Low-Stress Training (LST)

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Low-Stress Training (LST) a cannabis plant is the most basic, yet the most impactful single step you can take to increase yields achieved from a single marijuana plant. While there are certainly many ways to train your cannabis plants (we cover a few more HERE), LST is simple and easy to do. It can also have the greatest effect on the amount of marijuana harvested off of each plant. As a home grower, we’re all limited by the number of plants we can grow so it’s important to learn the steps necessary for achieving bigger yields! If you choose to do only one form of training on your cannabis plants, then Low-Stress Training is the one for you. Unlike topping or lollipopping, you won’t be using any scissors to remove plant matter. You can also get started by using simple household supplies. The goal of LST is to be gentle and easy on your plant, causing limited stunting of growth. This also eliminates lost time in the garden.

What is LST?

When you LST your plant, you are simply changing the direction the plant grows from vertical growth to horizontal growth. This allows for all of the shoots and potential bud sites to get the same amount of light, air, and nutrients from your plant. This creates many more “tops” or shoots off of the main stem and branches. These shoots will turn into buds, filling up the entire space (or canopy) and producing more buds than you ever expected! This will supply you with more marijuana than you’ve ever harvested from your plants before. We’ll cover the actual science a bit later, and in much more detail in a later blog post.

How do you LST your plants?

Generally, I would suggest that you wait until your plant is taller than 6 inches, and has at least 4 sets of leaves or nodes on it. you cannabis plant ready for low-stress trainingThis will ensure your plant is healthy and strong enough to start being trained. Even though it’s Low-Stress Training, there is still some stress to the plant so it’s better to wait until she’s a bit older and can handle it To start LST’ing all you need is some short bamboo stakes and wire tie. If you don’t have those yet you can simply use a skewer stick, tomato cage and some bread ties. I’m sure you can come up with other items around the house to use, there are a ton of ’em.

To get started on a small plant, you will place the stake in the dirt about 3 inches away from the plant. Then fasten the tie to the stake a few inches from the dirt and make a hook in the other end. You will be bending the main stem of your plant under this hook, so ensure it’s only an inch or two lower than the top of the plant. When you have the perfect placement, simply bend the top of the plant underneath the hook. There shouldn’t be a need to squeeze the hook shut as the plant should stay there on its own. If you find that closing the hook is necessary, ensure that you aren’t pinching off the plant by making it too tight. The intent is to influence the way that the plant grows, not to “make” it grow in any particular way.  This bend shouldn’t break the plant, just cause it to lean in that direction. As the plant adjusts and starts to grow back towards the light you have two options.

  1. You can increase the bend by either lowering where the wire is attached on the stake closer to the dirt or by bending the hook portion of the wire even more drastically.
  2. You can simply reposition the hook by spinning it on the stake or repositioning the stake itself. Ideally, you’ll get your plant to start growing horizontal (not vertical) and parallel to the dirt.

As the plant grows, you’ll want to repeat this process for any of the side branches. They will start to grow taller than the main shoot, and need training themselves. You’ll want to keep doing this simple method until the plant reaches the edge of the plant pot.


Next Step:

Once your plant reaches the edge of the pot, you’ll have to upgrade your hardware if you want to keep growing wider before letting your plant grow taller. Remember, the wider you get the more bud sites you’ll end up with and you know what that means – MORE BUDS! In order to get more buds, I would suggest some larger stakes or a roll of 10 gauge wire from your local hardware store. This can be cut to the desired length (12” to 24”) and then a hook bent into the end of it. This wire can be easily manipulated so that when placed in the dirt, it can be bent so the hook is in the perfect spot to keep training that branch horizontally. If you plan to use stakes it will be close to impossible to achieve more width without adding more height. This is because there needs to be enough dirt covering the stake to properly anchor it.  Stakes and bent wire are not even close to the perfect solution. If you want to know how Atlas Plant Trainer can help you achieve the desired horizontal growth and still provide the support of being anchored into the dirt, please sign up for our webinar here.


Keep it up!

Low-Stress Training doesn’t stop once you’ve reached the desired width though. LST should continue low-stress training large cannabis plantthroughout the veg cycle of the plant, and into the first 2 weeks (only!) of flower if necessary. During these later stages, LST is used in order to fill up your canopy space by separating clustered branches to grow into empty space. It also helps to keep the canopy even to ensure proper light penetration and air flow throughout the plant.


How LST actually works?

Simply put, Low-Stress Training tricks the plant into thinking that the top of the plant is no longer the top. This means the side branches are now being treated like the tops. This results in the direction and concentration of the major growth hormones, auxins, and cytokinins, being altered. The results of the trickery? – different parts of the plant are recognized as the dominant top and start to grow taller. With continued training, there should be no dominant top, and an even canopy all the way across. An even canopy means all the branches will be growing equally as strong as the other. This is what will truly impact yields – a full, even canopy with great light penetration, air flow, and improved nutrient uptake. Our next blog post is all about auxin, cytokinins, their balance and the effect they have on your plant. 


Final Thoughts:

Well there you have it, Low-Stress Training broken down into a few simple steps. Remember, you want to start out nice and young with your plant because it’s easier to manipulate a fresh plant than one that’s more mature and the stalk is denser. If you wait too long, Low-Stress Training might not be an option as you might actually have to bend the branch you’re working with – which is now High-Stress Training (we’ll be covering that soon as well) and your plant will take longer to recover. Also, a full (but not dense), even canopy is the key to getting the most yields possible out of your limited plant counts.   Do you have questions about plant training? Please don’t hesitate to fill out our contact form or hit the chat in the bottom right-hand corner. We’re here to help!

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