First off I want to thank the creator of the mighty LST thread started by Caprichoso (LST training in detail. Why bushes are better
) as it is highly informative and a wonderful collection of pictures of the LST process.
Not too long ago I did not even know what LST was until I started researching it. Now, however, it is apparent from some of the more recent comments (and some of the older comments) in the LST training thread, that there is a basic lack of understanding when it comes to LST. More than a few people are just imitating pictures and going "WOW! That worked really well!"
Hopefully this post (along with the research I've done) will help some people understand a few things when it comes to LST. There is a lot of information out there on how
to LST but it is mostly comprised of diagrams and pictures. If you understand what
LST is and what
you are doing by tying down the stems of your plants, then you will know when and how to LST your plants. If you understood why
LST worked, then you would not even need the pictures to help you in the first place.
So here we go ladies and gentleman, gonna drop a bit of info and science here from various sources and readings:
The Art of LST
Armed with this information, you should be able to LST until your hearts are content or learn about how to better your LST practices. Instead of looking to pictures to learn about
LST, you'll be using pictures as examples of how
What LST Is
LST stands for low stress training.
When it comes to marijuana growing, LST refers to a particular type of low stress training. It appears on the outside (and to the untrained eye) that the training
of a plant is simply teaching
a plant to be short and grow lots of buds. It is much more important and involved than that.
Topping the plants (or chopping as it is also referred to) is actually done for similar reasons that LST is done. Even though it is a completely different method. It, too, is a form of training (a high
A lot of you might be thinking: "Topping and LST aren't even close to the same. You're full of crap. I'm done reading this post."
Well, stay with me here
and you'll understand.
Why LST Works
One of the #1 things you need to understand about LST: auxins
If you don't
understand them, then you are just putting strings on your plant so they look like other plants in pictures.
Auxins are plant hormones that interact with other plant hormones to form the "plant nervous system" in the most simplest terms. Auxins are used to help stimulate nearly all facets of plant growth.
Auxins are used to help promote new root growth and is often part of what is used in rooting compounds or rooting hormones that are so popular in marijuana horticulture. There has also been research (in the 50s I believe) that indicates that levels of auxins also influence the sex of a marijuana plant. Some research has also indicated that levels of auxins also play a role in the ways flowers mature on a plant.
Most of all, auxins, in marijuana plants, are known for producing adventitious buds along the stem and in the roots. Adventitious is sort of like it sounds: it's the "adventurous" part of the plant that sprouts when the plant is wounded or trained.
With LST, it is not as simple as: "Make more auxins. Plant grow big."
So why did we learn about auxins if we're not going to be making more of them? I mean, more is good when it comes to marijuana right?!
Well: no, not in this case. This part is important so pay attention: auxins are most concentrated (and synthesized) at the apical bud or the tip of the plant closest to the light. The rest of the plant has the ability to produce auxins, but the cells must be triggered to do so. Now, although auxins are hormones essential for many facets of growth, it is also an inhibiting
hormone for the other buds further down the stem. This is to prevent the plant from producing buds which may compete with the apical bud.
In other words
The plant is very happy having one bud that it tries to stretch as close as possible to its source of energy. It will do what it can to inhibit other sprouts below it from becoming that bud as it would require the plant to push those sprouts up to that level again.
If you are still a bit confused, think of images of trees and picture the growth that they have in a cone-shaped fashion. They are working to push the apical bud up to the sky.
Now that you understand what auxins are and how they are important for growth in marijuana, you can begin to understand how LST works.
How LST Works
This is where I get to those people who were saying "Topping and LST aren't even close. You're full of crap."
When you top a plant, you are removing the apical bud (the bud closest to the light) where most of the auxin is concentrated and synthesized. The plant stresses itself out (high stress training) and eventually produces new sprouts along the stem that will form new growth so that it can get a new apical bud and send it soaring towards the heavens.
LST is helping to stimulate that growth near the bottom but by tricking the plant instead of chopping it. In nature, if something happens to a plant and the bud that is closest to the light gets blocked, it will try to move around that something. If it can't, then eventually new growth will form lower along the stem to try and send a new shoot out to head towards the light.
When you LST, the reason that you are tying the tip of the plant down is so that the plant gets confused. It is used to producing the auxins in the tip of the plant close to the light. However, because the tip of the plant is pulled down to such a degree, it is not receiving light at the very tip like it used to so it sends the auxins down the stem to produce new sprouts to become new apical buds (or so the plant hopes).
This is why some people continue training as the plant gets older, but like to start when the plant is new as auxin development starts with roots and continues through all stages of the plant. Continued training of the plant is helpful because, as you can imagine, each apical tip can be brought down to promote new growth further down the stem. Every time you bring the tip down, the plant will be fooled. As new tips of the plant are reaching towards the light, pulling them back down below 90 degrees (or close to it) will make those auxins start to flow again. This can continue on and on.
Now that you know how LST works, you don't even need a picture to look at. You just know that you need to trick the plant into thinking it's highest tip is no longer its highest tip. It's as simple as that, but it is also as complex as you want it to be.
So, what did we learn here?
LST can be done for all strains of marijuana
LST is another way of altering/stimulating the auxin hormone to produce additional growth just like other training methods
LST is not just for training height
Understanding auxins will help you understand LST
There is a lot of material available about this but most of it is in books which means if you really want to understand how auxins affect marijuana, you should look further than Wikipedia
I hope this information is helpful to everyone looking to figure out how to LST or why it works or when is the best time.
Just an additional note: using shielded copper wiring instead of string is not only easier as there are no knots to tie, but it is very reusable because there are no knots to untie. Here are some examples of my own LST just for posterity's sake:
Any comments or corrections are appreciated.