Topping vs FIMing: Which Cannabis Growth Technique Is Right for You?

Growing cannabis can be a challenging yet rewarding experience, especially when it comes to pruning and training techniques. Two common methods used in cannabis cultivation are topping and FIMing, but what exactly are they and what are the differences between the two? As a beginner, it can be confusing to choose the best technique for your plants. In this article, we will explore topping and FIMing in detail, including how to perform them, when to use them, and the advantages and disadvantages of each method. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of topping vs FIMing and be able to decide which technique suits your needs best.

What is Topping?


What Is Topping?
For cannabis growers seeking to increase their yield, topping is a common technique that involves cutting off the top of the plant’s main stem. This can seem counterintuitive to those new to cannabis cultivation, but the benefits of topping can be significant if done correctly. The process can be a bit intimidating for first-time growers, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a relatively simple and effective way to encourage plant growth and increase yield. Let’s explore the ins and outs of this popular cannabis cultivation technique.

How to Top Cannabis?

To top a cannabis plant, you will need a clean and sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. Follow the steps below:

  1. Choose the right time: The right time to top your cannabis plant is when it has grown at least 3 to 4 nodes (sets of leaves).
  2. Find the right node: Identify the node that you want to cut by looking for the newest growth below the top set of leaves.
  3. Cut the node: Using your scissors or pruning shears, cut the main stem just above the node that you have selected. This will remove the top of the main stem and the newest growth below it.
  4. Monitor the plant: After topping, keep an eye on your cannabis plant as it recovers. You may notice that the plant has slowed down its growth temporarily, but it will soon start growing again, with new branches emerging from the nodes below the cut.

It is important to note that topping a cannabis plant can be stressful for the plant, so it’s best to avoid doing it too often or too late into the vegetative stage. Proper timing and technique are key to a successful top.

When to Top Cannabis?

Determining when to top cannabis is crucial for the overall success of your plant. Topping should be done during the vegetative stage, when the plant still has plenty of time to recover and grow new branches. It’s important to not top the plant too early as it may not be strong enough to handle the stress, but also not too late as it may not have enough time to recover before flowering.

One way to ensure the perfect timing for topping is to wait for the plant to develop at least 5-6 nodes, or sets of leaves, on the main stem. Once this occurs, use a clean, sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to snip off the top of the plant just above the fourth node. This will encourage the plant to grow two new main shoots from the remaining two nodes, effectively doubling the number of colas on your plant.

Another option is to wait until the plant reaches a height of 12-18 inches, depending on the strain and growing conditions, before topping. This will allow the plant ample time to develop a strong root system and branch out before being pruned.

In general, it’s best to top cannabis during the vegetative stage when the plant is actively growing and producing new branches. This will give the plant plenty of time to recover and produce larger yields later on. However, it’s important to pay attention to the specific strain you are growing and to ensure that the plant is healthy and strong enough to handle the stress of topping.

To summarize, topping should be done during the vegetative stage when the plant has at least 5-6 nodes on the main stem or has reached a height of 12-18 inches. Timing is important to ensure that the plant can recover and produce a larger yield.

Why Top Cannabis?

One of the main reasons cannabis growers choose to top their plants is to encourage bushier growth rather than tall, single-stem growth. Topping involves cutting off the tip of the stem, which inhibits the growth of the main stem and redirects energy to the lateral branches, resulting in multiple tops. Here are some of the benefits of topping cannabis:

Benefit Description
Increased yield By creating more tops, topping can increase the overall yield of the plant.
Better light distribution Having multiple tops allows for more even distribution of light throughout the plant, which can result in more efficient photosynthesis and higher yield.
Improved quality More tops mean smaller, more manageable buds which can lead to better quality cannabis flowers.
Prevents plant from getting too tall Topping can prevent plants from becoming too tall, which may be necessary for indoor growers with height constraints.

However, it is important to note that topping cannabis can also have some downsides. If done improperly or at the wrong time, it can stunt the plant’s growth or even kill it. Topping can increase the recovery time for the plant and reduce its overall strength. It is important to carefully consider these factors before deciding to top your cannabis plants.

What is FIMing?

What Is Fiming?
Another popular cultivation technique used to increase cannabis yields is known as FIMing. This technique involves a precise pruning of the plant to promote the growth of multiple tops instead of just one. Unlike topping, FIMing requires a higher level of accuracy, making it an excellent technique for those who are experienced growers. Let’s take a closer look at what FIMing is and how it can benefit your cannabis plants.

How to FIM Cannabis?

FIMing Cannabis – How to do it?

FIMing, or FIM (Fuck, I Missed) is essentially a less aggressive form of topping. FIMing works by pinching the new growth of the cannabis plant, and should primarily be done when the plant has developed at least 3-4 true sets of leaves.

Here’s how you can FIM your cannabis plant:

  1. Get a pair of sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears.
  2. Locate the newest growth tips of the plant.
  3. Pinch the newest growth tips between your fingers, leaving at least 20% of the new growth.
  4. Use the scissors or pruning shears to make a clean, diagonal cut just above the point where you pinched the growth tips.
  5. Make sure to sterilize your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol after every cut, to prevent the spread of any potential diseases.
  6. Wait and watch your plant grow new tops from where you made the cut.

It’s important to remember that FIMing is a delicate process, especially the first time you try it. Be precise with your cutting, and don’t remove too much of the new growth. Aiming for a 20-25% removal of the new growth will give best results.

Some tips to ensure your FIMing process is a success

  • Make sure your pruning tools are sharp and clean before starting the FIMing process.
  • Try FIMing on a healthy and well-established plant that has at least 3-4 true sets of leaves.
  • Don’t FIM too many growth tips at once, or you may risk stressing the plant too much.
  • After FIMing, it is important to monitor your plant and observe if it is responding well to the process.

FIMing can be a great alternative to topping, especially if you’re new to pruning your cannabis plant. With a little practice, FIMing can help you to produce more and healthier tops for your cannabis plant.

When to FIM Cannabis?

FIMing is best done during the vegetative phase when the plant has at least four nodes. It is important to wait until there is enough growth to ensure a good FIM. The ideal time to FIM is when the plant has around five to six nodes. This is the stage when the plant is actively growing and can recover quickly from the procedure. FIMing too early or too late can result in stunted growth or other adverse effects.

It’s important to note that not all strains are suitable for FIMing. Some strains have a bushy and compact growth pattern, which can make it harder to find the right spot to perform the FIM. On the other hand, strains with a more open growth pattern may be more suitable for FIMing.

When performing the FIM, it’s crucial to use a clean and sharp pair of scissors to avoid damaging the plant. The process involves removing only the top 80% of the new growth, which can help redirect the plant’s energy to lower branches and stimulate more growth.

Here’s a table summarizing the ideal timing for FIMing cannabis:

Stage Node Count Timing
Veg 4+ 5th to 6th node

Timing is crucial when it comes to FIMing. Performing the procedure at the right time can lead to better yields and a more robust plant. However, FIMing at the wrong time can stress the plant and negatively impact its growth.

Why FIM Cannabis?

FIMing is a popular technique among cannabis cultivators due to its unique benefits. Here are some reasons why FIMing may be the way to go for your next cannabis grow:

Increased Yields: FIMing allows for the development of more colas than topping, which can result in higher yields.

Natural Look: When done correctly, FIMing allows for a more natural look to the plant as opposed to the obvious cut that comes with topping.

Faster Recovery Time: FIMing only removes the tip of the newest growth, while topping removes a larger portion of the plant. This allows for a faster recovery time and less stress for the plant.

Manipulating Plant Shape: FIMing can be used to manipulate the shape of the plant by promoting lateral growth instead of just vertical growth.

Increased Branching: FIMing can also increase branching, which results in more colas and ultimately more bud.

FIMing is a great way to increase yields and manipulate the shape of your plant while also promoting faster recovery times and more natural looking plants.

Comparing Topping and FIMing

Comparing Topping And Fiming
Now that we’ve covered the basics of both topping and FIMing, it’s time to compare the two techniques. Both methods aim to increase yield and create a bushier plant, but they differ in how they achieve these goals. With such similar benefits, it can be difficult to decide which technique to use. To help you make an informed decision, we will compare the two methods in terms of yield, plant recovery time, stem strength and height, number of tops, and difficulty level. This will give you a better understanding of when to use each technique and which one is the best fit for your specific cannabis grow.


When it comes to yield, both topping and FIMing can have a significant impact on the overall harvest. However, the exact yield will depend on a variety of factors, including the strain of cannabis, the growing conditions, and the specific technique used.

Topping Yield: By removing the plant’s main stem, topping encourages the growth of lateral branches, leading to an increase in the number of colas. This can ultimately result in a higher yield of buds. The amount of additional yield will depend on the specific plant and the number of branches that develop.

FIMing Yield: FIMing, on the other hand, encourages the plant to grow multiple colas from a single stem without removing it entirely. While this can also result in an increased yield, the amount of additional growth may not be as significant as with topping.

To better understand the potential yield for each technique, the following table outlines the average percentage increase in yield reported by cannabis growers.

Technique Average Yield Increase
Topping 20-30%
FIMing 10-20%

It is important to note that these percentages are only averages and results may vary based on individual growing conditions. Additionally, both techniques require proper care and attention throughout the growing process to achieve optimal yields.

Plant Recovery Time

After topping or FIMing a cannabis plant, it needs time to recover before it can start growing again. The amount of time the plant takes to recover depends on several factors, including the health of the plant before it was topped or FIMed, the stage of growth, and the growing conditions.

Below are some factors that can affect the recovery time of a topped or FIMed cannabis plant:

  • Health of the Plant: A healthy plant will usually recover faster than a plant that was already struggling before it was topped or FIMed.
  • Stage of Growth: The recovery time is usually shorter when plants are topped or FIMed during the vegetative stage compared to during the flowering stage. During the vegetative stage, plants have more time to recover and grow new shoots, whereas during the flowering stage, the plant’s energy is focused on producing buds, and recovering from topping or FIMing can take longer.
  • Environmental Conditions: The growing environment can affect the plant’s recovery time. If the temperature, humidity, and light levels are optimal, the plant will recover more quickly.

Generally, the recovery time for a cannabis plant that has been topped or FIMed is between 5 and 10 days. During this time, growers should make sure to provide the plant with extra care and attention, including:

  • Watering the plant regularly
  • Monitoring the plant for any signs of stress, such as wilting or yellowing leaves
  • Providing the plant with adequate light, nutrients, and airflow

By providing the plant with the proper care, growers can help it recover more quickly and continue to grow strong and healthy.

Stem Strength and Height

When it comes to stem strength and height, topping will typically result in a taller plant with a stronger stem. This is due to the fact that when you cut off the top of the plant, the stem will respond by growing two new stems that will each have their own set of leaves and branches. This creates a sturdier base for the plant to grow from, and can be especially useful if you’re growing your cannabis plants outdoors where they may be exposed to wind or heavy rain.

On the other hand, FIMing will usually result in a slightly shorter plant with a slightly weaker stem. This is because when you pinch off the top of the plant instead of cutting it off completely, the stem will respond by growing anywhere from two to four new stems. While this can still result in a robust plant, the stems may not be as thick or sturdy as those produced through topping.

Ultimately, the decision to top or FIM your cannabis plants will depend on a variety of factors, including your personal preferences, the grow environment, and the strain of cannabis that you’re working with. If you’re looking to grow a tall, strong plant that can withstand the elements, topping may be the way to go. However, if you’re more interested in producing multiple colas and a larger overall yield, FIMing may be the better choice.

Number of Tops

One of the key differences between topping and FIMing is the number of tops that each method produces. Topping typically results in two main colas or tops, while FIMing can produce anywhere from two to five or more.

Let’s take a closer look at the number of tops that each method produces:

Method Number of tops produced
Topping 2
FIMing 2-5 or more

As you can see, FIMing has the potential to produce a greater number of tops than topping. This can be beneficial for growers who want to maximize their yield and have a bushier plant. However, it’s important to note that the exact number of tops produced will depend on factors such as the strain of cannabis, the health of the plant, and the growing conditions.

Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to remember that the number of tops isn’t the only factor that determines yield. Other factors such as plant health, lighting, and nutrient levels can also impact the final yield.

Difficulty Level

When it comes to difficulty level, both topping and FIMing require some skill and knowledge to be done correctly. However, some may argue that FIMing is slightly more difficult than topping due to its precise nature. Here is a breakdown of the difficulty level for each method:

Method Difficulty Level
Topping Intermediate
FIMing Advanced

With topping, the process is relatively straightforward – cut off the top of the main stem, and you’re done. However, timing is essential when it comes to topping. Doing it too early or too late can have negative consequences for your plant’s growth and yield.

FIMing, on the other hand, requires more precision. You need to cut off just enough of the top growth to encourage bushier growth without stunting the plant’s growth. This method can be more challenging because you’re trying to remove just the right amount of growth, and there’s no clear guideline or measurement for how much to cut.

Both topping and FIMing require some level of skill and practice to master. However, FIMing may be slightly more challenging due to its precise nature. Regardless of which method you choose, it’s essential to research and understand the process thoroughly before attempting to do it yourself.

How to Decide Which Method to Use

Deciding between topping and FIMing can be a difficult decision for any cannabis grower. Each method offers its own benefits and drawbacks, and ultimately, the decision will depend on your specific goals and grow conditions.

Consider plant type: Some strains respond better to topping, while others respond better to FIMing. It’s important to research your specific strain and determine which method is best suited for your plant.

Consider growth stage: Topping is best done during the vegetative stage, while FIMing can be done a bit later, during the vegetative or early flowering phase. If you miss the time window for topping, FIMing may be a good alternative.

Consider plant size: If you have a plant that is already quite large and tall, topping may be the better choice as it will help control height and promote bushier growth. On the other hand, if you have a smaller plant or limited space, FIMing may be a better option as it will still provide multiple tops without taking up too much space.

Consider experience level: If you are a beginner grower, FIMing may be less intimidating and easier to master. Topping requires more precise cutting and can be more challenging for those new to pruning cannabis plants.

Consider goals: Finally, it’s important to consider what your end goal is for the plant. If you want larger yields and more tops, topping may be the way to go. If you want to maintain the plant’s height and still achieve multiple tops, FIMing may be a better option.

Ultimately, the decision between topping and FIMing will depend on a variety of factors specific to your plant and grow conditions. It’s important to do your research and assess your goals before making a decision. Remember, both methods can be successful if done correctly.


In conclusion, deciding whether to top or FIM your cannabis plants ultimately comes down to personal preference and specific growing goals. Both methods have their pros and cons and can yield great results when executed properly.

Topping is ideal for growers looking to increase the number of main colas and achieve a more even canopy. It is a relatively simple technique that involves cutting off the top of the plant’s main stem, allowing for the growth of two main colas. While topping can result in slower overall growth and recovery time, the increased number of colas can lead to a higher yield.

FIMing, on the other hand, can be a great option for those looking to increase yields while also maintaining a shorter overall plant height. By pinching off the top of the plant’s main stem, FIMing allows for the growth of four main colas instead of just two. While the recovery time after FIMing is generally quicker than after topping, it can be a more delicate and precise technique that requires more attention to detail.

It’s important to consider factors such as desired yield, plant recovery time, stem strength and height, number of tops, and difficulty level when deciding which technique to use. Both topping and FIMing have the potential to yield great results, so choose the method that aligns with your personal growing goals and experience level.

Overall, whether you choose to top or FIM your cannabis plants, it’s important to remember to be gentle and precise in your technique. With proper execution, both methods can help you grow healthy and thriving cannabis plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I top or FIM autoflowering cannabis plants?

It is not recommended to top or FIM autoflowering cannabis plants as they have a limited vegetative period and any stress during this time can negatively affect their growth and yield.

2. Is it necessary to sterilize my tools before topping or FIMing?

Yes, it is recommended to sterilize your scissors or pruning shears with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide before cutting the plant to prevent the spread of bacteria and disease.

3. Will topping or FIMing increase the potency of my cannabis plants?

No, topping or FIMing will not increase the potency of your cannabis plants but can improve the yield and shape of the plant.

4. Can I top or FIM my cannabis plant more than once?

Yes, it is possible to top or FIM your cannabis plant more than once but it is recommended to wait until the plant has fully recovered from the first topping or FIMing before attempting it again.

5. Can I top or FIM my flowering cannabis plant?

No, it is not recommended to top or FIM a flowering cannabis plant as it can negatively affect the plant’s yield and potency.

6. Is it necessary to use plant hormones when topping or FIMing?

No, it is not necessary to use plant hormones when topping or FIMing but it can improve the plant’s recovery time and overall health.

7. Do I need to train my cannabis plant after topping or FIMing?

Yes, it is recommended to train your cannabis plant after topping or FIMing to ensure that the new growth is evenly distributed and supported.

8. Can I top or FIM my cannabis plant during the flowering stage?

No, it is not recommended to top or FIM your cannabis plant during the flowering stage as it can negatively affect the plant’s yield and potency.

9. Should I top or FIM all of my cannabis plants?

It depends on the desired shape and size of your plants. Topping or FIMing can help control the height and width of your plants but is not necessary for every plant.

10. Can I top or FIM my cannabis plant if it has nutrient deficiencies?

No, it is not recommended to top or FIM your cannabis plant if it is experiencing nutrient deficiencies as the stress can further harm the plant’s health.


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