While reading about training your cannabis plants, you’re likely to run into lots of references to “lollipopping” plants.
Lollipopping your plants is the process of stripping off the leaves off the lower halves of the branches. This results in a bare stem with a cluster of leaves and bud at the end, so it sort of looks like a lollipop on a stick.
Lollipopping Cannabis Plants: Why?
It may sound counter-intuitive to get rid of perfectly good leaves and bud nodes. After all, leaves create energy, and flower nodes turn into the bud we want to harvest. However, just because the leaves create a marginal amount of extra energy doesn’t mean they’re useful.
The leaves at the bottom of branches use the same amount of nutrients as the ones at the top, but they don’t help the plant nearly as much. Since they don’t get as much light, they use resources without contributing back to the plant (just selfish).
Similarly, the effort it takes to grow the buds lower on the plant results in less harvestable material. Since the buds lower down don’t receive as much light, you get smaller buds that use energy the higher, bigger buds need.
By lollipopping your plant, you get rid of leaves and nodes that take away from the plant as a whole. You maximize the size of the buds at the end of the branch. You also clear out space for air movement, helping to prevent things like spider mites and powdery mildew.
When to Lollipop Cannabis Plants
Plants to be well-established in order for them to survive and thrive post-lollipopping. You don’t want to wait too long, though, because then you’ll lose most of the benefits of the procedure. Ideally, you should lollipop your cannabis plants during the vegetative phase. Exactly when to lollipop is controversial, however.
Some growers argue that you should continually lollipop your plants after they have grown a couple of feet tall. In this method, you continually remove unnecessary leaves and buds as they grow.
This minimizes shock but can stress the plant and leaves it open to fungal infection for longer, since there are almost always places where you have removed leaves.
Other growers believe that it’s better to lollipop all at once, two weeks before switching into flowering. The argument is that this will allow the plant to use all of its leaves for energy when the plant is growing vegetation but allows it to recover from shock before you switch to flowering. This is the preferred method for lollippopping healthy cannabis plants.
How to Lollipop Cannabis Plants
There are two ways cannabis lollipopping is done: top down, and bottom up.
Bottom-Up Cannabis Lollipopping
Take a pair of sharp scissors or a paring knife and clean it with hot water. Starting at the very bottom of the plant, place the blade against the top of any shoots you want to get rid of, and cut quickly and carefully. The cleaner the cut, the quicker the plant will heal (think of it as plant surgery). Move your way up until you have cut everything that you want to remove.
Top-Down Cannabis Lollipopping
Place your fingers or a pair sharp scissors about four nodes down from the end of the branch you’re working on. Slide them down to the main stem, removing side shoots as you go. This works most easily with small, tender side shoots. This method must be done carefully, so you don’t bruise the stem.
Lollipopping cannabis is an important method of training your plants in your indoor weed grow. By doing this, you’ll make the most of your light and your plants’ energy.