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Properly Topping Weed Plants – A Quick Guide

Topping Weed Plants 1

There are many ways in which you can improve the yields of your cannabis gardens. With various techniques and methods being introduce to the cultivation scene of marijuana, people have come up with various ways on how to maximize the buds that they are able to sprout. One of the most common and effective ways to achieve such a feature is through topping weed plants

As a grower, you may have already heard of this process. Although it is a common technique for growers, not everyone is willing to go the extra mile for improving their yields! This may be due to the lack of knowledge about topping weed plants. So what exactly does topping do? And how do growers actually do it? There are a lot of things to understand about how cannabis works and responds to various techniques such as this. So, let’s begin!

What is Topping Weed Plants Used For?

Topping basically refers to an agricultural process that involves cutting off the top portion or colas of your cannabis plants in order to improve the yields that it produces. Because of the slight but controlled damage that you expose your plants to, it is a form of High Stress Training Technique. This means that calculated levels of stress help the plant adjust its growing behavior which cultivators use to their advantage. 

When the top portion of the cannabis plant is cut off, their growing patterns change. This gives them a much wider and expanded structure than your typical cannabis form. As a result, they are able to absorb more light during their vegetative periods. These extra amounts of light give them enough energy to eventually produce bigger yields. Also, because the lower portions of the cannabis plant will be able to be more exposed to the light sources, you will have a much more even growth and development in your crops.

Topping is something that is mostly exclusive to just cannabis plants. Because of the significance in the yields that they produce, most marijuana growers look to take advantage of this stress technique. Another great thing about this is that topping can be for both indoor and outdoor plants! It is especially useful for small-time growers who, instead of packing the ground with numerous weed seeds, would rather opt for a few plants with large yields.   

How Topping Affects Your Plant’s Growth

Growing Vertically:

The natural shape of your cannabis plants will sort of resemble a Christmas tree. They consist of one main stem and various smaller branches and colas that protrude from the sides. These colas run along the length of the main stem and naturally grow wider as they reach the cannabis plant’s base. 

Cannabis plants will typically grow dominantly in a vertical direction. As such, they tend to focus most of their energy into the main stem and the primary cola which is located at the uppermost portion of the plant. This behavior is “Apical Dominance” which refers to the attribute that decides which direction a specific kind of plant grows in. 

Despite a cannabis plant generally demanding long hours of light, its apical dominance is naturally set to grow vertical-wise for tall and slender plants. This is why outdoor growing works best for cannabis plants due to the sunlight hitting every part of the cannabis plant. 

How topping changes this:

But what happens in an indoor setup where the hanging lights focus more on the top instead of the plant’s base? This is where Topping comes into play. Normally, growers would prefer low-growing plants which extend sideways to allow an even distribution of light along the whole plant structure. 

This can be achieve by topping or cutting off the apex cola in a cannabis plant. Topping breaks the apical dominance and subsequently allows your weed crops to develop a broader structure. As a result, your plants will start developing lateral growth instead of its usual vertical patterns. 

Advantages of Topping Weed Plants

To summarize, here is a list of some of the most beneficial advantages that you can get from topping weed plants. 

  • Your cannabis plants will be able to absorb much more spectrums of light in both an indoor and outdoor setup. This gives them a lot more energy that they can focus on growth and development. 
  • Topping your cannabis plants is done mainly to increase the yields that they will produce. It is quite a simple concept: More light plus more lateral colas equals more buds!
  • While it may seem like a waste to throw away some colas, you will end up with more robust and wider plants in the long run! Also, you will get more than one primary cola now that they are evenly distributed!
  • The even canopy that you will have after topping ensures that your plants do not grow too tall. This is a perfect method for controlling the height of your cannabis plants and make sure that they stay within reach. 
  • Additionally, topping is also something that growers do in order to maintain a cleaner and neat-looking garden. Not only does it improve your yields, it will also improve the appearance of your plants!

Possible adverse effects of topping weed plants:

While learning how to top your cannabis colas, it is important to remember that you are cutting off parts of your plants! This will undoubtedly cause some amounts of stress in them. While it is a regulated level of stress, actually starting will surely come with some minor mistakes. Also, not doing it properly can kill your plants or stop them from fully entering the flowering stages.

It may be intimidating at first, especially if you do not want to risk the health of your plants. However, do not be afraid to mess up every once in a while. Those are all a part of the learning process and the experience that you gain from it is invaluable! Once you master topping techniques, it will surely be one of the easiest things to do!

When should I top my cannabis plants?

Topping weed plants is often done around 3 to 4 weeks into the vegetative stage. Since it has more to do with the overall development of your plant’s structure, you will want to do so before their branches and stems start to mature. 

Wait until your cannabis plants produce around six to seven nodes before topping them. This gives them a structure big enough to top while also allowing it some ample time to further develop. Also, keep in mind that topping prolongs the vegetative stage of your cannabis plants.

Seedling Stage:

Topping cannabis plants during the seedling stage is quite impossible. For one, they will not be strong enough to handle the stress levels that usually come with topping. Moreover, they would still be too small and have little to no additional nodes yet. You practically won’t have anything to cut off during the seedling stage.

Flowering Stage:

As for the flowering stage, your cannabis plants would already be too mature for topping. You see, once they enter the flowering stages, they transfer all their energy and focus into the development of flowers and buds. This means that they have already established their growing patterns and plant structure which would be hard to control. 

Topping vs. Fimming vs. Pruning: What’s the Difference?

Now that we have talked about topping, let us have a small discussion about another similar process: fimming. Fimming, comes from the acronym FIM (F*ck, I missed) . It is a process by past cultivators, by accident but subsequently provide a positive impact. 

Fimming is also done with the intention of increasing the yields of your cannabis crop. But while topping gives you one more main cola, fimming aims to sprout out 3 or more additional main colas! It is also a High Stress Training technique that is usually done by small-time growers with only a limited number of plants.

But if it produces more main colas, why don’t people use more of it instead of topping? 

You see, fimming doesn’t do as well in controlling the overall growth pattern of your plants. If you decide to fim your plants, they won’t be as effective in maintaining an even canopy of buds. Yes, it produces more main colas but the lack of lateral branches will bring lesser yields in the long run.

Fimming is also done in a similar fashion as topping. However, you are only getting rid of around 70% to 75% of the main cola and not more! This allows the secondary stems to absorb the hormones and energy that would have been otherwise given to the main cola only. Also, fimming is done during the same time that you would top your plants: 3 to 4 weeks into the vegetative stage.  

How to Properly Top Your Cannabis Plants

Now that we are done tackling the different concepts and purposes of topping, it seems as though there is only one thing left to do: Learn how to top your cannabis plants

For topping, you will need:

  • Gloves 
  • Alcohol (For sterilizing)
  • Scissors or clippers

While you won’t need a great deal of equipment when properly topping weed plants, you will need to build up some degree of skill. It requires timing, precision, and patience to top cannabis plants which are things that you will eventually pick up the more you do it!

Step 1: First, you will have to sterilize and disinfect the scissors or clippers that you will use. Cutting into your plants using dirty or contaminated tools can cause bacteria to enter their systems. This can lead to a number of problems such as illnesses, nutrient deficiencies, and even mold development.

Furthermore, make sure that your scissors are sharp enough to insert a nice, clean cut through your stems. Using blunt tools can cause some unwarranted damage to your plants.

Step 2: The next step is for you to locate the area in which you will want to top from. Now, we recommend cutting off from the 4th to 6th nodes of the new growth. This leaves an ample amount of plant left to support the structure but, at the same time, allows for more growth and a more even canopy in the expansion of your plants. After you have  done that, simply take your scissors and cut off the growth tip of where you want. 

Fully cutting off the top cola, as we said above, won’t cause it to grow back. Instead, the energy and hormones of your cannabis plants will tend to now focus more on the lateral expansion of its structure. And since each node basically contains two growth tips per node, you double that number every time that you top your plants!

Step 3: Wait and see how the topping of weed plants affects your gardens. Within the next few days, you will notice the bottom portions of your cannabis plant growing wider and more robust. This is the direct result of the plant transferring its focus on the development of lateral growth! 

Congratulations, you have just successfully increased the yields of your weed crop! Now, it is important that you don’t get too excited about topping. The damage that you dealt to your plants will need some time to heal. This means that the vegetative stages are longer. Additionally, you will have to wait a few more weeks before you can top your plants again.


That is basically all there is to topping weed plants! As a very simple yet effective way of increasing your yields, all cannabis growers should consider doing so for their marijuana plants. Not only is it easy to learn, it also provides a very effective and efficient way of doubling the amount of yield that you will typically get!

If you wish to try topping your cannabis plants, feel free to read through this article for more information! We aim to give growers such as you a deeper understanding about how marijuana behaves in different scenarios. For more articles such a this, you can browse the different sections that we have to offer1

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