how to top a weed plant

When & How To Top A Weed Plant: Helpful Guide

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. more info

You might be familiar with some of the techniques used to increase the yield when growing marijuana. Some are more common than others. One method of increasing the overall yield from your cannabis plants is to top them. Now, as you are about to find out, topping at first seems like a counterproductive and downright weird method of increasing the yield, but it does work like a charm when done right (it’s well worth picking up this FREE grow bible, it has some great information).

Topping a weed plant involves cutting off the main stalk near the top during the vegetative state, thus causing the top 2 branches to become the main stalks, so to speak, thus doubling the amount of pot you can get from the top of the plant. It sounds odd, but we will explain in greater detail how and when to top a weed plants the right way.

If you want to greatly increase the yield from your weed plants, topping your cannabis plants is a great option to keep in mind. Here is everything you need to know.

What Is Topping A Cannabis Plant?

Topping a cannabis plant is a technique that is often used to increase the number of top colas, or the big buds that grow at the top of the weed plant. Topping a weed plant involves cutting off the main stalk at the top, well under the main crown cola, before it gets a chance to grow.

Now, it might sound counterintuitive to cut off the top of the main stalk of the weed plant, because after all, this is where the biggest and best marijuana bud grows. However, trust us when we say that topping a weed plant, or cutting off the main cola stalk at the top, is not something people would do if it did not come with certain benefits.

The main point of topping a weed plant is not to reduce the pot yield you get, but actually to increase it. This is because generally speaking, if you cut off the main stalk at the top before flowering begins, it should technically increase the number of nodes where branches and buds grow, thus actually splitting the main stalk in two.

Since you are doubling the number of nodes and branches near the top, you will also end up increasing your overall yield.

The Benefits Of Topping A Marijuana Plant

benefits of topping a weed plant

So, as you may have gathered, the main benefit of topping your weed plants is that it provides you with a much higher yield when it comes time to harvest your pot plants. No, you will not totally double the yield, but you will increase it by a whole lot.

The point here is that when you top your weed plants, by cutting off the top of the main stalk, you therefore cause the two side nodes at the top of the stalk to effectively become the main cola producing branches.

So, in all reality, instead of one big stalk with a really big weed bud growing on top, you now have 2 very large branches with two large colas growing. At the end of the day, this means that your weed plant will produce a lot more pot. It’s a common technique often used to greatly increase final yields.

Do keep in mind that when you top a weed plant, you are cutting off the main stalk, and from that main stalk, no further growth will occur. However, of course, this then means that the top lateral branches both take over as the main colas, and at the end of the day, this results in much higher yields than if you did not top your weed plants.

On a side note, if you have a grow room with limited height, topping your weed plants can also help to keep them fairly short, and therefore they will requite less room in terms of height, which can be very beneficial depending on your grow room.

When To Top Weed Plants

One very important thing to know about topping your weed plants is that there is a right time to do it and a wrong time.

cannabis plant vegetive state

Best Time To Top Weed Plants?

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind here is that a weed plant can only be topped during the vegetative state, and not during the flowering state.

If you cut off the top of the stalk, or really engage in any other such pruning and manipulation during the flowering phase, you may and very likely will cause irreparable and irreversible damage to the plant. If you top your weed plant during the flowering stage, changes are almost 100% that you will end up with absolutely no main colas whatsoever, which would of course be very counterproductive.

Now, on the other hand, it is also important to note that you cannot top a cannabis plant way too early, and never in the seedling stage, or even in the first couple weeks of the vegetative state. Once again, if you top your weed plant too early, you may also, quite likely, cause irreversible damage and end up with no top cola at all.

What is important to focus on here are the nodes of the weed plants, which are the sections of your pot plant where branches grow out of the main stalk, where large buds will then form. What you need to know here is that you should never top a weed plant before the plant has at least 4 of these nodes.

Most professionals would even recommend waiting until the cannabis plant has 6 nodes before you top them. Keep in mind that if you top your pot plant below the fourth node, chances are huge that you will not leave enough main branches on the weed plant to develop properly and to supply you with a high yield.

Generally speaking, topping a weed plant should be done after about a month of vegetative growth.

Note: We have covered our favorite 5 lights for the vegetive growth on a separate article, you can check it out here.

How To Top A Weed Plant

Topping a weed plant is really quite easy, as long as you do so at the proper time. There is really barely any work involved here, and you also do not require any special tools for this task either.

All you have to do to top a weed plant is to take a pair of trimming scissors (here are our top 10), pruning shears, or really any kind of sharp scissors that are large enough to cut through the main marijuana stalk. Snip off the main stalk right above the top lateral branches, preferable above the 5th or 6th nodes, and that is it.

Do keep in mind to leave about 2 inches of space between where you cut and the main branches, as this will reduce the risk of severe or permanent damage, especially when it comes to splitting the main stalk right down the middle or damaging the lateral branches below.

It really just involves cutting off this part of the plant. To make sure that the plant does not get infected in any way, make sure to sterilize the scissors or pruning shears beforehand.

Topped Plants vs Non Topped

Not all people want to or need to top their weed plants. Yes, it is a technique used to keep plants a little shorter than they would usually grow to, as well as to increase the overall yield by causing lateral branches to take over as the main cola producing stalks. This really is the difference between a topped weed plant and a non-topped weed plant.

A non-topped weed plant is going to grow larger than a topped weed plant, and it is going to have one main stalk with a main cola, as opposed to a topped weed plant that has several lateral branches taking over as the main cola producing stalks, and therefore greatly increasing the final yield.


When all is said and done, the fact of the matter is that topping a weed plant is very easy to do and only takes a couple of minutes. As long as you remember to top the weed plant at the right time, you can end up greatly increasing your yield by a couple of ounces.

This is an old and trusted technique that really works quite well. If you are unsure, you can always start out by trying this weed plant topping technique with a single plant, and then go from there.