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Grow Q&A: Removing Fan Leaves

Would you remove leaves that are under branches (not branch leaves) to max branch growth or not? I’ve heard pro and con on this subject. Myself, I remove them so the plant doesn’t waste energy, but y’all are the experts. The plant in question is just starting – 8″ tall, 8″ wide, pencil-size trunk, with 4″ branches. My buddy and I are having a debate. Can you solve this dilemma for us? – Gradatim

Dear Gradatim,
Leafing, or strategically choosing fan leaves to remove from your plants, is a selective process. The potential gain of removing a healthy leaf must be weighed against the potential loss of growth incurred. Remember, every fan leaf is a factory, taking in light to increase the size of the buds growing above it. Choosing to remove one is a strategic decision with consequences.

If a fan leaf covers a growing tip that you’d like to get more light to, instead of pulling it off, try tucking it underneath another branch. It takes some practice, but you can coax it without removing it and it will continue to take in light and help the plant grow bigger. If you do choose to remove a leaf, start with any yellow or damaged ones and work your way up the plant, starting from the bottom where leaves are less important to the overall cause.

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