Gardeners have long relied on pruning to maximize the yield of some plants. Cannabis plants can benefit from this type of maintenance in many situations, though some growers feel that it is not essential (a debate for another time, perhaps). For those who are interested in trying it out, there are some simple tips that will make the experience far more pleasant in the long run.

By far, the most important rules are to be gentle and not overdo it. It’s easy to forget that plants are living creatures. Cutting parts away from them is stressful, and being rough or removing too much can put it into shock, ultimately killing your crop. Perform any cuts with the sharpest and quickest tool you can find (razor blades and some types of scissors are popular choices). Angle slices around 45 degrees to promote healing and prevent particle buildup on the freshly opened areas. Wash your hands before touching the plants or wear surgical gloves, especially if you’re a smoker because nicotine is not a friend of cannabis. This is a good rule to follow under all handling circumstances.

Start trimming early in the vegetative phase but be careful to only remove the bottommost branches at first. From there you have several options, but the best may be to focus on only removing smaller dead leaves and completely unproductive branches, which will free up space for healthy bud growth. Deeper pruning jobs may lead to even more production, but it could also result in less if the regrowth is poor.

When pruning later in the vegetative period, have mercy on the bigger leaves especially, as they are key players in the absorption of sunlight (or grow light) for critical energy. It is advisable to stop for the most part around a month before flowering, and doing any pruning during the budding period can be risky, so be careful. It’s important to know the individual growth patterns your breeds well before trimming them to avoid cutting away too much or too little.

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