What is the best way to manicure my plants; bushy or tall?

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Q:

As a new grower, I am receiving conflicting opinions about manicuring. Basically, I’m not sure which shade leaves to take off. My plants are outdoors and about 2 – 3 feet tall. Also, I’m not sure whether to let them get bushy or tall.

A:

I have to say there are many different opinions surrounding this issue. I personally do not like trimming any healthy leaves even if it means more light gets to the lower leaves. Generally speaking, the young top leaves will actually photosynthesize more efficiently than the older lower leaves (even if they are bigger). I tend to remove the older lower leaves that are shaded as a way to make the plant more efficient. Some people will trim the bottom quarter of the plant before flowering for this reason. In conclusion, I would personally only remove leaves that are damaged or are older and shaded.

Bushy or tall is really the preference of the grower. If you trim the top and allow the plant to become bushy, there will be more, smaller fruit produced. Tall plants will produce less, but larger, fruit. In the end, either method should leave you with roughly the same yield. I would recommend doing your own experiment this year and letting some of your plants bush out and others grow tall. This way, come harvest time, you can judge for yourself which option you prefer.

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Written by Erik Biksa
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Erik Biksa holds a diploma in agriculture with majors in fertilizer sciences and crop production. Erik has amassed over 18 years of indoor gardening experience and intensive research. Since first appearing in Maximum Yield in 1999, the “Ask Erik” column and numerous articles have reached growers throughout the world.  Full Bio