How to Dry and Trim Marijuana Flowers

An in-depth guide on how to dry and manicure cannabis buds to perfection. Discover how drying and trimming weed results in the best cannabis imaginable.

How to Dry and Trim Marijuana Flowers Cover PhotoHarvest time is a moment of excitement, worry, and absolute euphoria.

As you’ve watched your cannabis plants grow for the last few months, it goes without saying that you’ve been waiting for this moment with intense anticipation. However, one wrong move and all of your efforts will have been for nothing.

Once you harvest your weed plants, drying and trimming take center stage in terms of importance. Although it sounds basic, drying and trimming cannabis buds is an art that few master.

Read along to learn how to dry and trim weed like a pro. You’ll discover why drying and trimming cannabis flowers matters and why your buds will benefit from these essential techniques.

Ready to turn your uncut cannabis flowers into terpene and cannabinoid-packed gems?

Let’s begin!

What is The Drying Process and Why Does it Matter?

First, let’s talk about drying weed.

Before and after harvest, cannabis flowers are fresh and contain an abundance of moisture. From a consumer’s point-of-view, moist buds don’t burn well and produce a harsh flavor, lack aroma, and decrease the efficacy of cannabinoids.

In other words, moist weed isn’t a joy to consume.

Therefore, drying cannabis flowers is how cultivators allow the moisture to evaporate and undesirable compounds to break down from the buds. By allowing cannabis flowers to dry, the buds are:

  • Flavorful
  • Aromatic
  • Potent
  • Smokable

Additionally, drying weed prevents mold from growing within the flowers. Remember, moist flowers are a breeding ground for mold, which will destroy your final harvest.

In other words, the drying process enhances the quality of your cannabis flowers while protecting them from mold. As we like to say — it’s a win-win scenario when you properly dry marijuana flowers.

What is The Trimming Process and Why Does it Matter?

Next, let’s talk about trimming or manicuring your marijuana flowers.

Trimming is the act of removing excess leaf matter from the cannabis flower. As you know, the flowers and leaves on cannabis plants are two separate things. Come harvest time; however, you want to remove as much leaf matter as possible to enhance the flowers’ quality.

Cannabis plants exhibit two leaf types:

  • Fan leaves (primary leaves)
  • Sugar leaves (secondary leaves)

Cannabis cultivators discard the large fan leaves. However, the “sugar leaves” are trimmed and saved because they exhibit trichome coverage due to their proximity to the buds. In either case, the overarching goal is to remove as much leaf matter as possible.

Remember, you want to smoke cannabis buds — not leaves!

Therefore, you must learn how to manicure the cannabis flowers to perfection by using specially crafted trimming scissors.

By trimming marijuana flowers, your buds will:

  • Increase in bag appeal
  • Taste better (less chlorophyll)
  • Smell better
  • Enhance overall potency

If you don’t manicure your cannabis flowers, your buds will not have high bag appeal, and the additional chlorophyll will contribute a harsh flavor when consumed.

In other words — it pays to trim your weed!

How to Dry Your Cannabis Flowers in Five Easy Steps

Alright, enough talk and more action! It’s time to sit down and learn how to dry your cannabis buds to perfection.

Here’s a list of tools that you’ll need to get the job done:

  • Oscillating fan
  • Thermometer/hygrometer combo
  • Clothes hangers or clothesline
  • AC/Dehumidifier (optional)

Furthermore, you must have a space, such as a closet or grow room, to allow your cannabis flowers to dry properly.

If you grow cannabis indoors, you already have a controlled environment for drying marijuana buds. However, if you are drying an outdoor crop, a garage or converted space for drying will suffice.

Step One: Set Up Drying Line

After you’ve harvested your cannabis plants as detailed in our previous guide, How to Harvest Cannabis Plants, it’s time to set up the clothes hangers or line in the drying room.

If you are using clothes hangers, allow enough space between each so that the hanging cannabis stalks don’t touch each other.

If your cannabis plants touch each other while drying, they may:

  • Improperly dry
  • Generate mold

If you are using a clothesline, ensure the line is adequately secured to avoid fallen buds. Once complete, move on to step two.

Step Two: Check Environmental Conditions

Next — it’s time to check the environmental conditions.

When it comes to drying weed — nothing is more important than the rate at which it dries. Cannabis buds that dry too fast or too slow are not nearly as top-shelf as those that dry just right.

The three factors that dictate the rate of drying buds are:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Airflow

By dialing each of these factors in — your marijuana flowers will optimally dry. Here are the ideal values that you must maintain in the drying room before adding the harvested cannabis plants:

  • 75-78°F
  • 45-60% RH

As for airflow, place the oscillating fun below the hanging buds. Never shoot air directly at the buds as this will cause uneven drying and dry one half too fast.

Place the hygrometer/thermometer combo at the same height where your hanging cannabis flowers will be. As long as the temperature and relative humidity are in the ideal range — proceed to step three!

Environmental conditions Hanging Cannabis

Step Three: Hang Up The Cannabis

Now that your drying room is set up — it’s time to hang the cannabis plants or branches upside down.

We say cannabis plants or branches because you should have harvested the entire plant or smaller “pieces,” such as branches, depending on the plant’s overall size.

In either case, when hung upside down, cannabis branches offer a natural hook that allows you to hang the cannabis plant securely.

Take care that each plant or branch is adequately spaced and does not touch other hanging branches. Remember, you want your buds to dry evenly and prevent mold.

Once you’ve hung all of your cannabis branches, you should notice them swaying gently as the oscillating fan blows below.

Remember, do not turn on any lights while the cannabis crop is drying. The point of total darkness is to allow unnecessary compounds, such as chlorophyll, to dissipate.

Step Four: Monitor the Environment and Buds

Once you’ve hung your cannabis crop in the drying room — it’s time to monitor the environmental conditions and the buds.

Check the temperature and RH at least three times per day to ensure the grow room isn’t too hot, cold, damp, or dry. You may gently use your index finger and thumb to press against a bud to monitor dryness.

Step Five: Touch Test and Snap Test

In general, drying cannabis flowers takes roughly 3-7-days.

However, how long it takes to dry weed is entirely dependent on the total weight of your cannabis harvest. In other words, a massive weed haul will take longer to dry compared to a small yield.

Therefore, you must rely on the touch test and the snap test.

After 3-days, use your index finger and thumb to feel a few different buds. How do they feel?

If the outer flower feels moist — they require more drying time. However, if the buds feel dry on the outside, give them a gentle squeeze to determine inner moisture.

Additionally, you may use the snap test to gauge dryness. After 3-days, you may gently bend a branch. If the branch snaps — it’s lost a significant amount of moisture. If the stem bends without snapping, there is still a substantial level of moisture present.

Using both of these tests, you can determine the optimal time to remove the cannabis flowers from the drying room.

Remember, you must be vigilant during this process. You can ruin your weed if you over or under-dry your cannabis plants! Once branches snap and the flowers are dry on the outside but exhibit moisture when pressed — it’s time to end the drying process!

How to Trim and Manicure Marijuana Flowers in Five Easy Steps

Once you’ve completed steps 1-5 from the drying process, it’s time to move over to the first trimming phase. Once you’re done with the general trimming process, you’ll move to the manicuring phase which elevates your buds to perfection!

Here are the tools that you’ll need to accomplish these tasks:

  • Trimming scissors
  • Pruning snips
  • Rubber bins (2)
  • Latex-free gloves
  • An ultra-comfy chair
  • Music, water, and snacks

Let’s begin.

Step One: Set Up Your Trimming Station

First and foremost, set up your trimming station.

Trimming weed is fun but it quickly becomes monotonous — especially if you yielded pounds of trichome-covered buds.

Therefore, it’s in your best interest to bring in a comfortable chair, music, water, snacks, and anything else that’ll create a relaxed environment.

Furthermore, place two rubber bins next to the trimming station. One bin will be for fan (primary) leaves and the other will be for sugar (secondary) leaves.

We advise wearing gloves because your fingers will soon be covered in resin. Although it sounds awesome — it makes the job more difficult as the hours pass.

Step Two: Trim One Branch At a Time

Now that your trimming station is ready — it’s time to start trimming.

As you look at the dry cannabis buds, you’ll notice the primary and secondary leaves have shriveled and encapsulated the buds.

To keep things organized, select a single branch. We recommend trimming one branch at a time because you may be overwhelmed when an entire cannabis plant is on your lap.

Step Three: Trim Large Primary Leaves First

Now that you have a single branch on the trimming desk, trim the large primary leaves first.

Use your trimming scissors to snip the base of the leaf — primarily at the stipule where the leaf grows from the branch. Continue to do so until all of the primary fan leaves are removed and thrown into a plastic bin.

Once you’ve done this to every single branch — you’ve completed the first round of “dry” trimming.

Step Four: Manicure Your Buds

Next, it’s time to break out the pruning snips and begin the manicuring process.

The manicuring process is more tedious than the general trimming step because it requires you to trim near the flower. In other words — you must not manicure too deep as this will ruin the flower or remove excess bud.

Similar to step three, take a single branch and look at the small secondary leaves that grow out of the cannabis flower. The secondary leaves are covered in resin — hence the name sugar leaves.

Use the pruning snips to cut the petiole or the stipule of the secondary leaves if visible. Once removed, you will see the cannabis bud underneath. In some cases, the entire sugar leaf is impossible to remove without digging deep into the bud. In which case it’s recommended to remove the visible leaflets only.

Remember, this is a tedious process and requires concentration and care. As you remove the sugar leaves, place them into a separate bin to use later.

Once you’ve done this to each branch, the buds will finally look like weed!

Step Five: Remove The Buds From The Branches

The last step is to remove the buds from the branches and look over the buds for remaining secondary leaves.

Take a single branch that’s loaded with buds and begin from the bottom. Use your trimming scissors and cut the base of the bud. Once the bud is free, place it into a tray.

Continue to remove the buds until each branch is void of buds. Remember, do not cut into the buds, but instead, cut the base of the stem that attaches to the branch!

Once your tray is full of buds — it’s time to do a final manicure.

At this point, go through each flower and remove any remaining secondary (sugar) leaves that you missed or were covered by the stems of the branch.

Once done, your cannabis buds will shine bright with trichomes and look as if they’re ready for a High Times cover shoot!

Once your buds are fully manicured, place them into glass jars to kick off the curing process.

The Last Step Before Enjoying Your Cannabis

As you look at your gorgeous buds dripping in resin — you’ll be tempted to test a sample.

We recommend waiting a bit longer to get the best aroma, flavor, and potency — especially after putting so much work into growing cannabis. Therefore, the step after drying and trimming marijuana is none other than the curing process.

If you’re ready to catapult your cannabis flowers into top-shelf or boutique-grade territory — you must cure your weed. Read How to Cure Weed and master the art of transforming decent marijuana into pure fire.

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