How To Top Weed Plants to Increase Yield: What Is It & When To Top


By Samuel Fisher

Growing your own cannabis can be a rewarding experience, but it’s essential to understand techniques that can help your plants thrive. 

One such method is ‘topping.’  Topping your weed plants isn’t as mysterious as it sounds; it’s a way to encourage healthier and bushier growth.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of topping, why it’s beneficial, and how to do it the right way. 

Whether you’re a seasoned cultivator or just getting started, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the world of topping and give your cannabis plants a boost.

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What Does ‘Topping’ Mean in Weed Plant Cultivation?

When learning how to grow cannabis plants, you might have already come across the word “topping.” In weed plant cultivation, “topping” is a pruning technique used to control the plant’s growth and promote bushier, more compact growth. 

It involves cutting off the main, or apical, growth tip of the cannabis plant, which encourages the growth of multiple lateral branches. 

This technique is employed to enhance light distribution, increase the number of bud sites, and improve overall yields during the flowering stage. 

Topping is just one of several training methods used by growers to optimize the growth and development of cannabis plants.

Topping vs. Fimming: What Is the Difference?

Topping and Fimming are two common pruning techniques used in cannabis cultivation, and while they share similarities, they have distinct differences:


Topping involves cutting off the main apical bud or growth tip of the cannabis plant. This results in the development of two main colas or branches below the cut.

Topping encourages the plant to become bushier and can create a more even canopy.


Fimming also involves trimming the apical growth tip, but it’s done in a less precise and deliberate manner.

Instead of cleanly cutting, Fimming usually involves pinching or partially cutting the tip, leaving a cluster of new growth points. Fimming often results in the growth of multiple smaller shoots rather than just two main colas.

The primary difference between the two techniques is the degree of pruning and the resulting growth pattern. 

Topping typically results in two distinct main branches, while Fimming encourages a more chaotic growth pattern with multiple shoots. Growers may choose one technique over the other based on their specific goals for plant structure and yield.

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When to Top Cannabis Plants

Topping cannabis plants is typically done during the vegetative stage, when the plant is actively growing but hasn’t yet begun flowering. 

The ideal time to top your cannabis plants is usually when they have developed a few sets of leaves, typically around the 4th to 6th set of nodes. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide for when to top:

  • Wait for Multiple Nodes: Allow your cannabis plant to grow until it has at least 4 to 6 sets of nodes (pairs of leaves).
  • Choose the Right Node: Identify the node just below the newest growth tip. This is where you will make your cut.
  • Make the Cut: Using clean and sharp scissors or pruning shears, snip off the top growth tip just above the chosen node.
  • Monitor Growth: After topping, your plant will develop two main colas from the nodes just below the cut. Keep an eye on its growth to ensure the new branches develop well.

Topping during the vegetative stage encourages the plant to grow into a bushier shape, which can lead to increased yields and a more even canopy when it enters the flowering stage. 

Remember that each strain and plant may respond slightly differently, so it’s a good practice to start with just one or two plants to gain experience before topping all of your cannabis plants.

Benefits of Topping Weed Plants

Topping weed plants offers several benefits for cannabis cultivation:

Improved Canopy Control

Topping helps maintain an even and manageable canopy by promoting lateral growth. This prevents the plant from becoming too tall and encourages a more bushy shape.

Enhanced Light Penetration

By creating multiple main colas, topping ensures that more parts of the plant receive direct light. This maximizes photosynthesis and promotes healthy growth throughout the plant.

Increased Bud Sites

Topping encourages the development of additional bud sites, leading to more potential flower production. This can result in higher yields of quality cannabis.

Enhanced Yield Potential

With more bud sites and even light distribution, topped plants have the potential for increased yields, making it a preferred technique for many growers.

Better Air Circulation

A bushier, well-topped plant allows for improved airflow around and within the canopy. This reduces the risk of mold and pest issues and promotes overall plant health. The resultant plant can be used for multiple cannabis-infused products like Delta 8 gummies, THC tinctures or Vapes.

By implementing topping, growers can optimize their cannabis plants’ structure and yield potential, ultimately leading to a successful and bountiful harvest. 

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Are There Any Potential Drawbacks of Topping Cannabis?

While topping cannabis plants can offer several benefits, there are potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Stress: Topping causes stress to the plant, which can slow down growth temporarily. This stress can lead to a few days of recovery before the plant resumes vigorous growth.
  • Slower Vegetative Growth: Topped plants may experience slower vegetative growth initially because the plant redirects energy to repair and develop new branches. This can extend the vegetative stage.
  • Risk of Infection: Any time you make cuts on a plant, there’s a risk of introducing pathogens or pests. It’s crucial to use sterile tools and techniques to minimize this risk.
  • Mistakes: Inexperienced growers might make mistakes when topping, such as cutting too low or damaging the plant. It’s important to be precise to avoid potential issues.
  • Delayed Flowering: Topping can delay the flowering phase, as the plant needs additional time to recover and develop new growth before it starts producing flowers.
  • Genetic Variability: Not all cannabis strains respond the same way to topping. Some strains may not develop as many branches or bud sites as desired. To avoid any potential problems, make sure to get high-quality strains from the best seed banks online that have a good track record.

These potential drawbacks highlight the importance of proper technique and timing when topping cannabis plants. 

Growers should also be prepared for a brief period of slower growth and closely monitor their plants to ensure they recover and develop well.

Detailed Guide on How to Top Weed Plants

Here’s a detailed guide on how to top weed plants:

Selecting the Right Growth Stage

Topping is typically done during the vegetative stage, not during flowering. Wait until your cannabis plant has developed at least 4 to 6 sets of nodes (pairs of leaves) before topping.

Proper Pruning Tools

To top your cannabis plants, you will need a few essential tools:

  • Sterilized scissors or pruning shears: Clean and sterilize your cutting tools to prevent introducing pathogens.
  • Protective gear (optional): Gloves and eyewear can protect you from resin and plant sap.

Pruning Method Step-By-Step

  • Prepare Your Workspace: Set up a clean and well-lit workspace. Ensure your tools are sterilized to prevent infections.
  • Identify the Right Node: Look for the node just below the newest growth tip. This is the point where you’ll make your cut.
  • Make the Cut: Carefully use your sterilized scissors or pruning shears to snip off the top growth tip, just above the selected node. Ensure a clean and precise cut to minimize stress on the plant.
  • Monitor Growth: After topping, the plant will develop two new main colas from the nodes just below the cut. Monitor the new branches’ growth and overall plant health.

Post-Topping Care

Provide your plant with proper care following topping:

  • Maintain an optimal environment with adequate lighting, temperature, and humidity.
  • Consider applying a mild nutrient solution if your plant shows signs of stress or deficiency.
  • Monitor for any signs of infection, stress, or slow recovery and address them promptly.

Remember that different strains may respond differently to topping, and each plant’s growth may vary. Always start with one or two plants to gain experience before topping your entire cannabis crop. 

Topping can be an effective method for controlling plant size, improving yields, and promoting an even canopy, but it requires careful attention and precise technique.

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Tools Required for Topping Weed Plants

While learning how to grow marijuana, you’ll need the following tools and material to top weed plants effectively: 

Pruning Shears or Scissors

Pruning shears or sharp scissors are essential for making precise and clean cuts on the plant. This ensures minimal stress and damage to the cannabis plant during the topping process.

Sterilization Materials

To prevent the introduction of pathogens, it’s crucial to use sterilization materials, such as:

  • Isopropyl alcohol: Use this to clean and sterilize your pruning tools before and after each use.
  • Sterile wipes or cotton balls: These can be used to apply alcohol and clean your cutting tools thoroughly.

Protective Gear

While not absolutely necessary, wearing protective gear can help keep you clean and protect your skin and eyes from resin and plant sap. This gear may include:

  • Gloves: Protect your hands from sticky resin and potential allergens.
  • Eyewear: Prevent plant sap and debris from getting into your eyes.

Using these tools and materials properly not only helps ensure a successful topping process but also reduces the risk of contamination and protects your safety during the procedure.

Common Mistakes While Topping Weed Plants

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when topping weed plants:


Over-topping is when you cut too many growth tips at once. It can stress the plant excessively and lead to slow recovery or reduced growth. Stick to topping just one time per plant.

Incorrect Cutting Angle

Cutting at the wrong angle can damage the plant. Always make a clean, horizontal cut just above the selected node, ensuring a smooth surface for faster healing.

Using Improper Tools

Using dull or unsanitary tools can harm the plant and introduce pathogens. Make sure your pruning shears or scissors are sharp and sterilized before use.

Insufficient Recovery Time

Topping can stress the plant, and it needs time to recover and develop new growth. Rushing to top again too soon can hinder recovery and overall plant health.

Neglecting Plant Health

Neglecting the overall health of your cannabis plant can lead to issues post-topping. Ensure proper environmental conditions, provide appropriate nutrients, and address any signs of stress or deficiency promptly.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can successfully top your weed plants and promote healthier, bushier growth while minimizing potential problems.

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How To Top Weed Plants: FAQS

Here are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about topping weed plants:

Where Do You Top Weed Plants?

You should top weed plants by making a clean cut just above the selected node, which is typically the fourth to sixth node down from the top of the plant.

How Soon Should You Top a Weed Plant?

Topping is usually done during the vegetative stage when the plant has developed at least 4 to 6 sets of nodes (pairs of leaves).

What Week Should I Top My Weed?

Typically, you should top your weed plant around the 4th to 6th week of its vegetative stage, depending on its growth rate and the number of nodes.

How Late Is Too Late to Top Your Weed Plant?

Topping can still be done later in the vegetative stage, but the later you top, the more it might slow down the plant’s overall growth and delay flowering.

What Is the Purpose of Topping Weed Plants?

Topping is done to promote bushier growth, create an even canopy, increase bud sites, and potentially improve yields during the flowering stage.

How Does Topping Affect the Growth of Weed Plants?

Topping redirects the plant’s growth energy to the lower branches, resulting in the development of multiple main colas. This encourages a bushier growth pattern.

Can I Top Any Strain of Cannabis?

While topping is generally suitable for most cannabis strains, some may respond differently. It’s a good practice to research your specific strain and observe how it reacts to topping. 

Regardless of the strain you choose, it’s important to buy the strains from reputable online seed banks like Seed Supreme.

What Are the Potential Risks of Topping Cannabis Plants?

Topping can stress the plant, potentially slowing growth temporarily and delaying flowering. There’s also a risk of introducing pathogens if not done correctly.

How Many Times Can I Top a Cannabis Plant?

Most growers top their cannabis plants only once to avoid excessive stress. Some may choose to perform additional toppings, but it requires careful monitoring and attention.

Are There Alternative Techniques to Topping for Enhancing Yields?

Yes, other techniques like Fimming, super cropping, and LST (low-stress training) can also enhance yields and shape plant growth.

What Should I Do if I Accidentally Damage My Plant While Topping?

If accidental damage occurs, clean the wound, provide proper care, and closely monitor the plant to ensure it recovers. Be patient and avoid additional stress.

Is Topping Suitable for Both Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation?

Yes, topping can be used in both indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation to control plant size and improve yields. However, environmental conditions may vary.

How Soon After Topping Can I Expect to See Results?

Results from topping may not be immediately noticeable. It may take several days to weeks for the plant to recover, develop new branches, and show signs of bushier growth. Patience is key.

How to Top Weed Plants: Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned the art of topping your cannabis plants, you’re well on your way to becoming a skilled cultivator. Remember, topping may seem intimidating at first, but with practice, it becomes second nature. 

By encouraging bushier growth, you’re setting the stage for healthier, higher-yielding plants. So, don’t be afraid to get your hands a little green, experiment with topping, and watch your cannabis garden flourish. 

Happy growing, and may your cannabis plants reach new heights!”

>>Check the best price for high-quality weed seeds here

About the Author

Samuel Fisher is a seasoned cannabis industry expert with 15 years of experience. He has authored hundreds of articles on cannabis topics ranging from cultivation to strain selection.

Disclaimer: This article contains sponsored marketing content. It is intended for promotional purposes and should not be considered as an endorsement or recommendation by our website. Readers are encouraged to conduct their own research and exercise their own judgment before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article.


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