When it comes to pruning your cannabis, one of the most common and straightforward practices used is lollipopping cannabis plants.
This pruning technique is a type of high-stress training (HST) because it involves cutting competing growth on your cannabis plant.
You do this to focus all your plants’ energy energy on the main colas to promote better bud development.
How to Lollipop Cannabis Plants
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What is lollipopping?
Lollipopping is a pruning technique that involves cutting the lower growths on your cannabis during the third week of flowering.
Generally, your marijuana plants have begun to develop bud sites (colas) by that time, which might discourage you from lollipopping as the buds have already developed.
However, you need to wait until the third week in order to identify which colas you’d like to prune. And in all cases, the main colas are the ones on the top, which is where this high-stress training (HST) gets its name.
And on that note, it’s important to understand that lollipopping cannabis is a type of HST because it involves pruning – which is a process where you intentionally wound your marijuana plants to force them to grow and develop in a certain way that promotes better buds.
The Benefits of lollipopping:
1. Energy conservation
Leaving only the main colas on your cannabis plant allows your cannabis to conserve energy better as it focuses on the main bud sites.
2. Improved circulation
Because there are fewer growths for nutrients to circulate the plant, circulation can now focus solely on the main colas.
3. Larger colas
Lollipooping produces larger colas since there are no competing growths to fight for nutrients.
Lollipopping Cannabis the Right Way
Lollipopping weed comes in two methods: top-down and bottom-up. The difference between the two is how you go about eliminating competing growths when pruning.
Top-down lollipopping is the more aggressive way of pruning as it involves removing all but the top four to five colas on your cannabis.
On the one hand, this dramatically reduces competition and should allow the cannabis plant to handle the stress.
It will produce larger colas that are as rich as they are dense. However, on the other hand, it could lead to stressing your plants due to over-pruning, which would hinder rather than facilitate better bud development.
To avoid over-pruning your cannabis, you only need to follow two things: If no branches are growing out of a leaf’s basal stem, you don’t need to cut it. Do not strip all of the leaves off one branch or stalk.
If you still don’t want to run the risk, then bottom-up lollipopping is what we recommend.
It’s a safer alternative for new growers because rather than removing all of the competing growths on your marijuana plant, you instead prune unproductive foliage and lower growths with inadequate light coverage.
The only downside to this method is that you may not be able to get the same quality and richness of buds harvested from top-down lollipopping.
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Lollipopping vs. Defoliation – Understanding the Differences
Defoliation is another type of pruning that plucks the leaves of your cannabis plants as a method of developing bigger buds. Some growers argue that it doesn’t do anything to help with the plants’ bud growth, and to an extent, they’re correct. That’s because defoliation isn’t a method that works in any condition, unlike lollipopping.
Defoliation is best implemented in indoor setups. This technique works because the larger fan leaves of cannabis plants are unproductive growths.
The nutrients, which are typically stored, would redirect to the colas. It works under the same principle as lollipopping but at a smaller scale since defoliation removes the leaves rather than the whole branch.
Combine lollipopping with SCROG and Main-lining
You can apply other growing techniques to get the most out of lollipopping weed. In particular, Screen of Green (SCROG) and mainlining are two of the best growing techniques to use on your cannabis plants before lollipopping.
With scrogging, you manipulate how your plants grow during their vegetation period by placing a screen over your cannabis plants and bending them to grow outwards rather than upwards.
By the time they enter their flowering period, you’ll need to start pruning all of the competing, unproductive growths so that all the energy directs to the colas of your marijuana plants.
SCROG and lollipopping is a safe combination and one that we highly recommend new growers try.
For those with more experience under their belt, main-lining and lollipopping, when done right, will result in bigger yields.
It’s quite the challenge, though, since it involves applying two high-stress trainings. If you intend to try this, we recommend choosing a hardy cannabis strain that can also handle stress.
Main-lining involves cutting the third node of the plant (also called topping) to end up with two main colas rather than one.
You then repeat the process two more times, and by the end, you’ll end up with a total of eight colas after you topped the plant for a total of three times.
This kind of pruning can stress your plants if you’re not careful, and because it takes time for them to heal, it will increase the overall time it’ll take for the plant to fully develop.
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When should I lollipop My Marijuana Plants?
The ideal time to start lollipopping cannabis is the third week of their flowering period. You’ll begin to see the colas starting to bloom by this time.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re sacrificing potential yield. Instead, concentrate the yield onto four to five bud sites on your cannabis plant.
Lollipopped marijuana plants have increased yield because fewer competing growths mean nutrients and water spread throughout the plant. With only four to five main bud sites on the plant, all of the energy is focused on them, allowing for bigger and better buds.
Absolutely not. Although you can get away with low-stress training (LST) on your autoflowers, you cannot apply any type of high-stress training (HST) to this type of cannabis strain. For one, they flower quickly, so lollipopping will only reduce the yield further. Plus, autoflowering cannabis won’t have the time to recover and redirect energy to their remaining colas.