Can You Train Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

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Added 10 June 2023

Training autoflowering cannabis plants is nothing new. 

Almost everyone with a bit of experience growing any strain can do it. However, since autoflowers grow differently compared to photoperiod strains due to their shorter life cycle, many people are hesitant to train them. 

With photoperiod strains, you train and wait for them to adjust to their new shape. But, the same process can be slightly intimating with autoflowers, especially if you’re a beginner. 

But, as a cannabis grower, you always want yields better than the last batch of plants you grew. 

It’s a process where you constantly want to improve in every possible way, which is great because you practice various techniques that can increase the yield of your cannabis plants, one of which is training. 

By training your plants, you manipulate their shape and growth to optimize light and air exposure, which can significantly increase your plant’s yield. You can easily train photoperiod plants, but the question is — can you train autoflowering cannabis plants?

The answer isn’t as straightforward. While you can train your autoflowering cannabis plants, there are some things you must keep in mind and some methods you must avoid. Learn all about training autoflowering cannabis in this article. 

What is Meant by Training Cannabis Plants?

What is Meant by Training Cannabis Plants?

Training cannabis plants is a process where you manipulate the plant’s growth or shape physically, which increases light penetration and aeration within the canopy. Ultimately, you can significantly improve the bud quality and yield. Sometimes, training methods are also used to intentionally trigger the plant’s defense mechanisms that can improve the buds’ quality. 

Generally, such training methods are primarily used during the vegetative stage of cannabis plants, but some methods can also be used during bloom. There are several types of training methods you can use, including low-stress and high-stress training methods. 

In low-stress training methods, you use methods that don’t inflict stress on the plant and don’t require a lengthy recovery period; they are also quite forgiving if you make a mistake. On the other hand, high-stress training methods inflict stress on the plant and require your plant to recover, which is why these training methods are not always recommended, although they can be quite effective. 

It is crucial to note that regardless of the training method you use, you must be super careful and meticulous, use sanitized tools, and allow your plant to recover well. Training methods inflict stress on your plant, and if you’re not careful, it can leave lasting damage on your plant and even counteract the benefits of training. 

Can You Train Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

Can You Train Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

Training is a terrific way to increase your plant’s yields, but can you use them for autoflowering cannabis plants? Depends on the type of training you use. Autoflowering plants don’t rely on the light cycle to switch from the vegetative to the flowering stage. As a result, they can grow really fast. They don’t have a lot of time to recover from stress. 

So, while you can train your autoflowering cannabis plants, it is generally advisable to only use low-stress training. High-stress training can still be used sometimes, but you must be careful and give your plant enough time to recover. Plus, you should train your plant as soon as possible so it has more time to recover. More on this later in the article.

What are the Benefits of Training Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

What are the Benefits of Training Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

You can train autoflowering cannabis plants, but should you? Are there any real benefits to training an autoflowering cannabis plant that is predisposed to growing small, despite the risks associated with training? The final decision rests on you, but training autoflowering cannabis plants comes with several benefits that are worth exploring, such as the following:

1. Better Light Exposure

As you may already know, autoflowering plants have a short lifespan, and the vegetative stage for most autoflowers lasts only 4-5 weeks. Thus, you should use this period as much as possible and encourage the plant to perform. 

In addition, sometimes, autoflowering plants tend to grow bushy, meaning it gets overcrowded quickly. The lower parts of the plant struggle to get much light, resulting in a plant with big buds at the top and spindly ones at the bottom. Also, there’s no uniformity, with uneven colas competing for light. 

To prevent such issues, you can employ low-stress training techniques like bending and ScrOG to increase light distribution within the canopy. This ensures that even the lower branches get adequate light, leading to better bud development. 

2. Improved Air Circulation

Similarly, training can also help improve air circulation within the plant by allowing you to free up some room within the canopy so more air can flow through. This not only improves bud development but also reduces moisture buildup and the risk of mold. 

3. Increased Yield

Put two and two together, and it’s not surprising that training your autoflowering plant can improve its yield. Yes, the difference may not be much, given that autoflowering cannabis grows fast, but it will still be a noticeable difference. Autoflowering cannabis plants inherently produce slightly less yields, so even a minor difference is good enough. 

4. Reduced Stress

If you are training your cannabis plant, chances are you’re also using various other methods to improve your plant’s health and yield. As a result, your plant will grow big, bushy buds that it may not be able to support. So, training your plant can help reduce the stress it experiences due to heavy buds, ensuring your plant stays stable and the branches don’t snap. 

Training methods can also offer other benefits like height control, but for autoflowering cannabis, such benefits don’t make the most sense. 

5. Better Space Utilization

Many growers purchase autoflowering seeds mainly because they don’t have a lot of space to grow photoperiods that grow huge. Autoflowering cannabis strains come with a huge space-saving advantage, and you can grow some autoflowers pretty much anywhere. By further training the autoflowers, you can utilize more space as their vertical growth is restricted. 

6. Improved Stealth and Security 

If you purchase autoflowering cannabis seeds due to their stealth and security, you won’t be disappointed. However, some autoflowers tend to grow taller than expected. In such cases, you can train them by bending the stalks to the sides of the containers so your neighbors aren’t privy to it. Training autoflowers is helpful even if you’re growing indoors, as you can set them up even in small spaces like cabinets for stealth purposes. 

That said, you have to remember that some autoflowering strains respond better to training techniques than others. Thus, research the strains you’re growing by checking out diaries so you know what you’re growing. As always, experimenting with various strains will give you a better idea. 

What are the Best Training Methods for Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

What are the Best Training Methods for Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

Let’s take a look at how to train your autoflowering cannabis plants. Remember, whichever method you use, you must be careful and use the right tools so you don’t inflict excessive stress on your plant. Most of the training methods used for autoflowering plants are low-stress, but we will also discuss some high-stress training techniques. Here are the best ways to train autoflowering cannabis plants. 

1. Low-Stress Training or Bending

The first and most basic training method for autoflowering cannabis is bending or tying, where you simply bend the plant’s main stem to even out the canopy and increase light exposure. This is not only the easiest training method but also the least stressful for your plant — your plant will need no time to recover. 

To bend your plant, you need to bend it and secure the main branch with gardening ties or something similar. By doing so, the plant is encouraged to grow outward and not upward, which exposes more of the canopy to light, leading to a much better yield once it starts flowering. You may need to readjust the tied branch as the plant grows. 

That’s it. There’s nothing else to bending or tying as low-stress training. Just remember to use soft gardening ties and bend your plant as soon as possible for the best results!

2. Screen of Green (ScrOG)

The next method is similar to bending and tying but requires a little more elbow grease and finesse. In the ScrOG training method, you have to strategically direct your plant’s branches in a certain direction to eventually turn the canopy flat from the top. This ensures all the dominant bud sites are at the same height, leading to better air and light exposure that can significantly boost your plant’s yields. 

Follow these steps to apply the screen of green method on your autoflowering cannabis plant:

  1. Secure a mesh screen to a wooden frame that’s wider than your cannabis plant
  2. Suspend this screen half a foot above the plant container using a stand or ropes
  3. As your plant grows, strategically direct branches and stems through individual holes in the screen and secure them with gardening ties
  4. As your plant grows, keep raising the screen when required 

Once you do this correctly, your plant will grow an even canopy that is equally exposed to light. Yes, your plant may not look like the typical, cute Christmas tree cannabis, but it will produce a yield you’ve likely never seen before from an autoflowering plant. 

3. Sea of Green

The sea of green training method’s goal is similar to that of ScrOG — produce an even canopy — but instead of manipulating the plant physically, SOG takes a different approach. In the SOG method, you essentially grow multiple smaller plants in the same space as one big plant. 

By placing the plants close to each other, the plants will not grow as big, but they will still grow a bigger yield collectively. For example, if your autoflowering cannabis plant could grow 300 grams of cannabis if grown solo, a crowded group of three autoflowering plants will only grow 200 grams individually. But since they are growing in the same surface area, the overall yield will be double that of the solo plant!

Plus, there’s the added benefit of your plant not experiencing much stress. It’s as safe as you can with training your autoflowering cannabis plant. 

4. Topping 

Topping is a high-stress training method, so things get serious here. Topping involves cutting off the main cola of the cannabis plant, which will break the plant’s apical dominance and force it to grow two main colas. This is an intimidating method for beginners, but it promises excellent results. 

On the downside, topping is not so forgiving. You must be careful when using it on your autoflowering cannabis since this will inflict a lot of stress on your cannabis plant, and you will need to do it as soon as possible so your plant has enough time to recover.

If you’re uncomfortable topping autoflowers, you can use other techniques. You can still top autoflowering plants with a flowering cycle of 8-9 weeks, and you have experience dealing with stressed plants. 

Follow these steps to use topping on your autoflowering cannabis plant:

  1. Ensure your plant is healthy and young, with at least three nodes 
  2. Use clean, disinfected scissors or a razor blade to cut the tip of your plant just under the last node 
  3. Take care of your plant and let it recover for at least 3 to 7 days before using any other training method on it 

Methods to Avoid

The methods listed above work well and promise terrific results, but there are other methods, like Fimming and Supercropping, that produce even better results on cannabis plants. However, such methods are not recommended as they are less forgiving and inflict a lot of stress and trauma. It is simply not worth it when growing autoflowering cannabis plants. 

When to Train Your Autoflowering Cannabis Plant?

When to Train Your Autoflowering Cannabis Plant?

Time is of the essence when training an autoflowering cannabis plant since you don’t have the luxury of time — autos grow quite fast. So, you must train your plant at the right time, which is usually as early as possible, so your cannabis plant gets enough time to recover. 

Remember, most autoflowering strains start flowering within four weeks of germination, so you are short on time. So, if your plant has started vegetating and is 100% healthy, start training it. Again, some training methods have specific criteria, so factor in those as well; for example, you should only top your plant if it has at least 3 nodes. 

Additionally, avoid training your plant once it has developed five or six sets of true leaves. At this point, your plant is already too big and on its way to bloom. Training at this time is pointless and risky, so it should best be avoided. 

When Should You Avoid Training Autoflowering Cannabis?

When Should You Avoid Training Autoflowering Cannabis?

There are many instances where you may want to avoid training your autoflowering cannabis altogether. Sometimes, your plant may not be ready for it, and in some cases, the timing may not be the best. In any case, here are some of the instances where you should avoid training your cannabis plant:

  1. Your plant grows unusually slowly. 
  2. Some of the leaves are discolored or show symptoms of underlying problems.
  3. Your plant shows signs of under or over-watering.
  4. Your plant is vulnerable to pests, especially if growing outdoors. 
  5. There are signs of mold or fungal infections on your plant.
  6. Your cannabis plant has at least 5 to 6 sets of true leaves. 
  7. Your cannabis plant has a short life cycle even when compared to other autoflowering strains. 
  8. You’re growing outdoors, and the weather is unpredictable with a very short growing season. 
  9. The strain you’ve chosen is delicate, sensitive, and prone to damage. 
  10. You have no previous experience growing autoflowers.

In such cases, it is wise to avoid training your plant and let it grow naturally. 

How to Train Your Autoflowering Cannabis Plants Like a Pro?

When Should You Avoid Training Autoflowering Cannabis?

Training cannabis plants may seem easy, but it still requires some thought and planning. You can’t just randomly bend your plant and expect good results. Instead, you need to keep some things in mind when training your cannabis plants. So, here are some effective tips for training your cannabis plants. 

1. Spend Time with Your Plant When ScrOG-ing

The screen of green method requires you to place a screen on top of your cannabis plant and regularly direct branches through individual holes, and over time, you also have to adjust the screen height as per your plant’s growth. So, only choose this method if you are okay with spending time with your cannabis plant. 

At the same time, you need to use the screen regularly for the best results. You must adjust the screen until at least the second last week of bloom to ensure the buds are well-aerated and exposed to enough light. Letting your plants grow past the screen will not only defeat the purpose but also increase the chances of mold and other issues due to the lack of air and light in the lower canopies. 

2. Top Your Plant at the Right Time 

To optimize your plant’s growth and yield while topping, you need to snip the main cola at the right time. Top it too early, and your plant may not respond to it or suffer from stress and top it too late, and you won’t give your plant enough time to recover, leading to a subpar yield. 

Topping too soon is difficult because you must top the plant once it has grown at least 3 nodes, but many growers often wait too long to top. If you wait too long, your plant will already adapt to the Christmas tree shape, and when you top it, your plant will not get time to recover and grow two main stems. Instead, it will start flowering with immature main colas. 

It goes without saying — do not top your plant during the flowering stage. This is a grave mistake that can cost you your yield. The plant will spend its energy growing the main cola and recovering from stress instead of developing buds, so you will lose it all. 

3. Be Gentle, and Don’t Let the Branches Snap

When training your plant, you will be bending and directing branches with your hand, and you must be careful and gentle while doing so. If you apply too much pressure or bend the stem too much, it can snap, and snapped branches take a long time to recover. So, you must be careful not to test your plant’s rigidity. 

This is another reason why it is recommended that you start training your plant when it is young since the branches are much softer. Once your plant reaches its final size, the branches get more rigid and are prone to breaking easily.

4. Only Train Your Plant If It’s 100% Healthy

Avoid training your cannabis plant if it shows a single sign of disease, stress, or a problem. It again circles back to the plant not having enough time to recover from the disease and training. Instead, you should focus on fixing the problem first and train another plant. Your plant’s health should be the first priority. Otherwise, you may end up losing some of the yield. 

5. Use High-Stress Training Early in Your Plant’s Life Cycle

Along the same lines, avoid using high-stress training later in the vegetative stage and throughout the flowering stage. Bending can still work in the flowering stage if you are careful since it does not require your plant to recover from the stress, but if you fim or top your cannabis plant too late, it will have no time to recover from the trauma. So, it is best to finish high-stress training early in the vegetative stage.

6. Use Soft Gardening Ties

For most training methods, you must secure your cannabis plant’s branches in a certain direction, and you must do so with soft gardening ties. No matter how hardy the cannabis plant may be, it is still somewhat delicate, and the soft branch tissues can easily get damaged by rough or hard ties. 

When you use rough or hard ties to secure your cannabis plant, it does not offer any flexibility and can inflict much damage on the branch surface. As a result, your plant will have to recover from that wound. Plus, it can also expose your plant to other issues like diseases and nutrient loss. So, it is best to use soft gardening ties or something similar when securing your cannabis plant’s branches. 

7. Use Disinfected Tools

On the other hand, you will also end up using various tools for training your cannabis plant, including pruning scissors or blades. Always ensure they are clean and disinfected with alcohol + water solution to prevent infections or diseases.

Speaking of blades or scissors, ensure they are sharp so you can make any cuts you want cleanly without causing excessive damage to your cannabis plant. 

8. Support the Heavy Cannabis Buds

As you train your cannabis plant, you will be greeted with big, bushy buds in the flowering stage. If you’ve taken the right steps, your buds will grow bigger than ever and can turn too heavy for your plant, wherein your plant will start bending under the extra weight. 

So, it is recommended that you use gardening stakes or something similar to support the branches with heavy buds. You don’t want your cannabis plant to tumble down, do you?

Summary: Can You Train Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

Autoflowering cannabis plants are excellent choices for growers who want an easy approach to growing their weed, are short on space or time, or don’t want to tinker with light schedules. But still, who wouldn’t like an increased yield? 

So, should you train your autoflowering cannabis plant?

The answer is yes, you should. If you are being safe and gentle and your plant is 100% healthy, training methods like LST, ScrOG, SOG, and even topping can be safe for your cannabis plant. Just avoid high-stress training methods like Fimming, super-cropping, and lollipopping. 

Apart from that, remember to train your cannabis plant as soon as possible once it enters the vegetative stage, and do not train it once it has grown at least 5 sets of true leaves. Also, ensure your plant is 100% healthy and shows no signs of stress or diseases. Follow these tips, and you will enjoy a terrific yield even from your cute little autoflowering cannabis plant.


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