Cutting tops to stop upward growth

Hi, I am in a situation where my legal outdoor plants are getting a bit tall for the space that they are in. I have heard that you can cut the top off and force outward bushy growth as appose to upward growth. Is there any truth to that? If so where would I cut it off? What kind of recoup time will the plants need? Will there be any loss of bud production? Any info will help, thanks!

What stage of growth are you in? Vegetative state you can top the plants…flowering, no.

this is a very important factor if you are in flower too much stress can hermie a plant in veg you can expect several days recovery depending on diet of plants and their general health at time of topping I top early and often. I top first at 5th node then let plant split and train down my 2 new tops

then I top again any side shoots and my 2 new tops once I have them trained where I want them I top around 3 times during a plants veg but bending or super cropping may be a better option for you if you are fairly far along.

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Listen to these guys. Donald is right. If she is in flo"wer no… she’ll turn like he said. Try tieing the limbs down i’ve done it where I put stakes all around th plant and used not real thin cause you don’t want it to cut through the branch but like close line rope or string they use to tie tomatoes up with thats what I use. And just gently bring down each branch to where you want it with out snapping the branch and tie them off and there ya go… heack you may get even more out of your bud that weren’t getting enough light.

Hope this helps


FYI, stress doesn’t guarantee a plant will hermie, it just increases the chance for a plant, if that plant has the capability to easily hermie.

When growing from seed, it can be quite complicated, and this is when this type of stress and hermaphrodites or sex reversals are of the most concern. When growing from clone, the worry is not as significant.

Absolutely, topping during flower is not the best time to do it, and any time you damage your plant, it will slow growth and development some. But if the top cola is ready for harvest, isn’t that the same thing as topping late in flower? Something to think about.

I would suspect, if not done before the vigorous vegetative growth period, then low stress training, bending and tying it lower would be your best bet.

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I prefer to think along an ounce of prevention not that it will cause a hermi but anything that increases odds after time invested is not wise and best avoided where other options are present. That being said I wouldn’t top in flower and since I wouldn’t I would also advise more along the lines of view more options before doing so. There are more reasons I avoid topping in flower than just hermies stress slows plants development and reduces yield during flower once the clock starts hard to slow it down again,
Stress in veg can increase growth by getting plant to release hormones for repairs which the whole plant benefits the simple practice of bending and making micro fractures in stems is a fine example of how some stress at right time boosts growth.

I agree, all these things are things to be aware of and thinking about.

And I’m not saying topping during flower is a good idea, but it could totally depend exactly where the plants are in the grow cycle. If his top is ready, and that is all he needs to cut off, lol. But we’ll have to be more informed before we could make that call.


I am 55 days in from planting the seed, doesn’t appear any buds are even close to flowering. I guess that would be considered vegetative stage. Also is this a good time to cut of dying leaves from an early nute burn situation that has since been fixed? All the leaves that are affected are the earliest to grow and the largest now.

55 days outside…she (it is a she?) is getting ready to flower, I assume, not knowing plant type or it’s growing climate.

If you top it, do it sooner, maybe just the main stem, forcing the other top side branches to produce.
The more you cut, the more you stress, which is not good. It takes time to recover.

Others will post an opinion, I hope, if I steer you wrong…

55 days for an outdoor is a perfect time for topping, although you could go after just 30 days if the plant is healthy and has enough nodes. Im growing outdoors and all plants have started to enter the flowering stage, but have been growing for over 4 months now. What part of the world are you growing in? Is the suns cycle still over 12 hours of light per day? If so then your plants are definitely going to be staying in veg growth for a while. In Aus where i am, the light/dark period got to exactly 12/12 on december 22 I’m fairly sure. Which is basically when a plant should start to slowly show signs of flowering, although some did and some have not started till now. Depending on how much you want your plants to bush out, determines how much you top your plant. If you only want to create two main colas at the top instead of one, you merely top the very top flower. If you want to stunt the plants upward growth and bush it out, go a few nodes down and chop just above whatever node you choose to leave on. Hope this helps. This is all my opinion also, how right or wrong it is i do not know there is a lot more experienced people than me on here.

My outdoor growing knowledge is limited to my area, a May to early October grow…2 1/2 months veg, 2 1/2 months flower… ground thaw to freezing.
It’s good to hear from others with a more “worldly” view, this is a global forum. I do have blinders on, sometimes.

Thanks for all the input. I was prepared to top today, but walked into another problem I had not anticipated. All my plants have drooping leaves. They are all still a nice green color but droopy. I’ve seen this before on over watered plants, but I know for a fact that can’t be it. I stuck my finger as far down into the soil as I could and it was pretty much bone dry. I read another article on here that droopy leaves could also be caused by not watering enough. I’m in South America and the sun is hot as hell and it never rains literally. Usually up around 90F everyday. So I treated my water with ph down to avoid the other issue I had (burnt leaves due to nutrient deficiency) and went ahead and watered them. They hanging in mesh pots and I watered them until the bottoms were damp, not streaming water. I may move to watering every 2-3 days instead of 3-4 days. Also today was the first time I saw some teeny tiny white hairs start to pop up, so I am going to leave the topping alone this time. About a week ago I pruned all the burnt leaves off, so my plants have been through a lot lately and I don’t want to over stress them anymore than they have been. Next time I will be more prepared!

Ok, so I’ve been out of town for about two weeks and my friend that’s watering for me while I’m away said that the plants are increasing in height very rapidly and even past the 5’ mark I had allotted for them to grow. Although my grow is completely legal we don’t want the neighbors sniffing around, so they absolutely have to be topped, which is what I wanted to avoid. Anyway I am now approximately 70 days into grow from seed and want to do this exactly right as to cause as little stress to the plant as possible. Info is outdoor grow feminine seeds purchased from seed shop. Brand is Medical Seeds. I’m in South America so it’s about 90F everyday, never rains. I’m about 5 minutes from the Pacific coast. Sunlight is 12/12 grown in 10’ X 10" mesh pots that are hanging (so the dogs don’t get curious). Using Top Crop Complete soil and PH treated water. (Water here is very high in PH for some reason so I have to use PH down treatment whenever watering). From what I’ve gathered from the responses to this post I should cut just above the set of leaves that are at the height I want. Unfortunately I don’t have pics because I am out of town. Any further in depth suggestions are very much welcome! Thanks

If they haven’t began flowering yet you would want to cut lower since they will continue to get taller but if you top at any set of limbs you get the added plus of an extra top. If you are really ambitious you can clone the top I have taken 12" off the top of plants to keep them shorter make nice clone :wink:

Thanks a lot I appreciate it. As usual your comment led me to another question :blush: I read a lot of posts about cloning, mainly problems that have occurred after the clone has been planted. I may have missed a post, but the way it sounds is that you cut the top and just stick it in some soil and wow another plant is growing! I can’t see it being that simple, but haven’t seen otherwise. How would the base (cut stem) of a top actually grow roots? Is that even possible?

lol it can be that simple with some strains there is lots of info on cloning in Grow Bible and we all do things slightly different cloning powders gels rock wool bubblers peat pellets soil all work. Simple process cut put directly in cold water trim leaf tips or spray with stop wilt then make 45 degree cut through a node with razor dip in powder gel or solution Place in medium of your choosing making sure stem has good contact and is firmly planted. Place in diffuse light 18/6 keep warm and moist and wait depending on system strain and experience roots can appear within a week or 3 far easier than you would think just don’t expect 100% success

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That does sound pretty simple. I will check with my local grow shop for the powder, gel, etc. When you say trim leaf tips, do you literally mean snip maybe half an inch or so of the tip of all leaves on the clone? How far back from the tip would you recommend cutting? Is this done to avoid leaf tip browning?


Trimming leaf tips does 2 things reduces water loss due to transpiration and signals the plant to stop putting energy into the leaves it focuses on the roots instead I like 6" clones but no reason you can’t cut more

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Hey Donald, you have been so helpful through my process of first time growing I had another question for you. I topped one plant that ironically skyrocketed vertically where my other two plants did not. One went bushy and looks absolutely amazing, and the other one is kind of like a skeleton due to the PH and nutrient issues that I had early on. Anyway on the plant that I topped, took off about 6", it went from growing vertically about an inch a day to not growing upward or for that matter bushing out. The color looks good and it is healthy, but it is weeks behind the other two plants in way of flowering. One plant has amazing tiny buds starting to form, the other one also has defined buds starting to form, but the topped plant barely has a few hairs here and there. Is there something I can add to that plant to help the buds/hairs growth increase? My local grow shop has a full line of Top Crop products so I have access to anything they might offer. I am using Top Crop complete soil and although the shop I bought from says all their other inhancement products are already in the soil, I don’t really trust their advice as it has not jived with what you’ve recommended. Also, do you know if Top Crop has a website? I’ve googled them and can’t come up with anything. The one thing I want to avoid is overdoing the nutrients. Thanks for any input!

How many weeks in flower are you? plant’s don’t recover the same in flower as in veg so agressive topping and trimming beyond second week can set it back considerably that being said it should continue to produce buds and bud sites. I am unfamiliar with top crop products but I tend to increase my p-k during first 3 weeks of flower I use Bud Blood as soon as they start to flower and feed them it twice then stop and go to 1-2-3 tsp/gal grow micro and bloom any 3 part I also add terpinator the instant I flip lights I feed feed water and start my flush on week 6 by simply watering with ph’d water for remainder of flower.