Cannabis plants should be left to their own devices and allowed to grow as big as they do outdoors. However, growing indoors can have its restrictions limiting some growers to a short time when the lights are on 18/6. Below are my top tips to help grow the biggest plants possible before flowering.
By Stoney Tark
Topping Cannabis Plants
Apical dominance means that a plant will display one main cola or top bud, with side branching surrounding the centre. This is natural with Cannabis plants and if not topped or pinched out, then the plant height can exceed the comfort zone of a grower.
My top tip here is to pinch out or top the crown shoot of your plants early on. The benefits of this are the crown shoot will grow into two new growth tips, and this will promote a more laterally dominant plant that has need to grow with apical dominance. The growth hormone Auxin will be reduced and the growth structure will immediately change. Repeating this simple technique can reward you with upto 16 tops in a short time frame.
Tying Down Plants
One great way to really open the canopy up and allow all of the lower shoots to catch up with the crown growth tip. This technique is called the low stress technique and involves tying or pinning cannabis plants down and allowing them to grow back as normal.
My top tip here is to tie all of your branches down. By doing this not only will you strengthen the joints of each one, promoting extra support for heavy yields later on, tying down will create a much more dense and structured canopy than if left to grow normally. You should only need to tie your plants down once or twice before opening up a top canopy that has access to direct light and will grow well.
Snapping For Success
Super cropping is the name given to this technique, which some may consider is a high stress technique. You do have to be brave and know your plants well enough before attempting to super crop. Forcing a break in the main stem and branches of your cannabis plants will send a repair growth hormone along the plant pathways until the break is repaired.
My top tip here is to apply a break once you have tied your plants down. This works especially when performed on the main stem of a plant that has been pinned down similar to mainlining. Allow your plants plenty of time to recover and form a wooden knuckle before attempting to super crop again. Never super crop or snap your plants once flowering has started.
A Screen For The Canopy
There is a big difference between using a trellis net for support and purposely using a screen. The SCROG technique basically involves using the screen as a market point to what will be considered as a top bud and what will be totally removed from the plant.
My top tip here is to use a screen if you are only able to grow one or two plants. Using pinching and L.S.T, it is easy to create a canopy that will be fed through the screen and exposed to the direct lighting from the grow lights. What is also great about a Screen of Green, is there will be no unwanted lower buds, as these will have been clearly pruned away before flowering begins.
Your Growing Medium
On the basis of your are growing organics and are feeding liquid nutrients as well as a custom organic mix, working with a growing medium that encourages rapid root growth, keeps microbial activity happy, drain quickly and also hold water well is a big difference maker to growing large plants.
My top tip here is to add as many air pockets into your organic growing medium as possible. Using perlite, hydroton clay balls and coco will improve aeration dramatically and cause roots to grow in search of air and new space to occupy. This simple addition will also increase feeding times and make sure over watering Cannabis plants is much harder.
Supplementing With Extra Carbon Dioxide
This one is more for experienced growers who have the gadgets and knowledge. Outdoors the carbon dioxide count in the atmosphere is 400ppm. We know that cannabis plants are able to take levels of up to 1500ppm indoors, on the basis the lighting and nutrients demands are met.
My top tip here is to use carbon dioxide on your plants during the growth cycle of 18/6. Cannabis plants will photosynthesis much faster than without a CO2 supplement, and stomata will perform much more efficiently with high humidity which is required when in 18/6. If you do choose to use CO2, remember cannabis plants will not use CO2 for the first hour after lights on.
One of my favourite ways to keep plants happy when growing under 18/6, and a great way to keep humidity levels bumped up into the 70% region. Cannabis plants will transpire water from the growing medium, and also the air. Being in control of transpiration will improve the health of the plants and promote vibrant growth.
My top tip here is to foliar spray plants with beneficial bacteria and fungi. This will act as a beneficial microbial inoculant that will fight against air borne pathogens. I personally spray my plants with the same microbes and fungi that is being fed to the roots after making an organic compost tea for 24 hours.
Large Sized Pots
The bigger the pot then the bigger the plant, especially when growing with organics. Cannabis plants will generally root as deep down as 14 inches, so anything deeper than this will be a waste of space and growing medium.
My top tip here is to use a large sized pot in the 20 litre mark. Make sure that you use felt fabric pots and avoid plastic pots. Felt pots will allow the roots to prune themselves naturally allowing for a prolific root zone.
Root Zone Temperature
One of the main causes of slow plant growth and root formation is cold temperatures. Cannabis plants outdoors during spring and the build up to summer, are treated to a warm ground with high humidity.
My top tip here is to check on your root zone by touching with the back of your hand, how warm or cold the surface is. If you live in a colder environment, then it is advised to feed throughout the day, so the growing medium is not wet at night time when the lights are off. Add a heater to the tent and keep warm air circulating the bottom of the tent.
Organic Teas and Beneficial Organisms
Aerobic bacteria and fungi are a cannabis plants best friend, and will work together in symbiosis to provide nutrients and minerals on demand. Soils and compost are rich in beneficial microorganisms, however you can add your own ones and also inoculate the root zone yourself.
My top tip here is to make an organic compost tea that is brewed for 24 hours. You should add microbes and fungi sourced online or from a local grow shop, and food for them such as unsulphured black strap molasses. Root mass can increase by up to 700% when using beneficial organisms indoors.