How to Trim Marijuana

For a high-quality product, marijuana plants must be well cared-for and carefully harvested. Luckily, with the right technique, it's not terribly hard to trim your plant for great results. If you have multiple plants, take your time throughout this process - perform each step on each of your plants individually before moving on to the next step. This potentially allows you to spread the trimming out over a period of weeks from pre-harvest to post-cure, breaking up what would otherwise be a tedious chore.


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    Remove dead leaves. As harvest time approaches, you'll want to begin reaching into the branches of the live plant and removing all of the dead and dying big fan leaves from the branches. This process allows the plant to focus as much energy as possible on making a great product, rather than wasting energy maintaining leaves that may die anyway. A gentle tug, sometimes firm, is all that's required to remove most leaves.
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    Cut each branch at the stock. At harvest time, after all the dead fan leaves have been removed, leave the plant in the earth if possible (if it's a hydroponic plant, obviously, you won't be able to do so) and use a pruning tool to cut each branch off where it meets the main stalk. Start with those nearest the ground and work upwards.
    • If your plant is especially large, it may be necessary to use a pruning saw for the very big bottom branches, which are often the thickest.
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    Cut offshoots from the main branches. Having collected all of your branches, use your pruning tool to snip the smaller "side" branches from the big main branches at their base. In necessary, you may cut the large branches into smaller, more manageable pieces.
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    Remove the rest of the leaves. The remaining true leaves are now removed from all of the branches. There's no right way to do this - a firm tug on each leaf stalk might be one person's preferred method, while clipping might be another's.
    • These leaves have little THC content and normally go to compost.
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    Hang the branches to cure. When the bud-bearing branches have been removed and partitioned into individual pieces, they must be cured. Hang the branches to that all parts are exposed to air and store them in a cool, dry place. You'll initially want heavy ventilation in the form of a fan or a draft to help dry the branches. As they dry, gradually decrease the ventilation to increase the moisture in the room, but never let the moisture exceed about 50%. The goal is for your branches to slowly, naturally dry, producing a flavorful, smoke-able product. This may take upwards of a week. Be patient!
    • Don't expose your harvested plants to direct sunlight, heat, or moisture. The latter is especially bad, as it can produce mold, which can ruin a crop.
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    Remove the leaves from the buds. When the marijuana is well cured, i.e., when the branches themselves are essentially dry, you can bend the small leaves that grow out of the buds off at their stems to snap them off. Though you probably won't want to smoke them, these leaves have a variety of uses for creating other cannabis products (see Tips).
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    Remove and store the buds.Finally, your buds are all that remain on the branches. These you can snap off from their twigs and pack into ziploc or other air-tight storage. Congratulations on your harvest. Enjoy!


  • Don't toss these dried small leaves that grew out of the buds! They're high in THC and useful for making marijuana oil to bake with.
  • The fan leaf removal can be done gradually over the last couple of weeks of the season as each older set of leaves withers, cutting down on the hours you'll have to put in at harvest time.
  • Drying the buds first and then clipping the smaller leaves off is easier then clipping wet weed.
  • Curing is very important! Woefully impatient types, and shady sellers who want to inflate the weight of their baggies, will use little scissors to snip the bud-leaves (Step 6) off close to the buds before they're completely dry. Their error is sadly apparent to anyone who tries to smoke their green bud.
  • When cutting your branches, bear in mind the height of the space you will have available for hanging these to cure later, and cut big branches into manageable sizes.
  • The finished product should be clean with no sticks poking out of the bud, and no leaves, just crystals and colored hairs.
  • Storing the dry, clipped bud in a mason jar or an airtight ziplock bag will preserve it longer than storing it in a loose baggie.
  • Cutting the large flowers into smaller sections will allow the bud to dry faster and avoid rot.
  • Use precise needlepoint scissors to make precise cuts on the bud.
  • Your bare stalk can be pulled out of the ground much more easily next spring, or sawed off at the base. (Why not save it to compare with the size of next season's harvest?)
  • Let your budding female marijuana plant mature to the point where all her large fan leaves have yellowed, dried or fallen off before you harvest, for maximum THC production.


  • Make sure the place where you cure your marijuana has very good ventilation and isn't too humid.
  • Alcohol-based tinctures of marijuana are not generally recommended for medical users; make oil instead.

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Categories: Smoking