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Apical dominance

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Apical Dominance: The Key to Plant Growth Regulation

Apical dominance is a fundamental concept in plant physiology that plays a crucial role in regulating the growth and development of plants. It is a phenomenon where the main, central stem or shoot, known as the apical meristem, exerts control over the lateral buds or branches. This mechanism helps plants optimize their growth patterns and adapt to changing environmental conditions. In this article, we delve into the concept of apical dominance, its underlying mechanisms, and its significance in cannabis cultivation.

Understanding Apical Dominance:

In plants, growth occurs through the activity of meristems – regions of actively dividing cells that generate new tissues. The apical meristem is located at the tip of the main stem or shoot and is responsible for primary growth, leading to increased height and the development of leaves and flowers. When the apical meristem is active, it produces a hormone called auxin, which inhibits the growth of lateral buds located in the axils of leaves along the stem.

The Role of Auxin:

Auxin is a key plant hormone that regulates various aspects of growth and development. In the context of apical dominance, auxin suppresses the growth of lateral buds by inhibiting their elongation and branching. This occurs through a process called apical bud dominance, where the concentration of auxin in the apical meristem is higher than in the lateral buds. As a result, the apical meristem retains control over the plant’s growth pattern, directing resources to upward growth rather than lateral branching.

Factors Influencing Apical Dominance:

Several factors can influence the strength of apical dominance in plants, including environmental conditions, light exposure, and genetic factors. For instance, plants grown under low light conditions or with limited access to nutrients may exhibit weaker apical dominance, leading to more branching and bushier growth patterns. On the other hand, well-nourished plants with ample access to light typically display strong apical dominance, resulting in more vertical growth and fewer lateral branches.

Apical Dominance in Cannabis Cultivation:

Apical dominance has important implications for cannabis growers, especially those aiming to optimize their yields and manage plant architecture. By understanding and manipulating apical dominance, cultivators can shape the growth of cannabis plants to suit their specific needs.

Topping and Pruning:

Topping is a common technique used in cannabis cultivation to promote lateral branching and increase overall yields. It involves cutting off the apical meristem, removing the dominant growth point, and encouraging the plant to distribute auxin to lower lateral buds, stimulating their growth. This results in a bushier plant with more flowering sites, potentially leading to higher bud production.

FIMing (Fuck, I Missed):** FIMing is a variation of topping that involves removing a portion of the apical meristem, rather than cutting it entirely. This gentle approach allows some apical auxin to remain, while still encouraging the development of lateral branches.

Supercropping: Supercropping is a technique where growers gently bend stems to damage the inner tissues without breaking the outer skin. This stress signal triggers a response that redirects auxin flow to lateral branches, stimulating their growth.


Apical dominance is a natural regulatory mechanism that influences the growth and architecture of plants, including cannabis. By understanding the role of auxin and how it affects the dominance of the apical meristem over lateral buds, growers can employ various techniques to manipulate plant growth and optimize yields. Whether through topping, FIMing, or supercropping, cannabis cultivators can harness the power of apical dominance to create bushier, more productive plants and enhance the overall success of their cultivation endeavors.

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