How to Defoliate For Bigger Yields and Healthier Plants
Defoliation (pruning or otherwise removing excess foliage, stems, and shoots) is a much debated but key technique for increasing both yields and plant health.
While not all strains respond favourably to defoliation, with short and bushy strains grown indoors, such as this Romulan plant, it becomes essential.
As you can see in the photo, Romulan is a certified chode, growing nearly as fat as it does tall, with dense foliage and overlapping leaves.
This thick canopy creates a dead zone of poor air exchange and light penetration within the interior of the plant. This provides an optimal breeding ground for mildew and insect larvae.
Left as is, this plant will suffer from slow growth, high disease pressure, and a high percentage of underdeveloped popcorn bud at harvest.
Here you see the same Romulan plant from the last photo now defoliated.
Lower branches with sickly growth were completely removed while all healthy main branches were stripped of all foliage below the top one to three nodes. Additionally, all major fan leaves were plucked leaving only young growth and a few larger leaves at the top of each main branch.
This plant will have a couple of days of slowed metabolism as it recovers but will quickly bounce back stronger than before with even healthier growth.
As you can see in the highlighted areas, all the branches of this Romulan plant have been completely stripped or “lollipopped” to leave only the very top growth intact.
While this may seem dramatic and potentially damaging to the plant, Romulan actually thrives with this technique.
Instead of lots of shitty underdeveloped buds forming along the inner nodes where light can’t penetrate, this plant will now focus it’s energy into developing thick and dense buds at all points of the outer canopy where light is plentiful.
Disease and bug resistance will also be increased thanks to the massively improved air circulation around the inner core of this female.
In order to dramatically decrease the recovery time from defoliation while giving your plant a super-boost of growth, apply a root drench of compost tea a day or two before defoliating. Be sure to include kelp and alfalfa meals (both high in triacontanol, an organic plant growth stimulant and photosynthesis accelerator) with a healthy dose of molasses and earth worm castings. This will stimulate a massive bloom in beneficial microbe populations as well as root growth.
When defoliating a plant you would normally expect to see a reduction in metabolism and slowed water consumption. However, applying this compost tea 24-48 hours prior to defoliation ensures all of the goodies you’re feeding the plant will be absorbed and growth rate will have already begun accelerating before you begin pruning.
This trick reduces plant shock, hastens recovery time, and provides all the necessary nutrients required for new plant growth.
Here is a side by side pic of before and after the defoliation process. This is a pair of identical Startropic CBD clones, which is our high CBD Romulan and Cannatonic Hybrid. As you can see this strain inherits the bushy characteristics of the Romulan mother which makes it a prime candidate for defoliation.
Now you see the same two plants 24 hours after defoliation looking perky and healthy with new growth already taking shape.
Clearly they’re no worse for wear, as the compost tea trick I mentioned kept them humming along just fine, even after the severe shock of defoliation.
These two plants will have a few more days of recovery time and then will be flipped into the bloom cycle. With this strain I will give them one more minor defoliation on or around day 28 of bloom and then it will be hands off after that.