When you’re a cannabis grower breaking stems is something you will have to deal with on a regular basis. Cannabis has woody, fibrous stems and branches that seem to break easier.
This is especially true when the plant is under a heavy bunch of flower cannabis buds. The weight of all the flowers, leaves and branches is too much most of the time for your stems..
In this article we will give you some tips and tricks to strengthen cannabis branches, stems of your cannabis plants.
Strengthen the Main Cannabis Stem, Seedlings
When cannabis seeds first germinate they will stretch for light, sometimes the stems can get long and weak if the lighting is insufficient. You can read more here about cannabis seedling bending over. When this happens the seedlings will fall over from the weight of their first leaves.
There are ways to strengthen the main growing stems before this happens to your young plants. First and most useful is using a small fan to blow air gently over the seedlings. This will move the main stem back and forth, when this happens, the stem will get slightly damaged everytime it moves from the air flow. Everytime that happens the main stem will grow stronger fibers to help hold up the seedlings.
Should you Support the Stem at this stage of Growth?
It is never a good idea to support the main stem at this point, this will actually weaken the stem over time. When you remove the support from the stem, the seedling will not have the strengthening fibers built up in the stem.
Indoor Cannabis Grow Strengthen Cannabis Branches, Stems
First we will explore keeping your cannabis strong indoors. This is different then what growers will face growing outdoors. Indoors you can control the environment better, and don’t have to deal with storms. It is a little easier keeping your branches and stems strong indoors without having to battle the elements!
Don’t get us wrong, these methods for indoors will also work great for outdoor growing plants as well.
How to Fix Weak Stems, Branches in Vegetative Growth?
We have a few different easy ways to do this in vegetative growth. This is right after the cannabis plant has grown its first set of leaves.
The Pinch Method
This method is fairly simple, although it does require some strong fingers to work. As the branches on your plants grow, you can take your index finger and your middle finger and pinch them together over the branch. You will want to pinch the branch just hard enough to break the outside of the branch.
When doing this you don’t want to break the branch so that it falls over, or can’t stay upright. You want to pinch it just hard enough to feel a bit of a crack of the outer branch, but not damage it so that it will no longer stay upright. Your goal should be to only crush it just enough to damage the outer branch.
You can do this all the way up and down each stem of each plant. Only perform this method in vegetative growth, never during flowering as it will stress the plant. However you can repeat these steps all the way through the vegetative growth stage for the plant.
After completing this method that plant will regrowth the damaged tissues on the stems and branches. When doing so it will grow new stronger plant fibers to fix the damaged tissues. This will create a stronger, thicker branch, and make the plant stronger overall.
Keeping Your Cannabis Plants Spaced Out
When growing cannabis, especially in the vegetative stage you will want to make sure your plant has adequate space to grow in. If your cannabis plants are not spaced out properly they will grow tall and lanky, not grow strong side branches.
It is important to give the plant space, if the plant does not have the required space to grow, it will compete with the cannabis plants around it. This will cause the plant to stretch upwards trying to compete for more lighting with the other plants.
When this happens the plant will grow tall and weak, it may not even be able to stand on its own once it is removed from the other plants that were supporting each other.
Using a Strong Fan In the Grow Space
Once the plants are out of the germination stage and have a few sets of leaves you turn up your fan and provide a stronger air flow over your plants branches and stems. The result of the stronger air flow will bend and twist the branches and stems once again creating stronger fibers in them.
As the air blows across the plants the plant will heal itself with stronger fibers, to strengthen cannabis branches, stems.
Using LST (Low Stress Training) to Strengthen Cannabis Branches
If you would like to get an in depth overview of LST methods we have an article you are able to read here. Using LST methods to grow cannabis will also go a long way to help strengthen cannabis branches. A simple overview of LST is that the grower bends and twists the branches and stems of the plant to level out the top of the plants, so they are flat, and the top stems will receive more lighting.
When the grower is bending and twisting the branches and stems, this will also damage the stems, they will once again regrow producing new stem fibers making your plants stronger.
When Should You Support Your Cannabis Plants?
We never recommend supporting your plants in vegetative stage of growing. We will typically start supporting the plants right before they go into the flowering stage. We have a couple ways that we use for supporting cannabis indoors in the flowering period.
The branches will become very heavy with cannabis flowers especially before the final weeks of flowering plants. Growers should remember that once the plant is switched to flowing mode it will stretch upwards sometimes up to 150% taller.
Bamboo Plant Stakes
We use bamboo plant stakes to support and strengthen our cannabis branches, stems before we switch the plants into 12 hours of darkness for flowering. We will use them to support the main growing stems of the plant. If you have used the tips above before doing this, your plant should already be quite strong before staking them.
Usings A SCROG Net for Support (Recommend)
We recommend using a scrog net to keep the buds from falling over in flower. We set up the net about one week before flowering, and it is set up about four to five inches above the plant canopy. We do this so when the plant starts to stretch we can weave the branches and stems though the net to keep them from growing too high above the scrog netting.
Once the plants get heavier in flower they tend to fall over. Having the net higher will keep it closer to the tops of the flowering buds, making them stronger to hold up your crop.
Outdoor Cannabis Grow Strengthen Cannabis Branches, Stems
Outdoors, cannabis growers will have main issues from the environment to deal with. We have a great outdoor growing guide if you would like to learn more about growing outdoors.
To strengthen cannabis branches, stems outdoors we recommend also doing the Pinch Method, Spacing your plant out well. You will not need a fan obviously, as the plants will have wind to contend with each day and night. This will strengthen the plants naturally the same way a fan blowing on them indoors would.
We do recommend using supports in vegetative growth outdoors. As your plant can grow much larger compared with indoors we use supports to make them stronger even in the vegetative growth stage. You never know when the wind can get very strong outside, from thunderstorms beating down on them, very strong winds from storms, bugs and pests chewing at the branches and stems.
Supporting your Outdoor Cannabis Plants
It is a little more tricky to support cannabis plants outdoors. They will grow as large and full as you let them grow. Supporting the bottom base branches is very important for later in the season when the plant is very large. If the base of the plant is not supported well, large branches will break off in high winds.
We like to use large nets over the plants as they grow. It is important to keep adding nets over the plants as they will grow up into the new nets over top of the plants. This will keep the branches as one large network of branches holding each out up and keeping them from breaking off the main stem.
Some growers will also create large “cages” for the plants, using wiring and supports to make a cage for the plant to grow in. The branch will grow out though all sides of the “cage”. This works very well for holding the plants up in any environment. This is much more work than using nets over your plants, however it works much better if you live in a windy area of the planet.
How to Fix Broken Cannabis Branches?
This is something that every grower will have to face at some point in their growing career. A branch will break off the main stem because of the weight of the buds, or the wind outdoors and will need to be fixed.
Once you see the broken branch you will have to assess the damage. If the branch is completely detached from the plant, most likely you will not be able to save it. However if the branch is still attached to the plant there is hope to fix it back up.
When fixing broken branches it is important to remember that this will slow this branch’s overall growth down.
Staking the Broken Branch Method
If the branch is still attached to the plant you will need a long piece of bamboo. Take the bamboo and use it as a brace, use one end to hold the broken branch and the other end to hold it to the branch that it broke from. Then using some plant wire to wire each end holding the broken branch back into place.
To keep anything from getting into the branch like bacteria or fungus, you can also use some duct tape to wrap around the broken area like a band aid. It is very important when using this method that the broken stem not move whatsoever. The broken branch will need time to heal much in the same way as a broken bone in a human.
When growing cannabis either indoors or outdoors, it is important to think about how you will strengthen cannabis branches, stems. If you skip this process, it can hurt your yield, plant growth and even under up with plant death, if not done correctly when needed.
We hope these tips will help you keep your plants strong and growing healthy.