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Topping Cannabis: Complete Guide for Growers

topping cannabis

You’ve probably heard about the amazing effects of early plant training in cannabis. Plant training can help boost yields and can control plant growth to conform to the size of your growing area. Topping cannabis is one of the most common plant training methods. It involves the cutting off of the main stem of a cannabis plant to develop more colas.

If you want to improve your yields then topping may be one way to do it. This guide will show you how.

What is Topping Cannabis?

Topping is designed to develop more colas and to spread out the growth of the plant to take full advantage of the grow light. When properly done, you can get bigger and better yields to come harvest time.

Cannabis plants have one main cola. Topping will cut off this main cola and split this in two. The split tips will become new colas as these will develop their stems. Each of these will turn to a bud during the plant’s blooming stage. Topping also transforms a bushy or tall plant to a flat and wide weed plant under your growing lights.

What are Plant Training Techniques?

If a plant grown indoors does not take advantage of its growing lights, even proper and expensive lighting is useless.

Cannabis plant training such as topping is effective in improving yields in growing rooms, cabinets, and closets. Topping creates a bushy plant with more colas to produce better yields.

With plant topping, the tips that transform into new colas will be present and will become bigger and breaks the traditional symmetrical arrangement of the plant. The new growth tips will be exposed to lots of light and air. And instead of growing just one cola, the plant will now support more growth tips until these transform into productive colas.

Through damaging your plant’s main stem, topping will stimulate the plant to divert all its energy to grow more colas than just only one main cola. Some cannabis growers take topping to the next level and produce more and more colas in a technique called manifolding or main-lining. In this technique, the plant is topped many times to create a manifold.

Important Points About Topping

Remember the following points about topping:

  • Remove the top of the plant at the stem between nodes.
  • This will develop two main colas from the top. You can use low-stress techniques to make more colas.
  • New main colas will become evenly spaced or will be attached from the main stem in the same places.
  • Topping is useful in reducing plant height during the growing phase.
  • Topping will cause delays in plant growth and may slow it down a few couples of days.
  • Topping can stress plants if improperly done
  • The topping should only be done by experienced growers

Never Top Your Plants Too Early

Never top your plants early. A plant may stop growing for weeks and this can further delay flowering. Experts say that the best time to top plants is when it has grown around 4 to 5 nodes.

So remember, wait for your cannabis plants to develop around 4 to 5 nodes. Topping very early can slow down its growth. Wait just a few days to help your plants recover faster.

After topping and the plant has fully recovered, you will need to switch these to the blooming stage. The many bud sites will allow the plant to use indoor growing lights more efficiently. You will get the best results when you prevent the tendency of cannabis plants to develop a single cola while it’s still short. You may arrange the different colas to the formation you want as the plant slowly recovers and develops.

Is Your Plant Too Tall for Topping?

There’s nothing wrong with topping your plants later or when it’s already tall but at this stage, your plant already has a long main trunk which makes it very difficult to arrange your colas according to the shape you want.

Right after a successful topping, a cannabis plant will need enough time to recover during the growing stage. The plant will naturally fill the space you have for it rather than grow taller and this is what you want when you’re growing indoor cannabis.

You should never top a plant in the flowering stage. Also, all the training that involves any cutting your plant must only be done in the vegetative stage. Only low-stress training or gentle training should be done during the blooming phase like bending the plant stems.

Cannabis plants are weaker during the flowering stage and it’s also during this time that they have stopped growing and vegging out. Flowering plants stop growing taller or create new nodes and just focus all their energies on developing new buds. Topping flowering cannabis plants will never achieve anything and will only lead to a reduction in your overall yield.

And if your plants are already taller during the initial days of the flowering stage, you must do all you can to prevent it from growing taller. You may use a low-stress technique like bending to control your plant’s growth.

How to Tell if Topping was Done Properly?

You can tell that your topping was done correctly and your plant is diverting its resources to the new buds when the node becomes enlarged from the base. The connections become thickened and this means that the plant is strengthening its connection internally. Nutrients will now be delivered easier as well as important building blocks of plant growth.

Also, you can tell that the plant is strengthening itself when the once soft stems become very hard like trunks of trees.

How to Top Your Marijuana Plants?

For this method, you need these items:

  • Sharp pair of scissors
  • Growing light
  • Magnifying glass


  1. Have all your materials handy.
  2. Select the plant to the top. It must have 4 to 5 nodes present.
  3. Place the plant on a sturdy table so you can easily see where to top your plant. You may use a magnifying glass to locate the ideal spot.
  4. Cut only the latest shoot to prevent damage. Gently hold the upper part of the plant with one hand and cut underneath in a straight manner using a pair of scissors.
  5. Allow your plant to rest and recuperate under good lighting.
  6. You may top several times if you wish just let your plants rest in between intervals. Keep your plants under good lighting.

Topping cannabis will slow down the plant’s growth and may take two or more days for your plant to recover and start growing once more. And as they say, practice till you’re good at it. You’ll soon become more confident in growing more yields and healthier plants.

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