There are few things that look stranger that watching a farmer actively cutting back his plants.
It would seem logical that this would defeat the very purpose of growing crops – if you want to grow something for a particular purpose, why are you actively depleting it and cutting it away?
Well, it turns out that this isn’t just malicious farmers looking for something to snip; it is called pruning and it actively works to help promote healthy crop growth.
Pruning is especially important for growing Cannabis plants, as it ensures the absolute highest yields.
Let’s take a look at pruning and why it works so well for Cannabis plants, as well as how and when you should prune your plants for the best results.
Why Does Pruning Help Cannabis Plants Grow?
For those not experienced with looking after plants, whether Cannabis or otherwise, cutting any part of a plant you are trying to grow must seem insane. Don’t worry, though; there is a good reason.
Plants are resourceful, relatively logical creatures. Their goal is to grow as tall, strong and large as possible so as to monopolize sunlight and water access. Then, they want to be pollinated and be able to reproduce through pollination, thus spreading their genetics and ensuring the continuation of their species.
This means that a plant will try and take every advantage is can possible take, including utterly drawing other plants near it so as to steal their sunlight and drink their water.
This tendency to try and compete with other plants means that for many plants, Cannabis included, there is a tendency to grow wide in an effort to cover and deprive rival plants from sunlight.
Not only is this obviously not ideal when you are rearing your own plants in a proper setup, but this uses up the plants resources. A plant can only grow so much, dependent on its genetics and the nutrients it has available, so by spending its resources growing wide, it loses some of its capacity to grow tall.
For plants like Tomatoes and Cannabis, this means that instead of actually producing the thing that we want (fruits or Marijuana buds), it is instead focused on creating superfluous stems and leaves.
This is why smart farmers prune their crops – it encourages the plants to devout their resources on growing tall, instead of wide. As Cannabis buds are generally only produced when the plant grows tall, by encouraging height instead of width, we can encourage a larger production of buds.
This will increase your eventual yield of smokeable Marijuana, as well as generally making the plant healthier and more efficient.
So, you need to cut your plants. How exactly do you go about it though? Do you just take a pair of scissors and start snipping everywhere.
How Do You Prune Your Plants?
The very first part of pruning your Cannabis plants is to pick up the right tools. You will obviously need a pair of secateurs, or other strong, resilient garden shears. Depending on your weather conditions and your chosen strain, you might find it best to have two strengths of shears – one for heavy duty cutting and another for lighter, smaller stems.
Pick up a good strong pair of gardening gloves as well, if you don’t already have them. They might seem unnecessary, considering that there isn’t any kind of prickly, stabbing thorns on Cannabis plants, but you want to make sure you don’t damage your hands.
Cannabis plants have an unfortunate tendency of staining your hands, either from the waxy resin on the surface of the buds themselves, or from excess plant chlorophyll on the surface of the stems.
Once you have all of your gear, you need to decide where you want to actually prune the plant.
Where To Cut Your Cannabis Plants
The very first pruning you need to do is on the lowest branches.
As mentioned, Cannabis plants create a variety of additional stems and leaves on their branches; but these branches don’t actually have a lot of useful benefit as far as you are concerned.
This is especially important for those leaves at the bottom of the plant that have begun to die due to lack of exposure to the sun. As the plant isn’t exactly effective at removing parts of it that are not useful anymore, by doing pruning you are essentially helping the plant survive better than it could on its own.
The next place you should be looking to make strategic cuts is actually at the very top of the plant.
This process is known as “Topping” and this involves actively cutting off the very top shoot. This causes multiple shoots and branches to develop from where the single shoot was. The reason for this is because plants grow based on what they think they need at any time; if they have already begun to grow one stem or shoot, but it gets cut off, they will then try and grow two additional shoots to replace it, going in different directions. This maximizes the shoot’s chance of success and of hitting sunlight.
This tends to make a bushier plant, allowing for more bud development due to greater total sun exposure. More sunlight, more resources and thus a greater yield of eventual Marijuana.
You want to time your Topping to a very particular point, because if you try and do it too early, you risk forever damaging the growth of the plant. Try and cut after the fifth pair of leaves has developed. Once this has happened, cut off the primary shoot and encourage a bushier plant.
The very next type of pruning occurs once you begin to enter the all important stage of flowering. Once you get your very first bud, you have a significant question to consider – do you want to just leave the plant to develop on its own, or do you want to get as much bud production as possible and get a huge yield?
Assuming your answer is the obvious one, you need to do something called “Fimming”. This is when you pinch off the very tip of a new growth, allowing you to promote up to four new shoots. These shoots will eventually develop into a multitude of colas, which are the flowering sites that will eventually create the all important buds.
You only want to cut off about 75% of the shoot, so as to ensure it doesn’t develop into just two shoots. The actual scientific reason behind this strange rate of development is a bit confusing, but suffice to say that the plant wants to grow as efficiently as possible and, by not removing the entirety of the new stem as with Topping, you allow for a huge amount of new cola development.
These are the primary methods of pruning, but there is a variety of other pruning techniques you can employ throughout your plants growth.
For example, you should try and remove small shoots in the middle of the plant that develop without any possibility of producing bud.
This can happen when the shoot is created, but it won’t ever get enough sunlight to actually produce anything useful. In this instance, just remove the very small shoots before they get a chance to suck up too many nutrients that the plant could use elsewhere.
Bonus Pruning Tips For High Yields
Besides the primary pruning methods that many growers employ, there are a few other secret tips you can employ to make the most efficient plant possible.
You can actually skip pruning altogether and just use string – instead of cutting off tips and parts of the plant itself; you can actually tie the stems at their tips, thus tricking the plant into thinking it has been cut off or abraded in some way.
This has the primary benefit of allowing for more beneficial growth, without directly harming the plant through scissor cuts.
Some people prefer to stick to just this method, so as to avoid actually harming the plant. An additional bonus of this is the fact that you don’t have to contend with a risk of infection on the plants’ cell walls, as well as a reduction in plant pests.
Many different types of plant pests love to feed on the sap that runs through the stalks and stems of Cannabis plants, so by tying it off rather than cutting, you avoid the risk of any horrendous bugs feasting on your plants.
Whatever your preferred method of pruning, whether with scissors or just with string, pruning remains an effective tool at your disposal to ensure proper development of the all so important bud.
Though it might seem foolish to actively slice apart your beloved Cannabis plants, it is the best way to ensure your plant gives you just want you want – high quality, huge concentrations of bud. Additionally, you ensure the plant is healthier and happier with an increased amount of sunlight and better allocation of vital nutrients.
Next time you wander past a farmer clutching a pair of scissors in his hand, you will finally understand what on earth he’s doing.