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How to Trim Cannabis Plants for the Best Buds

Last updated: May 4, 2020

how to trim plants 2
There are two main ways to think when trimming or pruning cannabis. Both use the concept of purposefully damaging the plant in ways that will produce long-term benefits.

The first is pruning for standard maintenance. Meaning, we remove lackluster parts of the plants or those not getting enough light. It allows the plant to focus its energy on more worthwhile branches and buds, instead of the runts of the litter.

Trimming in this way is fairly low-stress on the plant, however, there are more technical ways to go about pruning that can result in very heavy yields, but is a bit more stressful on the plant.

Damaging the plant in very specific ways during certain stages of growth can create a much higher yield. But caution should be taken not to overdo things, as it can cause unintended growth problems in plants that are not already thriving.

Because of this, all trimming techniques should be attempted only after the plant is demonstrating good health during its vegetative cycle. Starting too early may hinder the plant, and starting too late will not be as effective.

Both of these are useful techniques but go about things slightly differently.

cannabis plants

Image by NickyPe from Pixabay

Basic Trimming

The removal of parts of the plant that aren’t receiving as much light is very good for its overall health. It no longer has to focus its efforts on keeping those branches alive and allows for energy to be spent on its more thriving areas.

At first, these will mostly be near the bottom; however, as the canopy begins to grow, other areas may need to be trimmed if they are being blocked out by large buds above them.

Look for dying leaves and entire branches that aren’t thriving. It takes a lot of effort for the plant to keep these alive, and it’s best to let them go so the other areas can get the attention they need.

After a proper trim, the plants will go through a very quick spurt of growth in the following days, which will allow more light to reach areas that have a better potential for yield.

Advanced Techniques

For those willing to put a bit more effort into pruning, there are some additional options to be considered to increase yields to their maximum potential.

All of the following methods will damage the plant and create a fair amount of stress initially, so caution should be taken when trying these on any cannabis plants that are already struggling.

Topping & Fimming

The concept here is to cause the main top of the plant to split, creating two tops.

The main stem of a cannabis plant naturally ends at a single shoot, once it begins flowering this shoot begins the cola, which is the largest bud the plant produces.

By cutting this top just below the node early on, it splits and becomes two separate colas. This is known as Topping.

As a side effect, the plant will end up being somewhat shorter at the end of its vegetative cycle. This makes it very useful for grow-ops without a lot of overhead space. It can be done multiple times, which creates a very wide and short plant, though some time should be given between trimmings so the plant can recover.

Fimming is a very similar procedure, with slightly different results. Instead of trimming below the node, the grower trims just above it.

This is slightly less stressful on the plant but also gives less structure for the Colas to grow on.

Both are perfectly valid, though topping tends to be better for beginners due to the structural issues fimming can create

hand holding cannabis

Image by TinaKru from Pixabay


This is when a grower takes the idea of removing shaded parts of the plant to the extreme. It is the removal of all the shadier branches to make the tops of the plant to get as big as possible.

Of all the techniques, this is by far the most stressful on the plant but can create a massive bushy canopy. Any branches that are not reaching the top should be removed throughout the plant’s vegetative growth. It’s a process that can take a couple of weeks, and shouldn’t be attempted all at once to avoid risking shocking the Cannabis.

This can also be done in conjunction with topping; however, new growers should just focus on one technique at a time.

Sharpen Your Shears

Trimming is one of the best ways to get the most out of a plant and create the healthiest buds possible.

The risk of long-term damage and potential infections can occur while using these techniques. Be sure to always use properly sharpened and disinfected tools when trimming plants.

Over-trimming can have unforeseen consequences, so new growers should try this out slowly and only if they are comfortable with the process.

Featured Image: Terre Di Cannabis from Pixabay