marijuana trimmingIf you remove most or all of your marijuana plants’ leaves, will it hurt them or help them?

Bloom Phase Marijuana Trimming: Partial Defoliation, Schwazzing, or Natural?

One of the hottest debates among marijuana growers is about bloom phase marijuana trimming.

Some growers have long believed you should remove all or most of your plants’ larger “fan leaves” when bloom phase starts or shortly after.

Other growers do lollipopping–the removal of all leaves and side-branches on the bottom 20-30% of cannabis plants as they enter bloom phase.

A Colorado nutrients company sells a $500-per-copy marijuana grow book that recommends radical marijuana trimming at the start of bloom phase.

Their process uses marijuana trimming to strip marijuana plants of almost every leaf as soon as bloom phase starts, and to do it again three weeks later.

This radical marijuana trimming is accompanied by a feed program that emphasizes larger-than-average amounts of feed program nutrients and sugars.

The claimed benefits of this marijuana trimming method (called schwazze or schwazzing) are that it creates more top growth and significantly increases yields.

Nobody on our staff has yet tried schwazzing, but we’ve talked to several professional growers who have.

Some sent pictures taken at start of bloom phase showing plants after schwazzing looking like sad, bare skeletons.

They also sent pictures of those same plants nearing the end of bloom phase… with very large, healthy-looking colas.

These were real growers, not paid testimonials. We totally believe that the people who used that book’s recommendations got the yields they told us they did.

Their results were super impressive, and yet very puzzling, given that other credible growers said schwazzing harmed their plants, delayed bud-set and floral maturation, created hermaphrodites, lowered potency, and lowered yields.

Let’s take a quick look at what the leaves on your marijuana plants do for your plants…

  • Leaves are where photosynthesis takes place, producing carbohydrates so plants have the energy to live.
  • Leaves breathe in vitally-needed carbon dioxide (C02), and exhale water vapor and oxygen (transpiration).
  • Leaves store carbohydrates, water, and nutritional elements.
  • Leaf breathing fuels the anti-gravity hydraulics that allow marijuana plants to suck in water and nutrients from their roots.
  • Transpiration is like sweating—it helps plants stay cool.
  • Leaves play a key role in plant hormonal production and transport necessary for floral growth.

Marijuana growers can easily see from marijuana flushing that plant leaves store nutrients.

When you stop feeding hydroponics nutrients to your plants, the plants use up the nutrients in leaves and other tissues.

The leaves wither and die, and the plants’ tissues lose excess nutrients salts so your buds taste, smell, and stay lit better.

And for sure it’s obviously good to do marijuana trimming to get rid of used-up leaves.

But if you cut a large percentage of living, healthy leaves from cannabis plants, you see how it’s an unavoidable injury to the plants.

Imagine the shock your plants feel if you cut all their leaves off—suddenly removing your plants’ photosynthesis, transpiration, nutrients transport, and nutrients storage infrastructure at a very crucial time in their life cycle!

The jury is still out on whether schwazzing marijuana trimming helps or harms plants, should be used by everyone, only works well with certain strains, only works if you use a specialized feed program, or is just another of the many hype-driven cannabis cultivation fads that pop up from time to time.

I recommend removing no more than 10-20% of sucker shoots and leaves in the second week of bloom to increase air movement and light penetration.

After that, I remove individual leaves if the plant is healthy but specific leaves are preventing buds from receiving light, or if a specific leaf is ravaged and contagious from pests or diseases such as spider mites, aphids, thrips, or powdery mildew.

I’ll continue to monitor the schwazze marijuana trimming experiments in the cannabis growing community worldwide.

If schwazzing gains professional acceptance among top marijuana growers as a consistently reliable marijuana trimming technique, you’ll hear about it here at

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