It’s July and the Northern California cannabis grow season is in full effect. Traditionally, June 1st marks the beginning of outdoor planting as daylight goes into its longest phase. If you’re taking advantage of California’s allowance for homegrown cannabis (6 plants per household without a recommendation or more with), it’s definitely time to look into pruning your plants.
Some growers never trim their plants, trusting nature to take its course. However, with a little careful pruning, you can improve your chances of achieving a higher yield and healthier plant. Novice growers should prune sparingly and carefully. Here’s how:
- Inspect your plants every day and trim dying leaves. Inspecting your plants every day gives you a chance to catch any problems before they severely damage your plant. Common ailments are spider mites, powdery white mildew, overwatering, nutrient deficiency and overfeeding. Leaves die as part of the natural plant cycle and a few here and there are nothing to worry about. Trimming them off early diverts the energy they’re using back into the plant’s new growth. Use sharp pruning snips and gently snip the leaf diagonally at its base, careful not to damage the stalk.
- Remove bottom shoots and leaves. The small shoots and leaves at the bottom of your plant are unlikely to receive enough sunlight to develop properly. By removing these as they develop, you can stop precious energy from being wasted. Again, snip these off carefully at a slight angle.
- Thin to create air flow. As your plant develops, certain branches may end up being very close together. Sunlight and air are two most important factors in developing cannabis, so restrained pruning of dense areas can increase both. Look for growth that isn’t likely to develop well in the densest areas. Trim away underdeveloped and small growth to allow air and sun to reach the bigger, more dominant branches.
- Top your plants for more branches. Topping should be done sparingly if at all by novice growers as it can damage the plant growth, however it may be necessary if your plant isn’t developing many branches. Topping involves removing the main plant shoot at the top. Once the plant recovers, two new branches will begin to grow. This technique can help you manage the height and shape of your plants.
It’s perfectly fine not to trim your cannabis plants. But, should you decide to give nature a hand, keep these things in mind.
- Pruning is traumatic for the plant. Do it sparingly and with great care. Give your plant time to recover between trimmings.
- Pruning can slow the growth of your plant, initially. Proper pruning will increase the growth and yield of your plants but only after recovery time.
- Stop all pruning (except for dying leaves) after the second week of flowering.
- Water your plant after pruning to stimulate growth and recovery.
- Trim fan leaves with care. Large fan leaves produce sugar required for proper plant development.
- Use tools. Don’t pull or tear away leaves or shoots with your hands.