Lollipopping: Making Your Buds Better
What is Lollipopping?
Lollipopping is a horticultural pruning technique primarily used in growing cannabis, though adaptable to other plants. It involves removing the lower growth of a plant, allowing the plant to direct its energy and nutrients to the main cola (flower cluster) and upper foliage.
The Science Behind Lollipopping
1. Energy Allocation and Photosynthesis
- Plants convert sunlight into energy through a process called photosynthesis. The chlorophyll within leaves captures light and turns it, along with carbon dioxide and water, into glucose. This glucose acts as an energy source and a building block for plant growth.
- However, not all parts of the plant are equally efficient at photosynthesis. The larger, well-exposed leaves in the upper sections of the plant are the primary drivers. The lower branches and buds, which are often shaded, can’t produce as much energy and sometimes consume more energy than they generate.
2. Apical Dominance
- Plants have a natural tendency called ‘apical dominance.’ The main vertical stem or the “apex” of the plant naturally inhibits the growth of lateral branches. This is due to the concentration of growth hormones, especially auxins, which are most abundant at the top of the plant.
- By lollipopping and removing the lower branches, this apical dominance is further pronounced, allowing the plant to focus more of its energy and growth potential on the topmost buds.
3. Resource Redistribution
- Plants transport nutrients and water from their roots to various parts via the vascular system. By removing the lower branches and buds, the plant can redirect these vital resources to flourishing upper growth.
- This ensures that the most productive parts of the plant receive a more significant share of the resources, allowing for more robust and prolific growth.
4. Stress and Growth Response
- When plants are pruned, they experience a certain level of stress. In moderation, this stress can be beneficial. The removal of certain parts of the plant can stimulate faster and more dense growth elsewhere.
- Lollipopping, when done correctly, can invoke this beneficial stress response, directing the plant to focus its growth on the buds that matter most.
5. Airflow and Health
- On a more practical note, removing the dense lower growth ensures better airflow around the plant. Good circulation is crucial for plant health, reducing the risk of mold, mildew, and certain pests.
- With the dense lower foliage gone, the plant can “breathe” better, ensuring that the conditions remain optimal for growth and reducing the risk of diseases.
How to Do It: A Detailed Step-by-Step Guide
- Inspect the Plant: Before diving into the lollipopping process, spend a good amount of time inspecting your plant. Typically, the lower third of the plant hosts smaller branches and buds that remain shaded and are often less productive. These are your targets.
- Use Sharp Tools: It may seem trivial, but using sharp, sanitized tools makes a significant difference. Clean cuts reduce stress on the plant and lower the risk of infections. Regularly cleaning and sharpening your tools ensures minimal damage to your beloved green friends.
- Prune with Precision: While you’ve identified the branches and buds to be pruned, approach the process with care. Prune at the base of the branch to ensure a clean removal. Remember, the objective is not to hurt the plant but to redirect its energy.
- Regular Maintenance: Plants grow, and with growth comes the need for regular lollipopping, especially as newer branches emerge and potentially get shaded by the upper growth. Make it a routine to inspect and prune as needed.
Benefits of Lollipopping
Plants, like all living beings, distribute energy. By removing non-productive parts, you’re allowing the plant to channel nutrients and energy more efficiently, primarily benefiting the buds and flowers, resulting in a more substantial, more potent yield.
A dense bush may appear beautiful, but it can be a breeding ground for mold and pests due to a lack of airflow. By trimming the lower growth, you’re enhancing the plant’s overall health by ensuring better airflow and reducing the risk of unwanted infestations.
Optimal Light Penetration
Lollipopping ensures that the plant’s topmost buds, which are capable of yielding the most, get maximum light exposure. With fewer branches shading them, they can bask in all the light they need to grow healthy and robust.
Lollipopping vs. Defoliation
Gardening is a blend of science and art, and this becomes evident when comparing lollipopping to defoliation:
- Lollipopping: By focusing on the removal of the lower third branches and buds, lollipopping prioritizes the redirection of a plant’s energy to the more productive upper sections.
- Defoliation: While lollipopping targets branches, defoliation zeroes in on leaves, especially the larger fan leaves. The main objective here is ensuring deeper light penetration, allowing even the slightly shaded buds to get their fair share of light.
|Primary Focus||Lower third branches and buds||Large fan leaves|
|Objective||Increase light penetration to all parts of a plant||Increase light penetration to all parts of the plant|
|Best Time for Implementation||Vegetative phase||Both vegetative and early flowering phases|
|Technique||Remove branches and buds that don’t get much light||Remove leaves that shade the buds|
|Benefits||– Better energy use |
– Improved airflow
– Optimized light for top buds
|– Enhanced light exposure for an entire plant|
– Reduced risk of mold due to better air circulation
|Risks||Over-pruning can stress the plant||Removing too many leaves can retard growth|
|Outcome||Larger, denser, and more potent top buds||Even growth and development across the plant|
Lollipopping: Tips and Tricks
Patience is a virtue, especially for beginners. Approach the process gradually. The plant will not mind a few extra branches for a day or two, but over-pruning can cause irreversible stress.
Cleanliness is Crucial
From tools to hands, ensure everything that contacts your plant is clean. This not only prevents potential infections but ensures a healthier growth environment.
Timing is everything. While lollipopping is best practiced during the vegetative phase, defoliation can sometimes be beneficial during early flowering. The key is to avoid causing stress during crucial growth phases.
Mapping out a calendar can provide clarity:
- Weeks 1-2 (Early Vegetative Phase): Let your plant grow. This phase is about establishing strong roots and initial branches.
- Weeks 3-4 (Mid Vegetative Phase): Start introducing lollipopping. Look for branches that show clear signs of underperformance or are evidently shaded.
- Weeks 5-6 (Late Vegetative Phase): This is when your lollipopping efforts intensify. Aim for a plant structure where most energy is directed upwards.
- Week 7 Onwards (Flowering Phase): Proceed with caution. While some minor adjustments can be made, avoid significant pruning to prevent stressing the plant during this crucial phase.
With Hypno Seeds guiding your journey, gardening transcends from a mere hobby to a passionate endeavor. Our commitment to sharing knowledge, combined with our quality seeds, ensures that your garden doesn’t just grow; it thrives. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gardener, the world of lollipopping holds wonders for all. Dive in, and let’s cultivate excellence together.