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Benefits of Topping Cannabis Plants

It may seem odd to cut off a part of your cannabis plant but there are real benefits. The biggest advantage of topping cannabis is increased yields.

Left to their own devices, weed plants prefer to grow vertically, creating a thin and tall shape reminiscent of a Christmas tree. This will focus most of the plant’s energy on one large cola at the top, while the side branches underneath will develop small colas of low quality.

That’s because cannabis shows strong apical dominance, which means the central stem suppresses the growth of the lower branches.

By topping a cannabis plant, you encourage it to grow into more of a bushy shape, which also allows light to reach all of the colas more evenly and increases the overall yields.

Looking for the best cannabis yields? Look no further than our feminized autoflowering seeds guide!

Another benefit of topping is that it makes better use of space, which may be a necessity for indoor growing and can also help conceal your plants when growing cannabis outdoors.

When you compare a topped plant vs non-topped you can immediately notice the difference: one will be tall and skinny with a single large cola, while the other is shorter and bushy with multiple colas of similar size.

Still, we should mention one potential downside: topping cannabis stresses the plant. While stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if the growing conditions aren’t ideal, topping could stunt growth and increase the risk of disease.

That’s why you should make sure the plant is not too young and in good shape before topping it. Giving it time to recover is also necessary.

How To Top Cannabis

Here’s a step-by-step guide to topping a weed plant:

  1. Wait until your plant has six or seven nodes (the part where the branches meet the main stem) so that it’s strong enough to handle the stress of topping.
  2. Get a pair of sharp pruning scissors or a razor blade and sterilize it with rubbing alcohol to reduce the risk of infection.
  3. Make a clean diagonal cut (above the 5th node for the first topping). It’s all about precision; the cut should be made just above the part where the stem meets the two branches, completely removing the growth at the tip of the stem. You should leave about 5mm between the cut and the lateral branches.
  4. Monitor the plant over the next few days, ensuring it gets sufficient light and water. It should begin to grow two lateral branches. Wait 1-2 more weeks before topping again to give the plant time to recover.
  5. Later toppings can be done on each side branch above the second or third node. But keep in mind that topping more than twice as likely to prolong the vegetative phase.

The most important topping cannabis tip is to wait until your plant is big enough to handle the stress. As a general rule of thumb, your plant should be about 30 days into its vegetative phase, although it depends on the particular variety.

The safe bet is to wait until it has six or seven nodes, although some people recommend topping when the plant has three to five nodes. Whatever you do, you definitely don’t want to top too late, when the plant has already reached the flowering stage.

Also, remember that topping weed isn’t the only technique you can use. There are also other methods, such as pruning and fimming.

Topping vs. Pruning Cannabis Plants

Topping vs. Fimming

Fimming or FIMing is a related but different HST technique. Instead of removing the top of the plant completely, fimming only takes off the upper portion (50-75%) of the new growth.

As the story goes, the first person who tried this technique was trying to top their cannabis but made a mistake. That’s how it got the name — FIM, short for “f**k I missed.” But as it turns out, fimming can also be an effective strategy for boosting yields and lateral growth.

Unlike topping, which only produces two new stems, fimming can create four and as many as eight. Fimming also leads to taller plants since you’re not completely stopping the vertical growth but instead redirecting it into multiple new branches. But it’s less predictable and harder to do than topping.

Topping Is Just One Strategy

Topping is a popular technique for controlling the height, shape, and yield of cannabis plants. For best results, you should combine with it other high and low-stress training methods, such as pruning, scrogging, and super cropping.

You can also consider trying other techniques, such as fimming, which can either replace or complement topping.