Pruning is an important part of cannabis growing as it encourages new growth. It is the process of carefully clipping pieces off a plantresulting in a stronger plant and higher yield. Topping, fimming and lollipopping are popular and valuable skills. Swiftly trimming dying leaves prevents your marijuana plant from wasting its valuable resources on dying limbs, instead directing energy towards bigger harvests.
By OG Team

Top Tips To Perfectly Prune Cannabis Plants

The basics of pruning cannabis plants:

Removal of the dead or dying parts allows more sunlight to the smaller leaves that are close to the base of the plant. Pruning your plant allows it to focus on more important things, such as newly growing leaves and the remaining healthy leaves. This will ensure that your plant grows faster and produces more chlorophyll.

Pruning encourages new growth. Your plant should start to produce a pair of leaves sprouting from the very top on a daily basis and will develop some new branches. You need to wait for the plant to be mature before you start pruning. The more branches your plant has the higher the yield.

When should you prune?

Your cannabis plant needs as much energy as possible to go to the buds. Do not prune after the first two weeks of the flowering period.

Before the two weeks, you can remove a quarter of the new side shoots weekly. You should leave the older leaves and twigs, as they produce a lot of sugars. Ensure that you keep enough fully-grown leaf surfaces, as these produce sugar and prevent light from being lost.

The proper way to prune:

When you start pruning, do not tear a leaf away with your hands. Rather, cut it with scissors or a knife.
Once you have pruned successfully, ensure you do these two things:

1. Water your plant immediately after pruning to reduce shock and stimulate growth.

2.  When watering, consider adding plant food.

What about the leaves that you prune?

Pruned leaves that are less than 3 months old will not be very smokable. THC is beneficial to your cannabis plant. Properly thought out, strategic pruning will help your plants ability to produce THC and repel insects. They will not have much THC until they are three months old. Marijuana plants develop lots of THC around this period, which they need to keep those bugs away.

Training your cannabis plants to produce more with pruning
By simply pruning, you can improve your plant’s yield. You can train your cannabis plant to grow in a certain manner by means of pruning. This will lead to larger yields and using lighting more efficiently, thus, resulting in lower costs and a better harvest.

Factors to remember:
  • It's best to prune during the earlier stages of growth.
  • Remove certain parts of the plant that may not be dead, along with any dead leaves or stem.
  • Ensure your cannabis plant recovers as this will make it grow back stronger.

The most basic form of pruning training is defoliation. This is the typical removal of the largest fan leaves. If this is done during the start of the flowering stage, it will allow the buds to grow more densely and faster.

Other pruning training techniques include the following: topping, fimming, and lollipopping.

Topping and fimming involve the deliberate removal of the top of the plant’s stem. This causes the top of your cannabis plant to split into two or more, creating multiple colas.
Lollipopping, is a more deliberate form of defoliation. It’s the removal of the lower bushier growth of a plant so that it is shaped like a lollipop.

The 3 best pruning techniques:

If you have decided to train your cannabis plants by pruning, there are many methods to use.
Each method has its own challenges and benefits. You are able to use more than one method together.


Topping maximizes your plant’s access to sunlight. This is important if you have an indoor grow room and lighting is limited in comparison to natural sunlight. Topping involves cutting off the main shoot at the top, which stimulates the growth of more shoots and branches. A single growing shoot may produce a larger individual cola. But topping the plant can give you up to 4 colas allowing your marijuana plant to soak up the best lighting intensity.

The benefits of topping are:
  • Bigger cannabis bud
  • Shorter, bushier plants with more branches
  • More leaves

Topping should be done at an early stage for the least negative impact on your cannabis plant.
If you notice secondary growth located near the low nodes – this is a reliable sign that your plant is ready for topping.

For clones, it's recommended: "the earlier, the better". If the clones take root properly and start growing out, you can cut out the meristem. By doing this, you will cause the plant to divide into two growing shoots. If you top low enough, the cannabis plant could possibly create 4 growing shoots.

Seedlings are different. Let the seedling develop and grow at least 4 to 5 internodes before topping. If you top a seedling too early, this will shock the plant and slow down the growth process. A seeded plant should have enough time to take root properly and produce a few sets of fan leaves.

Topping also reduces the risk of disease. It allows your plant to produces more main buds that are not very big. This, in turn, makes your cannabis plant less sensitive to bud rot. This is a great advantage for outdoor plants, where you cannot control the climate.

Tips on topping:

Ensure you only cut the latest shoot, so that you inflict minimal damage to your marijuana plant. It’s important to remember that your plant has been damaged and under stress. It will require energy to heal the wound and won’t grow a lot for a couple of days. Topping should be done during the growing phase and in the first week of flowering, at the latest. Otherwise, your cannabis plant will not have time to grow wider.

Fimming, making four buds out of one:

FIM stands for "f*ck I missed". Fimming is the partial removal of the latest shoot of a plant. The intention is to four main buds instead of one.
A cannabis plant that is fimmed is wider and not as tall as a typical plant. It will also have more leaves exposed to light, resulting in more light being absorbed.

The benefits of fimming include:
  • More leaves on your plant
    • A shorter, wider plant
    • Better light absorption

Cannabis plants that have more leaves can absorb more light and will produce a greater yield. Light that doesn’t hit the leaves and falls to the ground is lost energy. Fimming ensures more leaves will receive light.

If your grow room is not very tall, fimming is useful. In the case of sativas, these strains can grow very fast and can become tall. Fimming helps them grow wider instead of taller.

However, fimming can damage your cannabis plant. It will use its energy to heal the wound, which can slow down the growth a bit. You may also notice that the newest pair of leaves are damaged when they start to grow, but this is normal.

Fimming also spreads the risk of disease. It produces more main buds as opposed to a few big buds. Because they are not as big, they are less sensitive to bud rot or any other diseases. This is very effective for outdoor plants because they have fewer defenses. Their growing environment cannot be controlled along with the climate. Indoor growers, on the other hand, can simply place more plants without fimming them to spread the risk.

Tips on fimming:

You can fim multiple times, but ensure that you leave some time for recovery. Fim during the growing phase and, at the very latest, a week into the flowering stage. Otherwise, the plant has no time to grow wider, completely defeating the purpose.

Lollipopping your plants for bigger colas

Lollipopping is a pruning technique that requires the removal of the lower growth of your cannabis plants, in order to promote better bud development at the top. By eliminating any competing growth, the energy is directed to the main cola sites. This technique is useful in setups that have no access to side lighting to reach the lower regions of the plant.

The main idea behind lollipopping is to remove overly shaded parts of the plant and force it to focus on producing larger colas.

The name ‘lollipop’ refers to the shape of the plant once you have finished pruning it.

By removing the lower bushier growth, you improve the air circulation around the bottom parts of the plant. That's where the humidity tends to build up, especially after watering. The bushier your cannabis plant, the more susceptible it is to mold or fungal infections. Lollipopping lowers disease risk, making it useful when growing outdoors in a damp climate. Use this technique during the veg phase. You can do it as a continuous process or all at once, but make sure you do it a few weeks before starting the 12 hour light/12 hour dark flowering cycle. This will allow your marijuana plants to have enough time to recover from the shock before the flowering phase.

The benefits of lollipopping include:Top Tips To Perfectly Prune Cannabis Plants
  • Energy conservation
  • Improved circulation
  • Larger colas

Seven tips for pruning your plants:

1.  Cut out lower, non-productive branches early.

If your cannabis plant is still small and in a vegetative state, you can remove a few of the lower branches and the leaves attached.
This allows the plant to focus more on the taller and ultimately more productive branches. This will increase growth and can potentially increase yield toward the end of the plant’s life cycle.

2. Be careful.

When cutting the branches of a young cannabis plant, it’s important to be cautious, as you could potentially introduce disease and cause trauma.
Do not use blunt scissors or a serrated blade and don’t rip the branches off. Rather, use sharp, smooth (and preferably sterile) scissors/blade to make careful incisions. You do not want to shock your plant at a young age.

3. Remove dead or dying leaves.

As your cannabis plant ages, it will obviously grow bigger. The upper leaves will start to fill out and will start forming a canopy above. The lower leaves at the bottom of your plant will most likely all start to die as a result of not getting sufficient lighting. Carefully snip them off before they start turning yellow.

The removal of leaves that are not dying is actually "defoliation" and this could harm your plant if done incorrectly. So be careful.

4. Keep your plants in check.

If you’re growing indoors, you will likely have some vertical stems. Pruning to limit upward growth (such as by topping or fimming) can remedy the situation without causing too much harm.
If your cannabis plant has been growing outdoors, your plant will likely have more room to grow tall, but you may wish to limit vertical growth anyway.

5. Top your plants.

Topping or fimming can significantly increase your harvest. It may seem counterproductive to snip off the biggest branch, but it can make a big difference. The top colas contain the majority of the growth hormones. So by topping them, you allow these hormones to be more evenly distributed throughout the plant, allowing the rest of your plant to flourish, rather than just a single branch.

6. Don’t force flowering too quickly after topping.

After topping your marijuana plant, you don’t want to force it straight into the flowering phase. Instead, allow it time to recover. After a 4 or 5 day period, you can start forcing the plant to flower or allow it to naturally switch and you will be rewarded with a higher yield.

Remember, cutting the top cola late in vegetative growth is by no means the same as cutting a few shoots or branches at the early stages of development.

7. No pruning during flowering.

Once your plant starts to flower, do not prune. The plants are growing rapidly and any pruning to the plant will shock it. You should not prune auto-flowering strains either.

We hope you've enjoyed learning all about how to prune your cannabis plants for higher yields. Go ahead and find your perfect seeds now or visit our Ultimate Guide to Buying Weed Seeds in South Africa for more information.


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