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Pruning Cannabis Plants to Increase your Yield + Training Techniques

pruning marijuana plants

Growing cannabis can be a precise art, but it’s incomplete without the right pruning method. With so many pruning techniques used by expert growers, it’s hard to know which one suits your strain best.

If you’re hoping to perfect your pruning habits, you’re at the right place. Here’s a comprehensive guide on the 11 best techniques for training and pruning cannabis.


Why is It Good to Prune Marijuana Plants?

Pruning marijuana plants is beneficial for several reasons. It increases light exposure to lower leaves and branches and promotes healthy growth. Plus, pruning enhances airflow within the canopy, reducing the risk of mold or mildew.

It also allows experienced growers to shape the plant, control density, and prevent overcrowding. Pruning redirects the plant’s energy to areas that need growth, creating denser buds. It can help prevent invasive microorganisms by eliminating hiding places within the marijuana plant.


When to Prune Cannabis Plant?

Pruning cannabis plants should be done at specific grow stages to maximize its benefits. The ideal time to prune is during the vegetative stage. More specifically, opt for the early to mid-vegetative phase.

This allows the plant to recover and redirect its energy towards new growth. Avoid pruning cannabis during the flowering stage, as it can stunt growth and reduce yield. It’s recommended to start pruning a few weeks before it enters the flowering stage.


How to Prune Cannabis

Pruning cannabis plants requires careful techniques to ensure healthy growth and maximum yield. Here’s a basic guide:

  • Use a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Start pruning during the vegetative stage. Remove any weak, diseased, or dying branches.
  • Focus on the lower canopy by removing small branches and leaves to allow more light and airflow.
  • Maintain an open canopy by removing excess fan leaves and overcrowded branches.
  • Utilize techniques like topping or FIMming to encourage lateral branches.
  • Avoid heavy pruning during the flowering stage to prevent stress and yield reduction.
  • Monitor and prune throughout the cannabis plant’s growth cycle to maintain healthier growth and shape.


What to do After Pruning Marijuana Plants

After pruning marijuana plants, there are a few important steps to take. These can ensure proper recovery and promote healthy leaves.

  • Remove any pruned branches or plant growth from the growing area. This will prevent the spread of pests or diseases.
  • If any remaining branches or buds need support due to more light penetration, use stakes or trellises to prevent breakage.
  • Give the marijuana plants a thorough watering after the pruning process to help the plant recover and reduce stress.
  • Pruning can often result in nutrient deficiencies. So, adjust your feeding regimen accordingly to meet the plant’s needs.
  • Watch the plants for signs of stress or disease in the days following pruning and address any issues.


how to prune cannabis plant


Best Cannabis Pruning Techniques:

Here are some of the most common techniques most growers use to prune marijuana plants.


Topping (Pinching): Why is Topping Marijuana Necessary?

Topping, also known as pinching, is a technique used to grow cannabis. In this technique, the tip of the main stem is removed during the vegetative phase. This encourages the plant to develop multiple main colas by redirecting growth hormones (auxin) to lower branches.

Topping is necessary for several reasons. It promotes lateral growth for the plant to develop more than one dominant cola. This results in increased bud sites and leads to higher yields.

Topping also helps maintain an even canopy by preventing the dominance of a single cola. It promotes more balanced growth and improved airflow throughout the plant. This technique can effectively control the height of the plant.


Fimming or FIM (Fuck, I Missed)

Fimming, or “Fuck I Missed,” is a pruning technique similar to topping. It involves pinching or cutting off a portion of the new growth on the main stem. This specifically targets the emerging apical meristem.

Unlike topping, where the entire tip is removed, fimming involves a partial removal. It leaves behind a small part of the meristem. This technique stimulates the growth of larger branches and colas, like topping.

But it has a less precise and more unpredictable outcome. Fimming is an alternative method for branching and canopy management.



Lollipopping is a pruning technique used in cannabis cultivation. It focuses the plant’s energy on top bud sites, removing lower foliage. It involves removing the lower branches and leaves, creating a lollipop shape.

The goal is to remove unproductive growth and redirect nutrients to the main stem. Lollipopping improves airflow, reduces the risk of mold or pests, and promotes denser buds. It’s typically done during the transition from the vegetative period to the flowering phase.


Brazilian Aka Mainlining or Manifolding

Also known as “mainlining,” or “manifolding” this pruning technique creates a symmetrical plant structure with multiple evenly-spaced colas. It starts during the vegetative period by topping the plant at a specific node (It’s usually done at the third or fourth node to encourage lateral branching).

Then, you must train the two resulting main branches to grow horizontally. Each resulting branch is trained to become a main cola. This creates a more even canopy and maximizes bud development.

This process continues, doubling the number of branches at each node until you achieve the desired number of colas. The goal is to create a uniform plant shape with equal colas, ensuring maximum yield.


RIB (Ready, I Burn)

RIB is a unique technique that allows growers to prune cannabis by burning some parts of the plant. Burning the buds’ pistils on the top of the plant allows the cells to multiply and create buds without leaves. This method works best on Sativa/Indica hybrid weed plants.


What are Cannabis Training Techniques

Here are a few of the most common cannabis training techniques.


High-Stress Training (HST – Super cropping)

High-Stress Training (HST) is a technique used to stress the plants for improved bud production and growth. One common form of HST is super cropping. Super cropping involves bending or crushing the branches at the stem joints to create stress.

This technique stimulates the plant’s natural healing response. Then, it results in increased growth hormone production and bud site development. Super cropping helps create an even canopy, promotes light penetration, and increases yield.


Low-Stress training (LST)

Low-Stress Training (LST) trains plants to grow in a specific shape without causing significant damage. Unlike high-stress training, LST involves bending and tying down branches for horizontal growth. It increases bud development on lower branches by manipulating the plant’s growth.


Screen of Green (SCROG)

Screen of Green (SCROG) is used to maximize yields and create an even canopy. It involves using a screen made of string or wire to train the plants to grow horizontally. The SCROG method starts during the vegetative period by positioning the screen a few inches above the plants.

As the plants grow, the branches weave through the screen openings. This encourages lateral growth and creates a flat, even canopy. This technique allows for easier access to the plants for maintenance and pruning. SCROG is particularly effective for maximizing yields in limited vertical space cultivation setups.


Sea of Green (SOG)

Sea of Green (SOG) is designed to maximize yield by growing a large number of plants in a small space. In the SOG technique, plants are typically grown in smaller pots or containers. Then, they are switched to early flowering, often without extensive vegetative growth.

This results in a dense canopy of plants, resembling a “sea” of green foliage. The goal is to focus on producing many smaller-sized plants with limited branching. It allows for quicker turnover and increased yield.



Schwazzing is an advanced technique developed by a cannabis grower called “Pedro’s Grow Room.” It involves a radical defoliation process during the flowering stage. The technique includes stripping off most of the fan leaves and removing up to 70-80% of the foliage.

The purpose of Schwazzing is to increase light penetration to the lower buds. It improves air circulation and redirects the plant’s energy toward bud production. Advocates of Schwazzing claim it can lead to bigger and denser buds.


Topping vs. Fimming

The main difference between the two is the specific parts of the plant being pruned. Topping involves the complete removal of the main stem’s tip, creating two branches. In contrast, fimming partially removes the new growth and leaves some of the meristems intact.

The choice between topping and fimming is subjective and depends on the desired outcome. Topping generally creates a more symmetrical plant structure with fewer main colas. Meanwhile, fimming can lead to a more unpredictable branching pattern.


Screen of Green vs. Sea of Green

SCROG involves using a screen or netting to train plants to grow horizontally. This method allows for better light distribution, increased bud development, and easier access to the plant. SCROG is well-suited for indoor growers with limited vertical space.

SOG, on the other hand, involves growing numerous smaller plants in a small space. Then, you can trigger early flowering. SOG is popular among commercial growers seeking higher yields in a shorter cultivation cycle.

The choice between SCROG and SOG depends on available space, desired yields, and cultivation preferences.


pruning cannabis plants




Does Topping Cannabis Plants Increase Yields?

Topping cannabis plants can increase yields by promoting the growth of main colas. It creates a bushier plant structure that allows for more bud sites.


Are There Any Risks to Marijuana Pruning?

Some pruning risks include stress, disease, or infection if not done properly. There is also the possibility of affecting bud development due to pruning in the flowering stage.


Does Lollipopping Increase Yield?

Lollipopping can increase yield by removing lower dead foliage. It focuses energy on the development of higher-quality buds in the upper canopy.


How Do You Prune Plants to Encourage Growth?

To prune plants and encourage growth, remove dead leaves or diseased branches. Trim back excessive growth to improve airflow and consider topping or fimming to stimulate lateral branching and keep the plant healthy.


How Do You Increase Flower Yield?

To increase flower yield, ensure proper lighting and provide adequate nutrients. Maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels and implement topping, LST, or SCROG to promote more bud development.


Do You Prune Before or After Bud?

It’s best to prune and train before the flowering stage and during the vegetative period. This gives the plant enough time to recover and redirect its energy toward bud production.


Does Pruning Cannabis Increase Yield?

Pruning cannabis plants can increase yield by promoting better light penetration and airflow. It focuses the plant’s energy on developing larger and higher-quality buds.


Is It Okay to Cut the Big Leaves Off Weed Plant?

It’s safe to remove large fan leaves from a weed plant if you avoid excessive removal. Removing a few leaves can improve light penetration and airflow. But the plant still relies on them for photosynthesis and energy, so don’t remove too many fan leaves at once.


How Many Times Should You Prune Your Weed Plant?

The number of times you prune your weed plant depends on the techniques and desired outcome. Plant health, growth rate, and personal cultivation goals can also influence the number.


Is It Bad to Prune Weed Plants During Flowering?

It’s best not to prune a cannabis plant while flowering as it can cause stress and impact bud development. Minor defoliation or selective leaf removal is okay, but extensive pruning should be avoided.


Can I Cut All the Fan Leaves Off?

It’s not advisable to cut off all the fan leaves from a cannabis plant. Fan leaves play a crucial role in photosynthesis and nutrient uptake. Removing all of them can cause stress to the plant and hinder its growth.

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