Low Stress Training or LST for short involves bending a cannabis plant to grow in a way that will improve yields. You perform LST by gently bending plants, using low levels of stress to encourage the plant to grow laterally and form a bushy canopy. This improves canopy control and promotes the development of large, thick independant shoots with uniform buds. LST can increase harvests by up to 200%, and who doesn't like free cannabis?
LST works by redistributing auxin, the hormone that is responsible for so called “apical dominance”, which is a scientific term to describe the “dominant” or “main” cola. By taking away the dominance of the main cola, a cannabis plant will develop side branches more rapidly. In practical terms this means the plant will focus its energy on growing a wide, bushy plant. Once the tied down primary branch becomes the highest point of the plant again, this hormone will start accumulating in the top and restart vertical growth.
This might sound complicated, but in reality LST is one of the easiest techniques you can use to massively increase your yield! In the following infographic we explain how to LST in 6 easy steps.
The well trained cannabis plant in this overview has 10+ good tops, rather than the 1-4 good tops an untrained plant would have. LST is profitable, easy, cheap and fun to do, give it a shot yourself!
Because every LST grow is different we get a wide range of questions on this subject. The questions below are by far the most common ones to ask, so we took the liberty of answering them in advance!
A: The goal of LST is to maximally manipulate a cannabis plant without stressing it. This usually means you’ll end up using some kind of rubber-coated metal wire that is specifically made for tying down plants without damaging them. You can use anything that’s not too sharp, things like clothing hangers and pipe cleaners are very popular alternatives for example. Thinner materials like string and chicken wire are usually too sharp and can cut right through your cannabis plant.
A: Whatever you use to perform LST, you need to attach these materials to the pot as well. Many bendable metal wires will do their job if they are simply stuck in the soil, but you can also drill holes in the side of your pot or tie a band around it.
A: LST is so low stress that it can essentially be performed throughout the lifecycle of a cannabis plant. By starting in the seedling stage, you have maximum control over your plant from the get go. LST is “done” when a cannabis plant starts stretching, about half way through flowering. While you can still bend and manipulate the plant all you want for light penetration, LST during flowering will not cause any other growth.
A: Yes! LST works very well with practically other technique you can use to bush out a cannabis plant. Topping early will give you two branches to work with instead of one, you can repeat this multiple times. The use of screens or nets is also very practical as LST’d cannabis plants will often require support towards the end of flowering.
A: LST works for every strain, there are only very minor differences. You might use LST for different reasons with different strains, but the workflow remains the same. LST helps to greatly improve the quality of the side buds in indica strains, whereas sativa strains mostly benefit from the reduced height and much more even canopy. LST does tend to work best with naturally bushy strains, as a shorter internode space will keep new colas closer together.
A: Yes. Autoflowering strains are generally bred to produce one main cola and a few small, nearly negligible side buds, but this is not necessarily the most optimal way to grow. LST can be used to give these side buds more light and really beef them up. Autoflowering strains still have a short vegetative period during which training will not bother them at all, so LST is fine as long as you start really early.
In this article you have seen many different styles of LST used in cannabis cultivation, which we hope has made it clear that no two grows are the same when it comes to this technique. Because of the "low stress" this technique lends itself perfectly to experimentation without risking a whole crop. Give it a shot, we wish you and your cannabis plant all the best!