HELLO TO ALL MY FRIENDS along The Highway today with me. I am all hunkered down here in southern Oregon along the coast, on a blustery and rainy early morning, vaping a little bit of Fat Tuesday (Kali/Thai hybrid) and thinking about some emails I have gotten lately regarding pruning and topping of cannabis plants. I consider these things pretty fundamental and so uber important. Understanding some of the reasons surrounding when, why, and how to prune and/or top your plants will really up your game here; it’s all really common sense once you “get it” and by it, I mean basically how Mother Nature works when it comes to her green cannabis plant childrens. I don’t need to get all technical here at all, so I won’t; instead, I am just going to present to you my experience and observations after growing cannabis for over 40 years, constantly. Cheers, and let’s rock…Topping or Not Topping
There are many reasons you may want, or need to top your plants when growing cannabis, topping them is simply cutting off the top inch or so of the plant’s main stem, and this forces the plant to put its energy into growing its side branches (axial branches). This makes the plant shorter, wider, and bushier. Many people have to top their plants to keep them within height limitations in their growing space, while others will top them to get greater yields while keeping the plants shorter.
Mother clone plants should always be topped, allowing you to have more well-developed branches to choose from for taking cuttings.
You can keep more plants per square yard untopped obviously, because they won’t get as wide. Overcrowding your plants is a rookie move and is never a good idea. You will always get better results and bigger yields allowing your plants to have a little space, allowing for better airflow and light coverage—seriously growers, if you like to cram too many plants into a growing space (especially in flowering) you will always have sub-par results. Do an experiment yourself and see. Exceptions are SOG (sea of green) and SCROG (screen of green) growing techniques/styles.
Here is what drives many growers to top their plants, thinking 6 or 8 big buds is way better than just one main cola from an untopped plant. While this is for sure true, you need to consider some important factors before going for this plan, otherwise, you are likely to be disappointed in the yield you will end up with. Topped plants indoors often need the additional support from a plant stake placed to hold the plant well. Always plunge a stake into a pot about 20 min after watering the pot and keep it away from the base of the stem.
The first thing you will want to take into account is the fact that a plant producing 6 big buds uses more resources (food and water) than a plant producing a single large cola. If you normally flower untopped plants well, using 3-gallon pots and you want to flower a topped plant, with 6 big buds, you will need a larger pot to flower it in, more like a 5 gallon. Otherwise, you will likely end up with 6 weak-ass main buds, a lot of smaller buds, and less yield overall. Anytime I place plants into flowering I always trim/prune them up a bit, and with topped plants, this is particularly important, as I will explain just up ahead…
The Art of Pruning
The most important thing I want to share with you all today is that the plant’s leaves are also a lot like “batteries” for the plant to use in times of need. So, randomly pulling off larger leaves for no reason is highly counterproductive. You are basically boning yourself by removing leaves for no reason from the plant, and by no reason I mean like if they are a little yellow, or you think they may be blocking light from your buds; neither of these reasons are good reasons to remove leaves.
Pruning your plants’ leaves (living leaves) all willy-nilly here and there is not a good idea in my opinion, especially during flowering. Plants “see” your pruning as an attack, and it stresses them out a bit. Don’t add on additional stress in later flowering, stress levels are high already, naturally at that time.
Especially when it counts, in later flowering, the plant will “choose” to drain larger leaves of all water and nutrients, moving them (water/nutrients) to wherever needed. If there is a leaf blocking a bud tip or something, don’t remove it, just bend it out of the way. Don’t remove the leaves until they are fully drained by the plant, they will break off easily at this point. Seriously, this will make a huge difference in how awesome your plants finish; let’s talk some more about pruning, my esteemed homeskillets…
THE PRUNE/TRIM FOR FLOWERING CYCLE
I tend to transplant my plants into the containers they will be flowering in about 10 days before actually exposing them to a flowering photoperiod. At this time, I do three major things, two of them are fairly stressful to the plant, but she is at her prime at this point and can handle it easily. Okay, so first…
- I trim off lower axial branches making sure the mainstem is bare, without axial branches or leaves, for the bottom third of the plant. This allows for better airflow down low, and concentrates the plants efforts toward maximizing the remaining branches that get better light intensity.
- If this is a topped plant I will take it down to 4, 6, or 8 main axial branches, and I find this works much better than having more branches. This will give you those multiple large colas.
- I take cuttings also at this point, if you need some clones it’s the perfect time; lower axial branches make cuttings that tend to root very easily.
Couple things before I jet for now; I dig on getting the emails asking me great questions, and I want to do a regular gig answering these questions in my Letters to Rev series right here in digital baybee. So, you can send the question to: email@example.com if you have one you would like to ask. I know a little bit about this stuff and I have grown every way possible I know of, decently well. I’m all natural and recycle everything indoor grower, mostly; I even recycle my soil these days, for the last decade or more. Odds are I can help you out, and hopefully help others avoid whatever it is causing problems, yay!
That top photo of the two plants and the big sparkling juicy cola are 4 weeks into flowering and are all Hemmy Black, 10 weeks total flowering time, just a tad sativa dominant, “cat pissy”, large yielding, and a bad ass resin factory. Check it out at KOS here http://kingdomorganicseeds.com/ along with some other beauties. That’s it for this Rev session, out for now dudes and dudettes. Best JuJu everyone.
I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for about a decade now. I hail from Southern California, spent mucho time in Northern California, and now reside in Southern Oregon; always coastal. I am an all natural style cannabis grower and I have written a couple books on the subject - check out True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon - I have been growing for over 45 years, and I have been breeding cannabis for over 30 years. Check out kingdomorganicseeds.com to see some exotic selections. Growing connoisseur cannabis is what I teach mostly, growing it in living soil without using liquid organic nutrients to feed the plant. I am also a highly skilled synthetics grower, hydroponics, aeroponics, DWC/SWC/NFT, Ebb and Flow, and soilless, but I cringe when smoking synthetic grown herbs, so for the last 15 years or so I preach the artisan style of all natural growing, specializing in container growing. Cheers and welcome aboard.