11. Training Day
Training your plant can lead to increased growth and yields. Cannabis is apical in nature. That means it will be Christmas tree shaped, with the top point receiving the majority of the nutrients, growth hormones and light. If you create multiple tops, you can trick the plant into sending nutrients and hormones to all the tops and you can evenly distribute the light. This will create an even canopy with many branches and tops which will each turn into colas, during flowering season. These techniques are referred to as “High Stress Training”.
Please note: these training techniques are not recommended for autos. Autos have a short lifespan, so we don’t want to put them under any extra stress during their grow cycle. There are training techniques for autos. We’ll share these with you at a later stage. Also note that stress training is only for the Veg phase and not during flower as we don’t want to stunt growth. We like to do our training in the evening to help the plants recover quicker during the dark hours.
In order to start training, you want your baby to have at least 5 nodes. This means, 5 sets of true leaves coming from the stem. ( Some people start to train at 3 nodes but we wouldn’t recommend this for beginners ). You can train as late in the Veg cycle as you like and can do multiple toppings or FIM’s, just give your babies a week or 2 to recover.
Read more about why you should top and train here.
There are 2 popular High Stress Training Techniques we’ll use.
You can use a pair of sharp scissors or a blade to make your cuts or you can use your hands. You should press your thumb nail into your index finger to cut through the stem. Many growers recommend a clean cut with a sharp tool but we prefer to use our hands and help the plant form a “scab”. Find the method that’s best for you, just make sure to clean your tools thoroughly. We like to use the alcohol swaps from the pharmacy but hot water and soap will be fine too. You can apply some honey or cinnamon to the cut afterwards. Both are a natural antibacterial which will help heal the wound. If you don’t have any, don’t worry the plant knows how to heal itself.
FIM stand for “Fuck it I missed” and was discovered through error. A grower tried to top their plant and missed but realized it created double the number of tops, so continued doing it. This method is far less precise and more forgiving. You want to remove 75% of the new leaves at the top of your plant. This is our recommended training method for beginners.
How to FIM?
You want to find the top growth point and then either pinch or cut the tops off the new leaves. You want to take off around 75% if the new growth. In a few days, you’ll notice the leaves start to grow and between 4-8 new tops will appear.
This is the process of cutting the growth tip off the main stem of the plant. “Removing the terminal bud will encourage the development of two new main colas and promote growth of the lower, secondary branches. The aim is to invert the Christmas tree shape to allow more light penetration. Growth hormone is diffused to all of the shoots once the apical bud’s dominance is removed”.
How to top your plant?
Find where your top growth point is and work your way down towards the stem. Just above where the branch meets the stem, you can make your cut. This will promote growth in all 4 of the leaves that are left, to create 2 new tops.
What is a clone?
A clone is a cutting taken from a plant which is then rooted to form an exact genetic replica of the parent plant. A clone will have the same DNA and be the same maturity and age, although much smaller. Many growers keep healthy mother plants for years and produce clones constantly. It’s a great way to keep a good plant producing. It’s not recommended to clone a clone as you start to lose genetic material.
Do you want to clone?
If you’re wanting to clone, now is your opportunity ( not the only one but a good time ). In order to clone, you need to have a viable piece of stem 15 - 20cm long ( from the top of the leaves to the place you’re making your cut, just above a node ). Clones are best taken from the new growth at the top of a small plant or the lower branches of a big plant. as your plant grows, you will see your leaves start to alternate. This means there will no longer be 2 leaves joined at the stem but rather 1 at a time. Once you have 15-20cm of growth above the first alternating node, you’re ready to top and then clone the top. You can top before this but the cutting wouldn’t make a good clone.
How to clone?
Get your Jiffy pots ready. You can pour some water (distilled or filtered) over the pellets, wait for them to expand and then place the pellets into the biodegradable pots.
Now get your cloning gel. It’s the bright green liquid with the black lid. Pour some of the cloning gel out into a shot glass (you don’t want to contaminate the gel as you won’t be able to use it again ).
If you’re going to be cloning whilst topping, you’ll want to use a sharp, clean tool and make a 45’ cut across the stem. This helps increase the surface area to give the stem more space to create roots. Once you have topped your plant, take the cutting and put it straight into the shot glass of cloning liquid. You want to move the cutting around so that the end is coated in the gel about 2cm up the stem. This helps prevent air bubbles whilst also promoting root growth with hormones from the gel. Leave the cutting in the gel for around 5 minutes before putting it into your Jiffy pellet and squeezing the medium around the stem to seal it.
Clones don’t have roots yet so they “breath” through their leaves. We want to create a humid environment for them. We can do this by making a done home like we did for our seedlings or by placing the clones into a bowl and covering with cling film. You’ll want to open the dome or film a few times a day for air exchange and to spray the clones with your water bottle to increase humidity. Clones also like a warm, low light environment and plenty of darkness. We like to keep ours in a cupboard for around 14 hours of the day and then take them out onto a shady patio for the other 10 hours of the day. Clones can’t really generate their own food so we like to spray them regularly with a diluted Kelpak solution (0.5ml / L water). We also like to clip the edges of our leaves. This helps to promote the rooting hormone which we want. They look weird but trust us it works. You’ll want to take any large fan leaves off and only leave the small ones.
Clones aren't the easiest things to look after and roots can take weeks to grow. Remember they will also take longer to come through the Jiffy and be visible. As long as your clones look healthy and start new growth, you are good. You can start to give them a diluted nutrient spray after the first week.
Your plants will suffer a bit of shock after any training techniques. Allow your babies 1-2 weeks to recover, before doing any other training or repotting. You can help your plants bounce back, by using a Kelpak foliar spray at night. Add one cap of Kelpak (1ml) to 1L water in your spray bottle and shake well. Spray your plants well, on the top and bottom of the leaves.