Trimming Cannabis Plants Correctly

Growers can trim their cannabis plants to influence their natural growth characteristics. For instance, trimming can limit the size of the plant and promote its branching. The yield of the cannabis plant can also be increased by trimming the plant properly. There are several methods and techniques available to do this, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.

It should be kept in mind that trimming cannabis plants also carries risks, as it exposes the plants to great stress.

It should be kept in mind that trimming cannabis plants also carries risks, as it exposes the plants to great stress.

Train cannabis plants through trimming

Growers have the ability to train their plants through certain types of trimming so that their growth pattern unfolds entirely in the grower’s favor.

For example, a plant whose natural growth pattern is strongly vertical can be trained by proper trimming so that it develops strongly in width at a low height. This allows growers not only to adapt their plants to spatial conditions in indoor cultivation, but also to significantly optimize their absorption of light.

In addition, plant training through trimming can be used to control the energy flow of the plant. A simple example of this is removing wilted leaves and dead plant parts. After the plant is cleared of these, it can focus its energy on the development of the healthy areas.

Trimming cannabis plants using the topping method

The most commonly used method is to cut away the meristem of the plant. The meristem is the name given to the very end of the tips of the stem of a plant also known as the Eye of the plant.

So, the tip of the main shoot or a side branch is removed at the appropriate time. This method is called Topping by growers.

Below the point where the meristem was removed, vigorous growth will begin at the next two vegetative stages and two new side shoots will form.

By removing the meristem on the main stem of the plant, the growth energy of the one shoot is divided between two new shoots. As a result, the plant remains shorter and instead increases its width.

For those who would like to know exactly, here is the biological reasoning behind this process:

The auxin produced in the meristem (the tip of the plant), migrates down through the plant, thereby suppressing branching. The auxins (ancient Greek αὐξάνω auxánō “I grow”) are a group of natural and synthetic growth regulators with multiple effects on growth and diversification processes in plants.

If the meristem is now removed, auxin is no longer produced at this site. This stimulates new growth at the underlying growth sites.

Only without these auxins can branching take place unhindered.

Topping the cannabis plant is possible using various different techniques

Instead of simply trimming the plant with scissors, we recommend another technique. It should be kept in mind that after trimming, the plants require enormous energy to close the “open wound”. So as to avoid such effort, we recommend the following technique:

  1.  Bend the plant stem at the desired point

  2.  Grip the stem at the bend with the fingernails of your thumb and index finger

  3.  Pinch off the stem with your fingernails

  4. After removing the stem, water the plant immediately

At what point should plants be trimmed by topping?

The exact time of trimming is up to the growers choice and depends mainly on how high they want their plant to grow. The time period recommended for this process is in between the 2nd week of the vegetative phase until early flowering.

Most growers recommend waiting until the plant has developed 5 leaf nodes before topping. At this point, the plant is about 25-30cm tall and already has a healthy root system and a strong stem. The plant should then be topped above the 4th or 5th nodes.

However, this timing should be considered only as a recommendation. Many growers have achieved quite good results by early topping. In that case, the plant is already trimmed by topping after the formation of the 1st node, above the seedlings first leaves, or after the formation of the 2nd node above the 1st node.

Early topping is mainly done by growers who send their plant into flowering quite early.

Trimming cannabis with FIMming method

The name fimming comes from the acronym FIM, which stands for Fuck I missed. In this method, the plant is trimmed directly on its shoots. Here, 3/4 of the freshly growing shoots are cut off. As a result, unlike regular topping, with the FIM method four new shoots are produced.

Especially when growing outdoors, this type of growth control can lead to beautiful growing cannabis plants.

Trimming cannabis with the Lollipopping method

This type of trimming is relevant only for indoor cultivation.

Lollipopping is the process of stripping the cannabis plant of the lowest of its leaves, branches and shoots that do not receive light. The aim of this method is to concentrate the plant’s energy on its top part, which can absorb more light and produce denser flowers.

In addition, air circulation is significantly improved, reducing the risk of mold formation.

Since after removing the lower foliage, the plant looks like a permanent lollipop, this method is called lollipopping.

At what point should plants be trimmed using the lollipopping method?

Growers indicate the time just before the beginning of the bloom phase as optimal. The plant should have roughly 3 days to recover after lollipopping before the lighting schedule is changed to 12/12.

Growers who send their plants into flowering in the early vegetative phase, e.g. in the second week, do not need to think about trimming at this stage. In this phase there are only 10 leaves on the delicate plant… In the case of lollipopping, the period around the fifth week of the bloom phase is recommended for trimming.

Of course, trimming can also be done in stages. You can start trimming in the late growth phase and finish it before the flowering phase.

How to trim plants using the lollipopping method?

The plant is freed from its foliage, branches and shoots with scissors from bottom to top. Step by step, it is best to proceed as follows:

  1. First, remove the leaves on the lowest part of the plant, which receive the least light.

  2. Now you can continue to work your way up the plant with your scissors. All the leaves and branches that are not above approximately half the height of the plant can be removed.

  3. Next, you can get rid of all the leaves under the canopy of the plant, that do not get a lot of light from above.

  4. After each trimming the plant should be watered well.

  5. Steps 2. and 3. must be repeated in the majority of cases just before entering the bloom phase.

An alternative to trimming is the super cropping method

Just like trimming cannabis plants, Super Cropping is used to influence the growth pattern of the cannabis plant.

In super cropping, the plant stems are only bent instead of being cut off completely. The stems are bent in such a way that their tissue is only damaged, but not completely destroyed. The supply of nutrients to the bent part of the plant continues after applying this method. In order to control the growth height of the plant, a scrog (Screen of Green) net is stretched over the plant at the desired height.

Super cropping technique – step by step:

  1. Determine the part of the plant stem to be cropped/bent

  2. Work the stem at exactly this point by massaging it lightly so that it does not break during bending, but is merely bent. This prevents tearing off the supply ramps.

  3. Carefully bend the plant stem and secure it in place using a scrog net.

  4. Immediately water the plant to relieve the stress.

Trimming cannabis plants during bloom phase

Especially in indoor cultivation, it is often necessary to limit the growth of the plant in height for reasons of space. Proper trimming of plants can prevent tall growing plants from burning under the light source. Here, “Topping” and “FIMming” can be used to limit plant growth in height, and encourage it in width.

Plants that would naturally grow very tall and slender can be kept Small and bushy by cutting away the meristem and applying one of the formerly discussed methods.

Trimming cannabis plants during bloom phase

Trimming the plant by topping or fimming during the flowering phase is counterproductive for flower formation. As already mentioned, the plant is subjected to high stress during trimming. Subsequently, it has to expend a lot of energy for its regeneration. Energy that it should invest in the development of its flowers during the bloom phase.

For this reason, growers should pay close attention to the growth characteristics of their plant before indoor cultivation. This way, influence can be exerted on its growth in time, and adapted to the spatial conditions in the grow tent.

If one is surprised by the growth of the plant and reacts only when the flowering has already begun, this will have a negative effect on the anticipated yield.

Trimming cannabis plants to increase yields

Maximizing yield is the goal of every cannabis grower. Therefore, pretty much all methods of trimming are aimed at increasing yield. For example, if you thin out the foliage of a plant by trimming to improve air circulation, you primarily want to prevent the formation of too much moisture and mold. Indirectly, of course, this also leads to better yields.

Defoliate cannabis plants for better yields

Defoliation of the cannabis plant is one of the basic methods of trimming and is only relevant in indoor cultivation. Defoliation involves removing some of the plant’s large fan leaves (also called solar sails). By thinning out the foliage, the plant can better receive light and air.

As with any type of trimming, the plant is forced to recover, this often results in even more growth.

Additionally, after removing excess leaves, the plant can use its energy more efficiently. A cannabis plant only has a certain amount of energy available to it. It needs some of that energy to feed those large leaves and keep them alive. After thinning, it can invest this energy in flower growth, for example.

Therefore, the time just before the beginning of the bloom phase is optimal for defoliation. The plant should have about 2 days to recover after the process before you send it into bloom. Growers who send their plants into flowering in the early growth phase, e.g. in the second week, have nothing to defoliate at this point. In this phase there are only about 10 leaves on the delicate plant… Just as with lollipopping, in this case the period around the fifth week of flowering is recommended for defoliation.

How to defoliate your cannabis plants:

  1. Remove at least 1/3 of the fan leaves. Beginning with the largest, at the bottom of the plant

  2. If there are any yellow or wilted leaves on the plant remove these

  3. Now it should be easier to see the state of your plant. If there are still leaves on the plant that could shade potential flower heads, these should also be removed

  4. Immediately water the plant to reduce stress

Defoliation should be performed only on strong and healthy plants. This measure is not for pest control!

Those growers who grow several plants and also water them by hand, still have the small advantage after defoliation that you can reach the plants substrate much better when watering.

Topping the plant for better yields

If the meristem of a plant is removed at an early stage of its growth cycle, this promotes branching and therefore also flower growth. This process can be repeated several times.

After topping, the energy of the plant flows not only into the main strand, but it is distributed to several side branches. This means that instead of one flower on the main stem, several flowers are formed on its branches. For some strains, this can result in a significant increase in yield.

However, it strongly varies depending on the different strains, some tolerate trimming very well and you can expect a bigger harvest, others however, are easily stressed and causes the plant to develop more slowly.

This should be taken into account when topping:

However, removing a meristem also removes the tissues that have just formed near it, which respond to changing environmental stimuli and initiate flower formation. If you trim a plant early in its growth cycle, it will have little effect on flower formation, but if you do it late in its life cycle to encourage branching and thus flower growth, the plant will often bloom later or not at all.

This is because the meristem tissue, whose job it is to detect changes in environmental conditions, is no longer present, leaving the plant with no way to perceive that it is the right time of year to begin flowering. A plant normally matures most quickly when it is allowed to grow and develop without intervention by trimming.

If one desires a late maturity of his cannabis plant, comprehensive trimming can lead to a delay in the formation of flowers. This is especially useful when a male plant from an early-maturing variety is needed to pollinate a late-maturing female plant. In this way, the male plant is left in an immature state until the female plant has matured and is ready for pollination, and only then is the male plant allowed to form flowers and release its pollen.

Trimming Cannabis Plants in Outdoor Growing

When growing cannabis outdoors, trimming the cannabis plants is an important part of the growing process. The trimming, like all other measures in the cultivation of cannabis, is of course to increase the yield.

In outdoor growing, the plant can be trimmed both in the growth phase and in the bloom phase. Trimming in the growth phase by topping or fiming, i.e. training the plants, serves to control growth.

While in indoor growing, the trimming of the plants is more to avoid humidity and to adapt to the spatial conditions, though outdoors the training in fimming is mainly aimed at the ideal absorption of sunlight. In the growth phase, topping or fimming the plants are the appropriate techniques for this purpose.

The provoked formation of new shoots and leaves, promotes energy absorption and therefore the expected yield of a plant. In addition, plants that grow wide and flat take in sunlight more efficiently and can therefore develop more vigorous flowers.

To ensure that all of the plant’s flowers, including the smaller ones, receive sufficient sunlight, larger fan leaves are removed during the bloom phase.

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