Cannabis plants can grow very tall and most likely will require you to give them some sort of support to keep from falling over causing irreversible damage to the plant. This support is crucial to ensure the crop can be systematically grown to its’ full potential until your desired harvest date. There are several methods that can be used to ensure the safety of your plants. Depending on the plant’s growth stage will determine the best time to set up a trellis or scrog (acronym for Screen of Green), use stakes, tomato cages or whatever else you have available that can support the plant. I have even seen growers place thumb tacks in the ceiling and tie strings to buds to provide support…so don’t be afraid to get creative with your plant management tactics.
My preferred method of growing requires that I set up trellising during the 2nd week of the flower stage. Due to the size plants I am growing I will not need to support them until this stage. I usually see extreme growth early in flowering and wait until that growth slows before setting up the trellis/scrog. I personally prefer using trellising versus other methods of support as it is easier to install and work with in indoor settings. Trellising provides more flexibility when rearranging the plant canopy, allowing more freedom when spreading out the canopy in ways that other support systems limit you. I also like how easily I can super crop tall stems under the trellis to ensure they hold in place due to the trellis to provide a higher flower count. See Pruning & Training Cannabis Plants for Maximum Production for details on this yield enhancement method.
Stakes are effective and can serve a great role in supporting plants however there are a few draw backs when using them to scale into large facilities. The first concern is contamination as they must be cleaned and sterilized after each use to prevent any kind of cross-contamination on the next plants that will use them. The second concern in using stakes is a safety issue as stakes can puncture an eye very easily. In smaller grows and home grows I have leaned over many times into the canopy only to catch a stake in the cheek or face narrowly missing my eye.
Tomato cages are a great support system as well and can be highly effective when used properly for plants grown outdoors. Once again, your plant’s size will determine when to start supporting. My preferred method for indoor grows start during the flower phase but when growing larger plants outdoors I start using tomato cages earlier in the vegetative stage, so I can support them plant against wind damage.
Supporting plants with trellis, tomato cages, stakes or whatever you use can bring great improvement in yields when applied properly. I have seen yield increases by up to 30% simply by just rearranging the canopy to maximize light exposure to the plant’s grow points. This is one of many methods you can use to increase productivity from your crop. Treat your plants like a bonsai tree and learn what it requires when trellising, staking or caging for maximum production.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ellis Smith is co-founder and Chief Development Officer of American Cannabis Company (ACC). He has more than 20 years of horticulture experience in the specialty cut flower market, operating indoor gardens which helped him understand complex growing systems. As a cannabis grower, he developed an all natural soil medium known as SoHum Living Soil which is used by hundreds of commercial cannabis operations. As CDO of ACC, Mr. Smith is also responsible for the design and construction of more than 1 million square feet of cannabis grow space in the U.S. and Canada.