Cannabis training is the process of altering how your plant grows through some kind of manipulation. This can keep sativa strains short and bushy, encourage strains plants to grow bigger, and generally increase the amount of bud you get per plant. Whether you’re looking to have a ton of small plants or just a few huge plants, there’s a training technique for you.
This is the most basic form of training. Low-stress training requires nothing other than some plant ties and stakes. To use low-stress training on your plants, take the tallest stem on your cannabis plant and bend it until it’s horizontal. Then use a plant tie to secure it to a stake in that horizontal position. This encourages your plant to focus on the other stems.
Low-stress training encourages an even canopy in your plants without cutting or otherwise “stressing” them. The big downside to low-stress training is that you need to keep doing it. Simply tying down the tallest stem once will lead to another one taking over. To be successful when implementing low-stress training, you’ll need to check your plants at least once a week.
Low-stress training is the best and only technique to use with autoflowering strains. These plants don’t flower based on light cycles, which means you can’t extend the vegetative phase. Low-stress training doesn’t make your plants spend extra time recovering. High-stress training, on the other hand, can cripple an autoflower and reduce your harvest.
ScrOG, or Screen of Green growing, is low-stress training taken to the next level. Instead of using stakes and plant ties, you install a lattice above your plants. Then, as your plants grow, you weave the stems through the lattice to keep everything even. This allows more of your plants’ stems to be at the “top.” The more light that your flowers get, the better your buds will grow.
This method of training works well with naturally bushy strains. If you’re working with sativa strains, you might want to incorporate high-stress training in order to make the most even canopy you can. The goal is to avoid any gaps in the canopy and to have as many colas as possible in the canopy.
High-stress training is the process of cutting your plants in order to spur more growth. Initially, it can be just as stressful to the grower as it is to your plants. However, if you do it well, you and your plants will both recover and reap the benefits of this technique.
To top your plants, wait until they’ve developed six or seven leaf nodes. You want your plant to be able to survive the incoming stress, and this way there will be enough leaves left to fuel quick regrowth. With a sharp pair of plant trimmers, cut just above the fourth or fifth leaf node. Yes, this cuts your plant nearly in half (which can seem scary), but rest assured that it will recover.
Topping leads to your plant growing two new stems where you cut it back. This means that you have two colas, and twice as many bud sites. That’s twice as many buds for you in the end.
Manifolding and mainlining takes topping a step or two further. Instead of topping your plants just once, manifolding requires two toppings. For mainlining, you’ll top them three times total. With either technique, you get eight colas, which is great for your canopy. You can also combine these methods with ScrOG techniques, to use all of those colas efficiently.
Mainlining begins the same way as topping your plants. The first cut should happen at the same time and place. After, though, you take less time between cuts. Once your plant has developed its fourth node on the new branches, cut just above the third node. Then, once your plant has recovered and created three new nodes on the stems from the second cut, trim one final time just above the second nodes.
Manifolding only requires cutting twice. You top once as normal, but during the second topping you also remove the growth tips at the second node on both new branches. New branches will develop both from where you cut and where you removed the growth nodes.
Both of these techniques will slightly extend the vegetative phase. However, most growers agree that the increased harvest is worth the wait.
Fimming is another technique to encourage multiple colas. However, when done correctly, it leads to three or more colas per cut, instead of two. The trick is doing it correctly – FIM hilariously stands for “F***, I Missed”. That’s both how the technique was discovered and what many growers say the first time they try it.
Instead of trimming safely above a growth node, fimming cuts off part of the top growth node. The goal is to disrupt the growth node in such a way that it goes a little haywire and develops multiple new stems. Many growers will either pinch the top off with their fingers or use a curved knife to cut it. Both of these trigger those haywire growth patterns. You can never guarantee a certain number of colas from fimming, though, so be prepared for unpredictable results.
Where most high-stress training techniques focus on cutting off the top of the plant, lollipopping aims lower. The buds and leaves lower on a plant are more prone to disease and don’t get as much light. So, some growers will remove many of those lower fans and buds. This results in stems that are bushy on the end and bare lower down: they look like lollipops.
You can lollipop slowly or all at once. A slow lollipopping involves removing bud sites and lower leaves as your plant grows. This requires caution, because you don’t want to remove vegetation that’s helping your plant. Ideally, just remove leaves that are actively in shadow.
Lollipopping your plant all at once helps your bud sites receive as much light as possible. Just after you’ve switched your plants to the flowering stage, strip off all the leaves and buds on the bottom third of your colas. This keeps your plant from wasting resources on buds that will never get big or dense.
Your plants will recover over the first three weeks of the flowering stage, but after that they won’t grow any more vegetation. If they get a little bushy again, you can lollipop them one more time. Then leave them alone to do their thing and grow the bud you want to harvest.
This is a training technique that involves cloning your plants. Regular clones, taken from a plant in the vegetative phase, will grow like a normal plant in a single stem. Monster cropping works differently. Instead of cutting from a plant in the vegetative phase, you take your clones from plants that are flowering. When you convert these clones back to the vegetative phase, they grow new stems from every bud site. Needless to say, that’s a lot more colas than you get with other clones.
For growers who are legally limited in the number of plants they can cultivate, monster cropping makes for huge plants in less time. Monster cropping is another great option to combine with ScrOG growing. It also cuts the need for a mother plant, which many people who prefer clones use. That saves space, time, and effort. You can just clone your most successful plants from every grow until you have a consistently great crop every time.
Sea of Green grows go the opposite direction of ScrOG operations. Instead of cultivating a few very large plants, a SOG grow uses many small plants. Ideally, you grow as many as one plant per square foot. You increase the number of colas by increasing the total number of plants, instead of by forcing your plants to grow more.
SOG grows are great if you’re trying to get to harvest quickly. Because you have so many plants in your space, you don’t want them to get big. You can switch to flowering in as few as three or four weeks. That’s half the length of a normal vegetative phase. If you’re impatient and can grow a lot of plants, SOG is a great training method for big yields quickly. It is also a solid option for small autoflower strains, since you don’t cut your plants.
Cannabis training is a broad topic. There are plenty of people with opinions on which methods work best. They’re almost all right, but only when it comes to their unique situation. The real “best” training method is the one that works with your plants and your space. The more you understand about cannabis in general, the easier your training choices will be.