Cannabis Growing Guide: Topping Vs. Fimming

Unless you want to waste time and money, it’s important to understand the difference between topping vs. fimming before beginning your cannabis grow journey.

If you’re not already in the know, cannabis slang can seem like complete gibberish. Take “fimming,” for example. Fimming is when you cut off the top of a cannabis plant to encourage it to grow sideways, resulting in a bushier plant.

The word “fimming” might not give you any clues as to its meaning, but that’s okay because applying the process of fimming to your grow operation can produce an unprecedented amount of buds.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you make sense of it all. In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of topping vs. fimming to help you decide which one is best for your needs.

Topping Vs. Fimming: Pruning For The Cannabis Grower

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of topping vs. fimming, let’s explore the pruning category more broadly to which they both belong.

Pruning involves deliberately cutting away branches from a plant to shape it how you want or to help new, healthy growth. Many people think pruning is only used to stunt growth, when actually it can encourage growth (albeit in a different direction).

pruning is a high-stress training technique that you can use for indoor and outdoor cannabis plants. Cannabis plants growing naturally outdoors will develop a “Christmas tree” structure with one dominant stalk, a main central cola (or flowering site on a female cannabis plant), and multiple sets of side branches with smaller, less-developed colas. Cannabis plants grown indoors, without any human intervention, would develop the same “Christmas tree” shape as their outdoor counterparts due to this shape and the way sunlight moves across the sky. Left to their own devices, all parts of the plant would receive a fair share of sunlight during daylight hours.

When you have an indoor crop, however, parts of the plant will always be in shade since they only receive light from a stationary grow lamp. This prevents optimal development for the plant. That’s where topping vs. fimming comes into play to save the day.

Topping Vs. Fimming: Definition And Difference

Topping

Pruning the main stem of your cannabis plant is called topping. By removing the top bud, you force the plant to develop two new main colas while promoting growth on lower branches.

The goal of topping is twofold:

  • The objective of this training is to change the plant’s shape so it looks like an inverted Christmas tree. This new form is more appropriate for indoor growth in areas with limited vertical space.
  • The main colas will produce more flowers when they are increased in number.

When To Top Cannabis

You should top your cannabis plant after it develops at least three nodes. Once the plant reaches this size, its roots and stems are strong enough to recover from being pruned. Typically, a cannabis plant grows to this point–three to five nodes–about 30 days into the vegetative phase; however, different varieties grow at varying speeds. So don’t assume that just because you’re ready to top your Yoda OG, the Ghost Train Haze is too.

Remember to only top plants when they are ready, as this will help everything go more smoothly. Furthermore, it’s crucial to keep in mind that cannabis seedlings shouldn’t be topped– attempting this too early on might result in drastic stunted growth (or even kill the plant entirely).

In the same way, topping during the flowering phase is more harmful than helpful. Cut your plants back during the vegetative stage — not before and not after. Once you do top them, wait a week or two before trimming the new growth. The plants need this time to recover from the shock and adjust to the new growth pattern

How To Top Cannabis

Supplies

  • Pruning snips or sharp scissors
  • Disposable rubber gloves (thin latex medical gloves, not the thick dishwashing gloves)
  • Rubbing alcohol (for cleaning)
  • Rag (for cleaning)

Instructions

  1. Put on your rubber gloves (this aids in keeping bacteria off the plant and prevents gooey stuff from getting on your hands)
  2. Be sure to clean your pruning snips or scissors with rubbing alcohol before using them. This will help ensure that they are sterile and safe to use.
  3. Cut the main stem about ¼ of an inch above where the highest branches begin.

If you do this, the main stem will stop growing. Instead, two new side branches will become colas (or flowering sites).

Fimming

Fimming, also known as ‘topping,’ is the process of snipping off the growth tip from the main stem of your cannabis plant. This action can remove up to 75% of new growth.

If you cut off the topmost bud, the plant will grow four or more new central stems while also causing growth in lower branches.

Like topping, the goal of fimming is twofold:

  • The plant is trained to grow into an inverted Christmas tree shape, which is more suited for indoor growth where space is limited.
  • The main colas must increase in number so the flowers will bloom more.

Although fimming is great for boosting the main cola count, it doesn’t lend itself well to maintaining a tidy shape.

When To Fim Cannabis

The sooner you start fimming, the better. Topping and fimming should be done when the plant has at least three nodes (four or five is preferable).

Trim your plants only during the vegetative phase, never before or after. Also, wait a week or two before trimming new growth so the plant has time to recover from the shock and adjust to the new growth pattern.

How To Fim Cannabis

Supplies

  • Pruning snips or sharp scissors
  • Disposable rubber gloves (thin latex medical gloves, not the thick dishwashing gloves)
  • Rubbing alcohol (for cleaning)
  • Rag (for cleaning)

Instructions

  1. Don your rubber gloves (this helps keep germs off the plant and sticky stuff off your hands)
  2. Clean your pruning snips or scissors with rubbing alcohol
  3. Take hold of the tip of the plant
  4. Gently pull up on the growth
  5. Cut about 75% off the top of the main stem (don’t cut so that only bare stem is left)

This will cause the main stem to stop growing and force four new side branches to develop and take over as colas (or flowering sites).

Summary

As we learned in the previous two sections:

  • Topping involves removing the entire tip or top of the main stem
  • Fimming involves removing only about 75% of the tip or top of the main stem

Both techniques encourage the development of new main colas and help to grow secondary branches.

Topping Vs. Fimming: Which Is Better?

The method of pruning that works best for you — topping vs. fimming — is determined by what your goal outcomes are for your grow operation.

Cannabis plants produce bud at the tips of their stems. Topping a plant encourages the two nodes below the cut site to develop into colas, thereby doubling the potential for bud development.

These new branches always grow symmetrically, so the plant will rarely become unruly or grow into an awkward shape. When you prune a cannabis plant, it will develop four or more side nodes underneath the cut site and will recover faster from this pruning.

The new branches tend to grow less uniformly, so the plants can quickly become unruly and need support to stay upright. You should weigh the pros and cons of topping vs. fimming based on your goal for the entire crop, and then apply the one that works best for you.

Use The Stuff You Cut

After you educate yourself about the topping vs. fimming method, you’ll find that there are tons of different ways to use the extra plants parts you trim off.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Stems — Brew up a tasty tea
  • Fan leaves — Juice them or brew them into a different type of weed tea
  • Sugar leaves — Cook into cannabutter
  • Roots — Prepare as a topical cream
  • Large stalks — Grind them up to make mulch for your next batch of plants

As you can see, there’re so many things you can do with the different parts of the cannabis plant. Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at the awesome things cannaenthusiasts have come up with (smoking meat with the stems? Mmmm!).

As you can see, there are many things you can do with different parts of the cannabis plant. Once you start looking into it, you’ll be amazed at all of the awesome possibilities that exist (smoking meat with stems? Yum!).

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