Cannabis Plant Training Methods Explained
Cannabis plants have adapted over the course of thousands of years to grow outdoors in the sunlight. The typical Christmas tree-like shape of cannabis plants is ideal for capturing the sun’s rays; however, with the emergence of indoor cultivation, many growers are finding that their plants are not optimized for artificial grow lights and confined spaces.
Unlike the sun, indoor grow lights typically do not change position during the day, meaning that plants may receive uneven light distribution. What’s more, even the most powerful grow lights lack the penetration of the sun’s powerful rays. Finally, unlike the outdoors, many indoor grow rooms are limited in size. This means that the natural shape of the cannabis plant often is not ideal for indoor cultivation. In this article, we’ll detail several cannabis plant training methods to produce plants that are optimized for a variety of environments.
Benefits of Cannabis Plant Training Methods
Cannabis plant training methods offer a host of benefits for indoor and even outdoor growers. By using various high- and low-stress training techniques, growers can boost the yield of their plants, prevent pests and diseases, and produce perfectly formed plants that are strikingly picturesque.
More Light Penetration
One of the most important benefits of cannabis plant training is increased light penetration. Because indoor grow lights typically remain stationary throughout the day, the plants often do not receive enough light on the lower branches. This can lead to a decrease in the yield and quality of marijuana.
By using various cannabis plant training methods, growers can spread out the branches of their plants, allowing light to penetrate deep into the canopy. This can serve to increase the density and quality of the lower buds and boost the overall yield of the plants. An abundant light source can also help to prevent certain pests and diseases from proliferating on the plants.
Another significant benefit of using cannabis plant training methods is that growers can achieve better airflow in the grow room. By spreading out the branches of the plants, air can flow throughout the canopy, preventing many pests and diseases from invading the plants.
Sativa strains are known to stretch significantly in height during the flowering stage. Plants in this subspecies have developed this trait to outgrow the thick jungle canopy of regions such as South American and Southeast Asia. As a result, many indoor growers cultivate Indica strains, as these strains are often much shorter and more compact.
Growers limited to using small spaces often cannot cultivate large Sativa varieties; however, by using cannabis plant training methods, growers can control their plants’ vertical and lateral growth, allowing them to grow virtually any strain in a confined space.
As cannabis plants mature, the weight of their colas often causes the branches to flop over or snap. Broken stems can sometimes be repaired, but this may stunt the growth of the plants.
By using cannabis plant training methods, growers can encourage their plants to form strong, thick branches that don’t bend or break easily. Thick branches also may allow the plants to uptake more nutrients, enhancing the quality of the buds and boosting the yield of the plants.
Types of Cannabis Plant Training Methods
There is a wide array of cannabis plant training methods suitable for beginner and experienced growers alike. These training techniques typically fall into two categories: high-stress and low-stress training.
While high-stress training may initially stunt the growth of the plants, this type of training usually provides the most significant results. On the other hand, low-stress training tends to be easier on the plants but does not produce the dramatic results that high-stress training often provides.
Low-stress Cannabis Plant Training Methods
General Slow-stress Training (LST)
Low-stress training, also known as LST, involves bending the branches and tying them in place with string, wire, or twist ties. Using this technique, growers typically bend the largest branches down and away from the center of the plant, forcing them to grow laterally rather than vertically. When done correctly, the LST method allows for increased light penetration and airflow into the canopy. Growers should start using this training technique during the early vegetative cycle, as the branches are usually softer and more pliable during this stage than during the flowering period.
Super cropping is a little more complicated than LST training and is generally recommended for more experienced growers. With this technique, growers use their fingers to gently pinch part of the branch until it becomes soft and flexible. The goal is to crush the stem without causing it to fall off the plant entirely. After pinching the stem, growers tie the branch so that it grows laterally rather than vertically. Super cropping is best performed during the late vegetative stage. This will give the plant enough time to recover before the flowering cycle begins. Super cropping requires some practice to perfect and should be approached with caution. When done correctly, this technique encourages the stems to grow thick and strong, spreading out the plant’s canopy and allowing for increased airflow and light penetration.
High-stress Cannabis Plant Training Methods
Topping is a popular high-stress training method that provides many benefits for indoor and outdoor growers. Although this is a high-stress method, it is simple to perform and can be used by beginner and experienced growers. With this technique, growers use sterilized trimming scissors to remove the top of the main stem. The general rule is to wait until the main stem has formed at least five nodes, and only remove the top one to three nodes. Topping can be performed early in the vegetative cycle and can be done several times up until a week before flowering. When done correctly, this technique will encourage the plant to form several colas rather than one main cola.
FIM is said to be an acronym for “f*ck, I missed!” This technique reportedly came about when a grower clumsily attempted to top a cannabis plant. Unlike topping, this method involves removing only a tiny portion of the main stem—usually cutting away roughly 75% of the tip from the top shoot.
Fimming accomplishes similar results as topping, encouraging lateral growth and boosting the plant’s yield; however, this technique is slightly less traumatic, allowing the plant to recover more quickly than a topped plant. Like topping, fimming is best performed during the vegetative growth cycle and can be performed several times up until the flowering stage.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis Plant Training Methods
There is a wide variety of cannabis plant training methods available for growers of all skill levels. The techniques described in this article are just a few of the most popular methods. Growers often utilize multiple training methods, allowing them to optimize their plants for their unique environments.
By using cannabis plant training methods such as LST, super cropping, topping, and fimming, growers can encourage the growth of strong, sturdy branches, allow for more light penetration and airflow, and limit the vertical and lateral growth of their plants to fit their grow rooms. These methods can serve to prevent pests and diseases, increase the quality of the buds, and boost the yield of the plants.
What are your favorite cannabis plant training methods? Let us know in the comment section below.