Lollipopping cannabis plants: a simple, yet comprehensive guide
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Lollipopping is a cannabis pruning technique that involves removing lower areas of the plant which receive little-to-no light. Growers generally “lollipop” their plants within the first 2 weeks of the flowering cycle. The technique gets its name from the way the plants look when they’ve been pruned (like lollipops).
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Cannabis plants need light to produce buds. When allowed to grow naturally (with no pruning at all) parts of the plant naturally that receive less light (usually the lower areas of the plant). Not only do these areas produce smaller buds but they also drive down production in other areas of the plant which receive more light, hence lowering the size and quality of your final harvest.
By lollipopping your plants you essentially remove areas that receive less light. This allows your plant to focus all its energy on developing thick, delicious buds in the areas that receive more light and ultimately produces bigger, better quality harvests.
While it might seem counterintuitive to cut down your plants after just pushing them through a vicious vegetative growth phase, it's not. In fact, wine growers follow a similar procedure during the pruning months; by removing parts of the vines that don't produce grapes, they’re able to train their plants to concentrate on growing ripe, delicious fruit without having to worry about maintaining excess foliage.
HOW TO LOLLIPOP CANNABIS PLANTS
(Video is from YouTube channel of Grateful Grower)
The key to properly lollipopping your cannabis plants is knowing where to cut. However, rest assured that lollipopping is a simple procedure, it might just take a while depending on how many plants you’re growing.
A good place to start when lollipopping is to look at your plants in the sun or with your grow lights on (if you’re running an indoor setup). Take a step back and examine your plants from a distance, looking for shady areas. These are the areas you’ll want to remove first as they’ll only drive down the development of your entire plant.
Next, get up close and personal with your plants, closely inspecting the lowest areas of the plant first (remember, the lower parts of your plant typically receive less light). Identify the main stalk of your plants as well as the main branches, and look for small bud sites among the foliage growing off these branches.
You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for particularly small bud sites that look less developed than other sites around your plant. A good way to do this is too look at bud sites further up on the plant which are usually bigger thanks to receiving more light. Once you’ve identified a site you want to prune, simply snip it off with your shears or scissors, being extra careful not to damage any surrounding areas of the plant.
Remember that it can be hard to keep track of the areas that have been pruned and those which haven’t, especially if you’re working with big sativas. To help keep track and mark your progress, it is a good idea to lollipop your plants on a per-branch basis; start at one branch, prune it, then move on to the next once you’re ready.
Some growers will tell you to prune anything lower than the 4th or even 3rd bud site on each branch. Others will tell you to remove ⅓ of the plant from the bottom up.These are both good rules of thumb to follow, but remember that it really depends on each plant. Ideally you'll want to work slowly, pay close attention to how the light is hitting your plants and decide for yourself what’s worth keeping.
Once they’ve done an initial prune of a plant, some growers will work from top to bottom removing any secondary branches they come across (these are the branches growing off the main branches of a plant). This helps cut down on foliage even more and further concentrates your plant's energy on even fewer places.
Remember that these are all just basic rules that growers use as a reference. As you become a more experienced grower you’ll develop your own lollipopping style tailored to the individual phenotypes you're working with each season.
LOLLIPOPPING: GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PLANTS
Remember, the logic of lollipopping is to remove foliage and ultimately concentrate your plants growth on fewer areas. While it might seem counterintuitive to remove foliage and bud sites, you’ll find that proper lollipopping produces bigger, denser, and more potent buds which make for a heavier harvest.