Training Your Cannabis Plants: Best Tips And Tricks To Get Enormous Yields

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Added 24 December 2022

Are you planning to train your cannabis plants? You’ve come to the right place. You may already know about the various training techniques but there is always room to improve. 

So, we have created this guide to make it a tad easier for you. 

Read on to know the best tricks and tips for training your cannabis plants in the most effective yet safe way possible. 

Why Should You Train Cannabis Plants?

Why Should You Train Cannabis Plants?

Training your cannabis plant, in its essence, is a way to manipulate its shape and growth for the best outcome — yield. And this has many benefits apart from just yield. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of training cannabis plants:

  • Training your plant ensures the branches don’t break or bend under the weight of big buds 
  • Training also protects the plant from strong winds and other environmental factors when growing the plant outdoors
  • The plant does not have to spend a lot of energy in strengthening the branches, so the same energy is diverted into bud development 
  • It is perhaps one of the most affordable ways of making your plant stronger and yielding bigger 
  • Training allows you to contain your plant in the grow tent or room, ensuring it does not outgrow the space 
  • And sometimes, training can even help you hide your plant from onlookers and neighbors 

Yes, the cannabis plant’s growth, strength, bud quality, etc. depend on genetics and training cannot change that. However, it does help the plant maximize its abilities to a significant extent. 

But you can only reap these benefits if you follow the right steps and avoid making mistakes

Tips for Training Cannabis Plants

Tips for Training Cannabis Plants

Training isn’t as easy as taking pruning scissors and picking off random branches or tying down any branch however you want. It is a meticulous process, like any other growth technique. So, below are some tips to help you train your cannabis plant the right way while minimizing the chances of risk.

1. Pick Suitable Strains for Training 

The first step in training your cannabis plants comes even before you plant the seeds — picking the right strains that can handle training. Some strains are a lot better and easier to train than others.

Plus, when you are starting out, you should already have a rough plan in your mind regarding what kind of training you'd need for the best results. For example, if you are growing the plant in an enclosed space, you will most probably need to train it to contain its growth. 

You should also pick strains that are resistant to stress. Some training methods are stressful, and if the strain has low-stress resistance, its growth will get affected by some training methods, leading to lower yield. 

When picking out strains, a good seed bank will always list out the strain’s features, including its growth, size, quality, and how suitable it is for training. Doing so will save you a lot of hassle down the line.

2. Choose the Right Training Techniques

Once you have your goals in place, you need to pick the right techniques. There are many training techniques, but most boil down to two major categories — low stress and high stress

If you are new to training cannabis, always pick low-stress training techniques first instead of jumping onto more advanced techniques. You may make a few mistakes at the beginning, which is normal, and it's best to make mistakes when the training technique isn’t too stressful. 

Low-stress training (LST) techniques involve tying down the plants or minimal pruning that does not cause a lot of stress to the plant. Once you get a hang of these, you can move on to high-stress training techniques that involve purposefully breaking the branches or heavy pruning and trimming. 

3. Figure Out the Vegetative Phase of Your Cannabis Plant

The vegetative stage of the cannabis plant refers to the time your cannabis takes to go from a seedling to growing flowers, and for photoperiod plants, this period is dictated by the 18/6 light cycle. 

During this phase, cannabis plants focus all their energy on growing and developing foliage, which depends on various factors like the environment, pot size, your skills, and growing space. 

If you are growing cannabis for commercial purposes, you need a fast turnaround time, so you should stick to a short vegetative stage of a few weeks. Yes, the plants will be small during flowering, but you will end up with a lot more yield per season. In such cases, you don't need to train the plants much.

On the other hand, if your cannabis plant has a growth period of three to four weeks, your plants will grow bigger, so you may need to train them depending on the growth conditions and your goals.

However, you need to ensure your cannabis plant gets enough time to recover, so only choose training methods that are low to moderate stress. So, top the plant a couple of times, FIM it once, and prune the plant one week before flowering. You can also add super cropping or LST with those techniques. 

Lastly, if your plant has a longer growth period of over five weeks, you can push your plant to the limit with some training methods. This is because the plant will have a longer time to recover from the training stress. 

Here, you can top and FIM the plants multiple times, use LST and ScrOG, and even super-crop them a few times without risking your plant’s growth or yield.

So, depending on your plant’s growth cycle and the length of its vegetative stage, you need to use the right training method at the right time. For instance, employing a high-stress training method for a short vegetative plant will not allow it to recover in time. 

4. Don’t Top the Plants Too Late

Your plant can only reap the benefits of Topping if you do it at the right time. If you top the plant when it's merely a seedling, it may not grow well, and pruning the plant too close to flowering can cause serious problems for bud development.

Ideally, you should Top your cannabis plants once they have developed 3 to 5 nodes when the branches are malleable and have not developed a strong structure. Topping will make the plant grow two main stems that will make the foliage bushier and improve yields. 

And if you miss this window, your cannabis plant would have already taken the Christmas tree shape with one main cola. Topping at this point is not recommended as it can reduce the yield. And the risk gets bigger the closer you get to the flowering stage. 

During the later stages, the plant will be forced to direct its energy to cure and recover instead of developing buds, which can significantly affect the yields.

5. Let Your Plants Recover Well

Once you have trained your plant, whether you use LST or HST, you should always keep an eye on the plant. Remember, training, even with very little stress, is still hard for the plant. 

If you notice any problems, like a change in appearance or growth pattern, you need to investigate immediately. 

And give your plant adequate time to recover, regardless of the method you choose. In addition, avoid using multiple training techniques at the same time as this will drain the plant’s energy.

Instead, use low-stress training when possible, and wait for at least a few days so the plant recovers from the stress, especially if you are using high-stress training. 

As with anything else, training cannabis is beneficial only up to a certain extent. If you cross that boundary, your plant may take longer to recover, which may affect its growth and bud development processes. And sometimes, it may not recover at all.

6. Choose the Right Training Techniques for Autoflowers

Autoflowering cannabis plants don’t depend on the light cycle, unlike photoperiod plants, so you don’t need to employ multiple training techniques, especially high-stress ones. We recommend you use LST to improve light and air penetration within the canopy.

In some cases, you can also prune the plants to encourage them to divert their energy to the upper parts, benefitting bud development. 

In any case, you can use Topping, LST, and FIMming to get better yields with autoflowers. However, tread with caution if you're a beginner as autos don’t have the luxury of time to recover easily from stress. 

7. Train the Plants to Grow Short and Wide, Especially Indoors

Many growers train their plants, both indoors and outdoors, to grow short and wide, instead of thin and tall. Doing so has many benefits for the plant.

The first benefit is that the plant gets to enjoy a lot more light, and more light = more food for the plant. Essentially, when the plant is wide, a lot of the canopy is exposed to the light as opposed to a tall yet thin plant.

Outdoor plants naturally get a lot of light thanks to their shape — the shape is suited for maximum sun exposure throughout the day. But making an outdoor plant wider can lead to better air exposure and more bud sites. 

However, indoor plants don’t benefit from the natural shape because the light is usually situated at the top and is stationary. Granted, the top tier of the plant gets a lot of light but the lower tiers don't. Hence, it is recommended to train the plants to grow wider and shorter in an indoor environment. 

At the same time, shorter plants are easier to hide as they get concealed by other surrounding plants or fences and onlookers can’t spot them unless they look hard for them. This stealth helps growers who don’t want others to know what they are growing. 

The best training methods to grow short and wide cannabis plants are Topping, FIM-ing, ScrOG, and mainlining. These methods ensure all the bud sites on the plant get the maximum amount of light exposure. 

8. Be Gentle

In various training methods, you are going to bend and purposefully break or cut parts of the cannabis plant. This is done to make the plants stronger, but remember not to push your luck too much. You need to be gentle with every training method, even if you are purposefully cutting branches.

Using a steady and light hand will always benefit your plant. For example, if you are bending some branches, gently pull the branches down instead of grabbing them and yanking them — this will significantly reduce the chances of snapping branches, which take a long time to recover.

Additionally, being gentle works hand in hand with using the right equipment for training. For example, avoid using dull pruning scissors as they give a rough cut, which takes longer to heal. Sharp pruning scissors will cut the parts faster and cleaner, without extra damage.

And use garden-specific tools as much as you can. One such tool that you should always be meticulous about is ties — avoid zip ties, metal wires, or other hard or thin ties that can damage the soft tissues and even scar the plant. Instead, always use gardening ties as they are a lot softer and do not scar the branches.

9. Be Patient

Be patient while growing your cannabis plants, especially while training them. Regardless of the training method you use, you are unlikely to see the results in one day.

Generally, it takes at least 3 to 4 days for the results to show, and sometimes, it may even take longer. Don’t hurry. Trust in the process and your plant will grow out the way you train it. 

Extra Tips on Specific Training Techniques

Here are some of the most common training techniques and tips for them. 

1. LST


LST or low-stress training primarily involves bending certain points of the canopy to create uniform foliage that gets equal exposure to light. A cannabis plant with LST won’t grow like a Christmas tree. 

When tying down branches, you must use the right ties. While metal wires or weights are effective, choose the softest possible solution you can find. Ideally, we recommend using gardening ties as they are soft and won’t damage the soft tissues of the plant. You can find those in your local gardening store. 

While using LST with your cannabis plant, you need to plan how you bend the branches. While the goal is to create an even canopy, you must ensure that branches or leaves don’t overlap or get too close to each other as it may defeat the purpose entirely.

And you can try LST even if you are growing autoflowering cannabis — it is quite effective and requires little recovery time. 

2. Topping or Pinching


Typically, cannabis plants have one main cola or tip, which is known as the crown tip. This is called apical dominance where the main tip grows the biggest bud as it gets the best exposure to light.

However, by breaking this apical dominance, you can encourage the plant to grow two main colas with more side branches and more buds. And this can be done with Topping or pinching. Topping also reduces the plant’s overall height.

This is an easy technique but requires you to cut off the main tip, so maintaining sanitation is of utmost importance. You need to use sterile scissors or a scalpel and wear gloves while topping your cannabis plants so you don’t end up stressing the plant too much while avoiding any chances of infections.

While Topping, aim to Top the plant when it has already grown 5 to 6 nodes. If the plant has fewer than five nodes, it is not developed enough to handle the stress and can experience stunted growth. 

Cut the main step above the fourth node. Once the two main branches grow, you can continue Topping them for as long as you like. However, the more you Top your plant, the more main colas it will develop, so do it only twice or thrice for maximum benefits. 

Generally, a healthy cannabis plant takes 7 to 10 days to recover from Topping, so remember to compensate your plant for the same by extending the vegetative growth or limiting the Topping frequency. 

3. Pruning


Pruning is another common method that involves selectively cutting off parts of the foliage. This eliminates the lower buds that often grow as popcorn flowers while improving aeration at the lower tiers of the plant. 

Doing so encourages the plant to direct its energy to the main colas that grow big buds instead of popcorning. 

Again, with pruning, you need to use sterilized tools and start from the bottom of the plant. And never prune more than 60% of the growth, otherwise, your cannabis plant may wither or die. 

4. Super Cropping


Super cropping is a relatively high-stress training technique where you have to break the inner cell walls of the plant with your finger and thumb. It is only recommended for experienced growers because even small mistakes can lead to major damage to your plant.

When breaking the cell walls with your fingers, you need to be gentle — apply enough pressure to break the cells but not so much that you end up snapping the branch. Look for a pop when super cropping, which sometimes is accompanied by a soft popping sound. 

You can perform super cropping up to the last week of vegetative growth as it only takes about a week to recover for the plant. And if you are an experienced grower, you can also super crop your plant two weeks into the flowering stage when the plant stretches for the final time. 

5. Defoliation


Defoliation is a training technique where you remove the fan leaves on the plant, which improves the redistribution of energy and also increases aeration and light penetration to the lower branches. 

If you are defoliating your cannabis plant, never remove more than 25% of the fan leaves, and give your plant at least a week to recover before defoliating it again. And only remove fan leaves that are obstructing light or air from other bud sites or branches. 

6. ScrOG


ScrOG or a screen of green is a training technique where you place a screen on top of the plant and force the branches to grow out of the screen, leading to a uniform canopy. Generally, this technique takes over six weeks to work properly and is only suitable for cannabis strains with long vegetative periods.

Here, you can use a wooden frame with some chicken wire over it to make the screen, but you can also use thin bamboo sticks, a fishing net, thick threads, or anything that can achieve the same goal. 

One of the best tips for ScrOG-ing your cannabis plant is to make the screen’s height adjustable. If you anchor the screen to the floor directly, it would take a lot of effort to raise it when the plant grows. Instead, hang the screen using hooks on the ceiling, so you can raise the screen when required. 

Summary: Training Your Cannabis Plants: Best Tips And Tricks To Get Enormous Yields

Training cannabis is not difficult in most cases and, if you do it right, it can be quite rewarding. But remember, the keyword here is to do it right. If you make mistakes or don’t follow the steps properly, your plant will (not) thank you with a subpar yield, stunted growth, or even a dead plant. 

So, it is always a good idea to get to know the training techniques you want to use more — as much as you can. And these tips can certainly help you get closer to perfection when it comes to training your cannabis plants.

We post a lot more detailed guides on training and growing cannabis plants. Stay tuned to know all about growing and training cannabis the right way, so you can become a competent cannabis grower who did not lose the yield because of using rusted pruning scissors.

Yes, even rusted scissors can ruin the yield. Who knew?


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