Unless you happen to own a field in sunny California, chances are you’ve probably got a limited amount of space to grow your cannabis in. What’s more, discretion is something of a necessity for many growers, particularly if the neighbours have prying eyes. In such cases, beautiful 12-foot-high marijuana plants simply aren’t practical, and a little stealthy cultivation may well be in order.
Fortunately, size isn’t everything when it comes to weed, and while everyone would ideally love to allow their plants to grow to their full height, it’s actually perfectly possible to achieve a huge harvest while keeping your plants short and compact.
Why Cannabis Plants Like To Grow Tall
The first thing to know about cannabis is that it loves sunlight, and will grow to several metres tall in just a few short months as it strives to get as close as possible to the light. Most of the plant’s energy is directed towards the top of the main stem, as this is the part of its anatomy that receives the most direct sunlight. It’s therefore here that the largest cola tends to form once the plant enters its flowering stage.
Yet cannabis growers are a crafty bunch, and have discovered numerous ways to hack their plants’ anatomies in order to meet their specific cultivation needs. As previously mentioned, this may be dictated by the dimensions of one’s growing space or a requirement for secrecy, although laziness is another perfectly valid reason for wanting to curtail the height of a crop.
After all, checking for pests, mold, seeds and damaged stems is much more manageable if you don’t need to climb a ladder to inspect your plants.
Shorter Cannabis Plants
As always, genetics are the first thing to consider when setting up a growing operation. As a general rule, indica varieties tend to be shorter and bushier than sativa strains, which can grow to enormous heights. Much of this growth occurs during the flowering phase, when sativa plants can double or triple in stature, while indicas will typically only increase in height by about 50 percent.
It’s also worth noting that autoflowering cannabis strains generally remain very short too, so these may be worth considering if you want to keep things compact. OG Kush Auto, for example, is an indica-dominant, autoflowering cultivar that produces loads of thick bud without exceeding a metre in height.
Growing Tricks For Shorter Cannabis
Regardless of the cultivar you choose to plant, there are a number of things you can do to maximise flower production while minimising vegetative growth. For instance, as previously mentioned, marijuana plants like to stretch towards the light during the vegetative stage, which is why some indoor growers choose to keep their lights low, just a few inches above the tops of their plants.
Moving these lights up gradually as the plants grow eliminates their need to stretch, and is a great way to prevent them from undergoing a major growth spurt. It’s important to note, however, that this technique should only be attempted with lights that don’t give off much heat, otherwise you could end up burning your plants.
Another technique that some cultivators employ is topping. This involves pruning the very top of the main stem during the vegetative stage, and will cause the plant to grow more side branches, each of which will eventually develop flowers. When done properly, topping is an excellent way to minimise the height of your plants while increasing their bud production.
Additionally, the screen of green – or scrog – method is a highly effective means of keeping plants short while increasing the number and size of colas. This is achieved by spreading out the side branches and poking each one through a hole in a screen, so that every branch is held directly under the light source. This ensures that every one of these branches receives the maximum amount of energy, allowing for increased flowering and boosting cannabinoid production.
Of course, most growers dream of towering marijuana plants that are full of enormous colas, yet for many this simply isn’t realistic. Fortunately, though, with a little knowhow you can shrink your plants without having to compromise on your harvest.