Lollipopping is a pruning technique which creates an attractive “lollipop” shape while concentrating each plant’s energy into its upper, bud producing branches.
In addition to Lollipopping, you may consider the following techniques to further boost yields and manage plant growth:
- Topping – An easy and minimally stressful pruning technique, Topping will encourage multiple kolas at each flowering site.
- Fimming – By taking Topping a step further, Fimming quickly multiplies your flowering heads from 1 to 4 at each site.
- Low Stress Training (LST) – Coupling Topping with a non-pruning stress technique can boost yields even higher.
- Super Cropping – Encourage lateral growth and bud production by stressing the branches of each plant.
- Monster Cropping – A new concept which works best with Sea of Green and Screen of Green set-ups, Monster Cropping will create multiple heads on each plant.
For information to help you choose the best techniques for your grow, check out our Marijuana Growing Techniques page.
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What is Lollipopping and Why do it?
Lollipopping is the technique of removing the lower growth on your plants to promote better bud development higher up. By eliminating competing growth, energy is directed to the main kola sites. This technique is especially useful in set ups with no side lighting where the lower reaches of the plant don’t receive much light.
Removing the lower bushy growth can also improve air circulation around the lower reaches of the plant where humidity can often build up, especially after watering. This can be very useful when growing bushy plants that are susceptible to mold or other fungal infections. This is especially true when growing outdoors in damp climates.
Lollipopping can be a controversial technique with a large number of growers disagreeing with the process on account of the fact that, by removing leaves, you are removing an energy source for the plant. The lower fan leaves especially provide a large photosynthesising area which is a power house for your plant.
Some growers also contend that the loss of the popcorn nuggets cancels out the gain in kola size, and what’s wrong with popcorn? You grind it all up together anyway right?
Other growers prefer to have larger buds, especially commercial growers where presentation is also important.
However, when carried out properly under the right conditions Lollipopping is known to improve yields.
When to Lollipop
Again this can be a controversial topic. It is generally agreed that Lollipopping should take place during the veg phase. Either as a continuous process or all in one go, around a couple of weeks before switching to 12/12. This gives your plants time to recover from the shock before going into flower.
There is a school of thought that says you should never lollipop once the plant has started the flowering stage. However, as long as the main work is done during veg, it may be necessary to carry out some light maintenance work during flowering, for example pruning branches that haven’t quite made it to the canopy or removing tiny popcorn buds that begin to form in the bare lower branches.
Lollipopping with Other Growing Techniques
Standard plants can be lollipopped. This can prove especially useful on bushy plants with lots of leaves. Opening up the plant’s structure can improve ventilation and allow better light penetration.
Plants that have been subjected to LST can also be lollipopped to remove material from unproductive areas. For example, if you have trained your plant by pulling it over onto its side, the shaded leaves from the bottom side of the plant can be removed to promote growth on the top side of the plant that is exposed to the light. Although this is not strictly lollipopping, the same principle is involved.
The principle is to remove parts of the plant that are overly shaded and unlikely to be productive, forcing the plant’s energy to bypass these sites and go straight into producing larger kolas.
There are two growing techniques where Lollipopping is highly recommended.
SCROG Grows – Screen of Green set ups are predicated to the principle of presenting a flat and even canopy to the light source. To get the best out of a SCROG set up it is essential to lollipop. You need to remove all growth that is below the screen.
SOG Grows – Sea of Green set ups also use the same principle. By cramming lots of small plants in together you will create a thick canopy that prevents light from penetrating very deeply. To obtain the best results from a SOG set up you should lollipop your plants before flowering them.
How to Lollipop
There are essentially two techniques for lollipopping and which you use will depend on the results you are looking for.
Technique #1 – Top Down Lollipopping
The term ‘lollipop’ comes from the shape of the plant once you have finished with it. By removing all the lower growth you end up with a plant that has a long bare stem topped by one or more large kolas (depending on whether you are using the technique in conjunction with topping or not). For many growers this can seem like quite an extreme technique. Simply select a point about 4 nodes down from the growing tip of the plant, or wherever you want your canopy growth to begin, and remove all growth from the main stem below that point.
This technique can be carried out by simply grasping the main stem between thumb and forefinger and sliding it downwards, removing side shoots as you go. Although simple, care should be taken not to damage the main stem if using this technique. We recommend using a clean, sharp blade or scissors.
Technique #2 – Bottom Up Lollipopping
This form of lollipopping is less severe than that described above. You can think of it as lollipopping lite. This is the most commonly practiced way to lollipop your marijuana plants.
Start lolipopping from the bottom of the plant and work upwards. Remove the main lateral branches that are too short to make the top of the canopy and any leaves on the lateral branches that remain. You should look to make about the bottom third of the plant bare of any growth. It is this type of lollipopping that may require some maintenance trimming as the plant continues to develop. This is also the technique required when using a SCROG system.
Can I Lollipop any Marijuana Strain?
All marijuana strains are suitable for lollipopping. If grown as standards then it makes more sense to use the top down techniques on indica dominant strains that form single central kolas; and the bottom up technique on rangy sativas or other cannabis hybrids with profuse lateral branching and multiple kola formation.
Having said that, lollipopping is a versatile technique that can be used in conjunction with other techniques and a variety of set ups. Strain selection needs to take all of this into account too and will depend more on the other techniques you use. The type of lollipopping technique you employ will depend more on whether other techniques are being used than the strain you have selected.
- Always use a clean, sterilised pair of scissors to remove anything from your marijuana plants;
- Use the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the underside of leaves for signs of bugs. Look real close to make sure there are no tiny eggs;
- If you are new to Lollipopping try it out on just one or two plants. That way if you get it wrong you won’t ruin a whole crop, and if you get it right you can make your own comparisons as to how effective it is.