Trimming the lower branches of your cannabis plants is a good idea.
This practice is also called lollipopping and many growers swear it leads to bigger and better buds.
But you want to lollipop during vegging, not flowering.
Does that mean you should not do any trimming during flowering?
Keep reading to find out, and to learn everything else you need to know about the practice of trimming the lower branches, during flowering or vegging.
- 1 Trim Lower Branches During Flowering?
- 2 Trimming Lower Branches During Flowering: Final Thoughts
Trim Lower Branches During Flowering?
It depends on who you ask. I could find no scientific study that documents whether trimming the lower branches during flowering makes a difference in the harvest.
However, there is solid logic to support the practice and many growers swear it makes a much stronger harvest.
Either way, you should not be trimming the branches off entirely at this time. You should do that during the vegging stage.
During flowering, you only want to clean up new buds or branches that may try to form on the lower part of the plant. In other words, you only want to do some light maintenance trimming, but nothing major.
Why Trimming Lowering Branches Matters
Growing cannabis is a lot like any other form of gardening or cultivation. There are limited resources in the growing environment. Resources like water and light.
The basic idea of trimming the lower branches is to free up resources for the plant to use on more important parts than the lower branches, specifically the buds.
Getting rid of the lower branches serves a handful of key purposes:
- Increases airflow around the plant, which reduces the risk of mold or mildew
- Opens up more space in the growing environment
- Gets the plant to redirect resources to the remaining parts, most notably the buds
- Can help to strengthen the main stalk
Giving The Plant More Airflow
As you are aware by now, airflow is extremely important. Proper airflow jiggles your plants’ branches, which helps to make the stems stronger and facilitate more ‘good juice’ to the leaves and buds.
It also greatly reduces the risk of powdery mildew growing on your plants. The effects of more airflow are cumulative.
If you have 10 containers on the ground, each with a plant inside, and you remove a bunch of brush from the lower part of 1 plant, the plant behind it will also get more airflow. If you follow the logic here, you can see how one plant affects the others.
Giving Plants More Space
Much like airflow, the effects of more space are also cumulative. As you remove extra foliage from one plant, more space opens for the neighboring plant, giving it more room to sprout more branches and thus more buds.
This quickly adds up especially if you are growing in a smaller grow tent or grow room to begin with.
The more space your plants have for budding, the more buds will grow. Trimming the bottom of the plants opens the necessary space for the magic to happen.
The lower part of the plant normally produces fewer and more anemic buds due to the lack of light anyway, so there in no good reason to leave those lower stems.
Resource Management By Trimming Lower Branches
This is not a new concept, and it is not unique to cannabis growing either. Each plant only has so much water and light.
In the early stages of life, your main concern is water and light and making sure the plant has enough resources to prepare it for the flowering phase.
It is basic logic, really. If you have finite resources for a single plant, the more branches and leaves that exist on the plant, the more resources are taken away from all the other branches and leaves.
This is a bit nuanced, though, and is not as simple as it sounds. You cannot cut off all the leaves or your plant will die. The leaves are like solar panels that take in light and convert that light into growth energy.
The idea is to cut off only the lower branches which tend to have small and oftentimes yellow or atrophic leaves to begin with.
Those leaves are doing no good for the plant anyway, so removing them will only benefit the rest of the plant. Basically, pruning to increase yield only works if you prune off the right leaves and branches. And at the right time.
Strengthening The Main Stalk Or Trunk
As you remove ‘dead weight’ from the plant, the trunk will have more strength to hold up the rest of the plant.
The most important part of the plant is the top where the most valuable buds will grow in the flowering stage. The more strength the main stalk has, the larger the cola on the tip and the other buds near the top can grow.
The plant knows how much it can handle and will not produce a massive cola if it has a weak stalk.
Timing Is Important
In general, it is best to do most of your trimming during vegging. But if you do decide to trim during flowering, the timing is vital.
During the vegetative growth stage, the accepted wisdom is that you can prune pretty much at will, as long as you do not go overboard. Make sure to not cut off more than 1/3 of the total leaves during this stage.
Trimming the lower branches during this phase is called lollipopping. The practice shapes the plants, so they have more vegetation on the top and more empty space down low. They end up looking like a lollipop.
During the flowering stage, the timing is vital. This is a fragile stage where the plant is under stress and producing buds, which is the plant’s primary objective.
During flowering time, it is still possible to trim off lower branches, but you must be conservative and not cut off too much.
Trimming any plant does cause some amount of stress, and overdoing it can send a plant into shock, sending all its resources to heal the areas you have cut off.
When Is It Safe to Prune During Flowering?
The flowering stage is a long stage, up to 11 weeks long. Do not do any pruning on your plants during the end of the flowering stage.
Most growers do the pruning during the early flowering stage. They don’t just cut off the lower branches, but also other troublesome parts of the plant.
The plant is in a very vulnerable stage when it is producing most of its yield. Making any big changes to the environment or the plant itself can cause stress that will affect the harvest.
Ideally, by the time your plant is halfway through the flowering stage, you will no longer be pruning and will simply be watching the magic happen and maintaining the environment.
Why Trim During Early Flowering?
The idea here is that during this phase the plant is starting to send out all its resources to the budding areas.
The buds are the most important part of the plant so naturally you want to make sure the buds are getting the nutrients the plant is pushing out to its extremities. Removing scrub branches down low at this time, will redirect resources to making better buds.
Trimming Lower Branches During Flowering: Final Thoughts
Trimming the lower branches of your cannabis plant allows the plant to direct resources it would have used to grow those branches to more important parts. Specifically, the buds.
However, you should not be trimming these branches off during the flowering stage of growth. Do it sooner, during vegging.
Once the plant begins flowering, do not do any more major trimming. All you should be doing during the bloom stage is light follow-up trimming. And make sure you buy a good pair of trimming scissors for weed.
If you trim the lower branches correctly, and at the right time, you will end up with far more viable buds per plant. You may even need to get yourself a good digital scale to measure all that weed!
willard b says
nice ,helps me
Paul M. says
I like to do a final pruning of any lower branches and corresponding leaves no later than the end of the second week of flower. By this time you can start to see the overall shape of the plant and the areas that need to be opened up for air and light to pass through the center. I continue to tie down branches to open up the center of the plant up to week 3, by then the shape is more or less already created and the bud sites are starting to fill out. IMO you should not trim off any more fan leaves after week 3 because they contain stored nutrients that the plant will move around as it needs to,
I am on day 11 of the budding process I have some big fan leaves the I need to cut is it ok fit me to prune them?
I do Mi! My plants take it well, just don’t take too much and none that are directly connected to a bud site.
im new at this and ive made a green house and the plants seem to be doing well. I flipped them 20 days ago but i did not do any major trimming . The plants are far enough away from each other and I have 2 fans one on each side of the small green house 16 ft by 5 ft wide. I have another fan just above the floor to bring in fresh air also have a large filter fan for when the buds get a little strong. My question is can I still prune the lower branches the ones that are about 2 to 5 inches long at the bottom to about 5 inches up the stem.
i have gad very little leaves die or turn yellow as the plants seem to be in great shape but i’m concerned about the lower growth i dont want to harm the plants. kinda scared what i should be doing at this time of the budding 12 on 12 off . can you help guide me.
To get good fat bud you need to open up the plant by staking and tying and also remove big fans that are shadowing bud. You want good light penetration that is a basic for good fat strong growth. . Your plant is healthy dont be afraid to give it a good haircut, You dont want wpm or any fungus this late in the game you need good airflow. through the whole plant. Also, alot of growers will take off any branches that dont reach halfway up which sends energy to top half where your biggest budss will be. You dont want larfy branches, Make sure every one counts. The day you do it make sure you give a good feeding to help heal.
I’m in my 5th week of flowering am I too late too trim all the bottom stuff or lollipopping?and if so what should I do?
Yes, it’s too late for this grow.
Nothing you can do you must ride it out now to late to lollipop
Richard Estrella says
It’s my third week of flowering could I trim certain spots that need more light or is it too late?
S. Javad says
It’s my 2nd week changing light time to 12/12 But the flowers are not yet clearly visible, could I trim spots (l : 10-20 cm) that have recently sprouted and are in the shade or is it too late?
Ronda Ledford says
How far up from the ground do I prune my plants? The lower branches are laying on the ground.
Trim off the branches that aren’t getting much light anyway. If you’re in veg, trim off at most the bottom third. In early flowering, less than that. Mid to late flowering, don’t trim anything anymore.