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How to Top a Marijuana Plant

How to Top a Marijuana Plant – A Guide

Every cannabis grower’s goal is to raise a healthy plant that will produce an abundant yield for harvest. While making sure you meet all of its needs from the right climate and type of soil to grow it in, there are several other techniques worth trying that have been proven to give you the best results. So it’s important to learn how to top a marijuana plant. Similar to pruning, topping can help maintain and increase your plant’s yield by creating “high stress” and redirecting the growth of its branches.

Most strains of cannabis naturally grow in a vertical direction known as apical dominance. This the straight, Christmas tree structure with a single stem that you often see, especially in taller outdoor plants. When following this natural course of growth, the plant actually does not often reach its average yield. 

The top growing technique helps your plant develop more colas and thus more areas for receiving light exposure and improving air circulation around the plant. Doing this practice has become popular for creating greater yields as more flowers and buds appear when harvest season nears. 

What Topping Does to Your Marijuana Plant 101

Topping does not need any long professional growing experience and can be done by growers of both old and new. To put in simpler words, the topping is done by splitting the main stem of the plant in order to multiply the colas. However, you do not just break off any part of the stem and can instantly expect a healthier and fruitful plant overnight. The technique must be done properly with the right tool and at the best time to be able to get its desired results.

To top off a marijuana plant, it is best to use a pair of pruning snips rather than cutting off the stem by hand. Using pruning snips makes a clean even cut without causing too much damage to the plant, unlike breaking it with your hand.  Your pruning snips must also be kept clean; sterilize the tool in hot water before using and only top your plant once the snips have cooled.

To know which part you may cut to top your plant, check first how many nodes has it grown. The nodes refer to the number of layers of leaves or branches your plant has grown. The best time to begin topping is once the plant has grown the third to sixth nodes, at about the fifth to the sixth week of the vegetative state; this may vary among types of cannabis, so you might opt to count the nodes instead. Your plant is still young at this point, but the earlier you start to top it, branching out to grow more colas will also be easier. 

Topping anywhere beyond the sixth node will not be as effective, and the plant may continue to grow according to its apical dominance as it will begin to reach maturity, and only sprout a few extra colas. 

How to Top a Cannabis Plant

To top your plant take the following steps:

  1. Count the number of nodes your plant has grown to choose what part you may top (this is between the third and sixth nodes).
  2. To cut, take your pruning snips and cut at the internode of the main stem or the space between the two nodes. Do not entirely snip off at the node (the branch or leaves).
  3. Let the plant heal and grow. Monitor it closely and make sure to provide enough light, warmth, and nutrients it needs as it grows back.

Once your plant has been topped, its vertical growth will be stunted and begin to widen as it branches out the colas. This keeps your plant compact, making it ideal for indoor growers or to simply keep it discreet outdoors. The plant will become bushier and produce more flowers as it reaches its flowering period. 

While applying the topping technique may lessen the chances of threats such as rotting buds, or dry and yellowed leaves, it still pays to provide all its needs to thrive. Depending on the top growing technique will not sustain a plant alone.  Since topping the cannabis will give room to more light exposure and air circulation, so give it the most number of light and dark hours for indoor keeping. Meet the ideal conditions for the plant’s overall health and highest yield. 

If you want the plant to keep expanding, you can also top the colas that have grown out of the main stem by following the same steps for extra yield. It is also important to note that as more colas grow out, the bushy leaves and buds may weigh down on its branches that may break off. To avoid this, add support to save yourself from losing good fresh buds. If other techniques may be applied for further, use them as well to keep enhancing the quality of your cannabis.

Keep Trimming and Treating

Topping marijuana has become a popular growing technique proven to produce high and quality yields. To get a proper topping on your marijuana plant, reading up and checking on it regularly can help get the job done. 

While just breaking it off by hand seems like the easy route to go, having a pair of pruning snips can make topping a lot safer without hurting your plant too much. Remember to count the nodes of your plant to know when it is ready for topping. The best time to top your cannabis may vary on its type. 


The earlier you learn how to top a marijuana plant, it will be much easier for it to grow more colas. Before you top it away, make sure your plant is healthy, and the soil is in its best condition for healing later on. After you have topped the plant, let it heal and provide as much light and water as advised. Colas that have grown out from the main stem may also be topped as long as the same guide is followed. Optimal conditions and your time and effort does the trick for an abundant harvest ahead.

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