Pruning Cannabis During Growth

Pruning is an essential part of cannabis cultivation that can significantly influence the quality and quantity of the yield. It is a horticultural practice that involves selectively removing specific parts of a plant, such as branches or buds, to promote its overall health, growth, and productivity. This article provides an in-depth look at the principles and techniques for pruning cannabis during growth.

Benefits of Pruning Cannabis

Pruning has several benefits in cannabis cultivation. These benefits primarily revolve around optimizing light utilization, controlling plant size, and enhancing yield and quality.

Optimizing Light Utilization

In indoor cannabis cultivation, light is often the most limiting factor for plant growth. Through pruning, growers can manage the canopy of the plants to maximize light penetration and utilization. Removing lower branches that receive little to no light can redirect energy to the upper, more productive parts of the plant, enhancing growth and yield.

Controlling Plant Size

In outdoor cultivation, cannabis plants can become large and unruly. Pruning helps manage the size and shape of the plant, making it more manageable and reducing the risk of problems such as damage from strong winds.

Enhancing Yield and Quality

By allowing growers to focus the plant’s energy on the most promising buds, pruning can lead to larger, more potent buds. Pruned plants often produce higher quality cannabis with improved aroma, taste, and cannabinoid content.

Techniques for Pruning Cannabis

Several techniques exist for pruning cannabis. They range from basic pruning to more complex techniques like lollipopping and topping.

Basic Pruning

Basic pruning involves removing non-productive branches or leaves, generally those towards the bottom of the plant that receive little light. It’s best to start pruning during the vegetative stage, where the plant can recover quickly. Pruning during the flowering stage should be minimized, as it can stress the plant and affect the yield.


Lollipopping is a technique named for the way it makes cannabis plants look – like a lollipop. In this method, all the lower branches and foliage are removed, leaving only the top buds that receive the most light. This technique optimizes the energy use of the plant and is particularly effective in indoor growing systems where light penetration can be limited.


Topping is a technique where the top of the main stem is cut off. This encourages the plant to grow more bush-like, producing two main stems instead of one and subsequently more buds. It can, however, stress the plant, so it should only be done during the vegetative stage and with a good understanding of the plant’s health.

Best Practices for Pruning Cannabis

Pruning cannabis should be approached with caution, as over-pruning can stress the plant and reduce yield. Here are some best practices to follow.

Assess Plant Health

Always assess the plant’s health before pruning. A healthy, vibrant plant can tolerate pruning better than a stressed or diseased plant. Plants should only be pruned if they are in good health and showing strong growth.

Use the Right Tools

Use sharp, clean pruning shears to make clean cuts. Dull tools can damage plant tissues, and dirty tools can spread disease. After pruning, sterilize the tools to avoid contamination.

Prune During the Right Stage

The ideal time to prune is during the vegetative stage of growth. During this stage, the plant can recover quickly. Pruning during the flowering stage can stress the plant and potentially reduce yield.

Avoid Over-Pruning

While it can be tempting to prune heavily to encourage more growth, over-pruning can do more harm than good. As a rule of thumb, never remove more than 20% of the plant’s foliage at one time, and give the plant time to recover between pruning sessions.


Pruning cannabis during growth is a valuable technique that can optimize yield and improve the quality of the harvest. It requires a good understanding of plant biology, care in execution, and a patient, attentive approach. By following the principles and techniques discussed in this article, growers can leverage pruning to maximize the potential of their cannabis plants. Whether the aim is better light utilization, controlled plant size, or enhanced yield and quality, proper pruning can significantly contribute to achieving cultivation goals.