In my last article, I discussed a few ways to train your cannabis plants to increase size and improve yield. Since you’ve started growing wider, bigger plants it’s now time to start supporting those plants as they grow taller, especially during the flowering stage. As your plant starts to bud, the branches won’t be able to support its weight all on its own and the plant will be spending a lot of its energy trying to keep the bud upright, not in growing the bud itself.
Besides wanting to keep your buds upright and closer to the light, preventing them from laying on each other is super important too. Layering prevents light from getting to the lower buds, and heavier tops laying on one another will eliminate air flow, potentially creating a safe haven for mold to form. Here are a few items that I use in my garden to help keep my buds upright, and prevent layering.
Bamboo stakes: a mainstay in most gardens, but they are never easy to work with. They’re simple to use, as you can insert as many of these into the soil at any time throughout the grow cycle as you’d like. You can use small ones to tie your plant off to (for training purposes) in veg, and then use taller ones when going into flower to support your biggest branches as they grow. My biggest problem with this method is needing so many sizes of stakes, because they do not grow with your plant, and you want to keep the lights close to the plant. So, having a 4’ bamboo stake next to an 18” tall plant does not allow for the light to be close enough to the plant. Also, they are straight and only go in one direction, and it can take multiple tries to get the stake at the right angle for your plant support needs.
Trellis netting/chicken wire/mesh fence: These all serve the same purpose, but I Highly recommend using a non-metal solution for this. In my opinion, nylon trellis netting is the go-to solution here, but none of these are easy to work with in a big garden. Trellis netting needs to be attached to a solid framework, usually based outside of the plant pot (think PVC pipes), and then spread over the tops of the plant to allow the plant to grow through it in the flowering stage. All plants stretch in the first few weeks of flower, some up to 100 percent or more of its size before flowering. This means those branches are long and weak, and need that extra support more than ever. That’s why some people will put two layers of trellis over their plant, one placed directly over the plant in the first days of flower, and then one 8-12 inches above that for the plant to grow up into. My major problem with trellis netting is it makes me feel like a dolphin trapped in a fish net when putting it over the plants, but holy hell is taking it off during harvest a nightmare! It definitely adds time and a bit of frustration to the harvest process, but is ultimately worth it for the yield increase you should see by using it.
Plant yo-yos: These come in a few different fashions, but all function in the same manner. These are hooks (one or two) attached to a retractable string that has a push-button lock to lock the string at a desired length from the attachment point on the lights or ceiling above your plant. You would place one of the hooks at the very base of one of your heavy top buds and retract the string so the bud was pointing towards the light and the string was taught. Press the lock button to secure into place. This should hold your heavy bud in this place for the remainder of the cycle, allowing for light penetration and better air flow. Yo-yos can be used throughout the flowering process, and are critical if you haven’t used any other support methods, or else your heavy buds could by lying in the dirt before too long.
While I don’t feel that any of these are the ultimate solution, they are the three most helpful items that I see used to support plants and the heavy buds they can produce. I’m sure there are more contraptions and creations that people have come up with over the years that work for them. I’m sure they work great! These are three items that are on the market today, that would support their heavy buds all the way through the grow cycle.
Rob Smith is a registered Maine Caregiver who has created an innovative solution to your plant training and support needs! You can check out the Atlas Plant Trainer at atlasplanttrainer.com to completely revolutionize the way you garden indoors, and out!