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defoliating cannabis

High-Risk High Reward: Defoliating Cannabis

In indoor cannabis growing, it’s really important to use space and light well to get lots of buds. But, when cannabis plants grow lots of leaves, it can block the light and air from reaching the bottom parts of the plant. This can make it hard to get a good harvest. Some growers use a method called defoliating cannabis to fix this. It’s a bit controversial, but it can help get more light to the plants and let air flow better around them.

Understanding Cannabis Defoliation

defoliating cannabis

When you defoliate cannabis it means taking off extra leaves from cannabis plants to make light and air get to them better and to make the buds better. Some people might wonder why you’d want to take off healthy leaves, especially outdoors where the leaves can help the plant when things get tough. But indoors, it’s different. Too many leaves can be a problem because they stop the plant from getting enough light and using its resources well.

Cannabis plants only have so much energy, which depends on things like the soil, nutrients, temperature, humidity, and how much light they get. In indoor grow rooms, growers can control most of these things, except for the light. When they take off extra leaves that the plant doesn’t need, it helps the plant use its energy better to grow buds. This means they can get the most buds possible from indoor growing.

When To Defoliate Cannabis

defoliating cannabis

To do defoliation well, growers need to pick plants that look healthy and strong. These plants have strong stems and bright green leaves, and they’re growing well. Defoliation should only be done on these healthy plants to avoid stressing them out too much and to make sure they bounce back nicely. If any plants look weak, don’t have enough nutrients, or seem stressed from the environment, they shouldn’t be defoliated to avoid making things worse for them.

How To Defoliate Cannabis

Vegetative Phase Defoliation

When the plant is growing a lot (we call it the vegetative phase), it’s best to do defoliation before the plant starts making buds. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Take off the big fan leaves that are covering the lower parts of the plant and stopping light from reaching them.
  • Get rid of any leaves that are growing inward and getting in the way of where the buds could grow.
  • Trim off any leaves that are turning yellow or getting old, so the plant can put its energy into growing new stuff.


If you’re new to growing, it’s best to only remove leaves from the bottom half of the plant and not take off more than 10-15% of the leaves. But if you’re experienced, and the plant looks strong and healthy, you can take off leaves from up to 3-4 spots on the plant, starting from the top, as long as it’s doing well.

Flowering Phase Defoliation

About three weeks after the plant starts making buds (we call this the flowering phase), you can do another round of defoliation, but be careful. Here’s what you should do:

  • Take off the big fan leaves to help air move around the plant better and let more light reach the buds.
  • Be careful not to bump or damage the buds while you’re removing leaves.
  • Give the plant enough time to recover and keep making buds.


This way, you can help the plant stay healthy and keep growing good buds.

Defoliation Weed Techniques

defoliating cannabis

To achieve optimal results, growers can incorporate the following tips:

  • Grow Low, Flat, and Wide: Make your plants spread out with a broad canopy so they can soak up as much light as possible.
  • Start Low and Slow: When you’re removing leaves, begin from the bottom and work your way up. Take your time and don’t rush it to avoid stressing out the plants too much.
  • Utilize Sharp Tools: Use sharp scissors to cut the leaves carefully. This helps make clean cuts and reduces the risk of hurting the plant or causing infections.
  • Tailor Techniques to Strain Characteristics: Change how much defoliation you do based on the type of strain you’re growing. Bushy Indicas can usually handle more leaf removal compared to Sativas, so adjust accordingly.


Defoliation vs. Pruning

Defoliation is all about taking off leaves to make sure the plant gets enough light and air. Pruning, on the other hand, is about cutting off specific branches and parts of the plant to help it put more energy into growing buds where you want them. You can use both of these methods together to help your plants grow better and get more buds.


When it comes to getting the most out of growing cannabis indoors, defoliation is a really useful technique. It helps growers make sure that light and air can get to the plants well, which is important for getting a good crop. By following the best ways to do it and knowing what each plant needs, growers can use defoliation to make their indoor growing successful.


Q: Is defoliation safe for all cannabis plants?
A: Defoliation is safe for healthy cannabis plants, but it should be avoided for plants showing signs of weakness or stress.

Q: Can defoliation harm my cannabis plants?
A: When done correctly on healthy plants, defoliation can benefit growth. However, over-defoliation or defoliating unhealthy plants can cause harm.

Q: How often should I defoliate my cannabis plants?
A: It’s recommended to defoliate once during the vegetative phase before switching to flowering, and optionally again around three weeks into the flowering phase.

Q: Will defoliation increase my cannabis yield?
A: Yes, defoliation can increase yield by improving light penetration, airflow, and energy allocation within the plant, leading to bigger and better-quality harvests.

Q: Can I defoliate outdoor cannabis plants?
A: Defoliation is primarily recommended for indoor plants. Outdoor plants are more resilient to environmental stress and receive ample natural light, making defoliation less necessary.

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