Defoliation Advice

I’m a few days out from switching to 12/12, and I wanted to try defoliation on two of my bushier plants.

For the first one, I took all the fan leaves from the third node down (they were massive), and now I’m trying to decide if I should take these two big ones. They’re high up, which makes me nervous, but they’re directly on top of several bud sites. Lmk what you think.

For the second plant, I decided (perhaps unwisely) to take a higher up fan leaf that was touching multiple bud sites. I left its twin untouched (circled), so this might be an experiment in how defoliation affects one half of the plant versus the other. Please lmk if you think this one looks okay or if I should be cutting back more to give more light/air flow.

Sorry if this was a total hack job and is painful to look at. I swear I’m learning even if I’m doing terribly!

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Welcome to the forum.

Defoliate only as necessary to maintain good airflow within the plant. There is plenty of room in your plant and it needs the leaves it has to conduct photosynthesis and make the sugars the plant needs to be healthy. Recommend not trimming at all.

Your plant would benefit from more light.

Buds don’t use light. Flower calyx is only 5% as efficient at photosynthesis as leaves are. The leaves will do their thing and meet the needs of the flower.

Happy growing. :slight_smile:


I wouldn’t remove any leaves from this plant Growmie :love_you_gesture:

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I know a few people replied to this and gave solid advice on “gosh no don’t defoliate that baby”, but let me add, try some low stress training. The branches should be very pliable. Help them spread out a bit. It will let more light at them. I’d say start with the bottom ones, pushing gently at first until you understand how resilient they are or aren’t, then even carefully counter-bending them until they almost go straight. They will try to adjust upwards again, which is normal. You can either do this often until they get the point, or help. I don’t see an easy trellis setup for you, so one of my favorite techniques is getting a few chopsticks to peg in diagonally in spare dirt space, as horizontal as you can get it, to help them yawn out.

This is an example of a plant I ended up having to do defoliation on, and I still waited about a week before taking the clippers to her (she was about 3.5 weeks here).

This kind of growth all filled out, and even with constant defoliation has made this kind of mop-head at early week 5:

Guess what, since I just topped her a few times in the last few weeks she’s gonna look like a mess. I’m giving her another haircut in a few days but keeping her entertained with a few oscillating fans until then, and you guessed it, training her out so it’s mostly canopy anyway and not nearly as much light blockage as could be.

You have the right idea circling satellite leaves in general, but wait until it’s making it hard for the plant to breathe or get light, basically. Also, as a rule of thumb, try to leave the satellites of the top ~3 nodes. If you have 100% light blockage under the plant, it’s time for a trim, but even when you trim it should be at best-worst 50% shadow/light or thereabout. Like, if you can look down inside the bush and see a little light breaking through, great, but if it’s suddenly only like 25% shadow she’s a little too naked.

What I might suggest if you are worried about vertical growth and nervous about trying techniques like topping yet, try full body low stress training. Remember what I said about the lower branches? Once you understand the strength and pliability of your plant, and how delicate to be, you can even teach them to do the limbo. Here was a 5 week of mine from a less bushy strain
image (2)
You’ll even spy the guiding chopsticks on one of her sisters. None defoliation for her, but manually trained into doing the limbo and raising her arms to make her all future canopy, so she’s part of this conga line now

This is INCREDIBLY helpful, thank you so much!

Sure! Starting can be tough, and while a lot of growers have good intentions, a lot just go yay/nay and a short line about Why Not To Do The Thing, and that suffices from the seat of knowledge they’re already in, but a lot of people never grow up really understanding the Why Or When and still go through trial and error. I try to mitigate that by giving live examples. Always feel free to tag me. Heck if you have discord I generally spend my whole dang day chatting this stuff with friends that are Vague Interested, half the reason I joined this board was to relieve them of the sufferage of my autistic hyperfixation lmao.

Had I got in on this from the beginning, I would have agreed with others that said no, don’t cut anything yet. But I would have offered the advice of topping. Turn the main into 2 and then wait to see whats up when she bushes out. This is my opinion based on if this is a photo.

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I agree, topping would be a good idea here, I just know if someone’s nervous about defoliation and the like, coming in with “no, don’t hack off leaves, just hack off it’s head” can actually feel daunting, and LST can be a hands on method of learning a plant better IMO. Then again I basically class in druid so maybe that’s just me.

For OP: If you ever want to top, I’d say google the existing threads on it because it’s better with active pictures. As long as you vaguely follow the advice you should be fine. Don’t overthink it. There’s literally a technique called FIM for “Fuck I Missed” where a guy Topped Wrong and invented a whole new way to do it better. Also, topping will briefly slow the plant for a bit too since it has to recover from the shock. it can just be a few days but depending how sensitive your plant is I’ve seen it take a few weeks. The LST will help strengthen its stems and branches in the long term too, kinda like building muscle fiber. It tears a few cells and then rebuilds them stronger, so bb stem will become honkin tree trunk if you work with it enough.

Neither is really better or worse completely. It’s half grow style difference and half a “learn as you go” thing sometimes more appropriate to some strains than others (kind of like my living bushes above needing defoliation and used topping while my Strawberry Cough I treated like a bonsai tree.) It’s sort of learn as you go above what to do with lanky strains, bushy ones, what kind of grow you’re even trying to make.

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