how many people say. Furthermore, it has a comfortable grip, a locking feature or mechanism, and an easy-to-clean model.
NOTE: It's so sharp and edgy that it can cut through layers of branches and leaves without showing any signs of damage on the blades.
It gets the job done cleanly and neatly, and it wouldn’t put any strain on your hands because of how easily and comfortably it’s structured.
Loopseed Plant Pruning Shears: Most Ergonomically-Accepted Design
I’ll bet that out of the hundreds of pruning shears and scissors you’ve seen, Loopseed’s will be the most unique and most different of all.
Known for its trait of being innovative, the company designed these one-of-a-kind scissors designed to be easy-to-use, strategic, and, most importantly — they’re easy on the storage.
It is marketed as premium-quality based on the sharpness and accuracy that the blades are cutting through. In addition to that, you wouldn’t stress out about its maintenance because it’s designed and structured in a way that it wouldn’t cause too much stress on the hand.
It’s also lightweight! But hey, don’t be fooled! It can do the job better compared to most pruning shears and trimming scissors in their specific caliber.
Grow1 Titanium Coated Curved Blade Trimming Scissors: Most Versatile Pruning Shears
Last but most definitely not least is the Grow1 Titanium-Coated blade trimming scissors. Made with a combination of titanium and stainless steel for its blades, you’ll be able to pursue all pruning techniques you might have without experiencing problems with how your weed plant is.
The product is straightforward, and I can say that it can cut a few leaves more than how it should, but overall, it is the longest-lasting device I have ever laid my hands on.
I was very comfortable when I used it for cutting, lateral branching, as well as cutting smaller branches and leaves at the bottom of the plant.
Remember, these pruning scissors are used to beautify and to make sure that your cannabis plant is kept well-maintained. They don’t really have to be strong; what they need is to be durable.
I chose TRIM DADDY’s 3PLUS Power Scissors as the best because it was able to accommodate all types of cuts. Not to mention how easy it was to operate, it’s literally plug & play!
It also comes with shock and cut-resistant gloves, a blade set for properly pruning cannabis, and many other freebies!
Say goodbye to excessive removal of leaves and branches as it could potentially hinder the development of your growing cannabis. Most growers agree with me on these!
How to Trim Marijuana Plants?
Don’t overcomplicate things when it comes to pruning cannabis plants. It’s not entirely far from how you prune others.
So, if your plant is already surviving the vegetative growth stage, then that simply means it’s prepared for what’s about to come — it could already be waiting for it.
Step #1: Identifying the Part in the Life Cycle
The first step that you need to know and to learn (before you learn about bud sites) is to know what stage your marijuana plant is in on. Pruning cannabis too early or too late can change the entire course of the process.
As I mentioned above, the perfect time to prune cannabis is during the vegetation stage, about a few weeks (preferably 1 to 2 weeks after it enters vegetation).
Some growers perform trimming and pruning until the flowering stage, which is fine, but the major trimming procedure should be initiated when it’s starting to show a bunch of healthy leaves. This timeframe will help the plant recover as it reaches the flowering stage.
NOTE: One thing I do is check the plant height and how it's able to get and absorb light. Since one of the goals of trimming/pruning is for the plant to get the right light exposure, you want to start it when you think that the leaves are blocking the path of light.
Step #2: Choosing Your Weapon
When you’ve successfully identified where your plant is in its cycle, the next step is to choose the pruning shears you’ll be using. You may have homemade scissors, or you could purchase one.
To ensure the further healthy growth of your plants, I would suggest choosing the TRIM DADDY 3PLUS. It’s effective at cutting the main stalk without tiring you out!
If you don’t feel like using it, though, no worries! I won’t force you to do so! However, bear in mind that not all scissors and pruning shears can effectively cut down a plant. Most of it is only for weeds or other types of landscape, so make sure that you are something that’s effective in cutting down leaves from the marijuana plant.
NOTE: Avoid using large scissors that you'll need to put pressure in. Giving too much pressure on the plants can misalign the scissors and cut them in a way that would be damaging for them over time.
Step #3: Disinfecting Your Pruning Shears
The next step would be the disinfection of your scissors or your shears. No matter how clean you think your device is, it’s still a recommendation to disinfect it properly.
You don’t need heavy sterilization, though. Wiping and cleaning it with rubbing alcohol before usage should be enough.
What I usually do before I begin is perform several layers of disinfection and sterilization. Here’s a quick guide on how I do it:
- I wash the shears with hot or warm water up to the handles. Sometimes, I even add a dash of salt and vinegar to increase its cleaning and disinfecting potential, too.
- When done, I dry it using a microfiber cloth to ensure that no moisture is retained.
- After that, I pour rubbing alcohol on a clean piece of cloth, and I gently wipe the blades with it.
- Then, I let it dry by hanging it in some place that’s completely ventilated until it dries out completely.
NOTE: I tend to avoid dry-wiping it using cloth. Pests and bacteria find cloths attractive because of how they're woven and made.
Step #4: Start the Cutting!
Once those are all done, there’s nothing left but to start the cut! Experts argue over where the cut should be made, but, traditionally, the best location to cut it would be at the top of the main stem or main stalk, which is the 5th node.
I do the cutting carefully, and with all the light I can get. One mistake on where you should cut it will absolutely ruin the entire plant. So, you want to make sure that the area you are cutting is the correct area.
NOTE: If you encounter it not being cut properly with minimal force, gently pull when you cut it, but don't exert a strong force when doing so. You could tear up the fibers and nutrients on the plant.
Once these are done, I look for dying branches, dying fan leaves, as well as the main stalk to check and see if it needs any type of maintenance, too.
Whether you’re pruning cannabis plants or you’re trimming, you should be able to get it done in a jiffy! Growing indoors is a tedious procedure. However, the benefit of doing so lies in the final quality or the end result of your marijuana plant.
Different Pruning Cannabis Techniques
However, there are several pruning techniques followed by many experts and professionals to avoid influencing the flowering and the growth hormones of the plant.
There are various techniques and ways of pruning cannabis. However, the most common ones that have been proven to promote new growth are the following:
- Apical Pruning — The most common and traditional pruning technique, apical pruning, is the process of cutting the plant’s central-upper part or system (main stem) or the apex. This can result in the creation of two (2) main axes.
- Bass Pruning — Bass pruning is the opposite of apical pruning as this process involves the pruning or the removing of the bottom part of the plant. What this does is help increase production by giving the upper flowers more strength.
- FIM Pruning — FIM, short for “F***, I Missed,” is another popular style or technique in pruning. This is done by cutting about 2/3 of the top node instead of the entire stalk.
- RIB Pruning — RIB stands for “Right, I Burnt It” and is the pruning method done during the flowering stage. From what it’s called alone, it simply is the pruning during the flowering phase, and the working principle would be to repopulate the area with more force. The key to RIB pruning is burning the stigmas or pistils of smaller buds.
- Super Cropping Technique — Also known as the “super harvest,” this technique is actually not considered and treated as a pruning technique simply because it doesn’t subtract any part or component of the plant. Instead, this method entails bending a couple of branches to promote the plant’s horizontal growth.
- Low-Stress Training Technique — Lastly, low-stress training, more commonly referred to as LST, is the type of pruning that’s designed to keep and distribute the growth hormones to different branches of the plant to produce the best and highest quality of buds.
NOTE: Some methods here are best during the vegetative stage, while some are best to be done during the flowering phase. Whichever you choose, make sure that you do the necessary research first to avoid further problems with your plants.
Avoid stressing yourself out when you are about to prune your cannabis plant. As a matter of fact, pruning cannabis should be stress-free as what you are doing is improving and developing the overall stature of your plant. You can increase yield, make them better and healthier, and ensure that they’re not victimized by stunt growth.
These are six (6) of the most prominent and most-done pruning techniques in the industry. Don’t limit yourself to those, though, because there are other pruning techniques out there — try to find where you’re most comfortable.
Have more questions about the different trimming and pruning methods? Don’t worry; I got you! I’ve compiled and collated some of the questions brought about by beginner-to-novice growers to help everyone with inquiries and concerns they might have!