Different Techniques for Topping Cannabis Strains



As a cannabis grower, you’re always looking for ways to optimize your yield and plant health. One technique that can help achieve this is topping. If you’re new to cannabis cultivation or unfamiliar with topping, you may feel overwhelmed by the process or unsure of where to begin. In this guide, we’ll break down the complexities of topping techniques for different cannabis strains and provide step-by-step instructions to help you get the most out of your plants. From choosing the right strain to timing your tops correctly, we’ve got you covered. With our guidance, you’ll soon see the benefits of topping and watch your plants grow to their full potential.

What is Topping?

Topping is a pruning method that involves cutting off the top part of a cannabis plant’s main stem. This can be done by snipping off the very top of the plant, right above the node where a new set of leaves is growing. The result is two new main colas, each of which will grow into a full-sized bud site.

Here is a table outlining the basics of topping:

What is it? A pruning method for cannabis plants that involves cutting off the top of the main stem.
How is it done? By snipping off the very top of the plant right above the node where a new set of leaves is growing.
What are the results? Two new main colas, each of which will grow into a full-sized bud site.

Topping is just one of many different training techniques used to manipulate a cannabis plant’s growth pattern. When done correctly, topping can help increase yields and promote bushier, more compact growth. It can also be used to control the height of a plant, making it a popular choice for indoor growers with limited space. However, it is important to remember that topping is a high-stress technique that can have negative consequences if done incorrectly.

Why Do You Need to Top Cannabis Plants?

There are several reasons why cannabis growers top their plants:

  • Promote bushier growth: When you top a cannabis plant, it encourages the growth of multiple colas, resulting in a bushier plant.
  • Maximize yield: By promoting the growth of multiple colas through topping, you can increase the yield of your plant.
  • Control plant height: If you are growing cannabis indoors, you may want to limit the height of your plants to fit within your space.
  • Improving light exposure: Topping can help ensure that all parts of the plant receive adequate light, promoting even growth and maximizing yield.
  • Controlling plant shape: Topping can also help control the overall shape and appearance of your cannabis plant, promoting a more symmetrical and aesthetically-pleasing look.

Topping cannabis plants can be an effective way to promote bushier growth, increase yield, and achieve greater control over the shape and size of your plants.

Choosing Cannabis Strains to Top

Choosing Cannabis Strains To Top
Are you wondering which cannabis strains are best suited for topping? Before you start snipping away at your plants, it’s crucial to understand the different types of strains and how their genetics can affect the topping process. By choosing the right strains to top, you can maximize your yield and overall plant health. Let’s explore this topic further and dive into the world of cannabis strains and topping techniques.

Different Types of Cannabis Strains

When it comes to topping cannabis plants, it’s important to consider the specific strains you’re working with. Different strains have different growth characteristics and respond differently to topping.

There are three main types of cannabis strains: Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid. Sativa strains are known for their cerebral effects, with a more energizing and uplifting high. Indica strains, on the other hand, have a more relaxing and sedative effect, and are often used for pain relief and relaxation. Hybrid strains are a mix of both Sativa and Indica strains, and can exhibit characteristics of both.

When considering which strains to top, it’s important to take into account their growth patterns. Sativa strains tend to grow taller and require more space, while Indica strains are shorter and bushier. Hybrid strains can exhibit either growth pattern, depending on their genetics.

To better understand the growth patterns of different strains, refer to the table below:

Strain Type Height Growth Pattern
Sativa Tall Vertical Growth
Indica Short Bushy
Hybrid Varies Depends on Genetics

Understanding the growth patterns of different strains can help you determine when to top them, and how much to top them. For example, Sativa strains may require more topping to control their vertical growth, while Indica strains may only require minimal topping to keep them from becoming too bushy.

How Strain Genetics Affect Topping

The genetics of a cannabis strain can greatly affect the success of topping techniques. Different strains have varying levels of hardiness, growth rates, and yield potential, which can all impact how you choose to top your plants.

Table 1. Strain Genetics and Their Impact on Topping

Strain Type Hardiness Growth Rate Yield Potential Effect on Topping
Sativa Low High Medium May require more frequent topping to keep height manageable
Indica High Low High Topping may not be necessary as plants tend to be shorter and bushier
Hybrid Varies Varies Varies Depends on the dominant genetics of the strain

Sativa strains are known for their tall and skinny growth patterns. As a result, these strains tend to require more frequent topping to keep height manageable and promote bushier growth. Indica strains, on the other hand, tend to be shorter and bushier naturally, so topping may not be as necessary. Hybrid strains vary greatly depending on the dominant genetics, so topping requirements may be different for each hybrid strain.

Additionally, some strains may be more sensitive to stress, which could impact how you approach topping techniques. It’s important to research the specific strain you plan to top and understand how its genetic makeup may impact your topping strategy.

When to Top Cannabis Plants

When To Top Cannabis Plants
Determining the optimal time to top cannabis plants can be a perplexing task for many growers. Knowing when to perform this crucial step in the growing process can make all the difference in the final yield and overall plant health. From understanding the signs of topping readiness to timing guidelines for different strains, this section will provide a comprehensive guide to help you make the right decisions for your plants. So grab your note-taking materials and let’s dive into this critical aspect of cannabis cultivation.

How to Identify When to Top

When deciding when to top cannabis plants, it is important to pay attention to the number of nodes on the plant. A node is the point where a leaf or branch connects to the stem of the plant. When the plant has developed 4-6 nodes, it is generally considered a good time to top.

Identification of node count: To identify the number of nodes in a plant, count the number of leaves on the stem. Each leaf will be connected to the plant stem at a node.

It is important to wait until the plant has developed a few nodes before topping, as this will ensure that the plant has enough foliage to allow for continued growth. If the plant is topped too early, it may not have enough foliage to develop properly.

Inadequate node count: If the plant has not developed enough nodes, it is recommended to wait until it has. It is also important to ensure that the plant is healthy and has strong roots before topping.

Timing is also important when topping cannabis plants. It is recommended to top during the vegetative stage of growth, when the plant is actively growing and developing new shoots. Topping during the flowering stage can potentially limit the plant’s growth and reduce the overall yield.

Timing dependant on strain: Timing for topping can also differ depending on the strain of cannabis being grown. Sativa strains tend to have longer vegetative stages and may require more time before topping, while indica strains may have shorter vegetative stages and may be topped earlier.

To summarize, identifying when to top cannabis plants involves counting the number of nodes on the plant and waiting until it has developed enough foliage for continued growth. Timing of topping is also crucial, and should be done during the vegetative stage of growth, with consideration given to the specific strain being grown.

Timing for Different Cannabis Strains

Timing for topping cannabis plants is important as it can affect the growth and yield of your plants. Different cannabis strains have different growth patterns, and thus, require different timing for topping.

Ruderalis strains: Ruderalis strains are known for their short growth cycle, which means they require less time to flower. Topping Ruderalis strains should be done early, ideally during the vegetative stage, to maximize their potential yield.

Indica strains: Indica strains are generally shorter and bushier than Sativa strains, making them a popular choice for indoor growers. Topping Indica strains should be done during the early vegetative stage, when they have at least five to six nodes. This will help to increase lateral growth and ultimately lead to a bushier plant.

Sativa strains: Sativa strains have a longer flowering time than Indica strains, which means they require a longer vegetative stage before topping. Topping Sativa strains should be done when they have at least six to eight nodes. This will help to control their height and encourage the growth of multiple colas.

Hybrid strains: Hybrid strains can have characteristics of both Indica and Sativa strains. Timing for topping hybrid strains depends on their specific genetics. It’s important to research the specific hybrid strain you’re growing to determine the best timing for topping.

Timing for topping cannabis plants is critical for maximizing their potential yield and improving overall plant health. By understanding the growth patterns of different cannabis strains, you can determine the optimal timing for topping and help your plants reach their full potential.

How to Perform Topping

How To Perform Topping
Performing topping is a crucial step in low-stress training for cannabis plants. It involves cutting off the top part of the main stem to encourage side shoots to grow and create a bushier plant. It may seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and preparation, topping can be done successfully. In this section, we will outline the essential tools to have on hand, the steps to follow for a successful topping, and discuss the benefits of low-stress training. So let’s get started and learn how to perform topping like a pro!

Tools Required for Topping

Performing topping on cannabis plants requires some basic tools that are essential for a successful procedure. The following table highlights the tools required for topping and how they are used in the process:

Tools Description
Sharp Scissors/Pruning Shears A good pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears will be needed for cutting off the top growth of the plant. Dull tools can damage the plant tissue and make it prone to diseases.
Alcohol Wipes/Rubbing Alcohol Cleanliness is crucial during the topping process, and alcohol wipes or rubbing alcohol can be used to sterilize the tools beforehand to reduce the risk of contamination.
Gloves Wearing gloves during the topping process can prevent the transfer of oils and dirt from hands to the plant tissue, which can increase the risk of infection.
Plant Ties After topping, the plant may require some support to maintain its shape and structure. Plant ties can be used to train the branches to grow in a horizontal direction and prevent them from drooping.

It is essential to have all the necessary tools at hand before beginning the topping process to prevent interruptions and keep the plant as healthy as possible. Using clean and sharp tools, along with proper plant ties, can ensure that the plant recovers quickly and with minimal stress.

Steps for Topping Cannabis Plants

To top a cannabis plant, you will first need to gather the necessary tools. You will need a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears or scissors, rubbing alcohol, and gloves to ensure cleanliness and prevent infection.

Step 1: Start by examining the plant and choosing the optimal spot to cut. Identify the newest node (where leaves meet the stem) at the top of the plant’s main stem. This node is called the apical meristem and is responsible for upward growth.

Step 2: Disinfect your pruning shears or scissors with rubbing alcohol to prevent the spread of disease or infection. Dip them in the alcohol and allow them to dry completely.

Step 3: Once the tools are clean, put on gloves to prevent contact with the sap of the plant, which can irritate your skin. Locate the node you want to prune just above the newest growth.

Step 4: Use your pruning shears or scissors to make a clean cut directly above the node, removing the top of the plant’s main stem. This process will stimulate lateral growth and encourage a bushier plants.

Step 5: Dispose of the cut stem and leaves properly, so as not to attract pests or spread disease. You can dispose of it directly in the trash or consider composting if you have a compost bin.

Step 6: The plant will begin to recover and produce new shoots within a few days. After topping, watch the plant closely to ensure that the new growth is healthy and vigorous.

Remember that after topping, the plant will require more attention and care to ensure proper recovery. Following the correct steps and maintaining proper care can lead to fuller and healthier plants, which will ultimately result in a better yield.

Benefits of Low-Stress Training

Low-stress training (LST) is a popular technique used by cannabis growers to improve yields and plant health while also managing their plant height. This technique involves bending, tying, and manipulating the plant’s stems to create a more even canopy and promote healthy lateral growth.

Here are some benefits of Low-Stress Training:

  • Increased yields: By creating a more even canopy, LST ensures that each bud site receives the same amount of light and develops evenly. This results in bigger buds and a higher overall yield.
  • Improved plant health: LST encourages the development of multiple colas, leading to a healthier and heartier plant. This is because it helps distribute nutrients more evenly throughout the plant, preventing weak spots and deficiencies.
  • Better light penetration: When cannabis plants are allowed to grow without training, the top of the plant invariably receives the majority of the light. LST allows for more light to penetrate deeper into the plant, promoting the growth of high-quality buds from the lower branches.
  • Reduced plant height: One of the main benefits of LST is that it can help control the height of cannabis plants. This is particularly important for indoor growers who have limited space to work with. By spreading out the plant’s canopy horizontally, LST can create a more compact and manageable plant.
  • Improved stress resistance: LST can help increase a plant’s resistance to stress by making the stems and branches stronger and more flexible. This increased resilience can help prevent breakages caused by heavy buds, wind, or other environmental factors.

Utilizing low-stress training techniques can help cannabis growers boost their yields, promote lateral growth, and manage the height of their plants. As such, it’s an essential tool in the arsenal of many successful growers.

Recovery After Topping

Recovery After Topping
After you have topped your cannabis plant, it may appear a bit shocked and wounded at first, but don’t fret as this is a normal part of the topping process. The plant will need time to recover and redirect its growth to produce new stems and foliage. The recovery time can vary depending on the strain and the amount of stress the plant experiences during topping. However, with proper care and maintenance, your plant can recover quickly and produce an even larger yield than before. In this section, we will discuss the recovery process after topping, and how to care for your plant during this time.

How Cannabis Plants Recover from Topping

After topping a cannabis plant, the recovery process can take up to a week or two depending on the strain and growing conditions. During this time, it is important to monitor the plant closely to ensure that it is healing properly and not exhibiting any signs of stress or disease.

One of the first signs of recovery is the emergence of new growth tips from the areas that were cut. These new shoots will grow at a rapid pace and will eventually become new branches that will contribute to the overall growth and yield of the plant.

Proper care and maintenance is crucial during the recovery period. This can include adjusting the light intensity and distance from the canopy, adjusting the temperature and humidity levels, and providing the plant with nutrients and water as needed.

It is also important to keep an eye out for any signs of stress or disease during this time. The plant may exhibit symptoms such as yellowing or drooping leaves, which may indicate a nutrient deficiency or overwatering.

To ensure that the plant recovers fully, it is important to maintain a healthy and balanced growing environment. This includes providing proper lighting, humidity, and air circulation, as well as monitoring and adjusting nutrient levels as needed.

By taking proper care of your newly topped cannabis plants, you can help promote healthy recovery and ensure a successful harvest.

Recovery Period Care and Maintenance Signs of Stress or Disease
1-2 weeks Adjust light and temperature, provide nutrients and water Yellowing or drooping leaves, signs of nutrient deficiency or overwatering

Post-Topping Care and Maintenance

After topping, it’s crucial to give your plants some extra love and attention to ensure they recover effectively. Here are some post-topping care and maintenance tips you should follow:

  • Watering: It’s important to keep the soil moist but not overwatered in the days following topping. Aim to keep the soil evenly moist and avoid letting it dry out completely.
  • Nutrients: Your plants will need a boost of nutrients after topping to support their recovery. Consider using a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to help your plants bounce back.
  • Lighting: Your plants will need strong lighting after being topped to promote healthy regrowth. If growing indoors, make sure your lights are positioned close to the plants to encourage them to grow bushier rather than taller.
  • Training: After topping, your plants will likely require some training to encourage them to grow in the desired shape. Consider using techniques such as low-stress training or tying down branches to help shape your plants.
  • Patience: Finally, it’s essential to be patient after topping your plants. It can take several weeks for your plants to recover fully and start showing new growth. Resist the urge to over-water or over-fertilize your plants and let them recover at their own pace.

By following these post-topping care and maintenance tips, you can help your plants recover effectively and promote healthy, bushy growth.

Benefits of Topping Different Cannabis Strains

Benefits Of Topping Different Cannabis Strains
As cannabis cultivation becomes more widespread and sophisticated, growers continue to experiment with different techniques to improve their harvests. One such technique is topping, which involves removing the bud at the tip of a plant to encourage new branches and growth from lower areas. Topping has become increasingly popular due to its ability to boost yield and promote plant health, especially when applied to different cannabis strains. But how exactly does topping different strains affect the final product? Let’s explore the various advantages and benefits of implementing topping techniques for your cannabis cultivation.

Improved Yield and Plant Health

One major benefit of topping cannabis plants is that it can lead to improved yield and plant health. By removing the top of the plant, you are redirecting the growth hormones to the lower branches, which allows for more even growth throughout the plant. This can result in more bud sites and ultimately, a higher yield.

Topping also promotes stronger and sturdier plant structures. When you remove the top of the plant, the plant redirects its energy towards the lower branches, resulting in thicker stems and branches that are capable of supporting more weight. This can be especially important for outdoor plants, which can be susceptible to wind damage.

The improved yield and plant health benefits of topping are particularly important for indoor growers, who often have limited space and need to maximize their yield per plant. Topping allows for greater control of the size and shape of the plant, which can be essential for creating an efficient indoor growing environment.

Topping can improve the quality of your harvest. By promoting even growth throughout the plant, each bud site will receive more light and nutrients, leading to larger and more potent buds.

Topping is a valuable technique for any grower looking to improve their yield, plant health, and the overall quality of their harvest. However, it is important to do it correctly and at the appropriate time to avoid any negative effects on the plant.

Reduced Height for Indoor Plants

For indoor growers, managing plant height is often a challenge due to limited vertical space. Topping can be an effective way to reduce the height of cannabis plants and make them more manageable in an indoor setting.

When a cannabis plant is topped, it encourages the plant to grow wider rather than taller, which can be beneficial for indoor growers with limited ceiling height. By cutting off the top few inches of the main stem, the plant redirects its energy to the lateral branches, which will result in more substantial growth and multiple colas.

Here is an example table highlighting how different strains can be topped to reduce their height:

Cannabis Strain Ideal Height Timing for Topping
Indica 2-4 feet After the 4th-6th node
Sativa 4-6 feet After the 5th-7th node
Hybrid 3-5 feet After the 4th-6th node

It’s essential to remember that each strain may respond differently to topping, and it’s crucial to monitor the plant’s response to ensure that it is not over-stressed. Additionally, topping can also impact the size and density of the plant’s buds, so it’s essential to balance height reduction with overall yield.

Common Mistakes When Topping

As with any aspect of growing cannabis, topping requires careful attention and proper execution to achieve the best results. Unfortunately, there are several common mistakes that novice growers tend to make when topping their plants. These mistakes can lead to stunted growth, reduced yield, and overall plant health issues. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common mistakes that growers make when topping their cannabis plants and provide tips on how to avoid them. By learning from these mistakes, you can ensure that your plants remain healthy and productive throughout the growing season.

Over-Topping Plants

When it comes to topping cannabis plants, over-topping can be a common mistake that many growers make. This occurs when growers remove too much of the plant growth at once, causing the plant to become stunted or even die. Some key signs that a plant has been over-topped include slow growth, yellowing leaves, and stunted development.

To avoid over-topping your plants, it’s important to take a few key steps:

1. Follow proper topping techniques: When topping your cannabis plants, it’s important to use clean, sharp tools and to make precise cuts. Cutting too close to the main stalk or removing too many leaves at once can cause the plant to become stressed and may limit its growth potential.

2. Limit the number of times you top: While topping can be a beneficial technique for many strains, it’s important to remember that excessive topping can be harmful. For most strains, topping once or twice is sufficient to achieve the desired results. Pushing your plants too hard could lead to over-stressing and hindering growth.

3. Monitor your plants closely: By keeping a close eye on your plants and watching for signs of stress or stunted growth, you can catch potential issues early on and make adjustments as needed. This could include providing additional nutrients or light to help the plant recover.

By following these tips, you can avoid over-topping your cannabis plants and give them the best chance at healthy, robust growth. Remember, topping is just one of many techniques that can help produce thriving cannabis plants, and it’s important to take a holistic approach to your growing practices.

Topping Too Late or Early

One of the most critical factors in topping cannabis plants is timing. Topping too early or too late can have adverse effects on the overall health and yield of your plants. Here are some common problems that can arise when topping at the wrong time:

  • Stunted Growth: Topping too early can lead to stunted growth, as the plant may not have had enough time to establish itself fully.
  • Reduced Yield: Topping too late can reduce your overall yield, as the plant will have already started to grow its main cola and may not have enough time to develop new ones.
  • Increased Stress: Topping too late can also cause unnecessary stress to the plant, as it will have to divert more energy to heal the wound from topping instead of producing buds.

It is essential to know when to top your cannabis plants. A good rule of thumb is to top your plants when they have at least four to six nodes or when they are between four to six weeks old. This timing allows the plant to establish a strong root system and have a solid foundation before being topped.

If you wait too long to top your plants, you may end up with a plant that is too tall and difficult to manage. On the other hand, if you top your plants too early, they may not have had enough time to develop sufficiently, leading to stunted growth.

Proper timing is vital when it comes to topping cannabis plants. By topping at the right time, you can ensure that your plants grow strong and produce a bountiful yield. So, be patient and watch your plants carefully for the optimal time to top.

Failing to Maintain Proper Care Post-Topping

Proper care and maintenance after topping your cannabis plants is crucial for their recovery and overall health. One of the most common mistakes growers make is neglecting their plants after performing the topping technique. Here are some important elements to consider when it comes to post-topping care:

Aspect of Care Importance
Watering It’s important to maintain a consistent watering schedule after topping. Avoid overwatering or underwatering, as both can lead to stress and negatively impact plant health.
Nutrition Providing your plants with proper nutrients is crucial after topping. Avoid overfeeding or underfeeding, and make sure to follow a feeding schedule that matches the stage of growth.
Lighting Adjusting the lighting after topping can help promote healthy growth and recovery. Avoid exposing your plants to too much or too little light, and follow the recommended light schedule for your particular strain.
Temperature and Humidity Cannabis plants are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, particularly after undergoing a stressful procedure like topping. Make sure to keep the temperature and humidity levels consistent and within the appropriate range for your strain.
Training and Support Providing support to your plants after topping can help prevent damage to the stems and branches. You may need to use stakes or ties to help your plants recover and grow in the desired shape.

By neglecting any of these elements, you run the risk of causing further stress to your plants and potentially reducing the effectiveness of the topping technique. It’s important to provide proper care and maintenance throughout the entire growth cycle to ensure healthy plants and a successful harvest.


After reading through the detailed guide on topping techniques for different cannabis strains, it is clear that topping is a crucial process when it comes to cultivating healthy and productive plants. Through the use of this low-stress training method, growers can improve the overall yield and health of their cannabis plants while also controlling their height and shape.

It is important to note that choosing the right cannabis strain to top is key to achieving the desired results. Different strains require different timing and techniques in order to successfully top them. Additionally, understanding the genetics of a particular strain can also impact how it responds to topping.

When performing the topping process, using proper tools and techniques is essential to avoiding common mistakes such as over-topping, topping too late or early, and failing to maintain proper care post-topping. By following the step-by-step instructions outlined in this guide, any cannabis grower can master the art of topping and enjoy the many benefits it brings.

After topping has been performed, taking proper care of the plants during the recovery process is crucial. This includes monitoring their hydration levels and ensuring they receive the appropriate amount of light and nutrients. With proper care, cannabis plants can quickly recover from topping and continue to thrive throughout their growth cycle.

The benefits of topping cannabis strains are many, including improved yield and plant health, reduced height for indoor plants, and even stress relief for the plants themselves. By understanding the different types of cannabis strains and how their genetics impact growth, growers can maximize the potential of their crops through the use of topping.

In conclusion, topping cannabis plants is a crucial aspect of successful cultivation that every grower should familiarize themselves with. With the right tools, techniques, timing, and care, this method can lead to healthier and more productive plants that will ultimately yield a higher quality end product.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to top cannabis plants?

The best time to top cannabis plants is during the vegetative stage when the plant has at least 4-6 nodes.

Does topping affect the potency of cannabis plants?

Topping doesn’t affect the potency of cannabis plants. Instead, it improves the yield and overall health of the plant.

How many times can I top a cannabis plant?

You can top a cannabis plant multiple times, but it’s recommended to top it only once or twice to avoid over-stressing the plant.

What are the benefits of low-stress training?

Low-stress training helps cannabis plants grow horizontally rather than vertically, which improves light exposure, promotes even growth, and increases yields.

How long does it take for cannabis plants to recover from topping?

Cannabis plants typically take 1-2 weeks to recover from topping. During this time, new leaves and branches will grow from the cut stem.

What is the difference between indica and sativa strains?

Indica strains are known for their relaxing and sedative effects, while sativa strains are known for their energizing and uplifting effects.

Can I top autoflowering cannabis plants?

You can top autoflowering cannabis plants, but it’s not recommended as it can lead to stunted growth and reduced yield. LST is a better option for autoflowering strains.

What tool should I use for topping cannabis plants?

You can use clean and sharp pruning shears or scissors for topping cannabis plants.

What mistakes to avoid when topping cannabis plants?

You should avoid over-topping plants, topping too late or early, and failing to maintain proper care post-topping. These mistakes can harm the plant and reduce yields.

Can topping help reduce the height of indoor cannabis plants?

Yes, topping can help reduce the height of indoor cannabis plants, making them more manageable and easier to maintain.


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