If you’re a new grower, you might be wondering if you should implement pruning for bigger yields. After all, pruning does seem a little counterintuitive.
The truth is, removing plant tissue benefits the plant in the long run.
If you prune your plants, you’ll gain greater canopy coverage, thicker and lusher plants, better bud yields, and healthier plants. Pruning isn’t a simple process though. Take some time to read through our guidelines to understand when and how to prune your plants for the biggest impact.
Why Prune Your Plants?
Pruning your plants provides a number of benefits.
Plants have a limited amount of energy. Therefore, excessive stem and leaf growth can take energy away from flowers, buds, and fruit. By pruning away some of this green tissue, plants can send more energy to the production of the fruiting portions of plants.
As more energy is sent the flowers, fruits, and buds, their growth increases. Therefore, this process is known as pruning for bigger yields.
Another benefit of pruning is increased plant health. By removing dead and diseased tissue, growers stop the spread of disease.
Selective pruning also increases the amount of air and light that reaches the plant. This helps protect against pathogens which thrive in damp, wet conditions. Some of these pathogens include powdery mildew and tobacco mosaic virus.
When you understand how to prune your plants properly you will improve their health and increase their overall yield.
However, improper pruning can damage and even kill plants. Therefore, make sure to take the time to learn how to correctly prune.
Deciding When to Prune
To decide when to prune, you need to consider factors including plant species, the plant’s age, and the type of pruning.
A good way to determine when to start pruning plants is by looking at the nodes and internodes. Nodes are sections of the plant where new stems are growing out from the main stem. Internodes are the sections of main stem between two nodes.
Once plants have four to eight nodes, you can begin prunning. At this point, plants will be large enough to survive a pruning effort. You’ll also be able to see the shape the plant is taking on.
Most of your pruning should happen during the vegetative state, but you can also prune during the following stage. However, you never want to prune more than two weeks into the flowering stage. If you do, you’ll risk interrupting the hormone production and movement that is critical to flower and bud production.
Get the Right Equipment
To get into pruning for bigger yields, you’ll need to purchase a small pair of pruning shears. This tool is specially designed to make clean and precise cuts. It’s important to make sure the blade is sharp; dull blades often lead to botched cuts.
Before using the shears, you should sanitize them in a rubbing alchohol. This helps prevent the spread of disease.
Topping Your Plant
As the name suggest, topping your plant refers to removing the upper-most portion of the plant. This portion of the plant is known as the apical meristem.
Topping should be done during the vegetative state of your plant’s growth cycle. After the plant has at least four nodes, make a straight cut across the tip of the main stem using your sterile pruning shears. You want to remove only one inch of material.
After topping, stop all pruning activity for one to two weeks. This will allow the plant to recover from the injury. For a successful recovery, make sure to provide proper plant nutrients.
Topping your plant impacts a phenomenom known as apical dominace. Apical dominace refers to the apex (top) of the plant being dominant over lateral buds. Simply put, plants grow upwards rather than outwards.
In more detail, the apical bud produces the plant horomone auxin. Auxin is responsible for inhibiting the growth of lateral buds. When you top your plant, you remove the apical bud. With the decrease in auxin, lateral growth increases.
While topping increase lateral growth, it’s important to understand the drawbacks of this pruning method. Each time you top your plant you add additional time to the vegetative stage before you can switch to flowering. This means keeping your plants in the 18/6 growth stage for weeks longer.
Remove Lower Leaves
Another step in pruning is removing lower leaves and shoots aren’t receiving proper sunlight. These parts of the plant will struggle to grow. However, plants will still direct energy toward their growth. By removing this tissue, your plant can direct more energy to other parts of the plant.
To prune the slower leaves and shoots, cut each off each piece at it’s base. Make sure to use sharp shears to make clean cuts.
Thin Out the Middle
After doing away with the lower limbs on your plant, it’s time to move up to the middle. Remove any short limbs, branches, and leaves at the center of your plant if there are branches and leaves outside them. These interior sections won’t get much light and will grow poorly.
Also remove shoots that are growing into other parts of the plant. This prevents injury and disease caused by rubbing.
Do Away with Dying and Diseased Sections
After pruning away healthy tissue, it’s important to remove dead and diseased sections. By removing these parts of the plant, you prevent the spread of disease. Remember, clean grow rooms promote better harvests.
Removing diseased tissue also allows you plant to direct more energy towards healthy parts of the plant. This ensures your lighting is efficient.
Allow Time for Recovery
After pruning a significant portion of your plant (no more than 1/3 at a time) give it time to heal fully before you prune again. Also make sure that you water your plant and feed it a nutrient solution immediately after pruning.
Adding in this additional step helps avoid too much shock to your plant and minimizes the recovery period needed before you’ll see nice growth once again.
Once you’ve practiced pruning for bigger yields, the process will become easier and more efficient. With proper technique, the right tools, and good timing, you can avoid a long spindly plant and instead end up with a wide and bushy plant that offers the best possible bud yields.
Careful pruning will increase your yields, and it will help you make the most of applied light and nutrients.