The cultivation of cannabis has never been more popular. As the world tilts toward legalization and widespread acceptance, more and more people are learning how to grow their favorite marijuana strains from the comfort of home.
Whether you’re working with seeds or you are developing clones that you’ve purchased, you must come to terms with the fine line between topping and pruning. Correctly topping your cannabis plant can be the key to a healthier plant with a better overall yield.
Let’s explore the wild world of topping cannabis plants before looking at the advantages, techniques, and tools that you will benefit from the most.
What Does It Mean to Top Marijuana Plants?
If left to thrive unfettered in nature, cannabis plants will grow from one main stem. When topping in a garden or grow room, you are cutting the top of the main stem to develop secondary growth tips. These tips will develop into bud and cola sites during the flowering stage, thus increasing the total bud sites while keeping your plant flat, wide, and more evenly exposed to your lights.
The idea of cutting and trimming away parts of your live cannabis plant may seem a slight bit strange. However, this technique is effective as it helps to maximize the resources that you are using while minimizing energy loss from your plant. When untouched, a single stalk will deplete all of the energy of your marijuana plant, leading to one giant cola with many small, larfy, and poor-quality bud sites along the way.
From seeds and germination to curing your cannabis, there are zero unimportant steps during the process.
When Should I Aim to Top My Plants?
Making any dramatic adjustments to the plant that you are growing can cause adverse health effects. When dealing with marijuana, it is important to explore topping only after your seeds have developed into strong and healthy plants. Cutting away from the body of the plant can cause trauma, so make sure that your marijuana plants are firmly in their vegetative state before attempting to top them.
When your cannabis plant is allowed to grow vertically from one stalk, a single cola will receive the vast majority of light while the lower branches are largely ignored. By cutting new sites early on in the vegetative stage, we can raise the number of bud sites while dramatically increasing the overall quality of our yield. Eventually, these side branches will also get topped to create even more side branches and bud sites.
Traditionally, a marijuana plant will get topped between one and three times per grow cycle.
How to Top My Weed Plants
To properly top your plants, you will want to have all of the appropriate tools on hand. Topping the main stalk is a great place to begin and you’ll want to target the plant above its fifth node. By targeting this location, you will allow your plant plenty of side branches so it can bush out and extend its body. Subsequent cuttings and toppings from the same plant should be targeted toward the second or third node as the plant itself bushes out.
No matter where you plan to target your topping efforts, you’ll need the right equipment. To ensure that you are prepared at all times, collect these items before beginning your growing adventure:
- Pruning Scissors / Razor Blade
- Rubbing Alcohol
To top your marijuana plant, all you need to do is the following:
- Prepare Your Tools – Get your disinfectant, gloves, rubbing alcohol, and cutting instrument. We suggest using a sharpened razor blade or a pair of durable pruning scissors. The sharper your blade, the better; a clean cut will allow for the quickest and healthiest action.
- Sterilize Your Blade – Now that you have your tools together, take a moment to sterilize the blade with rubbing alcohol. While it is rare for a plant to become infected during the topping phase, it’s not unheard of. By sterilizing your tools, you can ensure that even those “once in a blue moon” problems don’t happen to your crop.
- Target the Right Node – Most first cuts will begin on the fifth node. By cutting just above the fifth node on the main stem of the plant, you’ll allow your marijuana the space it needs to branch out and grow in a healthy manner.
- Monitor Your Plant(s) – After cutting away from the fifth node, it is time to keep an eye on your plant. Cutting away from your marijuana can cause a ton of stress, so look for any adverse changes in the ensuing days. Provide a lot of water and light to make sure that your plant remains in good health.
- Wait to Repeat – If you decide that you want to top your plant again, try to wait at least a couple of weeks. Give the plant time to recover from the trauma of its first cut, and you’ll be able to repeat the process within a few weeks.
Benefits of Topping Marijuana Plants
A field with thousands of cannabis plants paints a pretty crowded picture, doesn’t it? In this scenario, the plants will compete for carbon dioxide, light, and other forms of nutrition. When plants fight for access to pollination and light, they will grow skinny and tall rather than flat and bushy. For female plants, this is a survival mechanism to ensure that at least one cola site is standing tall, ready to receive pollination from a male plant via the wind.
There are many other reasons for marijuana plants to be topped, so let’s highlight them below.
- Increased Bud Sites – In nature, cannabis is more worried about surviving than thriving. In a controlled growing environment, we can produce numerous bud sites while still ensuring the health of the plant.
- Improved Total Yield – While survival is the goal in nature, cannabis cultivars want to see large yields and sticky resin production. When we turn one bud site into five, we increase our production while enjoying better results.
- Create More Room For Light – Trimming and pruning plants can open up access to more resources for other plants in your garden. Cutting away branches and excess leaves will allow more energy to be funneled toward the quality buds that we care so strongly about.
Don’t let your cannabis plant overwhelm you during your grow. Learn how to properly top your plant and enjoy the benefits of your labor when it’s time to harvest!