Lollipopping Cannabis: How to Do It Right!
Lollipopping a growing cannabis plant means to remove most growth from the bottom of the plant that aren’t getting light, while leaving untouched all the vegetation and bud sites at the top of the plant. This marijuana lollipopping tutorial will teach you how to increase your yields using this technique!
“Lollipopping” means removing bottom growth (which isn’t getting light) so that plant focuses on bud sites at the top
This plant was grown naturally and it looked like this right before it was put into the flowering stage. It is a perfect candidate for lollipopping.
Soon after the plant started making buds, the grower noticed the bottom buds weren’t getting any light, and as a result they weren’t getting bigger. In order to help the plant focus on the top buds, the grower removed all the lower bud sites and leaves (“lollipopped the plant”).
That cannabis plant just before harvest. As you can see, every part of the plant is completely filled with buds, though notice how even though it’s been lollipopped, all the biggest buds are at the top.
Buds that don’t get light never fatten up properly. In fact, the whole idea behind defoliation in the flowering stage is to increase the amount of light that gets to bud sites.
Buds lower down on the plant stay the small even if they get direct light from the sides. This is why many growers train their plants to grow flat (all the buds become top buds!) in addition to lollipopping.
Tip to Lollipopping Cannabis for the Higher Yields
I have had the best results lollipopping cannabis right before the switch to the flowering stage. Growers often don’t need to lollipop in the vegetative stage unless you haven’t trained your plant and it’s gotten very tall or out of control.
Growers call the technique “lollipopping” because you’re making the bottom bare like a lollipop stick 🙂 But keep in mind that removing too many bud sites can definitely hurt your yields!
This grower stripped all the buds sites from the bottom of the plant while lollipopping, resulting in shortened colas. I’ve done this, too! His yield would have been bigger if he’d allowed those bud sites to continue further down on each stem!
To prevent the problem with the plant above, avoid removing or damaging future bud sites whenever defoliating. It’s easy to accidentally damage bud sites when they’re just tiny pre-flowers like this one, so be extra careful when removing leaves!
Experiment with different amounts of lollipopping to see what’s best for you! However, keep in mind…
- CFLs and fluorescent grow lights don’t penetrate as deeply as more powerful lights. As a result, it makes a lot of sense to lollipop plants that have gotten taller than the lights can reach
- HPS, LEC and LED grow lights all penetrate much more deeply into the canopy. As a result, you do not need to lollipop as much, because more of the bottom will be getting direct access to light. You don’t want to remove growth that is getting light as it will turn into buds!
- Learn my exact technique from seed to harvest on how to train, defoliate and lollipop!
You Might Be Interested in One of the Following Cannabis Plant Training Tutorials…
Detailed Breakdown of Training Techniques
Lollipopping Cannabis: How to Do It Right! Lollipopping a growing cannabis plant means to remove most growth from the bottom of the plant that aren’t getting light, while leaving untouched all
Lollipopping Cannabis: Does It Increase Yield?
Last updated November 3, 2020 By Steven Leave a Comment
A cannabis lollipop?
But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Lollipopping cannabis is a technique growers use to increase yields. But it is not without controversy.
While some marijuana growers swear by it, others consider it a waste of time at best, and a detriment to yields at worst.
So which is it? Does lollipopping increase yield, or does it hurt?
It turns out, it can do both. Let’s find out why and, more importantly, if you should be lollipopping your marijuana plants.
What Is Lollipopping Cannabis?
Lollipopping cannabis plants refers to the removal of growth on the lower portion of the plants, in order to free up more resources on the upper portion. With bare stems on the bottom and thick growth on top, the plants end up resembling a lollipop.
Because the lower parts don’t get as much light, buds in that area will never grow to their full potential anyway. Removing them keeps the plant from using resources on them. This means it can use those resources to make buds on the main kola sites even larger.
It also allows air to flow through the lower reaches of the plants more easily. This improved air circulation ensures humidity does not build up, preventing rust fungus or other types of mold from forming.
The lollipopping technique is especially effective in grow rooms that only have lighting above the plants, and none coming from the sides or below. It is also great in climates with high humidity levels.
But it’s not all positive. Lolipopping is actually a somewhat controversial technique. We will cover some of the potential problems below, in the section on disadvantages. First, let’s take a closer look at all of the advantages of lollipopping.
Benefits Of Lollipopping
As mentioned, the primary benefit of lollipopping is that it ensures all of a plant’s energy is directed toward the main kola sites, where it can make the biggest impact.
Instead of wasting energy to grow leaves and buds in shaded areas, where they can never really thrive anyway, all of that energy gained from the lighting and the nutrients is used to boost buds in the upper parts of the plant, where they enjoy the ideal conditions to grow to monstrous sizes.
We also mentioned a secondary benefit: improved air circulation. Whenever you water your plants, humidity increases, especially in the lower areas of the plants. If the foliage is thick, the humidity gets trapped there and leads to fungal growth.
Without the thick lower foliage, air circulates more easily, drying out the moisture and preventing the growth of mold. This is especially important in humid climates.
Drawbacks Of Lollipopping
There is a reason marijuana plants grow leaves on their lower reaches. These leaves are large and provide a lot of surface area for photosynthesis. When you remove them, your plant loses a source of energy.
Furthermore, the buds you remove from the lower part might not ever grow overly large, but they are still viable buds. Sure, these so-called-popcorn buds are smaller and not nearly as dense, but they still give you the same effect.
And it is not certain that the increase in size of the main kola sites is larger than the loss of yield from removing the popcorn buds. So does this mean that lollipopping does not actually result in an increase in yield?
Does Lollipopping Increase Yield?
In some cases it does and in some it does not. It really depends on what kind of grow you have. In general, lollipopping is effective when there is no side lighting and with SCROG (screen of green) or SOG (sea of green) grows.
Basically, lollipopping can have a positive effect on yields whenever you have a thick canopy that prevents light from reaching the lower areas, and those areas are also not getting light from the sides. Plus, there is the benefit of mold prevention in humid climates.
In order to take full advantage, you want to pair it with a light that specializes in delivering a more even light spread, instead of one with a very focused beam that penetrates deeply below the cannabis. Read our review of the Aceple AG-6000 to learn about the best option. Any of the quantum board style lights work well, too.
Do You Recommend Lollipopping Cannabis Plants?
As I’m sure you’re able to guess from the previous section: it depends. We never recommend it for outdoor grows, because light hits the plants from all angles throughout the day.
You’re better off pruning away some of the larger fan leaves to allow more light to hit the lower bud sites. The same is true for any indoor grow with side lighting.
But for most other situations, we definitely recommend lollipopping. And always in conjunction with pruning, and ideally, stress training (i.e. training the main branches to spread out horizontally, in order to increase the canopy area). This means that lollipopping is especially effective for SCROG and SOG grows.
Sea of green (SOG) grows cram a lot of smaller plants into the grow space to create a flat and thick canopy. Because little light penetrates this canopy, it is beneficial to get rid of any growth on the lower portions of the plants.
Screen of green (SCROG) grows are very similar to SOG. SCROG uses multiple toppings, stress training and a netting to ensure a flat and even canopy. Removing all growth below the screen is essential to maximize bud growth above the screen.
When To Lollipop
You’ll see a ton of different advice on when to lollipop your cannabis plants. Part of that is due to people mistaking lollipopping and pruning. The two go hand in hand.
You want to begin removing leaves and branches during vegging, a few weeks before switching your lights to a flowering schedule. This allows the plants time to recover from the shock, before they enter the flowering stage. Then you follow up by removing new bud growth whenever it appears during flowering.
How To Lollipop Marijuana Plants
You will also see a lot of different advice concerning how high up the plant to prune. And again: it depends.
The most common advice is to either remove everything below the 4th bud site on each branch (some even say below the 3rd), or to remove all growth from the bottom third (some even say the bottom half).
These are all good rules of thumb that you can use as a guide, especially when lollipopping for the first time. But you’ll want to take note of where the light reaches and adjust the amount you trim off based on that.
Go ahead and lollipop higher up, if those areas are still extremely shaded. On the other hand, if lower areas get a good amount of light, don’t go so high up with the trimming.
As for what to remove, you want to get rid of all smaller branches that do not reach up to the canopy at all. Then remove all foliage from the branches that remain.
As mentioned, do the initial lollipopping during vegging. Later, once the plant has entered flowering, you simply do some light follow-up pruning, to ensure the bottom portion stays bare. The most important thing during this stage is to remove any bud growth, to avoid those turning into popcorn buds.
Lollipopping Marijuana: Final Thoughts
As you can see, lollipopping can boost yields, under the right conditions. If you have a grow where the bottom portion of your plants does not receive much lights, removing the growth from that part of your plants can increase your overall yields.
This also prevents these leaves turning yellow during flowering and falling off. That’s not a problem, but trimming the leaves off before that happens saves resources..
But if you are growing outside, or your indoor grow is receiving light from the side, lollipopping will probably not increase your yields any and is actually more likely to decrease them.
If you think it might benefit you, but you’re still on the fence, why not just give it a try? Lollipop your weed plants during your next grow and see what difference it makes. At the very least, you’ll have some cooler looking bonsai-like plants!
Lollipopping cannabis sounds delicious, but it is actually a growing technique that can potentially boost yields. However, it can also harm them, if you don't…