Question: Should I prune my marijuana plants? How?
Answer: Pruning your plants provides increased yields and decreased heights along with the added benefit of stronger, sturdier stems. The middle bud (the tallest part of the plant) produces a chemical called auxin that limits the growth of other, smaller buds. Cutting the center bud substantially increases growth in all surrounding buds. Rather than having one giant bud and a few medium-sized ones, you'll now have a flurry of large buds at your disposal. These buds will weigh more than any unprimed buds.
For indoor marijuana plants, the ideal time to start pruning is around 10 to 15 days prior to forced flowering. For outdoor plants, pruning should be done several weeks prior to the expected flowering period.
For some individuals, it might be more convenient to have a bushy plant with a bunch of small- and medium-sized buds than one with just a few large buds. For a bushy plant, just cut the top growth after the plant has grown about five sets of leaves. As a result of this, the plant will develop about 4 big side branches to replace that center bud. After these branches have produces four or five sets of leaves, prune the top growth of off each individual branch. This way, the plant will develop numerous branches with numerous different leaves to choose from.
Question: Should the fan leaves be pruned from my marijuana plants? If so, when?
Answer: To put it simply, leaves are sugar factories. They have specialized organs in their cells that use the energy from light to bring CO2 and oxygen together. This process ends up creating a bevy of sugar while also releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. Sugar fuels the plant's metabolism and works as a main ingredient for creating new tissue. The plant must expend energy in order for leaves to grow. Once the leaf is fully grown, it is no longer an energy generator. In the developing stages, however, picking leaves actually deprives the plant of the energy it needs to thrive. It will also grow much more slowly than usual. Try to avoid pruning leaves when the plants are in vegetative growth or the early stages of flowering.
The process of pruning leaves is only advised during certain windows. One window is the mid-to-late flowering period. Leaves that cover or hide buds from getting direct light should be moved into another position, but if that's not possible, it needs to be excised. It's more important for the buds to get adequate light than it is for the leaf to produce sugar.
The marijuana plant will naturally start transferring nutrients from the leaves to the buds as the flowers start to mature. At this point, the leave will turn yellow and will likely provide little usability for the plant. They will usually snap from the stem with even the gentlest touch.
Leaves should also be removed during manicuring.