No matter how or where you grow your ganja, you could be harvesting more weed if you used a trellis. If you want to crop the marijuana mother lode, you need to know about the art of trellising.
WHAT IS A TRELLIS?
A trellis is a framed screen or net with a lattice pattern. It can be positioned vertically or horizontally to maximise available grow space and light penetration in any cannabis garden. Indoors or outdoors, there is always a place for a trellis. The idea is to bend and weave shoots through the gaps in the structure. This allows the grower to dramatically increase yields. More shoots equals more fruits. Plus, a trellis allows the grower to manipulate plant growth and alter the pattern to best suit the cannabis garden.
THE ORIGINS OF TRELLISING
The truth is, nobody really knows when trellising was invented or by whom. We have references to trellising from ancient Roman times. So perhaps the Romans deserve the credit? Or maybe they conquered and killed the folks that did and took over the gardens? In any case, we can be certain that its resurgence in Europe coincided with the rise of espalier during the Renaissance. Espalier would later inspire LST.
Legendary French landscape architect Andre Le Notre designed the gardens at the palace of Versailles, and he was a big fan of trellises. In fact, trellises are everywhere, adorning both the interior and exterior of much of the palace, purely as decoration. Unsurprisingly, this style of architectural design is known as trelliage.
HOW TO TRELLIS CANNABIS
These days, you can buy or build a trellis for a very low cost. Outdoors, wooden posts and frames are common materials for their durability. Indoors, nylon and plastic are the materials of choice. Either way, the principle remains the same. It’s just a mesh screen at the end of the day. How tough it needs to be is contingent on the growing environment and the size of your plants. But netting can work just fine indoors or outdoors, so long as it is tightly secured in place.
The only barrier to entry is an adequate level of hands-on cultivation skills. Trellising goes hand-in-hand with a variety of pruning and training techniques. Topping, LST, defoliation, and lollipopping are essential to getting the most out of your trellis. Don’t mess with a trellis until you’ve got the skills and time to manage it. Trellising is a labour-intensive business.
The “living wall” concept can be applied to cannabis with a vertical trellis. Outdoor growers are more likely to use this method. Outdoors, a vertical trellis attached to a wall will promote vine-like vertical growth. Indoors, the vertical trellis is less common. However, it is used in cylinder-shaped custom grow-ops. These units are aimed at commercial growers housing hundreds of plants tiered along the outer walls with the grow lamps positioned in the centre.
HORIZONTAL TRELLISING AKA THE SCROG METHOD
The ScrOG or screen of green method is the standard horizontal trellis favoured by indoor growers. For those that want a comparable, and sometimes superior, harvest to a SOG, but from far fewer plants, scrogging is a must. Practised pruners and plant trainers that want to take yields to the next level will always drop a ScrOG on the crop.
Vegetative growth is the time for bushing out cannabis plants. Usually, a couple of weeks before the transition to bloom, the grower will install a screen with 5cm square gaps just above the plant canopy. This is only the beginning. The process of bending and weaving shoots to fill out this screen will continue perhaps until mid-way through flowering.
Below the screen, growth must be thinned out. This involves stripping away leaf material followed by lollipopping around week 3 of flowering. Plant energy is focussed on bud production in the sweet spot above the screen. Growers must ensure the optimal light distance is maintained and as many colas as possible are illuminated. Defoliation above the screen must be strategic. You don’t want to stress your plants, but you don’t want flowers shaded by fan leaves. Trimming should be an ongoing yet minimalist process.
Aside from the obvious benefit of getting more sticky green from fewer plants, trellising also improves quality. In fact, the harvest is almost exclusively chunky colas. Everyone prefers big buds to popcorn—no matter the strain.
OUTDOOR WEED TREES
The weed trees of Southern Oregon take trellising to the max. Limited to 6 plants for medical patients and to just 4 plants for recreational users by state law, Oregon growers have to make the most out of their crops. Master marijuana growers like Lambsbread cultivate 3m+ tall monsters with sprawling, flat canopies that are almost as wide. His giant cannabis plants are so humongous, he needs a ladder to fit a trellis.