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Cultivation Clinic: Trellising 101

Nico Escondido

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After writing at length about the myriad grow systems available on the market today, I figured I’d throw out a more advanced concept to aid you in maximizing your system of choice. Trellising is an excellent cultivation technique that not only helps to develop strong, healthy plants but can also increase your yields significantly. This can be a huge plus for indoor or home growers dealing with limited space and/or plant counts, who’d like to make it from one marijuana harvest to the next without having to hit the road to find some extra stash.

Simply put, trellising relies on a system of latticework that supports and directs growth in a manner that allows plants to deliver on their potential. The support comes directly from the physical framework of the trellis, while the direction comes from you, the grower.

The latticework can take on many forms. Some trellising works vertically, while others work horizontally. Vertical trellising most often uses a solid frame of wood, metal or bamboo rods with interconnecting pieces that run horizontally around and through the framing. These horizontal connections may be solid, or they may be made of softer material, such as strings or wiring. Vertical trellising is generally installed at each individual plant site and must be done in the early stages of growth so as not to interfere with plant or root development later on.

Horizontal trellises usually have a much softer feel and can be used in gardens ranging from just a few plants to large-scale grow operations. Horizontal trellises require some vertical support, which can come in the form of walls, poles at the garden corners, or even suspension from a ceiling. Most horizontal trellises use netting or wide-hole screens that are installed over the garden canopy when the plants are still in their vegetative stage, allowing them to grow up through the lattices.

Whether you’re going the vertical or horizontal route, once the trellis is constructed, the rest of the process will be the same. As plants grow, their branches are pulled through the trellis to train the plant to grow in the desired direction. The goal is to separate the branches and thick, lush growth so that light can more easily penetrate the garden canopy. It is also important to deploy smart pruning techniques to aid in plant development. Tricks such as topping or pinching off the plant release excess hormones that result in additional lower shoots develop- ing directly under the cut. These new shoots usually grow quite vigorously and can benefit enormously from trellising.

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