Trimming your cannabis plants: a basic how-to

Trimming can be tedious, but knowing where to start can ease the process

Esteban Lopez / Unsplash

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If you grow your own cannabis plants, you’ll need to know how to trim them properly before enjoying your weed. Hopefully, your plants have produced a good harvest and you have some nice buds to work with.

We didn’t say that trimming is necessarily easy. It can be tedious! But knowing where to start can ease the process. Let’s begin with the basics.

Do I have to trim my weed?

No, you don’t have to trim your weed, but it will definitely benefit your buds and plants. 

Most growers want their weed to look nice. After all, you want to be proud of what you produce! Trimming your weed will go a long way toward improving its appearance and potency. So if you’re a newbie grower, don’t be alarmed if your weed doesn’t look like the buds you’re used to seeing. It takes practice.

The buds on your plants have tiny leaves called sugar leaves. These leaves contain trichomes, but they aren’t as potent as what is contained in the buds themselves. If you want the highest potency possible, trim the sugar leaves. You’ll be left with more trichomes in the end. Plus, getting rid of sugar leaves will make your weed smoother for smoking. And no one would ever complain about a smoother smoking experience.

An overview of tools

There are a couple of popular, tried-and-true ways of trimming weed that are sure to help you produce good results. Shears are the original tool used, but now trimming machines exist. These are both great options. Trimming machines are quicker and easier, but come at a price. They also have the potential to damage your weed. So if you’re new to trimming, stick with the shears.

What’s the difference between wet and dry trimming?

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When you harvest your plants, they are in a wet form. Trimming at this point is known as wet trimming. If you choose to wait for your plants to dry out before trimming, you’ll be dry trimming. It’s really that simple! Each method has pros and cons.

Wet trimming

This is the most popular method of trimming. Most growers, especially professionals running large-scale operations, prefer it.

When your plants are still wet, sugar leaves are more obvious and easily removed from their buds. Plus, once you trim the sugar leaves, the buds will dry more quickly. Some people swear that wet trimming leaves them with nicer-looking buds, but this is up for debate. The main benefits of wet trimming are ease and speed.

Dry trimming

Those who opt for dry trimming have to hang their weed plants and wait until they are dried out before beginning the process. 

It can be difficult to figure out if your plants are truly dry. This makes dry trimming a little more complicated. If you live in a dry climate, your plants will dehydrate more quickly. At least they will appear to. Be careful, though: sometimes your plants will look dry on the outside, but will still have moisture on the inside.

Advocates of dry trimming tout the method’s advantage of maintaining the shears and avoiding stickiness. But, of course, this depends on the strain you’re harvesting. Some strains are sticky regardless!

Let’s get trimming

By now, you may have an idea of which trimming tools and methodyou’d like to work with. Let’s go over some basic necessities you’ll need to collect before getting started.

The shears

When it comes to pruning shears, quality truly matters. The higher the quality of the shears, the easier the process will be. We recommend purchasing two pairs of shears. If you have two pairs available, you’ll be able to switch one for the other when it gets sticky. This will save you time, mess, and frustration.

There are a variety of shears on the market. The two most popular types are regular and spring-loaded. One type is not necessarily better than the other. You’ll need to experiment to find out what you prefer. There’s no harm in picking up a pair of each and learning as you go!

Location, location, location

Make sure you’re comfortable. Trimming is a lengthy process and may be the part of growing weed that you like the least. If you have a large harvest, choosing a comfortable spot to trim your weed is especially important.

Don’t neglect your body! Trimming is tedious and can take hours. Invest in a quality trimming chair, just as you would in an office chair. Think of your trimming space as an office. Don’t attempt to trim on the couch. Opt for a straight-backed chair and take regular breaks.

Yes, you’ll need cleaning supplies

Jose Luis Sanchez Pereyra / Unsplash

We said we’d guide you through the trimming process, but we didn’t say it wouldn’t be messy! Stickiness isn’t avoidable. The resin will collect on your shears and make trimming more difficult. The best cleaning supplies for shears are actually super simple. All you need is a cloth and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Hopefully, you’ve taken our advice and purchased two pairs of shears. This way, you can let one pair soak in the rubbing alcohol while using the other. Just soak, wipe, and switch whenever needed.

Don’t forget to make trimming fun

You’re probably excited that your plants are ready to harvest. But most people don’t get excited about trimming. Don’t be afraid to liven it up a bit!

You don’t want to incorporate anything into your trimming process that will be distracting. Music is a safe bet and an awesome way to make the process more fun. Choose your favourite playlist or podcasts and let them run in the background. As long as you aren’t easily distracted, you can also opt for a TV show or YouTube video. Just make sure you remember to stay focused on the task at hand – literally.

The more you can do to make the trimming process fun and easy, the better. Make it something you look forward to by incorporating great tools, company, and tunes. Focus on the end result and don’t get lazy. Your effort will show in your beautiful buds.

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