Plant Manipulation and Topping
Throughout a cannabis plant’s life, cultivators may want to employ a number of techniques to help shape the way it grows. The goal with these is to not only increase yield, but also to ensure that the plant grows efficiently in a way that makes it less prone to mold, mildew, and other issues; think of these techniques as a sort of cannabis bonsai that helps your herb!
It should be noted that these techniques are recommended to be utilized during the vegetative cycle of a plant’s life and that causing stress to a plant during the flowering cycle is most often counter intuitive.
Topping and Fimming
Topping a plant is the act of cleanly chopping off the top node in order to force the plant to grow wider rather than taller; this technique encourages the plant to redirect energy to the lower branches so that they may grow more vigorously. One way to describe the benefit of topping your plant is that by chopping off it’s head, you create multiple tops by shaping a more evenly balanced plant.
Fimming is an alternative to topping, and involves pinching off the node instead of cleanly cutting it off; this oftentimes has the added benefit of creating 3-6 extra nodes that may branch out into newer tops. Topping/Fimming is considered a High Stress Training (HST) technique and it should be noted that anytime a plant is topped or fimmed, it undergoes a fair amount of stress. It is recommended to let the plant rest and recover for 1-3 days before doing any more high stress training techniques.
Lollipopping is the act of cutting off and removing the lower branches of a plant in order to clean it up for the flowering cycle. Typically, a grower will shape the plant to grow in an almost “lollipop shape” where it is top heavy, but neatly pruned on the lower portion of the main stalk. The goal of this is to focus all of the plant’s energy towards the top colas so that they result in bigger, heavier, and frostier buds. Like topping, Lollipopping is a high stress training technique, and it should be noted that this will cause a fair amount of stress to the plant. As such, it is recommended to let your plant rest a few days before applying any more manipulation techniques.
Staking and Tying
Staking and Tying is a Low Stress Training (LST) technique that involves the simple act of using stakes to hold up the branches and colas of the plant. They are typically tied to the stake in order to provide extra support. Staking and tying can also be used to guide and “train” the way the plant grows - the plant can be tied down if it is getting too tall, it can be stretched out into a wider structure, or it may be encouraged to grow in a certain way with the combination of Topping and Lollipopping techniques. This technique usually causes minimal amounts of stress on a plant and can be employed as needed to help support the plant’s growth.