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Removing Big Leaves from Marijuana Plants

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  • Escrito por : Ciara
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Removing big leaves from marijuana plants is something that many novice growers tend to do; once their plants are in the flowering stage, they think that the bigger leaves shade the buds on the bottom so they cut all of the leaves off thinking they’ll get more buds.

Depending on who you ask, some would say that those leaves aren’t taking up more energy, they’re actually where the plant absorbs the energy. Cannabis plants evolve and develop at the growers will and by choice of the grower, they adapt to their growers to make sure that they survive. THC content in strains goes up as years go by, going from 10% to up to 30% in the last 15 years; they know that the more THC they produce, the higher their chances of reproducing.

If your plant didn’t need those leaves, then it would use that energy to do something more efficient rather than grow the leaves. The leaves on a marijuana plant are extremely important. The buds are simply the flowers that the plant produces, but the leaves are involved in almost every process.

A plant without leaves is a weak plant indeed, like the one in the picture; hardly any yield and to be honest it looks quite sickly.

Leaves serve an important purpose; they absorb sunlight or light from your grow lamps and turn it into sugars or energy so that your plant can keep growing. If you remove them your plants might not get enough energy to keep developing and they might stop growing or even die if you take too many. If you want to test it out for yourself, just take off one of the two big leaves that sprout at the bottom of the branches. You’ll notice that the branch will immediately stop growing, but those that still have leaves will grow much bigger and heavier.

Another function that the leaves are in charge of is storing water, both inside and out. These plants already have a hefty weight; most of which is due to water and most of that water is actually in the leaves. The leaves are actually made mostly out of water, helping the plant to stay cool. The area underneath the leaves actually stores water, little micro-drops of water that keep the Oxygen or Co1 that the plants absorb nice and cool, especially when it’s extremely hot. If you remove the leaves it then makes it harder for the plant to absorb the CO2 that it would be absorbing if it had those little micro-drops. Your plants will be receiving light on unprotected zones, which will largely affect the level of heat of your crop. When there’s a drought, your plant can use that extra water, but without those important leaves your plant will end up without any sort of back up reserves.

The also act as nutrient reserves that can be used up in case of emergency like overwatering or rotting of the roots, or also when you water without fertilizers so that they can use up the reserves.

We’re of the opinion that green, healthy leaves should not be removed at all, neither big or small, as long as the plant is alive, although in some cases you might be forced to do so. Some infestations can be vicious and destroy the leaves on your plant with bites and eggs.

I’ve checked this with my own crop; buds that grow under big leaves are just as fat and heavy and somewhat better developed than those that have the leaf out of the way so the sun can get to them, so we can guarantee that the leaf you remove will directly affect the growth of the buds around it. If you remove the small leaves the stem that they’re on will have no energy to grow, and if you remove a big leaf the stem above it will stop growing completely.

Once the plant has developed enough and some of the leaves end up shaded, the plants will get rid of them themselves by absorbing the nutrients and drying it up. They should practically fall off on their own.

Once they’ve reached the end of the flowering they tend to be so leafy that they don’t actually need most of the old leaves, so they’ll either fall off or go yellow. You need to let them fall of themselves, like the plant in the picture. A properly grown plant has had absolutely no leaves forcibly removed.

Either way, if you’re reading this because you have a question or query, don’t hesitate to send us an email to [email protected] with a picture of your plant and why you want to remove its leaves. Of course, if you send it after removing the leaves then we won’t be able to help you out.

There are growers that swear by leaf removal on cannabis plants, and if you’re one of them and have found that the practice works out for you and your strains, nobody is stopping you. This post is for beginners who hear about leaf removal and decide to completely destroy their plants.

Author: Javier Chinesta
Translation: Ciara Murphy

Removing big Leaves from marijuana plants is a mistake that many growers make, especially novice growers. We're here to tell you why it's a bad idea.


Problem: After watering, your plants start drooping. Usually the droopy leaves will feel firm and appear curled down (the whole leaf will be curled, not just the tips, which is often a sign of nitrogen toxicity). With overwatered cannabis plants, you may also notice Chlorosis (leaf yellowing that is similar to a nitrogen deficiency).

Overwatered cannabis plants are droopy with leaves that curl down. As a result of overwatering, leaves often turn yellow or show other signs of nutrient deficiencies (especially when it comes to younger plants and seedlings!)

Overwatering does not always mean you’ve been giving the plant too much water. It can also mean that you’ve been giving the plant water too often, or growing plants in a growing medium that holds onto water without enough air, or doesn’t have good drainage out the bottom.

Cannabis plants use their roots to get oxygen, almost like they’re breathing. Oxygen is dissolved in water, and there’s also air pockets in their grow medium to provide a source of oxygen. When you water your plants too often, the roots end up sitting in stagnant water. The reason your plants droop is because basically their roots are starving for oxygen.

This sick marijuana seedling has several symptoms including droopiness and leaves with brown spots that appear to be a nutrient deficiency. Surprisingly, the true cause of both problems actually is the thick, wet, muddy soil.

The main sign of a cannabis plant being overwatered are the droopy leaves, though other symptoms often appear around the same time!

Overwatered Marijuana Plants

  • Drooping / Curling is the first sign of overwaterd marijuana plants
  • Plants start drooping soon after watering
  • Leaves are firm and curled down all the way from the stem to the leaf
  • Will eventually lead to leaf yellowing and other signs of nutrient problems if not corrected

The drooping cannabis plant below did not have drainage holes (water could not drain out the bottom of the pot). After watering the plant which appeared healthy the night before, the grower came back to this drooping plant the next day – this case of overwatering was caused by too much water being held near the roots due to lack of drainage:

Solution: The best thing you can do for overwatered plants is give them time between waterings, and then start off watering slowly until things seem back to normal. Make sure that water is able to drain easily out the bottom of potted cannabis plants. Be extra careful with small plants in big containers.

How to Water Cannabis Properly

Wait until the top of the growing medium is dry about an inch deep (up to your first knuckle).

Add water until you see some at least 20% extra runoff water drain out the bottom of your pot. Go back to step 1.

If top of growing medium stays wet for a long time, you may need to give your plants less water at a time, or improve your drainage.

The goal is to be watering your plants every 2-3 days. If it needs longer to dry out, you should be giving less water at a time. If it’s drying out too quickly it should get more water at a time (or may need to move to a bigger pot).

Some growers also use the “lift the pot” method to decide when to water your plants (basically wait until your pot feels “light” since the plants have used up all the water). It’s up to you to decide what’s easier for you.

If your plant medium seems to stay wet for a long time (more than 4-5 days or so), you may need better drainage. This also can happen when growers put tiny plants in a pot that’s way too big.

This cannabis plant has green healthy leaves, but as a result of overwatering it’s stunted and small even though its more than a month old.

Make sure that water drains freely from the bottom of your container (it’s recommended that you provide enough water to get at least 20% extra runoff every time you water your plants as long as your plants are drinking well).

You should see water coming out the bottom within a minute or two after watering. Then don’t water your plants again until the soil is dry up to your first knuckle.

If your plants are already overwatered, you can try to increase the temperature and airflow to help the water evaporate more quickly. You can also use a pencil to gently poke some air holes into the growing medium to provide extra aeration and oxygen to the roots.

Whenever a seedling has droopy leaves, it means that the roots are either not getting enough water (underwatered) or not getting enough oxygen (overwatered). This seedling has been chronically watered too often, preventing the roots from getting enough oxygen. As a result, the seedling has stayed small and mostly stopped growing.

For your individual growing medium and environment, your watering method will vary, but if your plants are drooping and you’ve been feeding them a lot of water, it’s a good idea to cut back and see if that helps.

Sometimes plants will be droopy no matter what you do, and the true cause is the plant is rootbound and needs a bigger container!

If you’re growing hydroponically with your marijuana roots directly in water and you see the signs of overwatering, that means you have a problem at your roots. Either your plants have root rot which is preventing them from getting oxygen at their roots, or you are not dissolving enough oxygen into the water (you can easily increase the dissolved oxygen in your water with a quality air pump and a few air stones).

Need more help?

If your plant is experiencing “the claw” and not just normal drooping (the ends of leaves are curling like a claw or pointing down like talons), then you may actually have a nitrogen toxicity (too much nitrogen).

These Plants Are NOT Overwaterd, These Leaves Show Signs of “The Claw” which usually indicates a Nitrogen Toxicity
(“The Claw”, tips bent down, curling / clawing, dark green leaves)

Overwatering and underwatering cannabis plants are easy to do and can cause multiple symptoms including slow growth. Learn to recognize and fix these issues.