3 High risk & high rewards growing methods

Published Apr 25, 2019 10:30 a.m. ET
Photo Credit: Lars Hagberg

Growing marijuana doesn’t have to be a difficult task, as the plants are reasonably hardy and take minimal effort to cultivate as long as the essentials like light, nutrient-rich soil, and water are provided. Some weed strains can even withstand more brutal conditions like extreme heat or cold, but the end result is often a standard marijuana plant that isn’t always bountiful or aesthetically pleasing. Through decades of trial and error experienced cannabis growers have mastered some unique methods of producing and raising marijuana plants that will provide higher yields or a more visually appealing surface. The problem is that these techniques require the utmost care and precision and even then come with risks that could potentially destroy a crop. If you are just learning how to grow weed the methods touched on here are not recommended, as they have the potential to end in disaster if not performed correctly which will be easier for more seasoned growers. Here are three of the riskiest and most rewarding cannabis grow methods that exist today.

1. Extreme defoliation

Extreme defoliation means exactly what it sounds like, removing excess foliage that from most of a marijuana plant. There are two extreme defoliation techniques that take pruning to a whole different level that can be both risky and rewarding and should always be performed with the utmost care and precision.


This method of growing marijuana is typically used to increase the cola size, as it doesn’t seem to change the overall production of a cannabis plant. It is performed by pinching or cutting the tips off of flowers, beginning as early as 3-4 weeks into the growing process which is during the flowering stage. The goal is to remove excess growth to force the plant to focus on swelling the buds that are left behind, rather than making the ones that already exist longer. For this method to be successful, it must be done slowly over a period of a few weeks one bud at a time, so that the marijuana plant doesn’t experience too much stress or shock from the damage.

The benefit: Larger and more swelled bud colas.

The risk: Too much pruning can kill or stunt a cannabis plant’s growth and lead to longer stringier buds which are the opposite effects that performing this technique is supposed to have.  


This method is used to increase the yield as well as the visual appeal but is also one of the most difficult to attempt. Schwazzing requires removing all the fan leaves that settle below the first three or four nodules that are located at the top of the marijuana plant. The idea is to trick the plant into switching to a type of survival mode that results in higher production of buds. Though many praise this technique as an incredible tool, an inexperienced grower has very little chance of performing it correctly. Once all the fan leaves have been removed, the marijuana plant must be nourished and cared for with items that go beyond your typical soil and water regime. Condensed nutrients and optimal conditions are required for the best chance of success.

The benefit: Higher yield and more massive colas.

The risk: High potential for total crop failure and higher cost and experience required to maintain.


2. Super Cropping

The super cropping is also sometimes referred to as high-stress training, and it requires the ability to carefully injure your marijuana plant just enough that it doesn’t cause too much damage. It can increase THC content, crop yield, and bud size making it appealing to those who are just learning how to grow weed. The problem is that it doesn’t take much to force the branches too far which will break them off rather than producing the desired effect. The goal with this method is to bend the branches of a marijuana plant while it’s in the vegetative state. It’s typically done by pressing firmly on the stem and slowly working the branch back and forth to make it more pliable. Once the grower feels that the section is bending sufficiently, they will attach a string or wire to hold it into place. This triggers a release of hormones throughout the plant, that are delivered directly to the colas and new growth.

The Benefit: Higher THC production, more significant yield, and larger colas.

The Risk: May cause shock or breakage which can stunt growth and kill a marijuana plant.

3. Topping

The topping is a method of cultivation that is used for many different plant species and works best on short bushy weed strains. Though it is the least risky of those listed so far, it is often a technique tried by beginners who fail horribly and end up losing confidence in their growing abilities. It sounds like a really easy challenge, cut the tops of the some of your branches, but much like others listed here, it will require a bit of prior in-depth know how to pull off successfully. This is because creating any sort of damage to cannabis can result in either positive or negative effects, and the amount a plant is nurtured will heavily increase its chances of turning out for the better. This requires proper nutrients, high-quality, super soils, grow lights, ideal humidity and temperature.

The benefit: Bushier more visually appealing marijuana plants, higher yields, larger buds.

The risk: Possible irreparable damage to the plant which may result in shock or stunted growth.


All high-risk methods for growing marijuana should be performed by experienced growers, who have some prior knowledge of cultivating cannabis. Though the ability to successfully produce other plants shows that you might have what it takes, pot plants grow differently than your average houseplant. If you feel up to the challenge, then be sure to take precautions like researching the hardiest and most manipulatable weed strains that have a history of holding up to this kind of abuse. Not all types of cannabis will react well to being pruned or bent, so for the best possible chance research one that will suit all of the conditions inside of your grow room.



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