Growing Guide Topping cannabis plants

Sista Mary’s Grow Guide 4: Topping Cannabis Plants

As you may recall from Sista Mary’s previous Grow Blog, her Skyrocket cannabis triplets were doing well in the sunny Dutch outdoors. Two weeks ago, the THC Girls Theresa, Hilda and Caroline were repotted into their new mortar tub accommodations. They had grown well past the seedling stage and holding their own against the elements. By now, they have advanced even further towards becoming fully mature cannabis plants. Time for a new grower’s technique. Today, Sista Mary explains how she goes about topping cannabis plants.

Skyrocket Cannabis In The Vegetative Phase

Oh, how fast these little girls grow up! Just a few weeks back, they were emerging from their seeds as they germinated. Then, they rocketed through the seedling phase of the cannabis life cycle, sprouting their first leaves and shooting up towards the sun. The aphids discussed in the previous episode are all gone, munched away by the ladybugs nature provided for free. The past weeks brought some much needed summer showers, so watering the plants was easy. There’s still enough nutrients in the soil, so these ladies are doing just fine.

Skyrocket great cannabis seeds

Now, safe in their bigger flowerpots, the THC Sistaz have truly entered the vegetative stage of their lives. This phase is marked by rapid growth, as the main stem grows taller, the root system expands underground, and the first side branches start putting on extra leaves to catch as much light as they can. Everything is directed at growth in the vegetative phase. However, if you want your weed plants to grow wide instead of just getting taller, you will need to top your plants.

What Is Topping Cannabis Plants?

Topping is a common technique used by gardeners on all sorts of plants. Topping means pruning away the top section of the plant; you simply cut away the end section of the main stem. So why would you top a cannabis plant, you may wonder? Doesn’t it hurt or damage your weed? Well, in fact topping weed plants can have a negative effect on their growth if you get it wrong. That’s why Sista Mary is here to explain how to do it properly!

Why Top Your Weed Plants?

By topping cannabis plants, you redirect the way your crops grow and evolve. Without topping, cannabis has the drive to grow upwards, becoming a big, tall plant with a single main bud, also known as a cola. A cannabis plant will usually develop more than one cola, but the main cola will be the biggest flower bud to harvest later on.

Topping cannabis plants
Big Buds? Yes, I’ll Have Two, Please!

Remember that the cola is where all the good stuff like THC develops in the flowering stage. Now, if you ‘convince’ your plant to grow laterally, i.e., sideways rather than just up to the sky, you will get more branches that grow outward. If you do it right, you’ll get more cola flower buds on these side branches. Yes, they will be a bit smaller than the single bud you’d get without topping. Still, taken together, these smaller buds will yield more harvestable cannabis for you to enjoy. In addition, shorter plants are easier to manage both indoors and out. Thirdly, a broad canopy of leaves will catch more light for your plant to invest in its development. All in all, topping cannabis plants makes sense for most growers. Of course, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to – after all, they’re still your plants!

Topping Cannabis Plants The Right Way

Two things are important when topping marijuana: timing and location. Starting with the ‘when’, you should wait until your plants have several sets of leaves growing out from the main stem. The points where the side branches supporting the leaves connect are called nodes. In the picture below, you can see how the spaces between nodes are called internodes. Wait until your plants have at least three sets of nodes before topping them. Cutting the top section away is stressful for weed plants; they could turn into hermaphrodites if you top too early or too severely, which could ruin your harvest. With at least three sets of nodes, they should be strong enough to cope and grow two new side branches at the node below the point where you topped them.

Skyrocket grow guide topping
Spaces Between Nodes Are Called Internodes

The ‘where’ kind of follows from the ‘when’. Once your plant has three sets of nodes, you can top them above the third node. Removing the tip of the stem will force the plant to grow two new petioles (side branches) that will evolve into new branches with flower buds. Make a clean cut just above the node. After that, your plant should look like the image below.

Topped skyrocket plant
The Plant After Topping

Topping Cannabis Plants More Than Once

If you want, you can top your plants more than once. Just give them enough time to recover from the first cutting and see how they do. Topping several times will lead to even more lateral growth and even more flower buds if you succeed. Of course, the risk of damage also increases with each topping. Just make sure you plan topping cannabis plants the right way: don’t proceed into the flowering stage.

Growing weed at home
Two New Branches Where The Old One Used To Be!

Topless Ladies

So what do the THC Sistaz look like now that they are ‘topless’? Well, after about ten days, the new side branches growing from the node are looking strong and healthy, developing new nodes and leaves as they grow outward and back up again. There are individual differences between the plants, though. Theresa is a bit slower than her Sistaz Hilda and Caroline, lagging behind in growth. That doesn’t necessarily mean she will be less productive, however. Once the flowering stage begins, we will see how each lady buds out. For now, the two Big Sistaz are showing off their pretty, hand-sized leaves and Theresa is following close behind.

All three ladies are now ready for the full glare of the summer sun. After summer solstice on June 21, the days will start to shorten. We will be keeping a close eye on their progress, as the Skyrocket Sistaz make their way to the flowering phase while the autumn approaches!

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