It doesn’t matter if you grow indoors or outdoors, or whether you have a large or small cannabis garden, training your marijuana plants is a technique that every cannabis grower should know. There are two main types:
- High Stress Training (HST): Involves the removal or breakage of parts of the marijuana plant.
- Low Stress Training (LST): Focuses on bending but not breaking your plants, so there is no direct damage if you do it correctly.
According to some expert growers, implementing an HST or LST technique could boost your yields by an incredible 40%! It is unquestionably one of the easiest – and cheapest – ways to bump your yield. Otherwise, you may need to make expensive investments to improve your automation setup or lighting.
If you’ve ever managed a weed plot and simply allowed your plants to grow at-will, you’ll have noticed that they tend to grow in a ‘Christmas Tree’ shape. This is great for outdoor plants as they are exposed to sunlight, but isn’t ideal if you grow indoors and use artificial lights. The sun rises and sets each day, which means your plants receive light from the sides.
Unless you invest in a sophisticated lighting structure where the light’s movement mimics the sun’s, the sides and bottom of your plants will not get enough light.
When you use a training technique, you are aiming to alter the chemical balance in your marijuana plants. When weed grows naturally, it produces a main bud (otherwise known as a cola), which reaches as high as it can towards the light. While it could produce a very tall plant, the cola usually produces a suboptimal yield and reduces the quality of the cannabis.
While the sun provides enough light from approximately 93 million miles away, that 1,000-Watt HPS light is useless from more than a few feet away! In cannabis, growth is largely determined by a plant hormone called auxin, which is concentrated at the top of your marijuana plants, meaning the majority of the plant’s focus is on growing upwards via the main stalk.
When you use training techniques such as the two methods described in this article, you restrict upward growth and encourage more even growth. The end result is – or should be – more buds, higher potency, and greater yield.
High Stress Training (HST) for Marijuana Plants
Please remember that all of these HST methods involve “damaging” the plant slightly. By ‘stressing’ out your plants, there is always the danger that you’ll permanently damage – or at least reduce yield quantities – if you get the technique wrong.
Overall, HST techniques are better for large outdoor gardens and require fewer materials than their LST counterpart.
Barring the method of “Super Cropping,” which can be performed in the early part of flowering, all of the following HST methods should be completed during the vegetative stage. It takes several days for your plants to recover, so performing HST during flowering is a bad idea.
Topping marijuana plants is one of the simplest HST techniques, but you need long fingernails to do it right! It involves damaging the plant at a very young age to cause it to grow more bud sites. As you can probably guess from the name, topping involves removing the top of the plant. If you do it right, the top buds turn into two new branches, and also shocks the plant into further growth near the bottom. Make sure you stop ‘topping’ at least a week before flowering, but you can repeat the process several times.
Super Cropping / Stem Mutilation
This tactic is akin to LST, albeit a more aggressive alternative. Rather than tying the top of the plant down, bend the branch until its fibers break and it folds over. Do NOT snap the branch or tear the stalk’s skin. To super crop correctly, choose the place where you want the breakage before rolling and squeezing the stem.
You should feel it weaken before it starts to break down and falls over. Do this properly, and the rest of the marijuana plant gains much-needed exposure to light.
FIM (“F*ck, I Missed”)
FIM is a more complex version of topping. You need to remove a specific portion of the top of the marijuana plant. When you remove the topmost region only, you can produce four branches rather than the two associated with topping. While this offers a greater reward, it is also harder and riskier with infection becoming a real possibility due to the lack of a clean cut on the stalk.
And if you mess up? Well, this is where the technique nameskae comes from, as you’ll likely be lookinng down at your mutilated plants while saying “F*ck, I Missed.”
Low-Stress Training (LST)
Although LST tends to take longer and involve more effort than its HST equivalent, it will boost your crop’s yield without subjecting it to unnecessary stress. As a result, it is possible to perform LST methods during the early stages of flowering, although it is best to stick to LST during the vegetative stage. Aside from LST itself, there is also the Screen of Green method, better known as SCROG (see below).
The LST method includes bending the marijuana plant when it grows, simply by tying down any branches that are getting too long.
Once the top of the plant is pulled into an ‘L’ shape (loosely), the chemical auxin should be distributed more evenly throughout your plant. Make sure you continue to tie down the top of the plant as it grows because it will continue the flow of the precious auxin.
We recommend using special plant tape to complete the process. If you use duct tape or something else, you could end up choking the plant. Ultimately, you want to have the plant’s stalks growing around the pot. If this happens, a significant number of bud sites will be exposed at an even height. During flowering, the colas shoot up from the now-sideways plant and are all at an even level.
SCROG (Screen of Green)
The SCROG method of training marijuana plants includes the use of a screen; rather than tying down your plants, you simply wait for them to grow right through the special screen. When the branches begin to break through, tuck them back into the screen. By weaving the branches around the screen in this manner, the idea is to benefit from increased cola growth and ultimately, bigger nugs and more robust yields.