Training Plants For Growth In A Small Space
(seen above left: plants immediately after light stress training; seen above right: plants 12 hours after light stress training)
We get a lot of questions about how cannabis can be grown in an environment as small as Stealth Box. While cannabis is a vigorous plant that can grow over 8’ tall in the wild, you can also effectively control its growth using a variety of methods laid out in the Stealth Box Grow Manual (including topping, light stress training, SCROG training, and super cropping). Some of these methods feel counter-intuitive at first, but the results speak for themselves.
Topping is a training method done in early vegetative growth where you remove the top of the plant to redistribute its growth hormones. While cannabis naturally grows like a Christmas tree with only 1 large cola (the top of your plant where most of your bud forms), topping your plant will cause it to form 2 or more colas, boosting your yield.
The topping method is simple:
1) Ensure your plant has 6 nodes (nodes are where leaves shoot off from the main stem in pairs; they are also where your buds will form)
2) Sterilize a pair of scissors with rubbing alcohol
3) Locate the third node
4) Cut 1” above this on a 45 degree angle, removing 2-3 sets of nodes above the cut
This is a high stress training technique, so your plants may be stunted for a couple of days as they rebalance their hormones to their new growth tips. Once this is complete, they will resume growth as normal, ready to produce more bud than before. You can apply this technique multiple times if you have one plant that is shooting up higher than the others. Re-topping will simultaneously create more colas for your vigorous plant and also keep it at an even height with your others.
As your plants continue through vegetative growth, you can employ another technique called “light stress training”. Like the name says, this technique is less stressful for your plants and should not slow their growth. It involves gently bending the plants sideways to expose more nodes to the light. Nodes are where your buds will form, so this method will maximize light to the nodes and increase your yield.
To light stress train your plants, simply take each main branch and use some string or wire to pull down each branch down and affix it to the cloth pots. You want to be gentle as you do this to avoid snapping any branches. This will pull the branches towards the exterior of the pot, allowing more light into the interior canopy as well as spreading the plants out to the edge of the box.
Your plants will continue to grow new branches upwards as you train them sideways and will eventually meet the height of the hooks inside the Stealth Box. Those hooks are for placing a SCROG net – another training method. To use a SCROG net in your grow, take some string and attach it to the hooks as seen below.
SCROG stands for “screen of green”, and is an effective method of boosting your yield and evening out your canopy. To employ this technique, simply take each growth tip and train them sideways into their own SCROG square. This will allow you to prevent too much upward growth in your most vigorous growth tips, as well as maximize light to the nodes.
The final method I’d like to go over is called super cropping. Super cropping is another form of high stress training, so it can take a few days for your plants to recover after employing this method. Super cropping involves taking a branch that still has a good amount of flexibility to it (avoid the woody branches down below) and applying a small bit of pressure to the stem as your roll it back and forth between your fingers. You want to feel the inside of the stem become softer without breaking the outer skin, allowing the stem to sit at a 90 degree angle. If you accidentally break a stem, just tape it back up. From there, you may want to tie your branch in place otherwise sometimes your plant can bounce back and remove the kink you have added.
There are a couple of reasons to employ super-cropping, the first of which is boosting your yield. The 90 degree kink you add will allow your branch to sit sideways, allowing additional light to the nodes. Detecting stress, your plant will push new growth through branches other than the ones you’ve super-cropped (serving to even out the canopy), as well as ramp up THC production (one of cannabis’s natural defense mechanisms). Where this technique coalesces with Stealth Box is in inhibiting upward growth of tips that have become too tall. If you can see a tip is making its way toward the light (try to keep at least 6” clearance for finishing) you can super crop it before it gets there, preventing upward growth and heat damage. Super cropping is best deployed during veg but can also be used in emergencies during flower.
You can use the any of these training techniques, either alone or in conjunction, to boost your yield and control the growth of your plants. The common theme among these techniques is they increase the light to your bud sites, which is crucial in maximizing your yield. A final consideration to note is that high stress training is (generally) not recommended for autoflowering plants as they do not have time to recover, so avoid topping and super cropping your autoflowers.