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How To Top Cannabis Plants

cannabis topping

Cannabis topping is a training technique involving the mutilation of your plant by cutting the top of the main stem. This technique creates more side branching, resulting in more flowering sites while making the most out of your light fixture.

Why Topping Cannabis?

The idea of topping is to remove the top part of the main cola to split it into two branches. When this happens, two branches develop, so by topping several times, you can turn one cola into multiple colas; Thus allowing you to create a more even canopy, which results in better light coverage.

This means that you can grow more buds at the same time, same space, and with the same light!

All training techniques focus on shaping a plant’s structure and increasing yields without changing your setup. And this is where topping comes in.

where to top cannabis
where to top

When topping, you’re not modifying anything in your grow room instead of the plant itself. 

With this training technique, you redirect energy to the side branches instead of focusing all the energy in one cola. When this happens, the plant redirects it to other branches until those branches turn into colas, resulting in a broader and bushier cannabis plant with lots of flowering sites while allowing the lower buds to get more light and better airflow.

Don’t Top Cannabis Too Early

Because it mutilates your plant, you need to be careful because topping too early may have destructive consequences. Topping too early can have the opposite result so wait until your plant has developed 4-5 nodes.

You can top your plant later into veg, but the main cola may be too tall, and it will be harder to shape your plant. Remember that your plant needs time to recover after topping, so don’t worry if growth slows down for a couple of days.

Don’t Top Too Late

Topping and all other plant training techniques are done strictly in the vegetative stage. During the flowering stage, we only recommend performing gentle training techniques such as the tie-down method because the plants are no longer growing due to the energy being focused on the flowers. Topping during flower can damage your plants during bud development which will affect the harvest.

Don´t top your plants during flower because the structure has finished developing, and you won’t be able to shape your plant.

How to Top Cannabis Plants

When your plant completely develops 4 or 5 nodes, identify the top node and cut it off. After topping, there won’t be any new top growth because the energy will be redirected to two new colas; You can continue to top these new colas and have up to +16 new main colas in total.

how to top cannabis
where to cut

The actual topping is super simple, take a pair of scissors and cut off the top growth. Remember that you should sterilize the scissors with alcohol, boiling water, or just burning the tip of the scissors. Once topped, your plants will start redirecting the energy to the two new main colas.

Another good advice is to top higher on the stem instead of topping just above the node. This way, your plant will be able to recover faster while reducing the risk of infections. As you can see, topping is very easy and requires no extra tools, just a pair of scissors, and that’s it.

top cannabis with scissors
top with scissors at a 45º degree angle

After the initial topping, your plant will continue to grow normally but with two main colas instead of one. Other than that, it’s just a matter of taking good care of your cannabis plants and reaping the rewards!

Topping FAQs

What if my plant is already too tall?

If your plant grows too much, but it’s still in the vegetative stage, it’s possible to top it down to the node you want to reduce the height. Keep in mind that you will lose all the time spent on that growth you want to cut off (making the vegetative stage much longer. This is another reason why you should top your plants early in the vegetative stage.

What if my plant is already too tall in the flowering stage?

If your plant has grown too much, but it’s already in the flowering stage, you should NOT top it. If you need to take action immediately, the best option is to tie down the branches or main stem to control growth. As mentioned, once your plant is flowering, it won’t grow much more, so you can tie it down and continue shaping it as you need to.

How can I know topping has worked?

Just a couple of hours after topping, the node connections should get pretty swollen. This is a sign that the energy is being redirected to the other branches. This happens because your cannabis plant is trying to strengthen the internals to make it easier to provide nutrients and water to support the new growth that’s coming. If you don’t see this happening, don’t worry. As long as you do it properly, you’ll see the two branches developing in the next couple of days.

Final Thoughts

Topping is an excellent way of making the most out of your seeds and light fixtures without spending money. This training technique allows you to get better yields and frostier flowers with no effort at all, so don’t get scared if it’s your first time topping your cannabis plants. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to great lots and lots of buds in no time!

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How To Top Cannabis Plants

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