Training your cannabis plant is a terrific way to encourage bigger yields. It is quite a training-friendly plant and responds well to it.
Cannabis responds well to training techniques because it is quite resilient and vigorous. It recovers quickly and rewards you with improved growth and bigger, more resinous buds.
However, if you’re a beginner, you need to be careful. Many newbie growers make mistakes during training that can lead to various problems like stunted growth, smaller yields, and in worst cases, dead plants.
You must train your plant with finesse. And in this article, we show you how to do that by avoiding the most common training mistakes.
Untrained cannabis plant
The first training mistake many newbie growers make is not training their cannabis plant at all — you need not be that grower.
If you are growing your plant indoors, there’s limited space. You are not exploiting the full growth potential of your plant if you are not training it well to optimize the indoor space.
This does not only apply to some specific strains but almost all strains. In fact, even small auto-flowering strains are quite responsive to training.
So, if you want to get bigger yields, you must train your cannabis plant the right way to optimize light and air exposure.
Great Scrog by Synthamesc
Journal by Synthamesc shows a great example of Scrogging. ScrOG, or screen of green, is perhaps the most popular (and effective) training method for cannabis plants worldwide. This method involves using metal or plastic grids over the plant canopy, which are used to guide the growing branches.
The eventual goal is to have an even canopy, so each bud site receives uniform light that eventually grows big and healthy.
Prepare for trouble if you use improper techniques while ScrOG-ing your cannabis plant.
One of the most common mistakes growers make is not giving enough time to the process. ScrOG is time and labor-intensive. You need to dedicate time and effort to guide the branches to grow an even canopy.
Another common mistake is keeping the screen too close to the medium. This is an invitation for various diseases due to inadequate air circulation below the canopy.
Some growers also tend to use the wrong size screens to hold the branches, which entirely defeats the purpose of ScrOG-ing. You won't see much success if you simply install the screen and hope the branches grow through the grids. The screen may even get in the way of the growth.
You must understand how your plant reacts to being topped and its growth style and install a suitable screen to optimize the results.
Excellent Mainlining by FEMALESEXORGANLOVER
In this journal, the grower shows a perfect example of Mainlining. Mainlining is a technique to grow multiple colas instead of one by Topping the plant several times. The split branches are then tied down to optimize air and light exposure.
Although Topping the plant works as an excellent method to increase the number of colas, you may damage your plant if you get too impatient.
If you top too early or don’t give enough time for your plant to recover, you may end up with stunted growth or dense branches. The latter may hamper air and light exposure, causing all kinds of problems for your plant.
So, when you top your plants during mainlining, you must let the branches grow enough before Topping again so the plant can recover fully and the branches don’t get overcrowded.
Ideally, you can repeat Topping when you have the same number of nodes as the topping number. For instance, two nodes must grow before the second Topping, and three nodes must grow before the third Topping, and so on. This way, the plant won’t fight for space and grow with vigor.
Topping by Mrs_Larimar
In this journal, you can see a good example of how to divide the main cola into several colas by Topping. In this case, Mrs. Larimar has Topped at the right time but you can ruin your plant if you top it too late. Therefore, you must Top your plant at the right time as doing it too late can cause problems like stunted growth and lower yields.
The ideal time to Top or cut off the tips of the plant is during the second week of its vegetative phase. Ideally, you can do it once the plant grows 3-5 nodes because the branches are malleable, and Topping may produce at least two main stems. The result is an improved yield, bushier buds, and consistent growth.
If you miss this window, your plant will start taking the usual “Christmas tree” shape with one main branch. Of course, you can still Top it, but it’s not worth the risk.
Some growers also recommend Topping the plant during bloom, but you should avoid this at all costs. Bloom Topping may cause your plant to direct its resources to recover and not bud development, hampering your yield. Moreover, why would you want to cut off your flowering buds, anyway?
Just switched to 12/12 - CordersGreen
In this journal, the grower has just made the switch to the flowering stage in the 7th week, which is just perfect. If you want to train your plant properly to grow bigger, resinous buds, you must also understand the best time to change your light cycle from 18/6 to 12/12. This is an often overlooked aspect of training your plant and perhaps the biggest mistake many newbie growers make.
If you move from 18/6 to 12/12 light cycle too soon, your plant may end up too small and produce a smaller yield. But, of course, the smaller the plant, the smaller the yield.
Waiting too long to switch to 12/12 is also quite bad — your plant may grow too big. In addition, the top branches may grow into the grow lights and get burnt, and competing plants may overlap and shade the buds. Both of these instances can drastically affect your yield.
For most cannabis strains, we recommend waiting at least three weeks before switching from the 18/6 to the 12/12 light cycle. You can even use the plant’s size to determine the timing. If your plant has covered the grow surface of your room and no direct light falls on the growing medium, it is usually a sign of your plant being the right size for the 12/12 switch.
Defoliation technique by Chico0123
In this journal, the grower has defoliated only during the vegetative stage and the first few weeks of flowering to get good yields. High-stress training is quite beneficial for bigger yields when growing cannabis, but it can be detrimental to the plant if you do it at the wrong time.
Expert growers defoliate their plants sometimes during the second or third week of flowering, but beginners should be wary of such practices.
Training your plant during the vegetative stage also gives it enough time to recover before entering the bloom stage. If you stress your plant at the wrong time, it may interrupt the flowering process as the plant would direct its resources to recover the branches.
LST by Haoss
In this journal, the grower has used the LST technique, but with a gentle touch. If you are using low-stress training (LST) on your cannabis plant to improve light exposure, you must be tender with the plant. If you are too rigid or forceful, you may end up hurting the plant beyond repair.
LST involves bending and tying the branches in optimum positions for better light exposure, which means you will often handle the plant.
So, you must avoid disrespecting the plant’s natural tolerances to prevent the branches from breaking. Sure, you can use a bandage to fix a broken branch, but the recovery time may be too long. And if your plant is too young, it may not recover at all. So, instead, treat your plant as your pet — be gentle with it.
LST by Satta
Notice how the grower uses soft ties that don't cut into the plant in this journal.
Many training techniques require you to tie the branches down in various positions or directions. Here, you must use the right kind of ties to anchor the branches.
Ties made from rigid plastic or metal, or those with low heat tolerances, can cause a lot of damage to the branch tissue. They can burn or wound the branches, and they may not offer enough flexibility for growth.
Instead, we recommend using soft plant ties that are much kinder to the branches and do not damage them. Plus, these ties offer enough room for the branches to grow over time without being choked.
Defoliation is a training method that involves the selective removal of leaves to enhance the plant’s growth. During the vegetative phase, the process optimizes light penetration into the lower tiers of the plant, encouraging growth, and during the bloom phase, it stimulates bud growth.
However, you must only defoliate the right kind of leaves at the right time.
The leaves that you can remove are the fan leaves that grow at the branches and not the sugar leaves that are part of the buds.
And if you cut too many leaves too soon, your plant may take a long time to recover.
Timing is also crucial. If you defoliate the plant too soon, the plant may experience stunted growth. In some cases, the plant may consider the branch dead and stop pushing nutrients there. As a result, you might lose a budding site that may have developed into a healthy bud later.
So, you must only defoliate your plant when it is in its vegetative phase if you don't have a lot of experience training your plants. Ideally, if your plant’s growth looks robust enough to support itself without the fan leaves, it is ready for defoliation.
Training your plant is essential, no doubt, and it can significantly improve your yield. In addition, proper training can reward you with big, bushy buds that are a treat to consume for you and your friends.
However, small mistakes can significantly affect your plant and yield. So, avoid making the above-listed mistakes to optimize your training and be a veteran trainer.
We all began somewhere, but it’s always better to learn from others’ mistakes than your own.