A Guide to Cannabis Lollipop Pruning

By: Kannabia Seed Company Grow

Lollipopping is a pruning technique used in cannabis cultivation to improve air circulation and light penetration, thereby reducing the risk of pests and diseases and boosting the overall yield and quality of plants by focusing their energy on their upper buds. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to master it.

Lollipopping is a technique used by cannabis growers, both indoor and outdoor, that removes up to a third of the lower foliage from the branches, those that do not receive much light or have much productive potential. After trimming the leaves and lower shoots, each branch ends in an attractive, heavy upper cola resembling the famous Chupa Chups brand lollipop, hence the name.

This is one of the most common techniques for indoor growing, as it works well in small spaces, is easy for novice growers, and bolsters yields. Technically, any variety can receive a lollipopping treatment, but knowing when to start and how aggressively to prune helps improve the final results.

Lollipopping can be a controversial technique; many growers spurn the process because pruning the plant’s leaves removes a source of energy for it. Some producers also argue that the loss of the small buds offsets the gains in the size of the colas. However, when done correctly and under the right conditions, lollipopping is known to improve yields.

What is lollipopping for?

The goal is to remove the dense, unproductive growth around the bottom of the plant in order to redirect its energy to the top level of flowers. Like that sibling who always absorbed your parents’ attention, the upper colas of your cannabis plant demand the most energy. Lollipopping allows the plant to prioritize and channel its resources towards these buds. This way, the plant doesn’t squander valuable energy on lower flowers that probably won’t reach their full potential due to a lack of light.

Eliminating dense growth can also improve air circulation around the lower parts of the plant, where moisture can often build up, especially after watering. This can be very useful when growing dense plants that are vulnerable to mold or other fungal infections, and it is especially applicable when grown outdoors in humid climates.

When should one lollipop?

Again, this can be a controversial topic. It is generally accepted that lollipopping should be done during the vegetative phase, just before moving on to the flowering phase. This is when your cannabis plant is about to devote most of its energy to producing those delicious buds. Whether as a continuous process or all at once, calculate around a couple of weeks before switching to 12/12. This gives your plants time to recover from the impact before flowering.

There is one school of thought that says that lollipopping should never be done once the plant has started the flowering stage, but many growers say that it is also possible to do it in the first 15 days of the pre-flowering stage. As long as the main work is done during the vegetative phase, some minor maintenance work may be necessary during flowering. For example, prune the branches that have not yet reached the canopy, or remove the tiny popcorn-like buds that begin to form on the bare lower branches.

How to lollipop

First, it is necessary to carefully inspect your plants to identify the areas of shade covered by the highest branches. These are usually the first shoots on the lower branches, which are hidden by the upper foliage and do not receive enough light. It is also advisable to select and remove the smallest and weakest branches from the bottom of the plant, usually between the first 2 and 4 pairs of branches in indoor crops, and one more pair in outdoor crops.

Basically, there are two techniques for lollipopping and the one you use will depend on the results you are looking for:

Technique #1: From top to bottom

Simply select a point approximately 4 nodes from the plant’s growth tip, or where you want your canopy growth to begin, and remove all the main stem growth below that point by grabbing the stem between your thumb and forefinger and sliding it down, removing side shoots as you go. Although simple, care must be taken not to damage the main stem.

Technique #2: From bottom to top

You can think of this as light lollipopping. Start from the bottom of the plant and work your way up. Remove the main side branches that are too short to form the top of the canopy, and the leaves that remain on the side branches. Try to clear the lower third of the plant of any growth.

Growing techniques with which lollipopping is highly recommended

Lollipopping is not a “solo act.” Rather, it can be used in combination with other cultivation methods to maximize yields and improve plant health. Here are some techniques that it complements perfectly:

  • Low Stress Training (LST): LST involves bending and manipulating plants to create a more horizontal growth pattern, thereby increasing light exposure. When used with lollipopping, LST can ensure even better light penetration and energy distribution throughout the plant.
  • ScrOG: Screen of Green setups are based on the principle of presenting a flat and uniform canopy for the light source. To get the most out of a ScrOG setup, you need to remove all the growth below the screen.
  • SOG: Sea of Green setups also use the same principle. By gathering many small plants together, you’ll create a thick canopy that will prevent light from penetrating very deeply. For the best results with a SOG installation, you should apply the lollipop technique to your plants before flowering.
A Guide to Cannabis Lollipop Pruning
Lollipop pruning at Screen of Green

Can I lollipop with any variety of marijuana?

All varieties of marijuana are apt for lollipopping. If grown in a standard manner, it makes more sense to use the top-down technique on dominant indica varieties that form single central colas; and the bottom-up technique on lanky sativas or other cannabis hybrids with profuse lateral branching and the formation of multiple colas.

Lollipopping can also be done with autoflowering varieties, but you should be careful because they have a much shorter life span and, therefore, less time to recover from stress. Here, less is more: since autoflowering plants are generally smaller and have a limited growth period, it is better to prune less than with a normal strain. Remove about half of what you would from a photoperiodic plant.

Final tips for lollipopping

  • Always use clean, sterilized scissors to remove anything from your marijuana plants.
  • While you’re at it, thoroughly inspect the undersides of the leaves for signs of insects.
  • If you’re new to lollipopping, try it on just one or two plants. This way, if you do it wrong, you won’t ruin an entire crop; and, if you do it right, you’ll be able to make your own comparisons about its effectiveness.
  • More than 50% of the total foliage of the plant should never be cut, and the percentage may vary depending on the specific characteristics of the crop.

Conclusion: harness the power of lollipopping!

There you have it, the world of lollipopping, demystified! This technique is a powerful addition to any cannabis grower’s toolkit, promising maximized yields, healthier plants, and most importantly, a harvest to be proud of.

Fortunately, unlike advanced techniques, like HST, you can master lollipopping with almost any variety. As you work with consecutive crops you’ll make adjustments, but, when it comes time to harvest, you should see real results from your very first attempt. So, grab your scissors, put on your grower’s hat, and start lollipopping. Your plants will thank you for it!

Kannabia Seeds Company sells to its customers a product collection, a souvenir. We cannot and we shall not give growing advice since our product is not intended for this purpose.

Kannabia accept no responsibility for any illegal use made by third parties of information published. The cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is an activity subject to legal restrictions that vary from state to state. We recommend consultation of the legislation in force in your country of residence to avoid participation in any illegal activity.

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