3 Simple Tricks for Growing Cannabis at Home: Topping, Lollipopping, and Low Stress Training

By Dylan Osborn
Published: June 13, 2017 | Last updated: May 25, 2021 11:05:42
Key Takeaways

​Growing cannabis at home can be a lot of fun and a relaxing way to spend your free time. It can also be a very rewarding activity when harvest comes around, but if you don't know what you are doing, your crop can be a letdown.

After two-plus months of nursing your cannabis plants to success, it is very disappointing to walk away with just a couple of ounces of dried bud.


Luckily, you can easily turn your cannabis plants into bushy and bountiful plants that easily produce several ounces each. All you have to do is incorporate these three plant training techniques: topping, three-finger LST (low stress training), and lollipopping.

All of these tricks are things you can use whether you are growing indoors, outdoors or in a greenhouse, and they are extremely easy to implement.


Before I dive into more detail on these different growing tricks, I would like to mention that if you are growing indoors, it doesn't matter how much training you do if you don't have the appropriate amount of lighting in your growroom. This doesn't mean you can’t use these tricks when growing indoors, just remember to adjust your lighting accordingly.

Topping is the first method of training I will discuss, as it is one of the most shocking to the plant.

Topped cannabis plant.Topped cannabis plant.


Topping Cannabis Plants

Topping is a technique in which the grower snips the top of the cannabis plant in a specific area, and as a result two to four new main branches grow up from that node. Always use a clean pair of trimmers as you can infect your plant and kill it if you don’t.

Topping is something that should be done until that plant is a week or two into vegetation, and is a technique that can be done multiple times. Just be sure to spread each topping out by at least two weeks.


Again, this method is one of the most damaging to the plant as you are actually cutting off a piece of the plant, but if you are gentle and use a clean pair of trimmers, your plant will recover quickly.

Read also: Calculating Cannabis Yields

When growers top their plants, they also commonly extend the vegetation period by a couple months or so, depending on how large a harvest they are looking for. If you wanted, you could keep your vegetation period going for six months and you would harvest a couple of pounds per plant.

The reason for this is it allows for the plant to grow into a much larger size, and allows the grower to top it several more times so that the amount of main colas on the plant is in the dozens. The more tops, or main colas on the plant, the larger the harvest will be as this is the main area of bud production.

Low stress training applied to a cannabis plant Low Stress Training (LST)

Low Stress Training

Three-finger LST (low stress training) is the next method I would like to cover, and is also one of the most important. This is something you should be doing to your plants at least every other day during the vegetation stage if you want to maximize yields.

The way you do this technique is you take your thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger and grab one of the top branches with just those three fingers. Then, you gently bend the branch down and out, away from the center of the plant.

What this does is allows for light to reach the nodes down below, and this causes more tops to grow up to the main canopy. It will also help you form a bushy shaped plant with a large canopy. When applying low stress training, be sure to bend the branch to the point where it stays bent over, but isn't snapped in half. It might seem like you are doing damage, but trust me, these plants are extremely resilient and will be standing back up by the next day.

You sometimes may go too far with LST and a branch might actually snap a little and tear. Do not worry, as you can still come back from this. All you need to do is wrap the branch with tape so it is held together flush, and within a week it will have fused itself completely back together.

Read also: How to Set Up a Screen of Green (SCROG) Cannabis Grow

Once you feel it is safe, you can unwrap the tape and examine the new growth. Most times you will see growth which looks like a massive ball growing right at the joints of the damaged branches. This is a good sign and is actually caused from an increased flow of nutrients and supplies to that area of the plant so it can heal itself faster. This also causes the branches to grow thicker and stronger, allowing larger buds to grow from it.

Another great reason for using low stress training is to maximize the use of your growing space. If you are growing in a 6x8-ft. grow tent but are only utilizing a little part of that, that’s a huge waste. With LST you can train your plants so the canopy covers the width of your whole growroom, and leaves no space to waste.

If you really want to go crazy with low stress training, you can use hooks or tie downs, to hold the branches down in place. This really allows you to spread the branches out word, and even causes the plants to speed up their growth rate. It is really an odd thing, but it really seems like the more training and LST you do, the faster cannabis plants tend to grow.

Lollipopped cannabis plants.Lollipopped cannabis plants.


Lollipopping is the third and final technique I am going to cover in this article and it is all about maximizing the growth of the main cola buds up top, while eliminating the small, wispy buds at the bottom.

The way this is done is by completely trimming off all foliage that is growing on the bottom third of the plant. Any tiny branches, leaves, etc. that is growing below that point, you chop it off so all that is left are the bare main branches leading up to your main colas.

What this does is allow for the plant to focus all of its energy and nutrition to those top main colas so they can grow even bigger than before. It’s also nice because it eliminates those tiny, wispy buds from below that aren't as potent and tasty anyways, and maximizes the main colas, which are where the top-shelf buds are.

Read also: How to Master Cannabis Mainlining


Now that I have explained these three simple yet effective techniques, it is time you go out there and apply them to your grow so you can maximize your efforts. It is true that you can use just one of these techniques or two at a time, but it is when you use all three together that you really maximize your yields.

Also, remember these plants are extremely resilient. So, have some fun and experiment with different training techniques and how you apply them to your plants. I promise you will learn a ton without harming your cannabis plants in the slightest. Thank you for reading and happy growing!

For more details, check out the author's video on topping and LST.


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Written by Dylan Osborn | Greenhouse Grower, Owner of GreenBox Grown

Profile Picture of Dylan Osborn

Dylan Osborn is a greenhouse grower with more than five years of experience. He has a passion for teaching others how they can grow cannabis from the comfort of their home. Dylan is the founder of GreenBox Grown, creator of the most Affordable Cannabis Growing Starter Kits.

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