When To Stop Topping Outdoor Plants?

When To Stop Topping Outdoor Plants

Topping plants is an old method that is used to cut off the top parts of plants. This way, your plants do not grow just vertically but also with more branches. It is an easy way to increase your plants’ development. There is more depth to topping than just chopping off the top portion of your plant. Certain plants have a growth pattern that makes them grow taller with a focus on a central flower.

On the other hand, smaller flowers can develop underneath the main flower. They don’t grow as vigorous or strong because of the energy focusing on the top plant. You can benefit from topping when growing a plant with tall vegetative growth and a centralized growth pattern.

When to stop topping outdoor plants

If a plant is left to grow on its own, it will grow vertically, focusing all its energy on the main stalk. It will result in one long-dominant cola, which will have smaller stalks surrounding it. These stalks will produce small buds that won’t be good. Eventually, the overall size and yield of the plant will be retarded.  That is why there is a need to do the topping. It makes a plant bushier by cutting off the main stalk. Now plant redirects its energies to the smaller side branches. These branches will have a chance to grow out.

There is a fixed time for every plant when its topping should be started and stopped. A simple way to describe it is to top as many times as you want until you start to bloom. Make sure you take a gap of few weeks in between to let the plant grow out a little bit.

What is topping

When you make cuts on the top of plants, two Y-formed branches should grow. Both these branches will be recognized as central stems by the plant. You don’t have to worry about losing the yield while following this method. The two new apical branches will give rise to a larger quantity of smaller flowers.

Cannibals plants naturally grow with a sort of line shape. That is because they have a gene for being tall skinny plants. Low-stress training (LST) is another method that can be used to train the branches outwards and make wider plants. Still, topping remains the best option because it causes the plant to stop growing vertically.

There is a hormone that plays a crucial role in shaping plants; auxin. At the tip of the main stem, auxins are produced. They flow down through the plant and stop its lateral growth. It is harder for auxins to reach the bottom of the plant. That is the reason when plants grow taller and the lower branches grow out wider. They get their classic Christmas tree shape this way. Topping removes the apex and results in breaking the apical dominance. The side branches grow more when there is no apex.

How to top the plants

For doing the task, you need to grab your tools and give them a thorough cleaning. If you need a clean-cut, your pruning scissors must be sharp. The tools might cause infection in the plants if they contain bacteria. That is why they should be sterilized first.

Next, pick out the spot you want to cut. The newest growth from the main stem should be gotten rid of. As a result of topping, two new branches sprout from the cut. If you want more stems, there is another process called ‘filming for that. It can create up to 9 new stems.

After your plant is done producing 5 to 7 leaf nodes, it should be strong enough to top. Make sure the plants are healthy before you start the process. This consideration is made because the practice stresses out the plants. You should not top too low either as depending on the strain auxins that can still be present. They may cause vertical growth again.

Usually, the plant is cut above the 5th leaf node so that it is sturdy enough to deal with the stress. At least the plant must be 30 days old. This way, a decent amount of lower branches are also left that can grow outwards. When you have topped once, you can keep up with the topping by topping both the branches created. The second and third node also needs topping above them to have time to grow sturdy. Only professional growers do the secondary topping, which maximizes the yield.

After the process, keep a close eye on your plants to see they are recovering nicely.

Why topping the plants

One of the basic reasons to top the plants is the lack of space or discretion. Some plants tend to grow very tall, and low-stress training isn’t enough to keep them down. Whether you are trying to keep them safe from prying eyes or you are trying to fit them into a small grow room, none of it is enough.

Both outdoor and indoor yields can be increased by topping the plants. Many people use this topping technique when they are running low on yield. Because of this method, you can fill out your trellis net. You have to be sure of how light should reach every branch. It will result in amazing buds at the tip of each branch, eventually maximizing your harvest.

When should you top your plants

Topping comes with self-evident benefits. If you set a comparison between a plant that has been topped and the one that hasn’t, you will see remarkable differences. The topped plant will always have bigger yields, more cola, and more flowering nodes than the plant that has been left alone. Topping brings energy to the part of the plant where it needs the most. Some parts of plants had been blocked by tops originally. They get enough light after the topping. You can refer to topping as one way to take control of your plant’s production without risking its health.

When To Stop Topping Outdoor Plants


Should you defoliate outdoor plants?

When cannabis plants are exposed to stress, they store energy in their leaves. Outdoor plants shouldn’t be defoliated because they are exposed to more consistent environmental stress like humidity fluctuations, drought, temperature variations, and harsh winds.

When should you top the second time?

As soon as your plants look strong enough, you can start to the top and train them. To decide whether it is safe to top the plant or not, look for the secondary growth at the lower nodes. You can remove the main shoot when the plant has formed the fifth pair of leaves.

Are topping plants worth it?

Only some of the strains of marijuana respond well to topping. The topping of short, slow-growing Indica strains can increase yield by around five ounces per plant. Some growers feel that it is not worth further retarding their plants’ growth. The good candidates of topping are fast-growing and tall sativas.

Does Lollipopping increase yield?

It not only increases the yield but is also an important garden care task in most cases. Growth must be controlled. If not, you will undoubtedly end up with uneven growth. It is most likely for one cola to dominate. The rest of the plant will have small popcorn buds.


The topping frequency depends on how far along the plant is in the veg stage. A single topping would hardly phase the plant. If your previous topping is two months old or more, another topping will help increase the yield in the long run. Plants must be allowed a few weeks in between toppings to let them grow out a little bit.

I hope that in this short guide will help you to understand when to stop topping outdoor plants and the tips shared here will certainly help you with this.

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