Doesn’t ‘lollipopping’ mean consuming cannabis lollipops? Kinda, but we’re talking about something a little less immediately delicious. Lollipopping marijuana is a pruning technique that can produce healthy, large, sticky-top buds.
It’s all about directing energy to the place you want it the most—those juicy, fertile flower clusters, and it’s one of Kyle Kushman’s favorite techniques.
Are you ready to learn this advanced growing method and send your harvest potential through the roof?
Great! Let’s get started.
What is lollipopping marijuana?
Before we dive into the whys and hows, let’s set a solid foundation. What is lollipopping marijuana?
Lollipopping is a pruning technique that involves removing the lower leaves and branches from your weed crops, aiming to direct sunlight, energy, and nutrients to the main cola sites. You cut off the popcorn buds, too, which allows the plant to focus on the big, chunky colas.
Lollipopping pretty much manipulates the plant to be as productive as possible.
The idea is to eliminate weak, competing growth. As a result, bud development nearer the lights intensifies for top-quality smokable pot.
If you don’t have side lighting or high-penetration lamps, not much of that photosynthesis-triggering goodness will reach the lower areas.
Lollipopping can also help when cultivating bushy indicas (generally more prone to mold) PLUS lollipopping outdoor plants in damp climates will make a world of difference.
Why should you lollipop marijuana plants?
Lollipopping cannabis plants is a controversial topic in the cultivator community, but why? There are some GREAT reasons to lollipop! The two main arguments against lollipopping are:
- The large bottom leaves provide a greater surface area for photosynthesis.
- The buds you remove are smokable, which makes lollipopping cannabis wasteful.
We have counterarguments for both, plus several more reasons to go for it.
Come on, why lollipop weed? If you never trim or train, your plant will grow like a cannabis Christmas tree. By the time it reaches flowering, the canopy won’t let much light through. You’ll end up with airy ‘popcorn’ buds, lacking potency, aroma, and bag appeal.
When you lollipop marijuana, you lose some foliage, but the loss isn’t significant. Everything you want growing still grows, blooming larger and more potent than before.
Improved circulation is another bonus. Less fungi, better airflow, and safe watering!
When to lollipop marijuana
Ask a grower forum when to lollipop, and they’ll give you a whole range of answers. The consensus, and the approach that seems the most obvious, is to lollipop during the vegetative stage. Wait until flowering draws near—leaves are essential for vegging!
Lollipopping in veg lets the weed plant recover from the shock before it blooms.
Give it about a week before switching the light schedule, and your cannabis will blossom, healthy and happy.
When to lollipop in the flower stage? You could do some light pruning as long as you’re careful but don’t go “lollipopping” like you would in the vegetative stage.
Lollipopping: a step-by-step guide
Okay, you now know why to lollipop cannabis. Next, it’s time to learn how to lollipop cannabis.
Controversial as it might be, this technique is pretty straightforward. Here’s how you do it, one step at a time.
Step 1: Get your equipment
Shears are your go-to, but curved trimming scissors will come in handy for those precise cuts. Make sure the tools are clean, sharp and contaminant-free.
Step 2: Remove the bottom lateral branches
Start by cutting those big, leafy branches near the bottom, where light scarcity is evident. Think of these as the primary problem areas.
Step 3: Remove middle branches
Not all of them! Chop those underneath the canopy, up to about the third of the plant height.
Step 4: Lollipop individual branches
Grab those curved scissors and cut everything below the topmost four to five nodes on the branches you have left.
Step 5: Let the cannabis recover
Your weed plant should now resemble an actual lollipop—a thin stem with a dense top. Don’t flip into flowering for at least a few days after lollipopping.
Note: No matter how simple this looks, always proceed with caution. Too much stress can cause hermies.
Lollipopping marijuana and other growing techniques
Lollipopping is best with bushy indica specimens and tall sativas.
If maximizing yields is your goal, use this method with other training procedures to double the benefits.
Cannabis lollipopping combines well with the screen of green low-stress training method. SCROG is all about creating an even canopy for optimal light and homogenous growth.
Couple it with this pruning style, and you’re amplifying the benefits of both. The sea of green technique is another option. In a SOG setup, you cram many small cannabis plants together to create a thick canopy of foliage.
As a result, the light can’t penetrate very deeply. You can compensate for this issue by lollipopping marijuana plants like a master.
Note: While lollipopping autoflowers of bushy strains can be a good idea, be gentle and don’t combine it with other techniques. Autos go through their life stages more quickly, leaving less time for damage recovery.
Get that massive harvest
Now that you know how to lollipop a weed plant, why not give it a shot?
You’ll notice bigger yields, better light exposure, and larger, fatter colas.
FAQs about lollipopping marijuana
Let’s finish with some common lollipopping questions we hear in the community.
Does lollipopping increase yield?
Lollipopping does increase yields. That’s the main appeal of this technique.
When you lollipop plants, you get the energy to the bud sites where it’s the most productive.
It’s a bit of a trade-off because you’re removing the popcorn flowers lower down, but ounces per plant or square foot is typically higher after lollipopping.
Is lollipopping the same as defoliation?
Lollipopping is a kind of defoliation, but only partial.
Both techniques center around leaf removal, but lollipopping deals with the lowermost third or half of your crop. Check our report on autoflower defoliation to know more!
Is lollipopping beginner-friendly?
Yes, it can be. It’s not usually a technique we’d recommend to rookies, but learning how to lollipop weed doesn’t require much experience or an especially green thumb.
Take it one plant at a time and follow the instructions to the T.
Is lollipopping safe?
Lollipopping plants is 100% safe if you exercise caution. Be gentle with your cannabis, be sure not to damage the stem, and only do it when there are enough leaves on top for productive photosynthesis.
For more information on indoor growing and maximizing yields, visit our indoor growing blog page. Start learning now!
About the author: Kyle Kushman
13 times Cannabis Cups winner. Kyle Kushman is a master breeder and indoor growing expert, a leading voice in the fight for legalisation and education, especially when it comes to growing cannabis at home. He’s been teaching and spreading the word for over 30 years, maintaining a consistently high level of achievement throughout his entire career.