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Stress in plants is not always a bad thing. Don't get us wrong, constant exposure to an adverse physical environment will harm your greenie. However, moderate stress can actually be taken advantage of to induce better yields.
Low-stress training weed plants or “LST” is a growing technique that puts the plant in some moderate strain but can give a superior yield in return. Want to know more about this cultivation marvel? Stay with us and keep scrolling below as we unravel the principles of low-stress training.
Does Low-Stress Training Increase Yield?
Low-stress weed training can help produce an abundant harvest. As applicable to many crops, light stress is a tool that can control the plant's height and shape, simultaneously directing more nutrients and energy. First, the bush is arched or fixed at a leaning angle (a form of stressful but subtle manipulation of plant architecture). This encourages the less dominant nodes to produce viable leaf buds. A fuller plant, stuffed with foliage, can therefore harvest more sunlight. More sunlight means more plant food and energy, which brings forth flower buds, the ultimate prize after all this hard work.
Benefits of Low-Stress Training on Cannabis
Learning how to LST only seems complicated when you first hear about it. Sure, the technique might be challenging for plant beginners, but it is definitely worth a try considering all the advantages. With a few tips, anyone can succeed! Aside from the promise of better and higher yields, it slows down the steep increase in size, giving you complete command of your cannabis' shape. It would be much easier to move, adjust, or hide it.
Additionally, because of its branching habit, LST weed plants give rise to larger buds instead of tiny clusters of flowers, which can often be a problem in Christmas tree-shaped plants. The technique ensures that the light is well-distributed to all of the plant's parts and there is sufficient energy to produce bigger yields. As a bonus, improved airflow will make your plant less susceptible to diseases and unwelcome pest visitors.
When to Start Low-Stress Training
Before beginning your low-stress training, there are a few factors to consider: plant height, the number of nodes and leaves, calendar, and stem flexibility. Let's dive into them one by one!
Wondering when to start low-stress training? One of the best indicators is the plant's height. We recommend initiating the training in the early vegetative stage, after the seedling phase, when the length of the plant is about 1-3.9 in (5-10 cm). Younger сannabis greenies typically have more pliable stems that are easier to bend, while older plants may be stiff and frangible.
Number of Nodes
Another indicator to start an LST weed plant is to look at the number of nodes (the "eyes") on the stem where potential buds would emerge. If your plant has no viable nodes, it is still too young and fragile. Although the "eyes" can technically be present at each leaf point after the sprouting, you should wait until there are at least five of them. Some growers recommend the number between 3-6, so there might still be time even after your plant has passed the average number.
Another reliable approach to LST plants is also the calendar method. Begin the training after 2-3 weeks of sowing. If you plan to postpone it a little bit, it is fine as well. The latest date you can train cannabis is about two weeks before the expected flowering date. After fixing the plant in an arched position, ensure it is further exposed to sunlight at a better angle.
Number of Leaves
The number of leaves is another indicator to pay attention to. When the plant produces about six leaf clusters whorled around the stem, direct it to have a wide-open structure by pulling downwards, as if spreading a branch or a Christmas tree. Alternatively, another method of LST involves tying the main stem on one side and fixing the leaf clusters in a position away from the central stalk. This way, the light stress is properly introduced to the seedlings.
A flexible stem is a primary prerequisite to LST plants, usually during its vegetative phase. However, if you have started the training a bit earlier, try bending the tips. Closer to the ground, they should be softer than the stems. In this manner, you can manipulate the growth of seedlings at a later stage. This method is also helpful for achieving a specific plant shape.
What to Do before and after Low-Stress Training?
There is an essential checklist to prepare before and after your Low-Stress Training. Below is a simple tutorial:
To-Do List before LST:
- Select plants that are the optimal age for LST. Ensure that they are healthy and show no signs of disease.
- Determine which method you will use to train your plants. Knowing the exact planting method is very helpful in choosing the materials. For example, sideways LSTs should be planted near the outside of the pot, while the others should be planted closer to the center.
- Gather all the materials you will need, such as pots, stakes, drills, and twine, depending on the LST method.
- Prepare the growing site. Unless you are growing cannabis in its natural habitat, this plant needs to be housed in a controlled environment. Investing in LED light panels and ventilated grow chambers is a must-do for successful weed cultivation.
To-Do List After:
- After weed LST, do not put the plants down yet, as you will need to continue shaping them until 2 weeks before flowering.
- Select the healthy shoots that should be allowed to grow and prune the non-dominant ones.
- Since cola (flower bud) development is highly dependent on light, ensure the plant receives enough sunlight.
- Water the plant appropriately. Do not overwater or dry out the soil, as this can induce more stress.
- Fertilize at the proper rate for best results. We suggest following each brand's instructions to keep your plant strong and healthy. Don't overdo it!
- Stop bending branches when you notice that your weed plant is close to producing flower buds (it will no longer impact the yield).
Who doesn't love bullet lists? Tip by tip… And soon you're a weed expert!
Supplies to Prepare Before LST
Now that you know the tips for low-stress training, let's talk about supplies and tools. To make the process as smooth as possible, we have put together a list of LST kits that you will need:
- Plant ties, soft-coated garden wire, or plant-friendly ties.
- Hand drill, hole punch, or sharp knife (if you want to anchor the main stem or branches to the pot)
- Pruning shears or scissors
- Support sticks (this is optional if you're tying branches to poles)
- Grafting or tape (in case if the stem breaks)
Done! You're all equiped. It's time to talk more theory.
When to Stop LST Training
Cannabis plants usually show subtle signs that tell you when to stop LST training. Vegetative growth slows as it approaches the reproductive stage as the plant puts more energy into producing flowers. Although some experienced growers continue to train their plants through flowering, the safe time to stop branch manipulation is about two weeks before blooming. Minor adjustments in plant care are required, focusing only on watering and light exposure.
Kinds of Low-Stress Training Techniques
Producing significantly higher yields with LST weed technique includes much more than a single method. Here is the list of all available options:
- Sideways. This method simply anchors the plant at nearly a horizontal angle to introduce the light stress. Many growers prefer it because of its simplicity and practicality. As a result, the prized buds would emerge at the right size, just waiting to be harvested.
- Spiral shape. Would you like to be a little extra with LST growing? Then, this method is for you. The main stem is bent down and fixed with a support stake away from the center. The stem is then bent into a circle to spiral around to achieve the desired form. As a result, some chunky buds should emerge from the stalk.
- Christmas tree. This technique is also a bit complicated and requires several fastening points. Rather than bending the main stem to introduce the LST grow principle, the side branches are pulled down to form the shape of a typical Christmas tree or "star shape" from above.
- Advanced methods. Known as ScrOG or screen of green technique, a wire mesh or net is used to distribute buds to ensure even flowering. It is a functional method for large plantations because it requires less fixation with individual wires. The shoots are simply guided by each "eye" as it grows.
More options means more freedom. As Frankie said, do it your way!
Are Topping and Low-Stress Training the Same?
Topping and low-stress training are two different techniques for growing marijuana weed. Cutting the top shoots is called "topping," considered high-stress training, while the latter does not involve any part removal. It is also a form of pruning where the actively growing tips are snipped out. However, the principle is almost the same: breaking the apical dominance to stimulate side branching. Since the plant hormone of apical dominance is produced at the tips, both techniques are effective in inducing growth sideways. First-timers who don't want to risk damaging their sole plant should probably choose the safer method (LST marijuana).
How Long after Topping Can We LST?
As the saying goes, "patience is a virtue." Low-stress training cannabis will test your patience if you choose to top or combine it with weed LST. Generally, it takes about 3-5 days until the plants heal from the stressful cut. However, depending on the growing conditions and the fitness of clones, some take more than 5-10. After this period, the new branches should emerge sufficiently healthy and can be adjusted to the desired shape.
How Long Do Plants Take to Recover from LST?
The average recovery period is between 2-3 days. However, depending on the plant's fitness, it could take additional time to heal, approximately 5-10 days. If you see new healthy buds sprouting, it is a good sign of its recovery.
What Is Light Stress for Weed Plants?
Light stress for weed plants is a form of manipulation of the branches to stimulate more harvestable buds. This is done by training, pulling down, and bending dominant leaf clusters, allowing the side branches to sprout and capture more sunlight.
What Is the Difference Between High- and Low-Stress Training?
Both high and low-stress training are growing techniques that help produce superior yields. The difference boils down to the way "stress" is inflicted. The former method employs cutting the tops, while the latter requires bending the stems.
As you can see, stress is not necessarily a bad thing! Just like humans, plants thrive if given a little challenge. The key is always persevering, growing, and blooming even harder and stronger than before.