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Learn How to Trim Weed and Improve Your Buds’ Potency and Quality in a Snip

Last updated: 27 February 2024

how to trim weed

There’s nothing more satisfying and exciting than watching a cannabis plant grow for a few months. We take good care of it by feeding and looking out for distress signs. Eventually, after some time passes and the plant grows to its full potential, it’s finally time to trim the weed.

Although trimming weed could initially seem like a daunting activity, once you get into it, it’s an enjoyable process which, contrary to popular belief, isn't that hard; in fact, it’s really quite simple. In this article, you’ll be learning all about the process of how to trim weed.

Why It’s Important To Trim Your Weed Buds

Trimming down cannabis has several vital purposes associated with it. From purely aesthetical to more practical, each of them improves the quality of your smoking sessions. Before we get to the technique, let’s learn why it’s important to trim weed buds.

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Improved Bag Appeal

First of all, manicuring buds makes them look more aesthetically pleasing. When you trim cannabis, you will notice a tighter, neater, and more uniform look similar to what you see in photographs or on dispensary menus. Extra foliage just doesn’t look appealing, so making the buds even greatly increases the visual charm of the final product.

Higher Potency

how to trim marijuana

Furthermore, sugar leaves have lower trichome concentration. Trimming them will therefore allow you to see the areas of the nugs that possess rich trichome concentration. Trichomes are essentially tiny particles that create THC and other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes that are vital to any plant’s uniqueness, potency, and effectiveness. Since buds contain more trichomes than leaves when comparing them gram for gram, trimming the leaves is crucial to achieving the best potency.

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Smoother Smoke

You will also notice that the bigger leaves protruding from buds usually produce harsh smoke. The reason for this is that the foliage is harder and thicker when it comes to wicking the moisture away. Trimming the buds will ensure that the moisture content is more uniform in the curing process, therefore the smoke is much smoother on the throat.

When To Start Trimming Your Weed Plant

how to trim buds

A common question that quite a few enthusiasts ask besides how to trim buds is when to trim cannabis plants. You may be surprised to know that trimming should always occur days before harvesting begins.

Most growers start cutting fan leaves off right before harvest, as this is the time when senescence is on the rise. Senescence is an important phase of the plant cycle in which bigger fan leaves start withering away as they age. Suffice to say, if you’re still asking yourself “Should I remove fan leaves during flowering?”, the answer is yes – you can start trimming marijuana plants during flowering. You can even take things a step further and remove every fan leaf during this period. This is all part of the bigger trimming process. Removing fan leaves will help your cannabis plant concentrate all of its energy on getting the buds bigger and denser.

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After getting the fan leaves under control, you can wait for harvest time and finally get to trimming the buds themselves. There are two different types of trim, so next, we’ll be explaining both of them.

Wet Trim

how to trim weed plants

As the name implies, wet trimming means trimming the weed when it’s wet. This process takes place before curing and drying and just after you cut a plant down. There are several benefits of wet trimming:

  • It’s among the easiest trimming options for novices, as navigating your snips is easiest before the leaves curl inward and dry up. It also offers ease in removing full leaf stems.
  • Wet trimming also helps the flowers stay connected, preserving their quality for later. The parts of the buds cling together because of their trichomes, which are quite sticky. This means that at the end, you’ll have perfectly round, uniform nugs of weed.
  • Wet trimming is an excellent option when you don’t have sufficient space for drying and curing. As soon as you remove the extra stalks, stems, and greenery, the buds that remain won’t have as much volume and hence take up less room while drying and curing.
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Despite all these advantages, there’s a serious con to the wet trimming method. When you handle wet buds with your hands, some of their resin will inevitably stick to your fingers and scissors, which will affect the overall potency and flavor of the buds, You can still collect the resin from your fingers and use it for making delicious finger hash and other concentrates, but unfortunately, you can’t put it back into the buds.

Dry Trim

dry trim

The dry trimming option allows you to first cut and dry freshly harvested weed plants before trimming and manicuring them. As soon as the flowers grow dry and the thin parts of the stems start to easily snap (while the thicker ones still bend a little before snapping), begin clipping away the excess foliage, e.g. all the parts that don’t make you high or are too harsh to smoke.

Quality is one of the best benefits of dry trimming. The plant drying period this provides is more than sufficient. Whether dry trimming by hand or machine, the plant's terpene profile and cannabinoid content will stay intact, which is vital for a top-quality bud – which is why many growers call dry trimming the best way to trim weed. If you like to leave no stone unturned in the growing process, dry trimming is for you.

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The Tools You’ll Need to Hand-Trim Cannabis

how to trim weed fast

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trimming pot plants after harvest is failing to use the right tools. It’s vital to remember that cutting with the wrong equipment will do you no favors. In fact, it can often make things much worse. Below is a comprehensive list of tools you’ll require for trimming.

Pruning Shears (Large) – For Cutting Branches

A sturdy pair of scissors or pruning shears are necessary to trim buds like a pro. Most professional growers use pruning shears, as these are quite helpful in cutting down individual branches while harvesting the colas for trimming. It would be advisable to use a different pair of scissors for trimming the buds, as some branches are too thick and could break old scissors easily or make them dull.

Sharp Pair of Scissors – For Trimming And Manicuring Buds

If you want to trim buds efficiently, a sharp pair of scissors will do you a world of good. The sharper the scissors, the more time you’ll save. Just make sure the scissors’ ends are pointy. This will make things significantly easier to manicure your bud to perfection. It’s also a good idea to have different sizes of scissors and snips at hand – you can switch between them depending on the part you’re trimming.

Disposable Gloves – For Keeping Hands Clean

You’ll also need rubber or plastic gloves to shield your hands and prevent them from getting sticky. Resin spreads everywhere and makes a lot of mess. If you want to avoid washing your hands all the time during the process, you will benefit greatly from a disposable latex glove box close by. In case you don’t have gloves, keep a good amount of rubbing alcohol by your side to remove sticky substances swiftly. In these situations, water and soap just won’t do the trick.

Cookie Sheets Or Trays – To Hold Buds And Trim

Trays come in handy to hold untrimmed buds ad separate them from the rest. Use one tray to keep the new buds and another to keep the trimmed ones. Alternatively, you can also use cookie sheets for separating the buds and trim, which you can definitely use later for making concentrates or cannabutter. Remember, there’s still THC in mj trimmings!

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Hand-Trimming Buds from Start to Finish

Before you start, make sure you have sufficient room for setting up your weed trimming area. A plain table or even the floor can be more than serviceable for this purpose.

Make sure you also have some form of entertainment, as trimming in complete silence can get extremely dull and tedious for some people. If possible, get your friends over to help you! Trimming buds in a company is definitely the most enjoyable way to do it.

If you want to be discreet, don’t forget about ventilating the place properly. Got your trays in front of you and gloves on your hands? Good – now you’re ready to learn how to trim weed.

How to Wet Trim Buds

Wet trimming cuts down the amount of space you’re going to need for drying afterwards. However, remember that during wet trim lots of potent resin from the buds ends up on your scissors and gloves, which can result in the lower potency of the final product. You can still use that collected finger hash and add it to bowls and joints though.

  1. Cut Off A Branch From The Plant

    trimming fan leaves during veg

    Start by cutting your plant’s branch with buds still on and putting it on your tray. You’ll notice that some cannabis plant branches are quite thick. Using scissors won’t be fruitful in this situation – go for a pair of robust pruning shears instead, which will help you snap off weed branches with much greater efficiency.

  2. Remove The Bigger Fan Leaves

    removing fan leaves during flowering

    Large fan leaves are often present at the end of branches. These grow out of bud sites and you’ll be easily able to spot them. Growers usually remove fan leaves with their hands; all you need to do is apply a little pressure with your fingers and the stems will immediately snap. Your latex gloves will come in handy during this part, as a substantial amount of resin comes into contact with your hands.

  3. Snip The Sugar Leaves Away

    how to trim cannabis

    Once you eradicate the fan leaves, you’ll notice smaller ones covered in trichomes that stick out from the bud. Usually, you can only see the tips emerging. It’s tough to get hold of or even look at their stems, so you’ll need your small pruning snips for this part.

    While you have your snips, start cutting the sugar leaves. Perform the clipping over your tray that holds the fan leaves and other trim. In case the snips become unusually sticky, clean off as much resin as you can, preferably with rubbing alcohol. While removing as many leaves as possible, avoid cutting the bud. Keep the completed branch on a separate tray and start trimming another piece. Continue with this process until your pot plant is clear of all branches.

How to Dry Trim Buds

Among the main benefits of dry trimming is the intact chemical composition of buds that retain most of their resin, even after the trimming process is complete. It’s not that different from the wet trim; first, you need to dry the stalks with the buds on until they’re dry and snappy. Then, you can get to manicuring.

  1. Snap Off the Bigger Fan Leaves

By the time you start dry trimming, all the remaining fan leaves sticking out of the bud sites will be completely dry, and will snap and fall off from the slightest touch. So just snap them off!

  1. Cut Off the Buds

Next, cut off large bud chunks using a pair of sharp scissors. You need to separate them from the stalks for easier access to every side of the bud. Once you divide the buds from the stalk, they’re ready to be manicured.

  1. Cut Away Sugar Leaves

Using sharp, pointy scissors, go around the bud and cut all the sugar leaves off. At the end, you’ll have nice, uniform buds without any extra foliage. Remember to have a tray underneath your scissors while manicuring cannabis! Sugar leaves can still be used later.

Important: Some cannabis strains are especially easy to manicure. Before going straight for the scissors, try flicking dry sugar leaves off with your gloved fingers – that might work just as well! Go around the bud, gently brushing all the unnecessary foliage off until it’s clean and round.

Trimming Tips and FAQ

Now you can see that trimming cannabis is more tedious than difficult, but someone has to do it! Here are a few more tips on how to trim your cannabis like a pro.

  • When trimming, remember to use your scissors’ tips. Avoid trimming with the scissors’ sides. It will not only result in a cleaner look of the buds, but will also prevent the tool from getting dirty and sticky.
  • Try to create a consistent area surrounding the buds. You’ll need to take the red pistils down, as these have little to no trichome content. You should only keep some of them if you’re looking for better visual appeal.

    how to trim marijuana

  • Keep airtight containers ready for storing the trimmed buds. Mason jars made of glass are perfect for cured and dried buds.
  • You’ll find finger hash to be an excellent post-trimming treat. This is also referred to as scissor hash. You can add it to a joint, sprinkle it on a bowl, or simply dab it for a minty victory session rich with cannabinoids.

What’s the fastest way to trim weed? Should I use trimming machines/devices to save time?

Unfortunately, trimming weed is often a long and tedious process. Most of the time, the desire to make it faster results in lower quality of the final product. Of course, there are electric scissors for trimming buds and special machines for high-volume cannabis trimming. However, while using the first, you risk shaking too many trichomes off your buds with the vibration, therefore decreasing the potency. Meanwhile, the latter device doesn’t recognize the unique shape of each bud, which also leads to cutting too much of the good stuff.

So, here’s our advice to anyone asking about how to trim weed faster. Have as many friends over as you can, light one up, put some music on, and you won’t even notice how you’ve already trimmed everything.

What’s the best way to trim buds?

When it comes to clipping cannabis plants, there’s no better way than dry trimming by hand (yet). Many trimming devices can save your time, but if you use them, be ready to sacrifice some of the quality.

How long does it take to trim a pound of weed?

If you’re trimming by hand, a pound of weed will be done in around 4 to 6 hours. While this may seem like a long time, it will all be worth it at the end, because you’ll have clean weed of the finest quality possible.

What to do with cannabis trim?

Store this and other cannabis plant parts for making cannabis concentrates, edibles, weed topicals, and more. They still have sufficient cannabinoid content, which can come in handy for various purposes. Mentioned below are some useful tips to try with weed trimmings and every leftover part of the marijuana plant.

  • You can use the roots to create a topical cream or for brewing into tea.
  • Sugar leaves are excellent for making cannabutter.
  • You can juice the fan leaves or make weed tea with them.

You’ve Trimmed Your Weed – What’s Next?

Trimming weed is just one step involved in creating the end product for smoking. The wait can be quite tough, but when you approach the next step – curing and drying – it’s vital that you’re patient in order to have a product that tastes smooth and has a good amount of terpenes and cannabinoids.

Now you know how to trim weed like a pro. Once you’re done with trimming, check out our material on drying and curing to make sure your crop brings you the most pleasure possible.

Herbies Head Shop expressly refuses to support the use, production, or supply of illegal substances. For more details read our Legal Disclaimer.

A leaf is a solar absorber, not a solar reflector. Even the shiniest leaf still won't reflect sunlight so long as it requires photosynthesis to grow, which to the best of my limited knowledge, most all plants still do.
This Shop is very good and helpful info, thanks GOD I found Herbies btw I life in Asia and you know its very humid . Q is that good to grow the Shiskaberry and Hily Grail69 on the pot? please anyone advise. cheers
Hello Beny,Thank you for the kind words! If you are growing in pots indoor then yes, if you are growing in pots, outdoor then they should be good, but it would be better to let the plants grow a little indoors before moving them outside, if humidity is too high
If you started smoking weed back when I started doing it, in the 70s, you don’t really care about extra leaves in the buds! Our throats are used to harsh smoke! One problem less!
Hello James,Wow, that's interesting. Thank you for sharing it with us :)
Hello everyone! Listen to my advice here: it’s worth investing extra 90 bucks for a trimmer like BUDLEAF off ebay! Save yourself some time, trimming is the worst especially when done alone
I'd buy a trimming machine if I could try it first... would be crap to spend that much on one and see your bud disappear down the hole into dust!
Mister Greengenes
Nice read! So what’s the fastest way to trim? I cut off all the big leaves fast but when it comes down to the small ones I get impatient and start snipping the tips instead of the whole leaves. Is there a technique you use to trim fast yet thorough?
Best advice I've ever learned... after about 10 minutes of trimming it SUCKS....best way is to get a friend, buy some bud, smoke and trim for hours
Hi Mister Greengenes,We are happy that you've find this article useful. It depends on the preferences and personal experience
If you can get access to a commercial trimmer, that makes things go a lot faster. Plus, looking at your growing trim pile going "hash, hash, hash" helps
Agreed with the previous commenter. Trim party! participants can keep their glove & scissor hash
The way I do it - take off the massive fan leaves, and leave the sugar leaf to dry for a couple of days with the bud, and then get one of those electric hair trimmers (clippers) and you can shave the leaves off the buds, makes things easier if you've got a fuck load of weed lol. Trimming is a mission, always start so meticulously by the end you're like fuck it, just cut anything off lmao! I’ve been researching and came here, still gonna stick to my method!
Hello Oneunited,Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We wish you best of luck in your hobby
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