Topping Vs. FIMming

Last updated: 4 February 2020

fimming vs topping

Topping vs. FIMming cannabis plants – the age-old debate. Both are high-stress training methods that can drastically improve the quality and quantity of your harvest. By sacrificing a part of the plant early in its life, one can get a greater number of tops and therefore more colas – but how does this work? Which is the better method for training your plants? Read on to learn about the pros and cons of each method and their suitability for various growers.

What Is Topping?

topping cannabis

Topping is a technique used by cannabis growers during the vegetative cycle, during which time you cut off the top part of a plant to stop vertical growth in order to instead promote lateral growth toward the bottom branches of a plant. It may sound absurd to cut off and dispose of part of your cannabis plant, yet this is an essential step to ensure your plants are healthy and provide a quality yield. Think of it as a short-term loss for a long-term gain – and it truly is a gain. After topping, growth hormones are evenly distributed toward the lower end of the plant, allowing these smaller side branches to grow out and form large, dense buds.

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Why Top Cannabis Plants?

Topping is necessary, as it helps redistribute growth hormones from the main stalk to those at the lower end of a plant and really allows it to reach new heights! Topping creates a flat, leveled canopy so that the growth hormones can be distributed to smaller, still-developing stalks, allowing them to grow into large, dense colas coated with THC crystals. Without topping or FIMming, a cannabis plant will simply grow vertically, focusing all its energy on a main stalk and secondary side-branches, which results in only one main developed cola with smaller flowers surrounding it. Not only does this lead to many smaller and less dense buds in the finished product, it also takes away from the potency of the main colas. Topping tackles this and helps you achieve a healthier plant with higher-quality buds.

How To Top Cannabis?

how to top a marijuana plant

Topping a cannabis plant is a high-stress training (HST) method that really flourishes when the plant is developed enough to face extreme changes like losing part of itself! To get going, you’ll need a plant mature enough for the process and a pair of pruning scissors/a sterile blade. To minimize risk of contamination at the cut, remove any loose bits of stalk and ensure your tool of choice is as sharp as possible, as you should aim for one clean cut. For the first time topping a plant, a grower’s rule of thumb is to cut the plant above the third node. This is done to ensure your plant can handle the stress, in addition to having enough branches at the bottom for the plant to bush out correctly.

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Make sure to monitor your plant and you’ll soon see that the bottom has started to accelerate in growth. This is partly because it has now directed more energy to the lower branches, which will begin to keep up with the main stalk, and in part because the main stalk has experienced high stress and in turn has had its growth stunted. This occurs over a couple of weeks, after which point you may top again if desired. For any following toppings on the same plant, cut each branch above the second or third node. The total number of times you top depends on the number of tops you would like to end up with, so there’s no one right or wrong answer!

What Is FIMming?

fim cannabis

FIMming is a technique used by cannabis growers to dramatically increase the yield of their plant while also making the plant more manageable. It’s usually done by growers with limited space. As no two FIMs are the same, it’s important not to expect the same result every single time. Commonly referred to as ‘FIM’, the act of cutting a young cannabis plant in a certain way is historically known as an acronym for “F**k! I missed”. The key difference between topping and FIMming is the location at which the cannabis plant is cut. With FIMming, you remove any new growth while avoiding any cuts between the nodes, whereas with topping, you cut off the top of the plant altogether.

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Why FIM Cannabis Plants?

Many cannabis growers choose to FIM their plants because it all but guarantees them a larger yield. This is because FIMming allows the plant to produce four colas at once, in comparison to topping which produces only two. FIMming also does not cause the plant as much stress as topping and allows for a quicker recovery. This is highly beneficial, as FIMming can be performed multiple times, allowing for huge harvest potential. Another benefit is that it enables growers to control the canopy of their plants, keeping it balanced for optimal growth.

How To FIM Cannabis?

how to fim

FIMming is a high-stress training (HST) method used by cannabis growers to maximize their final yield and is the act of pinching or cutting a young plant during its vegetative cycle to create more colas. To begin with, you’ll need a plant mature enough to handle the process and a pair of sharp pruning scissors/a sterile blade. To prevent any potential contamination at the cut, remove any loose stalks beforehand. It is advised to FIM when the plant is still young, with 3-5 nodes in total. You should aim for a clean cut at the top of the plant where there any new growths, avoiding cutting between nodes (compared to topping, in which you’d cut the top off the plant between nodes).

It is essential that you monitor your plants after FIMming, as it will begin to create other stalks that will grow out and produce large, dense buds. Unlike topping, FIMming doesn’t stress the plant as much, resulting in a quicker recovery time.

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Topping Vs. FIMming

There are many factors to consider when choosing which HST techniques to use. As both have their pros and cons, it’s for you to decide what will best suit your needs. For example, FIMming is better suited for indoor or micro-growers with limited space, as it allows them to maximize their plant yield. Conversely, topping is preferred by outdoor and large commercial growers, as they will usually top a plant multiple times to produce a strong, bushy weed that will require less support than those that have been FIMmed.

If You Choose Topping

  • Removes the top part of the plant between nodes.
  • Creates 2 main colas at a time at the top of the plant.
  • Topping is stressful for a young plant and recovery time is longer than that of a plant that has been FIMmed.
  • Topping can be performed to reduce the vertical height of a plant during its vegetative cycle.
  • Forms a large, bushy structure that will require less structural support than FIMmed plants.
  • Newly-formed colas are evenly spaced.

If You Choose FIMming

  • Removes the newest growth without cutting between the nodes.
  • FIMming is less traumatic to the plant, allowing for quicker recovery time.
  • Creates four main colas at once, whereas topping only creates two.
  • Perfect for growers with limited space, as the plant will begin to grow laterally instead of only vertically.
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Tips For Topping And FIMming

when to top cannabis

Topping and FIMming both entail the removal of some growth at the top of a young cannabis plant, and both result in the development of extra colas. Here are some tips for topping and FIMming that will make your growing experience even more successful.

  • Don’t conduct this technique too early. Topping or FIMming a plant too soon means it can have a difficult time recovering. This is a common mistake growers make when first learning, and it often holds people back from getting the most from this technique. As a rule of thumb, wait until 4-6 nodes are shown when topping and 3-5 when FIMming.
  • If your plant is growing new leaves every day, it’s ready to top or FIM. As a result of rapid growth, its recovery time will be noticeably faster.
  • Don’t top or FIM in the flowering stage. Any technique that involves the cutting or pinching of your plant should be done during the vegetative stage, long before any signs of flowering.
  • Make sure to use clean and suitable equipment, as contamination is the last thing any grower wants.


To ensure your plant goes into flower in the best possible shape, use either Topping or FIMming to give it a good shot at growing multiple, large, dense flowers. The best growers understand the need for high-stress training – as painful as it can appear – to help your plants grow into their best possible version. With these techniques, it’s amazing what can be achieved with just a few strategic snips.

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Good comparisons in the article. Well written.
Any modifications for auto plants in hydroponics?
Hello WR,No, hydroponics are just the advanced method for faster and better growing of the plant's root system, no additional actions required
Is a person always better off running dwc or hydroponics.. or are there benefits of soil?
Hello Ethan,There's benefits in both, and also hydroponics requires certain equipment and place, can be more expensive
Hi, all helpful people :)My plant is about 4 weeks and is about 6 or 7" tall. It is bushy and short! Would you top or fim it or leave it for a bit?
Saint Skinny
I would probably top/fim now. But that’s me. I've never done a topping/fimming side by side, so I can't help there... but one reason you can find so many answers to the same question is environmental factors (hugely) play into what works best for each plant/strain/garden/person.My advice: give it a shot! If it gets too bushy or whatever, you'll know next time
Thanks Skinny. Your advice is appreciated muchly. I think I'll fim them. I read that it doesn't stunt the height growth as much as topping does and its a short strain.
Saint Skinny
No problem bro, it's funny that FIMming came from someone messing up topping. "Fuck, I Missed!" Hence FIM lol
I used to FIM, now I only top. Seen better results with topping
With outdoors or indoors?
I topped when it had already flowered, what is possible now onwards?
- I agree with this^.Topping seems more reliable & predictable.
Better understanding thanks
Good article! Thank you!
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