“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, goes the popular phrase. For a cannabis plant, that’s true, almost. Like most plants, when cannabis events live through stressful events like losing a lot of foliage, they bounce back even bigger. In the wild, this helps them to prepare for potential future damage by building more and stronger foliage.
In a cannabis garden, you can use this tendency to your advantage. By causing your plants a lot of stress, you can trigger new growth. This new growth gives your plant more places where it can grow buds. In the wild, this allows plants that can survive hard times to spread more of their genetics. In a cannabis grow, it boosts your final harvest in a quick and efficient manner.
What Is High-Stress Training?
There are a couple of ways to high-stress train your plants. The fundamental concept of high-stress training is that trimming your plants down a lot encourages new growth. When a cannabis plant is trimmed well, it will sprout two new stems from the place where it was cut. Since buds primarily grow at the top of a cola, this trim results in twice as many places for bud to grow.
The two main methods of high-stress training are topping and fimming. Both involve cutting off the top of a plant in order to trigger two if not more, stems. The difference is what and where the plant is cut. Fimming, however, can be trickier to do right than topping.
High-stress training has some risks, so always take precautions before cutting your plants. This training method works by cutting your plant in order for it to heal better than it was. If you cut poorly or have pest problems, your plants might not heal the way that you want. High-stress training is best done when you are confident in your grow skills. If you’re new to growing cannabis, trying high-stress training just one or two plants out of your grow. That way you don’t risk your whole harvest.
Equipment Needed for High-Stress Training
The biggest requirement for high-stress training is a sharp pair of plant clippers. The sharper the blades, the cleaner the cut. Clean, even cuts heal quicker than jagged cuts. When you’re dealing with high-stress situations for your plant, the simpler you make the recovery, the better. Plants will heal themselves, after all.
How to Use High-Stress Training
High-stress training is a good choice if you want to make the most out of a limited number of plants. The two most common choices for high-stress training, topping and fimming, both work similarly. By forcing your plant to grow multiple colas, you quickly develop more sites for buds to grow. You have to keep your plants’ safety in mind, though. It’s easy to damage your plant permanently if you aren’t cautious. Topping and fimming both require specific cuts in specific locations in order for your plants to heal properly.
Topping your plant is essentially cutting the top half of your plant off. It may seem drastic, but it can result in intense regrowth and a bushier shape. Some growers even top their plants multiple times, in order to achieve eight total colas. This is a specific subset of cannabis training called manifolding. The basics of topping are simple, as long as you are confident in your plants’ health.
The first time you should top your plant is when it has developed seven or eight leaf nodes. Waiting until this point helps make sure that your plant is strong enough to survive the cut. You’ll cut the plant just above the fourth or fifth node from the bottom. This removes the top three nodes, while leaving several sets of developed, healthy leaves. In the next couple of days, you should see a pair of new stems developing from the site.
Leave 1/2 to 1 inch of stem above the highest node that you’re leaving on the plant. This will help the plant recover more quickly than cutting lower. It also helps prevent the stem from splitting, which might occur when the cut is messy or jagged. If you’re worried about damage, tie the stem with twine or a plant tie. However, do not seal the cut you’ve made. That can prevent the re-growth.
You can top your plant again after the first instance. Once each of the new branches has grown three or four new leaf nodes, cut them down to only two nodes each. These cuts will act the same way as the first, sprouting another two branches each. Manifolding is the process of cutting three total times, double the number of stems until you hit eight or more branches.
If you don’t want to top multiple times, you can try fimming instead. Where topping involves cutting just the stem, fimming cuts slightly higher – right through the leaves at the top of your plant. You’re not only cutting the stem, but also the next potential stem. Some growers choose to pinch the top instead of cutting, as this spurs more stem growths.
You can get anywhere from three to eight stems from fimming. However, this is less predictable than topping. You will need to wait about a week before your plants restart their growth, and it won’t pretty, initially. It will recover, however, and should make your plants bushy quickly.
When to Use High-Stress Training
If you don’t mind extending your vegetative phase a week or two, high-stress training can get you great results. Healthy plants will get you better results, so high-stress training is best for advanced growers. A history of successful grows is a good indication that your plants will survive and thrive after topping.
How to Choose the Right Plants to HST
Most strains can be trained with high-stress training techniques. Sativa plants in particular respond well to HST. Since Sativa strains tend to grow in a single tall cola, you’ll see the biggest difference in overall shape by topping Sativa plants. You can get good results from Indica strains, too, but they are naturally bushier. The difference between a topped and an untopped Indica plant is less dramatic than with Sativa.
In general, choose hardy strains. Recovering from high-stress training takes effort on the part of the plant. Less delicate strains can bounce back from topping and fimming more quickly. Strains that like to absorb lots of nutrients or that get particularly tall naturally are great choices.
Don’t use autoflowering strains for high-stress training. They flower so quickly that topping your plants will simply cut off their bud sites. While they do grow quickly, they don’t recover from topping before continuing growth.
High-stress training puts pressure on your plants, but cannabis is willing and able to meet it. If you have a history of successful grows, high-stress training is a great next step for boosting your harvests. Training your plants boosts growth, helps develop bushier plants, and will result in bigger, denser buds. With your next grow, try high-stress training your plants, and you’ll be happy with the results!