How To Trim & Prune Weed Plants: Helpful Guide

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Ok, so now your weed plants have been in the works for several months, they smell really potent, and have some good color to them as well. In other words, it is now time to trim, harvest, and dry your weed plants. It might seem like a really straightforward and easy process, which in all reality it is, but you do still need to know what you are doing.

How to trim weed plants for harvest the right way is what we are going to teach you right here and right now! Trimming your weed plants is a big part of the harvest, because after all, not everything you have grown is smoke-worthy. You need to separate the smokeable buds from the leaves and stems that cannot be smoked, which is referred to as trimming.


Wet vs Dry Trimming

The first thing that you should probably know about here is the difference between wet trimming and dry trimming. You can choose either trimming technique, but just beware that there are differences between the two.

Wet Trimming Technique

Wet trimming refers to the process of trimming the plant and the weed buds as it is still alive and on the plant. It is called wet trimming because the weed is still alive and therefore wet.

Now, this does make things easier because it provides you with open access to all of the buds and leaves. Because the plant has not yet begun to dry, all of the leaves are really spread out and therefore easy to get to.

It can make life a bit easier. It results in a tighter finished product that is trimmed more cleanly, and it just ends up looking better.

However, the downfall to wet trimming is that the buds are still wet and sticky. In other words, it can really gunk up your scissors and cause quite the mess.

Dry Trimming Technique

On the other hand, you have your dry trimming technique.

This is when you have already cut the branches of the weed plant off of the main stem and have allowed the buds to dry for a while before you start trimming.

This is much easier on your scissors, as the weed is already somewhat dry, and therefore is less sticky to trim.

However, it does not result in as clean or good of a look as when the wet trimming process is used.

What You Will Need To Trim Weed Plants

To trim your weed plants, there are a few essential tools and items that you will need. So, what do you need to trim and prune your weed plants?

what you need

Trimming Scissors

The first and most important tool that you are going to need to trim your weed is trimming scissors. You definitely want to use real weed trimming scissors for this, as they are ergonomically designed to be comfortable for long periods of time, and also have blades specially designed for plant trimming.

You want to buy relatively cheap trimming scissors, and you probably want to buy two pairs. They get sticky really fast and will often need to be cleaned off during the trimming process (don’t forget scissor hash).

Some Trays & Bags

Next, you will to get yourself some trays. Some plastic or aluminum trays will do fine. The purpose of the trays is to provide you with a space to put the trimmed buds once you have completed trimming them.

You want to have a tray for the untrimmed buds, the trimmed buds, and possibly for any clippings that you might want to keep.

Also, get yourself some garbage bags so you can easily dispose of anything that you will throw out, such as stems.

A Comfortable Space & Chair

What many people do not consider before they begin trimming their weed for harvest is that this is a process that can take many hours to complete. Therefore, you definitely want to be in a comfortable space and sitting in a comfortable chair.

Something that has good back support is definitely a bonus here. On that same note, you will probably want some entertainment, like music or a good movie.

Trimming weed alone is a long process and it can get really boring if you do not have anything going on in the background.

Cleaning Supplies

Something else you will need to trim your weed is a plethora of cleaning supplies. Yes, those scissors are going to get covered in resin and they are going to get very sticky.

Having a cup, a rag, and some rubbing alcohol to wipe the sticky resin off of the scissors is essential.

You will notice that the scissors will get sticky in just a few minutes and they will have to be cleaned fairly often.

The Right Clothing

The other thing that you are going to need to trim your weed plants for harvest is the right clothing. Guys, this is a sticky and messy process, so whatever you do, do not wear your new or nice clothing.

Wearing old rags is more than fine for trimming weed plants. On a side note, resin does not stick to silk, so wearing a silk apron is an idea.

Also, you might want to wear gloves, because that stickiness is something you won’t get off your fingers for days or even weeks.

When To Start Trimming Your Weed Plants

You can start trimming your weed plants a few days before you begin the actual harvest. There is a cycle in the life of a wed plant known as senescence, and this is when the large fan leaves begin to dry up and whither.

This is when you can start trimming them off, as they no longer serve a purpose. As you might have noticed, we are here talking about wet trimming, not dry trimming.

Personally, we would always recommend the wet trimming process over the dry trimming process, as it brings better results to the table.

On the other hand, if you are using the dry trimming technique, you can wait until the day of the harvest to begin trimming away larger fan leaves and other undesirable parts of the plant.

How To Trim Weed Plants: Step By Step Guide

how to trim weed

Now that you have all of the supplies necessary for trimming your weed plants, let’s go through a step by step process on how to trim your weed plants for harvest.

Keep in mind that here we are using the wet trimming method, not the dry trimming method.

Step 1 – Removing The Fan Leaves

The first step in this process is to remove the fan leaves from the marijuana plant. These are those big leaves that you see whenever you look up weed.

These are large leaves which have no trichomes or really any value in the grand scheme of things. Here you can use your trimming scissors, or even just your hands, to remove the big fan leaves.

You can throw them out or put them in a bag for later use.

Step 2 – Cut The Branches From The Pot Plant

Now that you have removed the fan leaves from the branches, it is time to remove the branches from the plant itself.

Here, all you have to do is use your trimming scissors to cut off the largest of the branches from the plant. You will see that your weed plant has several main branches that are growing the weed flowers or nugs. You can remove these branches from the stems.

Now you can place those branches in a bag and organize them for the trimming process. Some people let the weed dry now, hanging it up for several weeks or days so it can dry before the trimming begins.

Yes, this is one way to go about it, letting the weed dry first before you begin trimming.

Yeah, it is a bit less sticky, but you also won’t get as clean of a cut, so we would recommend doing a total wet trim and letting the weed dry after you have completely trimmed it.

Step 3 – Cut The Buds From The Branches

Now that you have removed the main branches from the plant, it is time to cut the buds away from the branches.

Simply locate the big and small buds, really anything that you plan on smoking, and use your trimming scissors to remove the buds from the branches where they connect.

This is actually called “bucking down”, the process of cutting the buds from the branches. Be sure that you cut the buds off the branch far away enough from the buds so that you do not cause the buds to fall apart.

Place all of the buds that are to be trimmed in a tray or bag, and place the rest of the leaves and stems either in the garbage, or save them in a plastic bag for use at a later time (here are 8 cool uses for weed stems).

Step 4 – Trim The Buds

Now it is time for the actual trimming to happen. Here, simply cut away as much of the stem as you can, from the bottom and top of the nugs, without damaging the buds.

In other words, cut away the thick stems, but leave maybe ¼ or ½ an inch of the stem, just enough so that you don’t damage the buds.

Next, you want to cut away the so called crow’s feet, which are the little stems that you see at the bottom of the nugs, which kind of look like crow’s feet.

Now it is also time to remove any smaller leaves and pieces which are protruding out from the nugs. The aim here is end up with a neat little, or big, bud of weed that has no large stems or leaves sticking out of it.

Step 5 – Move On To Drying & Curing

Now that you have removed all of the undesired components from your weed buds, you can move on to drying it and curing it.

Do note that here we have talked about trimming your weed before you let it dry, as opposed to trimming it after it has already been dried.

Why Trim Your Cannabis Buds?

You might be wondering why you should trim your cannabis before smoking it. Let’s answer this right now. The biggest reason why people trim their cannabis flowers, otherwise known as nugs or bugs, is to make it look nice.

Yes, pot smokers still want their buds to look nice. It’s all about being marketable and pretty to the eye. Another reason why weed plants need to be trimmed is in order to remove as many of the leaves and stems that cannot be smoked as possible.

Not all parts of the weed plant can be smoked, which is where trimming comes into play.

Weed Plant Trimming Tips

when to trim weed

Let’s just go over a few other cannabis trimming tips so you know exactly what and how you need to do in order to do the best trimming job possible.

  • Save your stems and trimmings. You can use these to make things like bubble hash or concentrate. No, this stuff is not very strong, but you can still put it to good use.
  • Always wear gloves when trimming weed. For one, it can get really sticky and make a mess. Second, you want those glorious crystals sticking to the weed, not to your fingers.
  • After you have trimmed your weed, you will want to cure it using airtight glass jars, but this is a topic best left for another day.
  • If you want your trimming scissors to stay as clean as possible for as long as possible, and if you want them to cut easily, only use the tips of the scissors, not the sides or further down the blades.


There you have it folks, everything you need to know about trimming your weed plants for harvest. It is not a hard job to do, but you do need the right tools and a lot of time. If you trim your weed right, it will result in really nice looking buds that everybody will love to smoke!

Photo Credit: Mark @ Flickr CC


My passion for the sticky icky started nearly a decade ago, and it all began when I first laid my eyes on the beauty that is the marijuana plant.

I cover all aspects of growing from equipment recommendations to plant health/care tips to help both new and experienced growers.