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Trimming and Pruning Outdoor Cannabis

When growing cannabis outdoors, you can produce bigger yields by trimming and shaping your plants during the first weeks of summer.

Here’s what you want to keep in mind when trimming and pruning outdoor cannabis…

1. Start Early: Begin pruning and trimming your cannabis during the vegetative stage. This allows the plants to redirect their energy toward developing bigger, dense, more resinous buds.

2. Sanitize Pruning Tools: Always clean and sterilize your tools before pruning and trimming to prevent widespread contamination of pests and diseases between plants.

3. Avoid Over-Pruning: Pruning too much can stress the plant and impede crop health. Find a balance between improving airflow and light penetrating through pruning and maintaining a vigorous crop.

4. LST (Low-Stress Training): Consider using low-stress training techniques that encourage horizontal growth, optimizing light exposure to more bud sites for bigger yields.

5. Monitor for Pests and Diseases: Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests or diseases. Removing affected leaves or branches is a key part of your pests and pathogen prevention strategy.

6. Selective Pruning: Remove branches that are unlikely to produce massive flowers and those preventing light from reaching the lower parts of the plant. Also, prioritize branches that are crowded and blocking airflow.

7. Maintain Canopy Height: Prune to control canopy height, keeping plant size manageable and securing the privacy of your outdoor grow.

9. Train for Shape: Use pruning techniques to facilitate the shape or structure you’re aiming to achieve.

And always remember to be patient. Once you’re finished pruning and trimming, your plants need an adjustment period before they can initiate substantial growth.

At the end of the day, what you’re looking to produce is a rounded, even, horizontally oriented canopy that maximizes sun exposure and bud growth.

Pruning outdoor cannabis with scissors

Things to Keep in Mind When Pruning Outdoor Cannabis

When and how to prune outdoor cannabis depends on several factors, including:

  • Genetic tendencies of cannabis strains you grow
  • Whether you havea plant cage, stakes, or other supports
  • Security concerns (tall plants are easier to detect)
  • Sun exposure
  • How easy and safe it is for you to visit your grow site


You also want to consider different pruning techniques. For example, schwazzing is a heavy defoliation technique that many experienced growers turn to to push their plants to peak potential. But other growers might find that the risks of schwazzing outweigh the benefits.

When you do your major start-of-summer cut, give your plants a nice drink of fresh water that contains a root feed of Advanced Nutrients B-52®, a B-vitamin complex that stimulates microbial activity in the root zone, and Sensi Cal Mag Xtra®, which ensures your crop has the calcium, magnesium, and iron needed to thrive.

If you also have the opportunity to foliar feed, use a 145-ppm, 5.7 pH foliar spray after you do your trimming and shaping, using B-52 and Sensi Cal Mag Xtra, along with Rhino Skin®, a plant-protecting potassium silicate product that armors your crops.

You can also discover expert tips for pruning cannabis, such as clone production and plant topping, to get an even more rewarding harvest.

Outdoor cannabis pruning

Challenges in Outdoor Cannabis Pruning and Trimming

Pruning and trimming your outdoor cannabis plants can result in dramatic increases in your yields.

However, it’s important to consider the challenges that can arise during the late season, including…

1. Late Season Weather

Make sure to monitor your crop closely as days grow shorter and temperatures drop because frost, temperature fluctuations, and cold snaps can all cause damage and reduce yields. Row covers or portable greenhouses can protect against these adverse conditions.

2. Botrytis and Mold

Botrytis cinerea, also known as gray mold, is notorious for threatening the health of outdoor cannabis. And because it thrives in damp and humid environments, you’ll want to take extra care to prepare for late-season rains. Make sure to promote airflow and reduce moisture build-up by properly spacing out your plants and regularly inspecting them for any signs of mold or mildew.

3. Pests and Predators

As you approach the late growing season, pests and predators become potential culprits for crop destruction. Regularly check for aphids, deer, and caterpillars, and use methods like fencing to protect your plants.

5. Security Concerns

Growing outdoors comes with the added risk of thieves and law enforcement encroaching on your crops. Take into consideration both your location and grow site visibility when shaping and pruning outdoor cannabis.

The bottom line…

Outdoor cannabis growing gives you the opportunity to get two or more pounds of dried bud from each plant, so trimming, shaping, and other efforts are definitely worth it!

For more practical cultivation advice that will help you get even more from your crops, subscribe to our newsletter.


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About the Author

The Advanced Nutrients Team

Since 1999, Advanced Nutrients has been committed to educating the community and bringing the most up-to-date knowledge to the forefront of grows across the globe. Every article you read here has been curated by Advanced Nutrients’ industry experts, so you can continue raising your bud weight… and your reputation.

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Over time, components within the nutrients settle on the bottom of the bottle. When you pour a bottle without shaking it, you can potentially be pouring out an unbalanced solution. Shaking up the nutrient bottle ensures you are pouring the right blend into your reservoir, giving your crops the nutrition they need.

Usually, it’s not a problem. But some products are incompatible with each other and can damage your plants when they’re used together. For example, bloom boosters with high PK numbers or low-grade silica products can destabilize your nutrient mix and cause nutrient lockout.

Nutrient manufacturers design their products to be used with each other. In doing so, they include specific portions of each nutrient in each product, so crops receive the right nutrition through each stage of the grow cycle. When you stick with one manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about inadvertently destabilizing your nutrient mixture. One example of why you need to stick with only one manufacturer’s products is Advanced Nutrients’ pH Perfect line. These products are designed to keep your crops’ root zone within a specific pH range. When you use them alongside products from another manufacturer, we can’t guarantee your root zone will maintain its optimal pH level.

Yes! If you’re growing with Advanced Nutrients products, you can use our easy nutrient calculator to generate the correct nutrient chart for your crops in seconds. Check out Advanced Nutrients’ nutrient calculator here. Another great resource is our library of free custom-growing recipes. Try our expert grower-tested nutrient schedules here.

You can also download our official BudLabs app to generate nutrient schedules and receive real-time notifications for specific tasks, including feeding your crops. Upgrade to BudLabs Pro to maintain profiles on an unlimited number of crops.

If you are a grower, visit this link to find the closest Advanced Nutrients Authorized Retailer. If you are a retailer, visit this link to identify our official distributors.

Our greatest passion is growing great cannabis—and helping other growers do the same. That’s why we offer complimentary cultivation support 24/7 from Monday to Friday and from 9 AM until 7 PM PST on Saturday… With the same level of advice licensed producers would pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to unlock.
Just call 1-800-640-9605 or email support@advancednutrients.com. For Spanish-speaking growers, email spanishsupport@advancednutrients.com.

Yes! If for any reason you are not absolutely thrilled with the results you achieve when you use our products, just bring the unused portion, along with your original sales receipt, back to the place of purchase within six months, and ask for your money back. Find out more about our Grower Guarantee here.

Advanced Nutrients has spent many thousands of man-hours developing a technology that automatically balances your pH for you — putting it in the “sweet spot” and holding it there for one week.

And the technology is so “smart” that it can account for many of the aforementioned variables in your grow room. Our proprietary pH buffering agents and stabilizing mechanisms became the foundation of a new system aptly called pH Perfect® Technology. Learn all about it here.

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