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.
STEP 1 – Practice bending the part you will tie down with your hands to test how flexible the stem is and how safely you can work with it.
STEP 2 – Tie or pin down the tallest shoot so it is lower in height than the lower branches. Check if the stem is comfortably bending and is flexible to touch.
STEP 3 – Hand train the canopy and allow the smaller new shoots to grow upwards as small independent branches.
STEP 4 – The tied down shoot will start growing upwards as normal, but remains below the other branches.
STEP 5 – Wait for the canopy to grow back as a uniform bush structure and continue to grow.
STEP 6 – As the plant flowers, there will be many equally large bud sites.
F.A.Q.’s Regarding LST
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!
Q: What Material Do I Use?
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.
Q: What Do I Attach My LST Strings/Wires To?
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.
Or you can buy specialized products like this patented “SCROGGER” if you don’t feel like getting creative.
Q: When Can I LST?
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.
LST works throughout the grow, but once you’re this far into flowering it won’t do nearly as much as during vegetative growth.le time.
Q: Can I Combine LST With Other Techniques?
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.
Topping and LST are a great combination. This cannabis plant was topped 4 times before flowering and one time at the beginning of flowering, LST was performed the whole time.
Q: Which Strains Are Best For LST?
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.
LST works for most plants, let alone strains. Tomatoes, beans and grapes are usually grown using some form of LST to boost yields.
Q: Does LST work on autoflowering strains?
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.
Even with autoflowering and fast-flowering strains like this Sweet ‘N Sour Outdoor, you will have at least a few weeks to perform LST.