The term Low Stress Training (LST) is used to refer to a way of growing cannabis plants. Low Stress Training is a technique used to control the height, shape, and yield of cannabis plants. By making use of this method of cultivation the lower shots get more light. This allows your plant to grow better and produce more.
The idea is to train your cannabis plant to grow wider and to produce many colas. A cola is the flowering top of the plant where a bud develops. Healthy plants grow one main cola and several smaller colas around the plant. The main cola usually produces the largest bud, with the other colas producing smaller ones. The idea behind LST is to get the smaller colas to produce larger buds. By engaging in LST, you expose the rest of the plant to more light and this can bring about a larger yield.
Low Stress Training allows growers to fully exploit the light in their grow area (whether that be indoors or outdoors). Cannabis plants naturally grow in a cone shape. The main branch has the main cola at the top of it. The idea behind Low Stress Training is to spread the plant out so that it has a more circular shape. Instead of a tall cone, you want to try to train your plant to a more flattened disk.
By encouraging your plant to grow a more flattened canopy, you allow the entire plant to have more access to light. When the other colas have more access to light, they will begin to produce a better yield. The reasons for this include increased photosynthesis, more access to nutrients, and the plant will more evenly distribute water.
When Do You Start Low Stress Training?
Low Stress Training should be started during the vegetative stage. During the vegetative stage, the branches of the young cannabis plant are usually more pliable. This makes it the perfect time to influence the growth of the plant.
During the vegetative stage, applying LST will cause the branches and shoots to spread out. This will cause the canopy to expand. When the plant enters the flowering stage, many colas will start to grow. This should have the effect of increasing the yield from your plant.
How Do You Train the Plant Using LST?
You want to begin training your cannabis plant when it is young and in the vegetative state. This way you are much less likely to harm the plant. As soon as the stems are long enough, you will want to begin to tie them off.
Low Stress Training involves gently bending and tying the stems off. It is low stress because the gentle bending and tying off allows the plant to become used to the process and to adapt. Basically, you are trying to minimize shock as much as possible.
As soon as the stems and shoots are long enough to be tied down, you can begin. You will want to make sure you are using something gentle to tie the plants down. We recommend finding plant tape or pipe cleaners. In a pinch, I have used torn-up paper towels twisted into a twine. I don’t recommend this long term, but it can work if you put in the effort.
Basically, you want to use something gentle to make sure that your plants are tied down. You do not want to use an exposed coat hanger or wire. These will cut into the plant as it moves and grows. You want to avoid this at all costs.
You will need a few pieces of equipment specifically for Low Stress Training. This is in addition to the normal equipment you would need to grow cannabis. Before you begin, gather up the following:
- Soft garden ties or coated plant ties. These will be used to secure the stems and shoots of your plant as you begin to train your cannabis. You do not want to use exposed metal or anything too hard.
- A small electric or manual hand drill. You can use this to drill small holes in the pot that you are growing your cannabis in.
- Pruning shears. You will need these if you decide to top your plant. Topping is not necessary for LST, but it is a technique that you can use with LST in order to maximize the growth of your plant.
- Garden stakes or a support cage. You can use this instead of the drill method if you are planting indoors. Alternatively, if you are planting outdoors, you may need these in order to create tie-down points. Just remember if you do use stakes or a cage that you want to be careful to not let them interfere with the basic care of your plant.
- Duct tape. You will need this in order to mend any breaks in your plant. But let’s face it, having duct tape around never hurt.
Steps to Start LST
- Create several holes around your container. You will need to start by creating several holes around your container to act as anchor points for the tie-offs. You can also install some sort of plant frame around your cannabis plants. Plant frames are plastic or metal frames which surround plants and allow tie-offs for support. Think about tomato cages or trellises for vines. You will attach the ties to the holes or to the support structure. You will then secure the other end to the young stems or shoots.
- Gently bend the main stem and secure it to the rim of the container using tie-offs. Some growers coil the stem around the container. Others prefer to bend and direct the smaller shoots and stems away from the main stem and secure them to the container holes or support structure. The plant should look like a tie-dye spiral or a spider web.
- Make sure to bend the plant gently. It may benefit you to keep some equipment nearby in order to deal with broken stems. The tape can be used to hold together any breaks. If dealt with properly, your plant should be able to heal.
- You will need to keep on top of the process of training your plant. Low-Stress Training is a continuous process that lasts through the vegetative growth of your plant. It is not a set-and-forget process. You will need to check in on your plant and make sure it is growing properly. You may need no make adjustments as your cannabis plant grows. You will need to keep an eye out for mold and fungus also. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
- When Tying down your cannabis stems, do not tie them in such a way that you cannot tend to or move your plant. It is very important that you don’t tie off your plants to the ground or another object that will have your plant stuck in place. It is also important to not block your ability to be able to get a good look at your main stem. You will need to be able to examine your plant.
- Some light pruning can help in the early stages of Low Stress Training. This helps to make sure that the light the plant gets is maximized. You do not want to go overboard with this, as you can stunt the growth of your cannabis plant. Remember that topping the plant is not part of LST training. This is another technique that you can use alongside LST.
You will want to top off the plants when they have 4-6 nodes. Make sure to leave a little bit of the stem (around 1/16 – 1/8 of an inch).
Remember to maximize the effectiveness of the procedure, you should start training the plants when they are young. This will enable you to make the plant grow in width, rather than height. You should aim at doing this procedure during the vegetative stage. You should stop implementing the procedure when the plants enter the flowering stage. Once signs of the flowering stage are visible, stop the process.
How to Use Low Stress Training to Your Advantage
Low Stress Training is used to form a relatively flat, even canopy. This will help all the colas and buds to have access to direct light. Low Stress Training allows even distribution of light will provide the entire cannabis plant with the ability to maximize buds, instead of concentrating most of the plants' growth on the main cola. Allowing the entire plant to have even access to light will help to create larger and more buds.
When you opt to make use of the LST method, the gentle manipulation of the plant helps to produce multiple areas of production on the plant. You can also use the reduction in height to make sure that the pant does not grow too high. This makes sure that the plant won’t block out any light.
Benefits of Using Low Stress Training
So why would you want to use the Low Stress Training technique to grow your cannabis? What benefits does the technique produce? Growing cannabis using this procedure produces benefits that a normal grow does not provide.
• Bigger yields from the same grow lights and setup.
• Complete control over the height, shape, and size of your plant (the method is applicable for both indoors and outdoors plants).
• Increased harvest yields.
• Plants will produce more big buds instead of a single main bud and a lot of tiny ones.
ScrOG or a More Advanced Version of Low Stress Training
ScrOG, or Screen of Green, is a much more advanced version of Low Stress Training that involves using a screen or net in order to train the shoots of your cannabis plant. This is a more labor-intensive technique because you will need to weave the stems through the screen in order to train them. It is not the most difficult version of training your cannabis, but it does require some more work ahead of time, in order to make the screen. There are plenty of resources about it online, including our guide on how to ScrOG. If you like low stress training and want to expand your practice, you should definitely research this type of growing.
Can You Use Low Stress Training During the Flowering Phase?
I know I said earlier that you should stop Low Stress Training when your plants start to flower. You will want to concentrate your training on when the plant is in the vegetative stage and is more pliable. It is possible to conduct low stress training during the flowering stage. It is best to do this in the earlier stages but can be done during the entire life cycle of your plant. You will need to be very careful and gentle with your plants if you choose to do this. The chances of harming your plant increase as they get older.
There are a few reasons for using LST on your cannabis plants after they flower. One reason is that you are having issues with getting light to the lower branches of your plant. Another issue might be that you are not getting enough airflow and want to spread the plants out a bit. Still, another is that when put under stress during the vegetative and early flowering phases, a plant can produce stronger clones.
I must stress that you will need to be even more careful when doing low stress training on a mature plant. They are less pliable and also have begun to grow in a certain way. You are basically undoing the growth of the plant up to that point. Gentle and careful are the two words you will want to keep in your mind when doing this. Having said that, I think that it is better to start training early so that you run less of a risk of damaging your plant.
Low Stress Training is a great way to maximize the yield from your cannabis plant. It is also the easiest training you can do for your cannabis plant. If you feel adventurous and want to explore new ways of growing cannabis, this is a great way to get started. Happy Growing!