Light bending occurs when a plant tries to grow at an angle towards the light. You may have seen some of the outside plants in your grow area bending towards the light to try and get their share. If your plants bend too much they will eventually grow towards (or even into) another plant. This is not good as they will cover other plants. Also during flowering the buds can get heavy and may cause your plant and pot to fall over. To avoid light bending simply switch your plants around from day to day. If a plant leans too much one way, then take it towards the middle of the pack or turn the plant around. It only takes a day or two for the plant to bend back straight again. If your plants can not be moved, such as in the case of hydroponics in conjunction with a ScrOG grow, then you may have to tie your plants up so that they do not bend.
Figure 11.1 – Here is an example ofsome tied up buds.
If you are outdoors and you have a massive problem with this then you may have to cut away some surrounding foliage to allow more light to get in at your plants. If you can not do this then try to use a small stake and thread, such as bamboo, to keep your plant upright. Remember that if your plants are bending then they are trying to tell you something. They need more direct light!
Many a marijuana cultivator have taken a pair of clippers to the top of their plant just above the last branch formation during the 3rd or 4th week of vegetative growth. The top is removed by shearing it away at the stem. This can also be done during the thinning stages.
What happens next is that the main stem may split off in two or more directions. This creates a V shape at the top of your plant. The end results after flowering are two or more top colas instead of one. Now, many a cannabis grower will tell you that this is a great thing to do and sometimes it is. Two top colas instead of one does sound appealing but alas it must be said that this TOPPING method of pruning does not always work out the way you think it will.
Figure 11.2 – The results of Pruning by Chrisesq.
Figure 11.4 – This is a good example of what a young topped plant looks like. ^s you can see the main stem has been clipped to produce 2 new stems. Picture by Strawdog.
Sometimes the plant will produce two small top colas instead of two big ones. This really depends on the strain and the environment. Many a grower have managed to bring a plant into growing more than six top colas by this method. Each strain will have a threshold for bud production, which can not be improved on. Some plants when grown fully without pruning do not reach their threshold. The strain Blueberry is a good example of this. If you grow blueberry without topping you will not achieve maximum bud production from that plant, but if you do top the blueberry you will. Other strains are not so flexible and by topping you will not increase bud production. The two top colas will simply be sharing the same volume of bud that a single cola would have produced on the same strain. So pruning for production is strain related and grow related. You need to find a strain that responds well to topping.
It is advised that you experiment with this pruning method. Do this with 2 out of 10 females with every grow you do. You will find in time that during this vegetative prune you will be able to shape your plant. Plants are generally pruned 3 – 4 weeks into their vegetative cycle but can be pruned sooner or later or more than once. Pruning during flowering will cause problems with bud production because the plant will divert its energy from bud production into branch and leaf production. The results will be a slower rate of Bud growth.
Remember how we spoke about Indica plants being small and Sativa plants being tall. Well if you learn to prune your plant right you can generate small bushy Sativa plants that grow in tiny spaces. Without pruning the Sativa plant it will probably stretch to five feet and more.
For every stem or branch you prune, the cut area will develop two more branches. Look outside at any tree. See how the stem divides into branches which sub-divide into more branches which divide into new shoots and leaves. Well some marijuana plant only grow a main branch out from the stem and this may stay that way throughout its entire grow. Any filling out usually occurs when new leaves and branches develop at the nodes. Some lateral branches may develop new shoots but these are somewhat small and thin and do not support much bud growth. If we prune our plant we can make it more like the tree that we see in the garden. There is also a limit to how much we can prune. Let us follow a prune path for a moment.
If we prune the stem, it will split into two. We can prune both these two new stems and end up with four stems. We may try to prune each of these four stems to try and create eight stems, but this depends on the strain and its branching limit which is genetically based. We may be able to prune some of the lateral branches but again if the plant has reached it threshold it will not produce more new branches. All strains are different in this respect.
Prune cuts are made using clippers at a 45-degree angle to the shoot being cut.
Light bending occurs when a plant tries to grow at an angle towards the light. You may have seen some of the outside plants in your grow area bending towards
How To Perform Low Stress Training On Cannabis For Better Yields
Low stress training (LST) is a growing technique that involves manipulating the shape of cannabis plants to produce better yields. It’s easy, and can actually be a lot of fun to do! Read on to learn how to LST like a pro!
Even if you don’t have a lot of cannabis growing experience under your belt, you should still consider giving low stress training a try. Low stress training (LST for short) is a simple and methodical way to increase your yield while controlling the height and shape of your plants.
WHAT IS LOW STRESS TRAINING AND WHY DO WE DO IT?
As a yield-boosting training method, LST allows growers to make the most of their available space and light. At its simplest, this training technique involves gently bending and tying down cannabis plant branches and stems. We do this for two reasons: First, cannabis normally grows one large main stem that develops one large, elongated cola. This exists alongside other, smaller side-branches with smaller buds to suit. The natural tendency for cannabis to grow into this “Christmas tree” shape is known as apical dominance. With LST, the goal is to break this apical dominance, instead flattening out the canopy to grow at the same height.
This brings us to the second reason behind LST: better light distribution. By bending and securing plants in a way that breaks apical dominance and evens the height of the canopy, all areas of the plant will be exposed to greater light distribution, thus creating more viable buds sites and larger yields at the end! Not only that, but LST doesn’t even require you to alter your growing setup to achieve great results. All you need is some know-how and a few essential tools.
THE HISTORY OF LOW STRESS TRAINING
If you’re familiar with growing cannabis, you’ll know that plants normally develop a few fat buds toward the top of the plant, with several smaller buds below. This is not only true of cannabis, but many other flowers, fruits, and veggies used by humans.
Over centuries, horticulturists have devised ways to get more out of their plants using simple training techniques. These techniques can involve topping and pruning plants, as well as bending, ScrOG, and all manner of other methods. Although they all differ slightly, each one ensures optimal use of light, space, and resources.
Low stress training is a modern variant of an old technique used to force fruiting trees to grow in a flat structure. The ancient Egyptians are thought to have used similar methods to grow fig trees horizontally more than 3,000 years ago. A method known as espalier then became very popular in 17th century Europe, and made espaliered (ie. carefully trimmed and shaped) hedgerows of fruit trees a common sight. The practice was also widely used in apple and pear orchards—not just for better harvests, but more so as a way to beautify the landscape.
LST: A TRAINING TECHNIQUE THAT YOUR CANNABIS PLANTS WON’T MIND
A key element of this training technique lies plainly in its name; “low stress” is what separates this method from “high stress” techniques like topping. Whereas the latter technique involves cutting off the plant’s main growing tip in an effort to redistribute growth hormone, LST is much gentler. Not only does this decrease the risk of over-stressing your plant, but it means less time spent waiting for your plant to recover and adapt to high stress changes. With LST, there’s no inherent pruning or trimming, although this method is often used alongside other, more severe tek. All in all, plants that undergo LST respond very favourably, and will reward you for your efforts and finesse with healthy, hefty yields of huge buds.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR LST
To properly perform LST on your plants, you need the following equipment:
- Rubber-coated plant wire/soft plant ties
- Thin wooden/bamboo stakes
- Small hand drill
- Duct tape
Although this method requires little supplies, we seriously advise against using regular string to hold down your plants. Regular string or wire is often too thin or harsh, and will cut into the stems and do more harm than good. It’s much better to seek out special plant ties suited for the job.
PREPARE YOUR CONTAINER FOR LST
We keep referring to tying down stems and branches, but to where?! All you need to do is drill several holes around the rim of your growing container. Now you can loop the ties through the holes and around the branches to hold the shoots securely in place.
For even more support options, some thin wooden or bamboo stakes with a length of about 30cm work great to hold everything in place. And lastly, because accidents can happen when we’re bending branches, get some duct tape so you can patch up any snaps or breaks.
HOW TO LST YOUR CANNABIS PLANTS
Let’s get to the interesting bits: how to LST your cannabis plants!
BREAK APICAL DOMINANCE
To start, it’s all about breaking that apical dominance. Begin by bending your main stem gently down toward the rim of the container. Using the soft plant wire and the pre-drilled holes, securely tie the stem in place. Ta da! You’ve just flattened the canopy and made way for future, horizontal growth. This way, light will reach many more buds sites, which in turn will result in a greater yield.
Tips: Some growers choose to first top the main stem, then bend the secondary shoots out to the side. This way, the plant will take on more of a “spider” shape. But even if you’re performing standard LST—without topping—you may want to consider some light defoliation to increase light penetration.
SHAPE AND MAINTAIN YOUR PLANTS
One thing to keep in mind with LST is that you always want to maintain a flat canopy, so no one branch is taller than the other. When it comes to shaping, it’s important to bend shoots outward and away from the main stem. This isn’t rocket science per se, but it is helpful to have a desired shape in mind rather than just winging it. Even this can work, but beginners are better off doing some basic planning to avoid any pitfalls.
Moreover, sometimes accidents can happen, say if you accidentally snap a branch as you’re bending it. No reason to freak out! Plants are actually more robust than one may think. As long as a branch hasn’t entirely come off, you can always fix such mishaps with some duct tape. It will take a week or so to heal, but it won’t be the end of the world.
Likewise, know that LST isn’t something you do once and then you’re done. This technique requires consistent upkeep. The reason for this is that your plant will keep growing regardless of what shape you’ve moulded it into. In time, shoots will grow and leaves will get larger. For this reason, you’ll want to re-adjust your bends once in a while to make sure the canopy stays nicely even.
WHERE AND WHEN TO LST
Some people think LST is for indoor growers only—but this is far from true! Don’t forget, plant training isn’t exactly new, and it began as an outdoor method to boot. If you live in a colder climate such as the UK and other parts of Northern Europe, outdoor LST can be a good way to increase yield during the summer season, even if you’re not blessed with much sunshine. Likewise, LST can also be a helpful tool to keep your outdoor cannabis plants low-profile. A plant that you tied down for a flatter canopy won’t just give you better yields, but will also draw less attention compared to a towering weed plant somewhere out in the wild, just waiting to be discovered!
As for when you should start with LST, the answer here is: as soon as possible. Once your plant is comfortably in its vegetative stage, it will be primed and ready for manipulation. You don’t want to go too early before the plant has established a few good nodes, but you also don’t want to wait around. There is only one time where LST can be genuinely problematic, and this is when your plant is already into full flowering. At this stage, the plant’s stems may be too rigid to bend, and you risk potentially snapping a branch holding your precious buds. This aside, however, you can start LST at pretty much any time during the vegetative phase. The earlier the better.
WHAT ABOUT LST AND AUTOFLOWERS?
Can you LST autoflowers? Absolutely!
Autoflowers grow quickly and don’t require a change in light cycle to initiate flowering, meaning they don’t have much time to recover from high stress training methods like topping and defoliation. With LST, however, plants can still benefit from the optimal light exposure, and they won’t need time to recover since it doesn’t cause any real damage. Although the autos of old likely would not hold up well to LST, the new generation is more than capable of handling it.
In fact, LST can be a great way to boost the yield of your autoflowering ladies! Just know that autos will go into flowering after about 4 weeks, so you should have already made up your mind whether you want to LST them or not! Get started as early as possible for best results.
Here are the top 5 strains to utilise the LST method with:
Chocolate Haze is an absolute treat for the taste buds, with hints of chocolate, sweetness, and earthiness lighting up the tongue when smoked or vaped. The unique terpene profile within the flowers was gifted to this strain via the breeding of parent strains OG Chocolate Thai and Cannalope Haze. Chocolate Haze is a sativa-dominant lady that features 95% sativa genetics and just 5% indica genetics. This results in a potent high that is cerebral, motivating, and very energising. Fuelled by a THC content of 20%, this high takes hold fast, and is often the source of some very interesting and deep conversations.
Chocolate Haze can be grown successfully both indoors and outdoors, and is a strong contender for the LST method. Indoor plants cultivated within grow rooms or tents are capable of rewarding growers with yields of between 475–525g/m². Outdoor plants grown within garden beds or pots are able to produce harvests of up to 500g/plant, and are ready for harvest during late October. Chocolate Haze favours a mild climate and features a flowering time of 9–10 weeks.
Want to increase your yield? Click to learn how to perform Low Stress Training (LST) on your cannabis plants, then watch them pump out copious amounts of bud!