Should You Trim Lower Branches During Flowering? What You Should Know

Cannabis plants have become more prominent in households worldwide since many governments have loosened restrictions around the plant. Having a cannabis plant can be beneficial for many reasons, but the plant’s care can be a bit complicated depending on your experience with growing. One significant part of the plant’s care is trimming the lower branches.

You should trim lower branches during the beginning of the cannabis plant’s flowering so the higher up buds will have a higher quality. Trimming at the beginning of flowering can prevent other problems for the plant, such as hormone disruptions.

The lifecycle and growth of a cannabis plant are similar to other plants, including a time for harvest, storage, and use! However, the cannabis plant is sensitive to the timing of when you trim the plant due to the necessity of a higher quality bud.

Why you Should Trim Lower Branches

As with caring for almost any plant, trimming the lower branches and leaves may be necessary for the plant’s health and cultivation. Not trimming the lower branches or leaves can affect the outcome of the harvest. 

For trimming cannabis plants’ lower leaves, it is essential to do so to get better buds. If you don’t cut the lower branches, the plant’s energy will be more dispersed throughout the plant, reducing the buds’ quality that you’ll harvest on top of the plant. The fewer areas of buds for a cannabis plant will yield a higher quality bud.

Buds that will grow on the lower part of the plant will have lower quality due to the amount of lighting they receive. It’s crucial to trim the lower branches to increase the amount of airflow underneath the plant. Crowded cannabis plants will have a lower quality yield than ones that have more space.

You should start trimming your cannabis plant when you notice it starts looking like a bush. This is when you’ll also begin to seeing dead leaves. You should continue trimming the lower branches during the beginning of the flowering phase so that the top buds will have a higher quality.

Why Trim During the Beginning of Flowering?

Timing is essential for trimming a cannabis plant. If you cut the plant too late into the flowering phase, it can cause hormone disruptions in the plant. You also give the male parts of the plant time to pollinate the female parts of the plant. It’s never too early to trim your cannabis plant. Once it’s in the vegetative state, you can start trimming back dead leaves and branches.

The trimming’s timing is slightly debated in the growing community. Some growers say you should trim no later than two weeks of the flowering stage, while others say you should trim no later than three weeks into the flowering stage. Some even suggest only pruning during the vegetative state and have all of the trimming done before flowering.

Trimming during the beginning of flowering is the best option for a cannabis plant to ensure that the nutrients are dispersed while the plant’s hormones are not. You should trim a bit during the vegetative stage to allow some nutrients to get to the top of the plant, where the best buds will be.

How to Trim a Cannabis Plant

Trimming, also known as pruning, is essential for the quality of buds from a cannabis plant. It’s also a great time to check your plant for any pests or diseases. When trimming, make sure you wear gloves and have a nice, sharp pair of garden trimmers. Indica plants will be denser than Sativa plants.

You should start with the lower branches and trim off any areas that have dead leaves. After you have the lower and dead leaves trimmed, you should then remove any leaves and branches that are shaded. If they’re shaded, they won’t receive enough light and will produce a lower quality bud. When trimming, make sure you make clean cuts to prevent the plant from disease.

You should throw these trimmings in a compost bin to reduce the amount of waste you have. Make sure to clean and dry your trimmers after every use.

Growth Phases and Care of the Cannabis Plant

The cannabis plant’s growth phases are significant to the plant’s care. Each phase has different requirements and can affect the outcome of the harvest. The phases of a cannabis plant are:

  • Germination is the time spent for the seeds to sprout. The best way to do this is with covered damp paper towels in a hot room. It usually takes up to 10 days for a seed to sprout. Hard seeds are significantly more likely to sprout than soft seeds. Here are a great video and guide on how to germinate cannabis seeds and transplant them.
  • Seedling is when the seed has sprouted, and you should plant it in the soil. This stage usually lasts about three weeks.
  • Vegetative is when the plant grows the most. During this phase, you should “top” the plants to redistribute the growth hormones. Here’s a great guide on how to top your cannabis plant. It lasts between three and sixteen weeks.
  • Flowering lasts between eight and eleven weeks. This is when you’ll start to see buds and flowers, and you’ll have to trim the branches and male parts of the plant. You should also be trellising the cannabis plant to support the bud’s weight.

The beginning phases last only a couple of weeks, while vegetative and flowering phases can be a couple of months. If you grow your cannabis plant indoors, you will have faster vegetative and flowering phases. Outdoor cannabis plants are harvested during the fall.


Temperature is essential for quality buds from a cannabis plant. The temperature sometimes varies between growth stages. The germination, seedling, and vegetative stages require a space that’s between 70ºF and 85ºF. During the flowering stage, you can go a little lower, down to 60ºF.


As mentioned earlier, each growing phase has different growing conditions, lighting being one of them. During each growing phase, a cannabis plant requires different lighting amounts per day to have the highest quality bud.

  • Germination: if germinating with paper towels, the seeds should not get any sunlight.
  • Seedling and Vegetative: 18 hours per day
  • Flowering: 12 hours per day

The amount of light a cannabis plant needs naturally decreases while in the flowering stage because the plant usually is ready to harvest in the fall when the days start getting shorter.


Cannabis plants are sensitive to the amount and frequency of watering. Each growth stage requires a different amount and frequency:

  • Germination: only use the amount of water it requires to soak the paper towels. They should be damp but not dripping.
  • Seedling: requires misting the soil, so the soil is damp once it dries out. This is usually every 2-3 days. The seedling is still growing and needs to establish a robust root system. Overwatering can prevent the roots from growing strong.
  • Vegetative and Flowering: increased watering area and amount. Cannabis plant roots grow outwards, so don’t just focus on water at the plant’s base. You should water a cannabis plant when the soil starts to dry out. 

Soil and Nutrients

Not much needs to be changed throughout a cannabis plant’s lifetime for the growing medium and the nutrients given; however, you should use a damp paper towel to get the cannabis seeds to germinate during germination. Once the seed sprouts, you can plant it in the soil. You should use loose, well-draining soil to prevent the seedlings from getting overwatered.

The best way to test your soil nutrients is to submit a sample to your local soil testing lab. Here’s a great list to find where you can send your soil. For maintenance, you should also purchase a soil test kit. You should also monitor the pH of the soil. Cannabis grows best in soil with a pH between 6 and 7. You should always retest before each time you plant your seedlings.

In the vegetative phase, it is recommended to add nitrogen to the soil. You can do this by adding worm castings, which can be created from vermicomposting, or you can purchase them at your local gardening store. You also should make sure your soil has enough phosphorus and potassium. You can add them by bone meal, rock dust, and wood ash.


Out of all the caring a cannabis plant needs, trimming is one of the most essential parts of the plant’s care. The timing is significant, and during the vegetative state, you should trim a little bit, but you should trim during the beginning flowering state to get the best quality buds.

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