Cannabis How-Tos

How to Trim, Dry & Cure Cannabis Plants

Learn how to trim, dry and cure your homegrown cannabis flower for the best possible quality and flavour. 

How to Trim Cannabis

As a home grower, you invest time, effort and care into nurturing your plants from seeds through the growing season. Now comes the critical phase: harvesting and processing your cannabis flower. In this how-to guide, we’ll walk you through the essential processes of trimming, drying and curing your cannabis, turning your hard-earned harvest into a satisfying, enjoyable product.

How do I know when my cannabis plants are ready to harvest?

Harvesting your buds at the right time is the first step in a successful trimming, drying and curing process. A range of factors — from the cultivar you choose to the environment it’s grown in —influences the timing of when plants enter the bud-producing flowering stage. Indica strains typically flower sooner than sativa strains, but individual crops will vary. From germination, plants generally take eight to 12 weeks to grow and become ready for harvest.

Harvesting indoor vs. outdoor plants
When growing plants indoors, you’ll trigger the flowering stage by decreasing the amount of light they receive in a 24-hour period (called the “photoperiod”). You’ll then wait for the plants to reach maturity before you begin harvesting.

Telltale signs of readiness include:

  • yellowing leaves
  • pistils that have changed from white to orange or amber
  • calyxes growing fatter
  • trichomes changing colour

With outdoor plants, the light cycle and the timing of flowering depend on nature. And plant ripeness isn’t the only factor to consider. Prolonged exposure to cold can seriously damage your plants, so you’ll want to harvest before the temperature dips too low, no later than mid-fall.

Let your trichomes be your guide

Trichomes, the sticky crystalline structures on cannabis buds, are a key indicator of a plant’s readiness for harvest. Mainly clear trichomes indicate that a plant is unripe and hasn’t reached its peak potency. Look for milky and/or amber trichomes on at least half of your buds before starting to harvest.

The recommended proportion of milky to amber trichomes will vary depending on your grow type and strain. Having more amber or brown trichomes than milky ones indicates that the THC potency of a plant is declining as THC is being converted into CBN. Depending on your goals, this might be the right time for you to harvest.

    How to trim cannabis

    Trimming is the process of removing excess stems, fan leaves and sugar leaves from the cannabis buds after harvesting. During this process, you’ll use trimming scissors or shears to carefully trim away the larger fan leaves and any sugar leaves that you don't want to keep, while remaining cautious to not remove trichomes. Some people prefer a manicured look with no visible leaves, while others prefer a more rustic appearance. 

    Why is it important to trim cannabis plants?

    Although excess plant material doesn’t contribute significantly to the potency or flavour of the plant, trimming cannabis can make the smoking experience less harsh. Trimming can also help enhance airflow, preventing moisture traps that can lead to mould or mildew growth.

    There are two trimming options: wet or dry. For both, you’ll need a sanitary environment, gloves and sharp trimming shears to keep the process running safely and smoothly. Choose your trimming process based on the amount of time and space you have, the drying method you’ll use and your skill level — wet trimming may be easier because it requires less gentle handling.

    Wet vs. dry cannabis trimming 

    Compatible Drying Method
    Wet trimming Done all at once: The plant is cut down, and the buds cut off the branches (a process called “bucking”) and then trimmed

      Screen drying: Wet-trimmed buds can’t be hang-dried because they are detached from their branches

      Immediately after harvesting, when the plant is still moist

        Easier to do; leaves are more pliable

        Can reduce drying time and help plants dry more evenly

        Removes bulk earlier in the process; easier in small spaces

        Produces more aesthetically pleasing bud

        Can be messier due to the moisture, as the buds are very sticky 

        Dry trimming
        Occurs once the plant has completely dried after harvest
          Hang-drying: Hanging is best because untrimmed buds will dry slowly and unevenly — and the branches take up a lot of space — on a drying rack 
          Several days after harvesting, once the branches have dried a little 

            Some growers believe dry trimming better preserves the terpene profile  

            Slows drying, which can be important in drier climates, where an overly fast dry can cause terpene loss  

            Buds are less sticky and messy to trim 

            Small leaves shrivel and become more challenging to trim 

            Trichomes are more brittle and prone to breaking. Requires more gentle handling to preserve potency  


            Cannabis trimming tips

            • Invest in quality trimming scissors: Good trimming scissors are essential for precise cuts and will make the trimming process much more manageable. Features like sharp stainless-steel blades, a spring and an ergonomic design will help prevent hand fatigue and ensure the durability of the scissors over time.

            • Set up your drying area before you trim: If wet trimming, you’ll be setting up your buds for drying as you trim. Make sure the drying area is ready to go and accessible before you start your wet trim. It’ll save time and ensure this transition goes as smoothly as possible.

            How to dry cannabis

            Drying cannabis is a process that occurs over days to weeks in a dark, climate-controlled drying room after trimming your plants.

            Why dry cannabis?

            The drying process removes moisture from the cannabis buds, which helps prevent mould and create a product that can be consumed. 

            Cannabis drying environment and location

            Keep a close eye on humidity and temperature levels in the drying area. Aim for humidity around 45% to 55% and temperatures between 15°C and 21°C for optimal drying conditions. A hygrometer and thermometer will help you measure and adjust for the ideal temperature and humidity in your drying room.​

            Whether hang or screen drying, having a controlled and undisturbed drying area is essential. This should be a space that you won’t need access to for the duration of the drying process, is secure from kids and pets, and can be easily climate controlled.

            If it’s not possible to dedicate a room to drying, you can use a closet, drying tent or DIY drying box. Keep in mind that the space will smell strongly of cannabis throughout the drying process, which might also influence where you decide to dry.

            How long does it take to dry cannabis?

            The time it takes to dry cannabis can depend on several factors, including the size of the plant as well as the humidity and temperature of the drying environment. The cannabis drying process can take anywhere from three to 14 days.

            Hang drying vs. screen drying cannabis  

            Equipment Needed
            Hang drying After harvesting, cannabis branches are hung to dry

              Seven to 14 days, depending on humidity levels

              Drying racks, hooks or strings to hang the branches upside down

                Allows for even airflow around the buds, promoting a gradual and controlled drying process

                Requires more time and space than screen drying

                Screen drying
                After trimming, cannabis buds are placed on drying racks to dry
                  Three to seven days, depending on humidity levels
                  Drying screens or racks with mesh-like surfaces

                    Ideal for small quantities of buds; offers good airflow

                    More labour-intensive than hang drying, and may not be as efficient for larger harvests


                    Tips for drying cannabis

                    • Check your buds and stems: You’ll know you’re done drying once the buds are dry to the touch but still have some moisture on the inside. The stems will snap, not flex, when bent.
                    • Maintain airflow: Air conditioners, fans and dehumidifiers may be needed to achieve and maintain the optimal humidity for drying cannabis. Have these on hand to add in as needed, especially if it’s your first set-up.

                    How to cure cannabis

                    Curing is the final step in the process of cannabis flower preparation. It involves storing dried buds in an airtight, controlled environment to allow the moisture to distribute evenly throughout the buds. During the cannabis growing process, you’ll regularly “burp” your cannabis, opening the jars to release excess moisture. To prevent mould and ensure an even cure, you’ll want to do this for a few minutes daily during the first week of curing and every few days after that.

                    Why cure cannabis?

                    Curing is an often overlooked, yet very important aspect of cannabis cultivation. Proper curing helps improve the flavour, aroma and overall quality of the cannabis, making it smoother and more enjoyable to consume.

                    How long does it take to cure cannabis?

                    The curing process will take weeks to months, depending on the strain and the environmental conditions. As your buds cure, moisture redistributes from within and they soften to the touch. You’ll notice the strain’s telltale aromas begin to come through, with no grassy or hay-like smell. Once cured, your buds will burn evenly and produce a smooth, flavourful smoke.

                    Tips for curing cannabis

                    • Adjust humidity with humidity packs: Humidity packs can be a convenient option for maintaining proper moisture levels during curing. They help prevent over-drying and ensure a consistent curing environment.

                    • Avoid light exposure: Keeping your curing cannabis in the dark can help prevent over-drying. Store your cannabis in a dark room and in opaque or tinted glass containers to reduce its exposure to light.

                    Safety considerations when trimming, drying and curing cannabis

                    Avoid contaminants throughout the process
                    Avoid eating, drinking or smoking in your trimming, drying and curing spaces so the buds aren’t exposed to mould and other contaminants.

                    Protect your hands
                    Wear gloves while trimming to protect your hands from sticky resin and potential skin irritation.

                    Maintain a sanitary environment
                    Sanitize surfaces and tools before and after processing cannabis using an alcohol solution. Designate specific trimming tools, such as scissors and shears, for use only during cannabis processing.

                    Light your trimming space well
                    Ensure adequate lighting in the trimming area to avoid accidental cuts and injuries while working with sharp tools.

                    Keep away from children and pets
                    Keep drying, curing and trimming areas inaccessible to children and pets. Cannabis products should be stored safely and out of reach.

                    The harvesting and processing phase is where the hard work of cultivation is transformed into tasty, potent, aesthetically pleasing buds. Though it can be a big job, the little details — and some planning ahead — make all the difference to having successful results.

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