Pruning marijuana plants is a valuable practice for generating a much higher yield. When done correctly, it can make all the difference in the world for marijuana growers. The key here, of course, is “when done correctly.” That is because pruning can be a difficult task, and the risks can be rather high, especially if actual cutting is involved. For that reason, it is crucial to know what you are doing before you do it. Some growers grow for years and years without ever pruning or even take an explicit stand against it. Many believe that the natural course of a plant’s growth is the healthiest kind -- and that’s completely fine for them. Others prefer to do whatever necessary to get the highest yield with the fewest plants. These people are definitely going to want to look into pruning their marijuana plants. The best-pruned plants will end up with the highest levels of THC, the biggest buds , and the greatest numbers of buds. Pruning 101 When you think about pruning you most likely are picturing a gardener with some sort of clippers, clipping off leaves here and there. While that isn’t altogether wrong, it doesn’t tell the whole story either. When done with specific goals in mind, pruning off the right parts of the plant can cause your plant to grow faster and stronger. Remove Dead and Unhealthy Leaves The most fundamental key to pruning is to remove any of the leaves that aren’t doing very well, to begin with. This means removing dead or dying leaves. Dying leaves can be identified by the fact that they are discolored or yellowing. These leaves are simply using up valuable resources, so by removing them, you are allowing the marijuana plant to focus these resources on more important aspects. The basics behind pruning take into account the fact that some leaves always die on a marijuana plant anyway -- and pruning simply speeds up the process. The process can be extremely helpful for the rest of the leaves on the plant, as they will receive more of the energy and resources that the plant has to offer. The healthier the leave of a marijuana plant are, the healthier the plant is overall -- and the bigger the yield will be at the end. Sometimes pruning even can be done on leaves that haven’t become unhealthy or started to die yet. For example, removing the older shade leaves once newer leaves have begun to sprout out from the top of the plant can be an excellent way to help your plant along. This has the added benefit of allowing the sun to pass through where the leaves used to be, therefore hitting the other leaves below. This helps encourage them to grow faster and take in more light energy to produce chlorophyll. Bushing a Cannabis Plant Removing the top part of your marijuana plant or else the end parts of its branches can also help branches grow more and faster. It may seem like it goes slower at first, but overall it spurs quicker growth because two stems will grow from where you cut it. This can help your plants become bushier rather than long and lanky, which makes for a better harvest. The key with using pruning as a method for growing your marijuana plants more efficiently is to choose which of the several basic pruning methods makes the most sense for your lifestyle, grow setup, and personal preferences. Topping a Cannabis Plant One common type of pruning is called topping. Topping involves removing the top part of the main stem of your plant. Although this may seem dramatic, especially to newer growers, this can be a very useful type of pruning because it causes more stems, shoots, and branches to grow from that spot. You can always tell which marijuana plants have undergone topping because their shape ends up looking like an upside-down cone. This is a useful shape, as the sunlight will hit the most leaves possible. For indoor growers who are paying for their “sunlight,” topping can be especially beneficial. Topping can be done once your plants are mature enough to be able to handle it. This usually comes any time after the fifth pair of leaves have grown from the top. Once you see that, you can cut off the top of the main shoot. Whatever you do, just remember not to do topping and super cropping on the same plant. Super cropping Super cropping has everything to do with “crushing” the stems of your plant. It may not sound like a typical way to prune something, but it is a tried and true method when it comes to stimulating the growth of marijuana plants. It can not only make your yield greater but also increase the potency. Believe it or not, this method should help your plants become healthier! Essentially, super cropping is injuring the plant mildly so that it heals over stronger. Just like when a person breaks a bone, it grows back reinforced, making the bone stronger overall. The same goes for the stems of plants. When the inside of the stem is crushed, the plant heals itself to be stronger and more efficient with its essential transport of nutrients and water. If the main stem is pinched (or “super cropped”) then that will have a positive effect on the entire plant, since water and nutrients go through there into the other parts of the plant. Pinching the side branches will allow you to shape and mold you plant according to your desires. Begin super cropping once your plants have been in the vegetative state for several weeks. Pinch and twist the spots you would like to, and bend the branch a little bit as well. It won’t look good at first, but a droopy plant will heal up quickly and end up stronger than ever. Whatever you do, don’t break the branch, though. Read the article Super cropping marijuana plants for more info. Low-stress training Low-stress training, or LST, are the opposite of high-stress training. High-stress training (HST) is more dangerous than LST since it requires actual breakages on the plant. LST, on the other hand, is a method of pruning that requires a much lower risk to the plant itself. Some people who want the best of both worlds will opt for LST and an HST option, such as topping. This method is not necessary for success, however, so choose your methods according to how you would like to do it. LST is more training than it is pruning, and it requires a few materials such as ties to tie down the plant with. The idea behind it is to tie down the older parts of the plant so that the newer ones can grow at an accelerated speed. You’re essentially manipulating the plant into ignoring its main stalk, leading to the most efficient transport of valuable resources to the other parts of the plant. LST leads to denser, bushier plants. Patience is an absolute necessity for successful LST, so if this doesn’t sound like it’s a good fit for you, it is best to think about other pruning techniques. Monster cropping Also called “flowering clones,” monster cropping requires you to clone marijuana plants that are in their flowering phase. The resulting clones, once they have been rooted and reenter their vegetative stage, will be particularly bushy and filled with branches and nodes. It’s called “monster cropping” because the plants become monstrously huge with this method. The thing that makes monster cropping different from regular cloning is the fact that you are doing it during the flowering stage of your marijuana plants’ lives. Most of the time, clones should be taken from the mother plant when it is in its vegetative stage instead. That being said, it sometimes pays to break the rules. Check here if you want to learn more about Monster cropping marijuana plants . Over-pruning and basic tips Sometimes growers make the grave mistake of over-pruning their marijuana plants because they are so excited about their newfound technique. Sometimes impatient growers will even remove leaves, justifying it by calling it “pruning,” when in fact they simply want the THC from those leaves to smoke or consume while they wait for their marijuana plants to finish up and be harvested. Whatever you do, don’t forget that healthy leaves on your marijuana plants are a valuable resource. Sometimes sacrificing them strategically can make sense, but only in small, well thought-out quantities. Slowing down growth can only lead to negative consequences when it comes to the health of your plant and the final harvest, so always think things through before doing them. Don’t over prune under any circumstances. There are a few rules of thumb to follow whenever you are pruning for the first time, or perhaps learning a new pruning technique for the first time. Don’t cut the leaf off if it has a basal stem without any branches coming out of it. Additionally, make sure every branch or stem has at least some leaves left on it -- stripping it completely of all its leaves will not be good for your plant. Don’t ever remove leaves, branches, or stems by simply pulling off that part of your plant. Instead, always use a tool such as scissors or a knife that is plenty sharp. There are even specific pruning tools that might be utilized with greater rates of success. Once you prune your plant, water it straight away afterward. Add in some plant food with the water to give your plants a healthy dose of healing power. If do you prune off some leaves for early smoking purposes, remember that leaves that are three months old or younger can’t even be smoked. Think of these leaves not as a product to be harvested, but rather a means to an end since they will lead to a more productive plant. You could try smoking it, but the high will certainly not be successful until after the three-month mark. For the most beginner type of pruning, just cut off any of the leaves that are already looking like they are dying or unhealthy. This can’t do any harm to your plant, and it makes for easy decisions when it comes to which leaves are worth the risk of chopping off. Start with leaves closest to the top of your plant, and then work your way downwards.