How to Trim Cannabis Buds for Beautiful Nugs

You’ve worked long and hard. Now the time has come to trim your cannabis or hemp flowers into beautiful buds. Before you pick up those shears there are a few things to take into consideration.

  • Are you going to trim by hand?
  • Wet Trim or Dry trim?
  • Machine trim?
  • Hire a group of people to help, or do it yourself?

All these factors should be based on the size of your harvest and the budget you have to spend.

We’ll look into these important factors to make it easier to decide which solution is best for you and then give a how to on dry trimming by hand.

Why Trim Cannabis in the First Place?

From a function perspective, trimming off the longer excessive leaves and stems allows more a more uniform curing process and lets the bud to dry out evenly. The leaves, if left longer, can retain moisture underneath and mold and mildew can form, leaving the bud useless. Longer leaves also retain more chlorophyll. This will make for a harsher taste during consumption.

From an aesthetic perspective trimmed buds are more pleasing to the eye. They are tight and uniform and appear more desirable to consumers when presented as finished goods.

Join the 26,000+ Industry Professionals Using Each Day >>

Wet Trimming vs. Dry Trimming

What is Wet Trimming?

In wet trimming, cannabis buds are groomed slightly before they are harvested. This is done by trimming off all the fan leaves and longer sugar leaves around the top buds a few days before or on the day of the harvest.

This makes for a quicker curing process and is considered to be faster and more efficient by most growers. Wet trimming is the prefered method for most beginner growers, due to its effectiveness and ability to bring less moisture into the curing process.

[PRO TIP] In drier climates, wet trimming may speed the curing process uptoomuch and result in an over-cured bud with loss in valuable cannabinoids.

What is Dry Trimming?

Dry Trimming is done after the plant has been hung up to dry. Dry trimming is considered to be more precise by most growers and is mostly reserved for high end product. Dry trimming also allows for a slower drying process and a smoother taste while consuming. It also lets smaller sugar leaves to remain in tact. These leaves hold valuable cannabinoid content, allowing for a smoother consumer experience

Should You Trim by Hand, Machine, or a Combination?

Hand Trimming

As the name suggests hand trimming is done with a pair of hand shears and gloves. Hand trimming is also most effective when done in a group setting. Many hands make light work, but also have to be paid at the end of the day for their time. This may appear to be a more budget friendly option, but the cost of labor should be taken into account.

Machine Trimming

Machine trimming is often more expensive in the short run. Machines make up for that expense with their efficiency.

Some machine can trim up to 20 lbs a day. This is reserved for larger crops and/or lower end product. Consider maintenance and durability before making a choice of which machine to buy. Some are very durable and need little maintenance, others have to be cleaned by hand after each batch and have a reputation of breaking down or getting clogged. Make sure to compare and research different machines thoroughly through customer reviews, or the use community message boards, before making a purchase.

Combination Trimming

In a effort to speed up hand trimming, a hybrid system such as a trimming wand may be an option. This combines the speed of machine trimming with the precision of hand trimming and is a nice option between both worlds. It is essentially a mechanical version of the hand shears with a mechanical blad. They are often accompanied by a vacuum tube and storage container for cleaner working conditions.

The choice should fit your unique situation and can always be adjusted after a few crops cycles, based on personal preferences.

Keeping it clean

Cleaning up of stick oils, resins, and bud material can a handful, but be mindful of this material. It is still very valuable. Most post-trimming material or (kief) can be used to make hash, pressed for rosin, or sprinkled on top of nicely groomed buds for a more THC dense product. Also excess leaves can be used for a variety of things as well such as: tea, rosin, cannabutter, juices, etc.

[PRO TIP] If you have a build up of resin on your latex gloves after the trim you can simply place them in the freezer for an hour or so and then gently peel off the resin from the glove adding it to the rest of the “post-harvest” supply.

As far as your equipment goes, shears and/or machines should be cleaned regularly to allow for maximum effectiveness. Simply wipe down your sheers with warm water/rubbing alcohol once they begin to gunk up. The same goes for any mechanical equipment, and it may be beneficial to purchase multiple tumblers/blades so that when one gets too sticky to cut it can be replaced with a clean one. Then the dirty blade can be soaked in warm water, scrubbed, and dried, until it is ready to replace the tumbler/blade in use.

If you are hand trimming, each trimming station should have a catch tray to prevent a messy trimming environment. These trays catch all falling leaves, stems, and kief and are easily cleaned after the trimming process.


Clothes for trimming should be comfortable and easy to clean. Some growers recommend trimming in an apron and swear by silk as the resin will not stick to it. This will help out your laundry machine later. For others, plastic sheeting from a hardware store does the trick as well.

Join the 26,000+ Industry Professionals Using Each Day >>


Your trimming location, like trimming attire, should be comfortable and easy to clean. Trimming a large inventory by hand can take some time (1lb a day) so be sure to make your location somewhere you don’t mind spending long amounts of time.

Some growers have special chairs or desks in their trimming space. Others simply sit down at the couch or in front of a tv, turn on some good music or a pleasant show to have on in the background while they work. This makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable trimming experience.

How to Trim Cannabis and Hemp

What You’ll Need

  • Trimming Shears
  • Trimming Tray (with screen)
  • Latex or similar Gloves
  • Small towel (for cleaning)
  • Rubbing alcohol or warm water (for cleaning)

How to Trim Cannabis Buds

  1. Clip each branch, so that it is independent from the main stalk
  2. With triming shears, remove the largest leaves first
  3. Trim off the short sugar leaves (if desired) by holding the shears as close to the body of the bud as possible and simply cutting them off
  4. If you find any signs of hermaphrodite pollen sacs, trim them away as well
  5. Be sure to remove any crows feet (smaller stems near the base of the bud) to give it a clean appearance
  6. Place in a container for curing
  7. Repeat as many times as needed

The amount of material you remove is based on your end goals or personal preferences. Some growers prefer a more natural look with small sugar leaves left in tact. Others prefer a tightly groomed bud with a smooth and sleek appearance. Some trim for maximum weight. Others trim for maximum cannabinoid content.

Join the 6,000+ Industry Professionals Using Each Day >>

Remember even the small buds have potential for high cannabinoid content. If you are trimming for quality over quantity, remember, bigger isn’t always better. And also have fun!

Trim on!

You May Also Like