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Thursday December 23, 2021

By Michael Walters

someone trimming cannabis Growing

It’s been an exciting few months watching your cannabis plant grow from either a tiny seedling or a small clone. You’ve been diligent in your care for her, watched her for signs of distress and fed her well as she grew tall and filled her nodes with her sweet, sticky and oh-so attractive buds. And now, after months of watching her grow and mature, it’s time to cut her down and trim her up so everyone can see just how beautiful – and potent – she really is.

Trimming your harvested cannabis can be an arduous task for those who have never done it before. However, with a little know-how it can be pretty easy! Keep on reading to learn how you can trim your buds up like a pro without the need for expensive equipment! Of course, proper trimming does take some time, so put on your favorite record or turn on the TV to help pass the time as you manicure your harvest!

New to growing? Be sure to check out our Beginner’s Guide to Growing Marijuana!

Why Trim Your Weed

Obviously, you should cut your plant down to dry it out and let it cure, right? But a proper trim has many benefits, as well.

Example Trim Job
Example of a trimmed cannabis bud.

Not only will it help your bud look better, but it will also help increase the potency and reduce the harshness of the smoke, too. And while trimming may reduce the overall mass of your final products, the improved bag appeal more than makes up for the lost weight.

Trimming Your Cannabis

Now that we’ve covered why you need to trim your cannabis, it’s time to move onto the fun part – actually trimming your harvested buds! Keeping the tips and techniques below in mind will help you manicure your flower like a pro.

Essential Weed-Trimming Tools

Trimming cannabis may be timely, but it’s certainly not costly! Sure, you could go out and purchase a bunch of expensive equipment to get the job done quicker and more efficiently, but in all reality hand-trimming is perfectly feasible for a home-grow operation. In fact, all you really need to trim your cannabis is a couple of quality items:

Trimming Essentials:

  • A solid pair of gardening sheers to chop the plant down
  • Manicure scissors for precise trimming
  • Disposable gloves to protect trichome content and minimize cross-contamination
  • A clean tray to catch the trim
  • Hangers or a clothing line from which to hang your trimmed buds
  • Bonus: A solid music playlist and a comfortable chair is also highly recommended

Of course, you can always add extra equipment as you continue your growing journey, but these items are all you need to get started!

Trimming Techniques

Though the best time to harvest cannabis is pretty standard, the best time to trim and manicure your cannabis is a debatable topic among many growers. Some prefer the “wet method,” for example, while others prefer a “dry method” of cannabis trimming. Both are appropriate in certain circumstances depending on things like time constraints and the environment of the ensuing cure process, so it’s up to you to decide which one will work best.

Wet Trimming Cannabis

The easiest and most common way to manicure marijuana is called wet trimming, or trimming the cannabis soon after harvest while the leaves are still moist and stiff. This method of manicuring cannabis is especially popular due to its ease and efficiency, and its ability to produce picture-perfect buds post-cure.

Wet trim
A grower properly wet trimming harvested cannabis.

To use this method, begin by harvesting your cannabis at the stock leaving multiple branches from which to hang them. Leaving the buds on the branches at this point will help them hang easily during the curing process and will make the buds much easier to handle during the trimming process, too.

Begin by turning your freshly-harvested branches upside down to gain easy access to the stems of the larger leaves. Using manicure scissors, trim the large fan leaves away from the buds and add them to your compose or save them to roll your own cannabis cigar later.

Next, working over a clean tray, trim the smaller sugar leaves away from the buds, carefully working your scissors between the buds to the stem when possible. Be sure to save anything you trim away at this point; there are many awesome ways to use your trim, too!

cannabis trim
Be sure to save your trim for other uses like making edibles or bubble hash!

Finally, shape the buds into teardrop shapes then hang them to dry in a cool, dark area with a humidity level between 45 and 55 percent and a temperature between 60°F and 70°F for optimum terpene retention.

Dry Trimming Cannabis

Those who live in drier environments (or those using machine trimmers) often opt for dry trimming to prolong the curing process. By leaving larger leaves on the plants for four to 10 days, buds can dry out slower and thus more evenly, resulting in a smoother, more flavorful experience.

Dry Trim
Example of a dry trim before and credit

Dry trimming marijuana simply requires that the bud be manicured after the fan leaves have had a chance to dry out. The process is more tedious because the leaves have dried and curled back into the buds at this point but can still be done fairly quickly by first pulling the fan leaves off then shaping the buds to the desired shape. After trimming, either hang to finish drying or place buds in air-tight containers to begin the curing process.

Grow season may just be getting started, but in a few short months, it will be time to harvest and trim your buds to their picture-perfect potential. Though there are various methods to use, the fact remains that well-trimmed bud is well-received bud.

How Fast Can You Trim Cannabis?

The time it takes to trim your cannabis will vary depending on a variety of factors.

Flower Structure

If your buds are dense, resinous and sturdy it will take a fair amount longer to trim as opposed to buds that are looser in structure and more airy. Additionally, the amount of trichome and resin plays a large role, too. If your flower is sticky and full of trichomes it will take much longer to trim as your scissors will build up with resin and need to be wiped down intermittently.

Fan Leaf/Sugar Leaf Density

Depending on what strain(s) you’re growing, a plant could have more or less fan and sugar leaves. Obviously, plants that have less foliage are easier to trim and can cut down on time. You may also prune more leaves from some plants than others, resulting in uneven trim times.

Degree of Trim

Depending on what your preferences are you may spend more or less time trimming. Some growers despise the trimming process and will only remove large fan leaves and a light snip of sugar leaves while other growers will have meticulous attention to detail and remove everything that is not essential to the bud’s structure. The level of manicure you’d like to perform is completely up to you. Some believe removing all the excess leaves results in a smoother smoke and others believe sugar leaves contain too many trichomes to remove. As with most things in the cultivation world there are many opinions on what is “best.”

Should I Trim Fan Leaves During Flowering?

Removing fan leaves during the flowering period is a part of the “pruning” process and should only be done if the leaves are creating shadows or impeding growth. It is completely normal to remove several fan leaves during the flowering stage, though. Remember, once a leaf is pruned during the flowering stage it cannot grow back so make sure you trim carefully!

Can You Cure Trim?

Yes! Similar to traditional flower, trim can be dried and cured. Note that trim dries at a much faster rate than buds (usually within a couple of days) and will be ready to cure much quicker.

Do you have any trimming tips you’d like to share? Leave your favorite tips and techniques in the comments below!


Michael Walters Michael Walters

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric, Michael started his journey in the cannabis industry managing content, communications, and technical writing for one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains. In 2016, Michael pivoted to the ancillary sector to become PotGuide's Content Manager and was responsible for overseeing all of PotGuide’s editorial endeavors and content marketing strategies. Now, Michael is PotGuide's Director of Content & Marketing, focusing his efforts toward new educational content and exciting media endeavors.

With a life-long passion for cannabis knowledge and education, Michael devoted himself to becoming a subject matter expert on marijuana at an early age. Now, Michael has worked in the marijuana industry for over four years helping break down negative stigma and promoting safe cannabis practices. An avid consumer himself, Michael has worked tirelessly to improve content marketing strategies for cannabis businesses and is devoted to creating meaningful content that is useful to a wide variety of marijuana consumers. Follow Michael on LinkedIn and Instagram for updates and insights.

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