Low Stress Training (LST) Cannabis
Low-stress training (LST) is a method of altering the shape and size of cannabis plants. This technique is a simple and popular way to increase the yield of cannabis plants in both indoor and outdoor gardens. It also allows growers to cultivate the plants in confined spaces. This article will discuss the benefits of low-stress training, how to perform this technique, and which marijuana strains are best to train.
What Is Low Stress Training?
The LST method allows growers to maximize their growing space by modifying the structure and increasing the yield of their cannabis plants. Marijuana plants typically grow in an apical dominance pattern. This means that they form a single top cola with smaller lateral branches surrounding it at the base of the plant, much like the shape of a Christmas tree. These lower branches receive less light and nutrients than the top colas and often form tiny and fluffy buds.
By using the LST method, growers can encourage their plants to form multiple top colas that will produce more bud sites than they would have in their natural form. This training method evens out the canopy of the plants, allowing for light to be distributed more evenly across each branch.
The LST technique is performed by gently bending and tying down the stems and branches of the cannabis plants. This is usually executed during the vegetative growth stage when the stalks of the plants are soft and pliable. Bending the branches during the flowering stage may stunt bud formation or cause the stems to snap.
Benefits of Low Stress Training Cannabis
The most significant benefit of low-stress training cannabis is that it tends to increase the yield of the plants significantly. By tying down the plant’s main stem, the lateral branches will start developing new bud sites and grow to form multiple top colas that produce big, dense buds. The LST method also encourages the stems to become thicker and more durable, preventing them from breaking due to high winds or other forces.
Increased Airflow and Light Penetration
Spreading out the branches of the plants will allow for light and airflow to penetrate deeper into the canopy. This will help increase the size and density of the lower buds and prevent pests and diseases from taking hold in the garden.
Decreased Vertical Growth
Indoor growers tend to have limited space to cultivate their plants. This often makes growing large Sativa-dominant strains a difficult feat to accomplish. By using low-stress training, growers can encourage more lateral growth and prevent the plants from stretching significantly during the flowering period.
The most obvious benefit of low-stress training cannabis is that it does not cause as much trauma to the plants as high-stress training methods such as topping or fimming often do. By avoiding cutting or snapping the branches, growers can avoid stunting the growth of their marijuana plants. This will allow the plants to complete the vegetative cycle as quickly as possible.
How To Perform Low Stress Training
The first step in the LST process is to prepare the plant containers by cutting several small holes around the top of the pots. These holes will be used to tie the branches down with string, twist ties, or wire. The easiest method is to use a power drill to cut the holes around the lip of the container. The more branches you plan on tying down, the more holes you will need.
The second step is to delicately bend the plant’s main stem and tie it to one of the holes on the upper lip of the container. By tying down the main stem, the light will reach the lower branches, and the plant will begin to grow in a horizontal pattern.
As new branches start to appear, growers tie them down to encourage more and more lateral growth. This process is repeated several times during the first four to six weeks of the vegetative period until multiple branches have formed. It is a good idea to have some duct tape on hand when bending the branches so that they can be quickly repaired if they snap.
Once multiple branches have formed, it is a good idea to prune to lower leaves from the plants, as they can prevent air from circulating in the garden. If the canopy becomes too thick, pests and diseases may start to invade the plants.
When To Start Low Stress Training Cannabis
The branches and stems of cannabis plants often become very rigid during the late vegetative and early flowering periods. This is because the plants are getting ready to support the weight of the heavy marijuana flowers that they will soon start producing. These rigid branches may snap if they are bent too far. Low-stress training during the flowering period may also stunt the bud production of the plants and diminish their overall yield. As a result, it is best to begin low-stress training cannabis as soon as possible during the early vegetative period. Once the plants have formed three to five nodes, they are likely ready to be trained.
Best Marijuana Strains for Low Stress Training
Most cannabis plants will benefit from low-stress training; however, this method is particularly helpful with Sativa or Sativa-dominant varieties of marijuana. Plants within this subspecies often tend to grow very tall during the flowering period. By using the LST method, growers can limit the vertical growth of these strains. Popular cannabis strains that greatly benefit from the LST method include California Cannon, Purple Diesel, Citron, and Texas Toasted.
Low Stress Training Autoflowering Strains
Autoflowering plants have a very rapid growth period and do not require changes in the light cycle to begin flowering. As a result, it is often best to avoid high-stress training autoflowers, as it may stunt their growth. By using low-stress training, growers can boost the yield of their autoflower plants without the risk of stunting them.
Final Thoughts on Low Stress Training Cannabis
Low-stress training (LST) cannabis is an easy and effective way for growers to maximize the space in their gardens. This technique is suitable for indoor and outdoor gardens alike and can be performed by growers of all skill levels. This training method offers a host of benefits such as boosting yield, increasing light and airflow, decreasing vertical growth, and preventing the plants from becoming stunted.
Have you tried low-stress training? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.
Photo/Grow Credits: @latverian_garden (2021) LST Cannabis Plant