How to Grow Marijuana with Low-Stress Training (LST)

growing cannabis plant

How to Grow Marijuana with Low-Stress Training (LST)

There are some techniques that you can use in growing your cannabis plants. LST or Low-Stress Training is one of the best techniques so far. You can use it to increase your harvest and limit the height of your plants. If you have been dealing with poor yields, LST will be certainly a good solution.

What is LST?

Most marijuana growers train their cannabis plants. There are ways to do it: the high stress and low-stress methods.

Low-Stress Training will gently manipulate your plants. High-Stress Training includes more aggressive techniques. Such techniques can cause significant stress to your plants.

LST is exactly what it sounds like. It will not cause stress or even slight damage to your plants. It is a fun way to train indoor plants. In fact, many indoor growers love to use LST.

There are some distinct kinds of low-stress training. These are low-stress training, the screen of green or SCROG, and the sea of green or SOG.

Low-stress training mainly involves softly bending the cannabis plants while they grow. You can just tie down the longer branches. Such process will continue during the whole vegetative cycle in the growth of cannabis plants.

Tying the plants allows the hormone called auxin to spread all over the plant. Auxin is highly responsible for the plants’ growth. It will result in more buds trained to develop in a rounded pattern instead of just being straight with one big cola.

How Does LST Work?

When topping cannabis plants, you need to remove the apical bud where concentration and synthesis of auxin mostly occurs. Cannabis plants stress themselves that enables them to produce new sprouts on the stem. It forms new growth which will be the next apical bud. This bud will grow and soar to the sky.

LST helps in stimulating the growth close to the bottom by tricking the plants rather than chopping them. When something happens to the plants and the bud near the light gets jammed, plants try to move all over that something. If they can’t, the new growth forms on the stem and will try sending a new shoot upward going to the light.

When you use LST, you need to tie the plants down to confuse them. That will result in increased auxin production. Many cannabis growers prefer to train further their plants while they grow older. LST is best to use while the plants are young because auxin develops in the roots and will continue through the entire growth stages.

Continuous plant training is helpful in bringing every apical tip down to encourage new growth. Each time you bring down a tip, the cannabis plants will be more confused. While the new growth tries to get closer to the light, pulling it back down in less than 90 degrees will force the auxin to flow once more. It will happen again and again.

Is LST Suitable for All Cannabis Strains?

All cannabis strains will virtually adjust themselves to LST. More cannabis growers choose indica and indica-dominant strains because they enhance growth on the normally fruitless side branches.

LST is also applicable to sativa and sativa-dominant strains. These cannabis strains are great to grow if your grow is wider and larger. Their strong lateral branches can produce great-looking buds.

You can try several strains including White Widow, Super Silver Haze, and Blueberry. The choices are limitless.

But, what about the autoflowering strains? Unlike the ordinary marijuana plants, autoflowering plants will depend entirely on age. Autoflowering cannabis plants will still need light to grow, but it will be the same even when they matured or when they begin producing buds. Due to that, autoflowering cannabis strains can grow and reach their full maturity state in 2 to 3 months.

However, it does not mean the LST techniques like SOG will be ineffective in autoflowering strains. Also, it does not mean you should never cut these plants. Shrubs need time to recuperate from any invasive procedure, which the autoflowering strains do not have.

LST can be an excellent way of developing the bushy and flat plants even in a small grow space. More importantly, it is an effective way of getting massive yields in every harvest. While LST sounds intimidating, don’t hesitate to try it once because that will totally change your belief about it. For sure, you will be so surprised at what the LST can contribute to your operations.

Benefits of LST

Low-stress training is somewhat beneficial to cannabis plants. Here are the potential benefits you can enjoy by using LST:

  • Better yields – LST will help you gain more returns for your investments when growing your own cannabis. You can expect bigger and better yields, even if you use the same setup with the untrained crops.
  • Improved control – LST lets you have more control over the shape, height, and size of your cannabis plants. The result will be fun and satisfying whether you’re growing the plants indoors or outdoors.
  • Bigger buds – LST will help you produce bigger buds rather than having a solo main bud and more tiny buds. With LST, your cannabis plants will have more colas and growth sites.

What is the Difference Between HST and LST?

HST or high-stress training is different from LST. Their names will reveal it to you. HST or high-stress training includes trimming the upper leaves called “topping”. Trimming them will let the light penetrate even the leaves on the bottom.

High-Stress Training may sound pleasing to your ears, but it can be somewhat risky for your plants. Its stressful effect will encourage most of the smaller branches to grow. As a result, your plants will have tiny popcorn-like buds, not the large colas. In fact, extreme stress can make your cannabis plants become hermaphrodite.

However, Low-Stress Training induces low stress which is safer for cannabis plants. When you do it right, LST will not even cause any stress to your cannabis plants anymore.

Low-Stress Training is not hostile for the plants. Likewise, it does not involve trimming any part of your cannabis plants. Instead, you just need to stretch the upper branches out and tie them loose in a more suitable position.

It will form a smoother surface. That means the buds will receive an equal volume of light. Thus, you can expect your buds to be more delicious and bigger when you harvest them.

However, LST is not just all about increasing your plants’ exposure to the light. The truth is, LST triggers a chemical reaction on your plants. This chemical reaction will encourage your marijuana plants to produce more colas when the flowering time kicks in. More colas mean more buds to collect after two to three months.

When you bend and tie down the branches and stems of your plants, they will assume they have lost those shoots completely. Due to this, your cannabis plants will produce chemicals that will spread all over their body.

These chemicals are responsible for increased cola production and extra growth sites development. The effect of these chemicals will eventually lead to increased bud production. That means a more decent yield each time you harvest. It’s why most cannabis growers like LST. This way of training cannabis plants is certainly the cheapest way to increase your yields.

When Should You Use LST?

LST will make you more flexible by doing it at the right time and place. It’s too late to do it when the plants are late bloomers and when their stems are extremely firm to bend.  

Microgrowers with smaller grow spaces often use LST early to gain more in every harvest. Many indoor growers train their plants throughout the vegetative phase while the shoots are pliable and green. The sooner LST begins, the better the result will be.

If you’re serious in maximizing your yields while keeping the flowers in their sweet spot, then you must use a ScrOG on your grow-up. It’s the only viable choice you have if you choose to train your plants using LST.

Where Should You Do LST?

LST is not only for indoor cannabis growers. The roots of espalier are within the outdoor cannabis cultivation. Outdoor cannabis growers, particularly those who live in areas with northern European-like climates, are successful in using LST.

The plants will be smaller but more productive than they will if you don’t train them using LST. Removing the apical domination of cannabis plants to redirect the growth hormones to several shots instead of one is a great strategy. It will be effective whether you use it indoors or outdoors.

Tools Needed When Training Cannabis Plants Using LST

You just need a few things in getting started with LST. In fact, you can start by having only a minimalist kit. The soft ties of your plants are the leading essential. You need them for holding the shoots and keeping them in place.

There are more options for bracing the bend. These include drilling the holes all over the lip of your pots. You can use bamboo stakes, too. However, training your cannabis plants using LST is easier to do if you use wooden skewers. They must be roughly 30 centimeters long for hassle-free use.

Whatever you choose between those options, do not secure the shoots to the ground. That’s because some adjustments will be necessary while your grow progresses. Maybe, moving your plants is a must for some reasons. Also, you should have duct tape in your minimalist kit.

How to Prepare Your Cannabis Plants for LST?

Helping your plants in preparing themselves for LST is important. That’s a crucial task to do aside from making sure that your plants are 100% ready for the process. Getting them prepared for this process is easy. All you need is to massage the branches and stems.

Plants need some kind of “warm-up” for a physical activity like humans. One of your options to “warm-up” them before LST is the method called massaging the branches and stems.

Some cannabis growers spend some minutes each day to massage the newly developed and young branches. Massaging will make them stronger and resistant to breaking when you try to flex them.

In massaging the branches and stems, you need to gently grab the stems between your fingers and lightly twist and bend them all over for a few seconds. You should do this per branch.

These little and soft movements will develop microfractures in the tissues of your plants. These microfractures promote sturdiness and healthy growth in plants. It is the same with the microdamage due to wind blows that occurs to plants cultivated outdoors.

When you massage your cannabis plants every day, you will notice significant changes sooner on your plants. They may likely have thicker stalks and sturdier lateral branches. These lateral branches will be more able to hold up a lot of bigger buds when the flowering time comes in.

How to Train Your Cannabis Plants Using Low-Stress Training

While training cannabis sounds intimidating particularly to beginners, doing it is so easy. You’re just a few steps away from success in using LST:

#1. Grow Your Plants Until They have 3 to 4 Sets of Leaves.

Some cannabis growers out there prefer to wait a little longer until their plants have 5 sets. However, extra caution is necessary when doing that.

While cannabis plants are growing, their main stem will begin to become rigid. Therefore, bending the main stem, in that case, is more difficult to do unless you break it. You should not break it as it can stress and even damage your plant. When you break the stem, the plant will die.

#2. Choose a tie to use.

Some people prefer hooks. They use it for hooking in the ground after you bend a branch. You can use anything.

However, your ties should be soft, so they won’t cut the branches and the leaves. Pipe cleaners are effective. You can tie them loose and adjust them while your plants grow.

#3. Choose how you should tie your plants.

Again, you can use hooks to secure in the ground. You can tie down your plants on a pot. Or, you can also secure them elsewhere.

#4. Tie your plants all over the last internode.

This is the space between the final set of leaves and the second to the last set of leaves. Lightly tie this part and secure it to your chosen spot.

#5. Use powerful lights.

The bent part of your cannabis plants will begin to flex back up on the way to the light. It can take up to 8 hours, but you can shorten it by using under powerful lights. These lights can get the job done in just 3 hours.

#6. Continue waiting.

Don’t tie your cannabis plants until the new leaves appear. In this way, much light will reach the main stem.

#7. When the new sets of leaves begin to form, tie them all over the pot until there’s no space left inside or all over the pot.

#8. Use soft ties or metal hooks.

At this point, there must be new leaves which makes the stem bent horizontally all over the interior of the pot’s edge. You can use soft ties or metal hooks. In this time, more side branches must come in.

#9. You can redo steps #7 and #8 while growth continues. This will help the side branches to form and grow further until they reach the light.

#10. Wait until the flowers begin to appear. It will happen when your plants switch to the 12/12 light cycle.

Some cannabis growers out there turn the light off two days before they harvest. It means no light will touch their plants for the last 48 hours before the big days.

This will confuse the plants again. They will think they’re dying. That feeling will cause them to release the resin or THC in their system and distribute it to the well-formed buds. Therefore, you will see the buds having a beautiful crystalline look when you harvest them.

Helpful Tips to Follow When You Use LST

There are several various low-stress training methods. Also, many cultivators have their own approach. The best time for doing LST is when your plants already have 4 to 5 nodes. Smaller plants can’t handle the effect of LST. That’s because their roots are still fragile and may uproot when you try bending and training them.

Likewise, make sure your cannabis plants are not too old for LST. Older plants have tough woody branches which are less flexible and more prone to breakage.

In training cannabis, you can tie them down by using nylon cord or string. Before you begin, make sure there’s something besides you which can hold the string or nylon cord in place.

When training your cannabis plants using LST, you can make some tiny holes under the pot’s rim. Here, you can secure the nylon cord or string to the branches.

  • The main stem should be the first one you train. Secure the main stem by using two pieces of string or nylon cord. One of them must be around one to two inches from the plant’s tip while the other should be around one to two inches from the lowest.
  • Begin from the stem’s tip then bend it down. This tip should not be the plant’s highest point anymore. Try bending the tip as low as you want and secure it by using a nylon cord or string.
  • Run the nylon cord or string over the hole within the rim, up and all over the branch and back down to the brim. Make sure you tie it securely and tightly to keep the twig in place.
  • After tying the stem’s tip, do the same on the bottom. The thinner and higher portions of the stem will flex easily than the bottom parts. Therefore, you must be more careful to avoid damaging the stem throughout this step. When bending the stem back, support it by using a nylon cord or string like the one you did previously.
  • This time, you can work on the remaining twigs of your cannabis plants. Start working on the top twigs first. Flex them just like what you did on the main stem. When bent down, they should be pointing outward. This way, the leaves and branches on top of your plants will not block the light from touching the bottom. When you flex a twig, make sure you secure it tightly using a string or nylon cord.
  • Continue working until the branches are all bent back. Once finished, put the plants back under their source of light. Observe how the light touches the plant and make sure it reaches even the bottommost parts.

Note: Make sure the ties are loose. The branches will continuously develop even when you tie them. They need some space for the new tissues. The branches will suffocate and may fail to develop properly if tie them tightly.

Is LST Safe for Flowering Plants?

You can do LST even while your plants are in the flowering stage. However, you must do it only within the first few weeks. During the flowering phase, your plants will tend to grow more rapidly. Therefore, you must keep them in shape.

Once you do this, avoid touching the new buds at all cost. Don’t worry in case you accidentally touched it once. This is hard to do but try not to make the same mistake again. Continuously train your plants using LST within 30 days.

Still, you need to check your plants for stray colas that may block the light or get too close to the source of light. Tie them back accordingly.

LST or Low-Stress Training is a good technique to use for some reasons. It is a nice option for cannabis growers who are on a tight budget because it just needs cheap materials like ties and bamboo sticks.

If your grow room has fewer light sources, using LST will be an inexpensive way to upgrade. If the grow space is too tight, LST will help you use that efficiently.

In fact, more great things will happen if you use Low-Stress Training with other training techniques. Combining LST with your preferred method will supercharge your marijuana plants. What you’ve learned today are just the basics.

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