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LBH’s Famous 4-Way LST Tutorial (plus topping sub-tutorial)

This style of LST (low stress training) is to increase canopy square footage, not so much to make a plant fuller or bushier although that is definitely another side benefit. This style of LST is very good for ScrOG grows.

This method is not possible without topping and is not for auto-flowering strains or clones. Topping and 4-way LST go hand in hand and it really does help if you have a plant of good genetics, but it works on any and all plants.

Put simply, what we are doing is taking a plant that wants to grow straight up as 1 main arm and splitting it so it becomes 4 main arms and then we train them to grow horizontally, symmetrically, in preparation to go under the screen. This ensures a proper scrog where you maximize the footprint of your light to cover a perfect blanket of bud.

First thing you do is plant a seed.

After your seed has sprouted, you will have a young marijuana seedling.

Let your seedling continue to grow until the first set of full leaves have formed (5-leaf in this case).

When the 5th leaf set starts to come up between the 4th set be prepared to begin topping, Let them (5th set) get about 1/4-1/2 inch and then squeeze the base and pluck them, both at once and this is what will be left with.

Soon, you'll see the new growth.

The 2 new main branches will grow and thicken.

Now let it grow out a bit. During this time, I like to keep a fan right on the plant, lots of movement, building that main stem nice and thick and you'll soon have a top view like this.

Now, normally, this plant would consist of 1 main with 2 secondaries coming out the sides. By topping it, we create 2 mains and by lst'ing those down, we allow those secondaries to come up and be full blown colas. So the 2 mains you creat from topping, plus the 2 secondaries gives you a "4-way" plant. You can clearly see above, how this plant is now "symmetrical"

For the next step, you'll need 4 "U" shaped spikes. I use clothes hanger wire like the one below ( or anything that will hold down the 4 arms like you see in the pics, remember, get creative, be resourceful, making your grow your own isn't a bad thing)

Gently fold down one of the 4 mains and spike it in place. When you do the other 3, make sure there is equal pressure on all 4 so the main stem isn't getting pulled in any 1 direction.

You want that center stalk to be straight up and down. The arrows below show where the clothes hangar spikes are.

In a day or so, she'll look like this

Now it's time to do some topping again. All those nice new sprouts coming out of the middle of each arm……pull 'em! Everything DOUBLES again!! (below)

I personally stop here. I am leaving the rest of this tutorial up so people can see what you get if you keep topping.

One thing we need to understand is that when you "top", you are dividing that main cola into 2 cola's. They will not be of the same size the original one would have been but that's ok, the 2 will weigh more than the 1 because of the increased leaf surface area getting direct access to the light. (explained better in the scrog tutorial)

But for scrogging purposes and the size of my screens, this is the point where we stop topping and give them a good week before switching to 12/12. From there, we continue on with the Scrog tutorial.

Additional topping CAN be of benefit to the few out there who are EXTREMELY limited height wise, but be warned, each time you top, you divide again so each time, you decrease the size of the buds.

Other than that, this is where the tutorial now ends. Get them under the screens and check out my “Scrogging Method” tutorial. This is a cumulative step-by-step Scrog tutorial with advice from a few of the guru’s. Now that it's been compiled, you can see the golden standard for those looking to scrog properly.

Believe it or not but the majority of the screens out there now are not scrogs, they are skeletal systems for standard plants. What we do is highly different and very specific with an amazing result. Don't forget to check it out!

Now let's explore how the plant develops if you continue to top past the previous picture

First, you let it grow for a bit. Keep topping now about every 3rd set on the new stuff.

Let her start to grow vertically a bit. When she has a little height, LST again!!

I should have used the 6 or 9 gallon feed bucket for this plant. It's shallower but wide. With this plant, I used the rim and the soil to anchor her down for the 2nd round of LST.

Here are some shots showing her vertical growth and a few close-ups to show how I used the rim and soil to spike her.

This time around, there should be 12-16 branches to fold down (remember, you've been dividing / "piding" and piding and piding )

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And here is what she'll look like when she's all bent down

And here she is a a few hours later, already recovered.

Now below is an illustration of how the growth changes exponentially with each topping and lst treatment. The 2 combined build a plant that is low in height and full.

Before the 2nd LST, 18-19 bud sites

and AFTER the 2nd LST, the plant has 29-31 bud sites

I hope this helps! See more examples and get the answers to your frequently asked questions below!

Continue on to part 2 of this series: LBH's Famous Scrog Tutorial

4-Way LST Examples & Frequently Asked Questions

From Shwagbag: Here is a Pure Power Plant a few days before chop using pretty much the same method.

Here is a different PPP (Pure Power Plant) before chop during her flush.

Some of the dried PPP

From wallnutmonkeys: Heres a pic of my result. It might be a bit crowded… I will try to have fewer but bigger tops for my next one

Question: Does topping really give you multiple colas?

Great tutorial and explanations. The pictures really help people understand what to do instead of trying to imagine it or staring at their plants then at the computer screen then back to their plants, ect ect.

The only thing I disagree with is the idea that topping gives you and new main branches. Those are branches that would have grown there anyway.

All topping does is make it so that instead of the plant directing most of it's nutrients up to the main cola, it redirects all those nutrients to all the bud sites that would normally not get much. This makes the new bud sites grow bigger and look like main cola's but they really aren't.

Are you saying topping does not split the plant in 1/2 but that will happen if you leave it alone? I've never seen that happen naturally.

This tutorial is about setting a plant up for a scrog. We aren't topping to increase yield, that comes later when the technique delivers a carpet of bud. The topping we are doing here is strictly to spread the plant out horizontally and to do that, you need to split that man stalk into 2. That's why we are topping here.

Followup Question: I get that LBH is using topping and LST to control the canopy. It's a great and effective way to control your height while still getting a good yield off your plants. I am just stating that topping doesn't really give you 2 need main cola's or 4 main cola's. They are only the 'main cola's' because you cut the real main one off and it forces the other cola's to get bigger. I am not trying to dis his advice, it's great advice and very well thought out and written.

I call it the main cola because if you grow the plant out, standard style, that main cola will be the biggest. The point I was trying to point out is that if you top it, it WILL NOT BE 2 colas of the same size that the original one would have been….they will be smaller. The 2 will generally weigh more than the single but individually, they are each smaller than a single main would have been.

Understand, when I say, if "if you top those MAIN COLAS again, you'll get 4 medium size colas"….I am only still referring to them as the "main colas" so everyone will know exactly which ones I'm talking about. I think your point is,….once you top it twice, split that main stalk into 4,….you've pretty much sacrificed having a "main cola" and you've reduced it to be a normal, happy, med sized buds. We're saying the same thing, just using different wording

Question: Which LST method yields more? Vertical or horizontal?

Answer: Horizontal screens yield more. Lots more info in this thread on Rollitup.

Question: What size pot do you like to flower in? I know I like a large pot with a nice diameter for a wide canopy spread.

Answer: Let me explain how I do it, and I'll also share how other growers do it.

First, remember, I do it a little differently than many scroggers, I like to get the screen as very low as possible and grow out all that understuff whereas most scroggers go a bit more vertical, trim the undebrush and max out just the tops.

With my method in mind, when I was in soil, I used 7 gallon deck pots (the plastic square pots for your deck at lowes that you put a potted plant inside so you can take it out and bring inside if needed) and then went even lower when I found some 7 gallon horse feed buckets that were much shallower and wider, like an oil change catch pan, kind of, little higher on the sides.

In hydro, currently, I'm very limited with height, we came up with this method by tossing around ideas to squash the plant down and out reducing height and not yield. The resulting yields were just a big benefit.

Running 3 flowering screens, 4 plants per screen,avg 3-5.5 per plant, we have more than enough meds to keep myself and (Currently) 4 patients supplied.

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So in hydro I am currently using 3.5 buckets w/ 1/2" plumbing in a closet with slanted roofs (3rd floor) but if I had room and were looking to really max out my numbers or space, I'd be in 5gals at least, if not 18g rubbermaids and 1" plumbing. I'll go as big as my space allows, if I were outdoor, I'd be in 350g smart pots.

More roots – more buds.

Question: Do you run perpetual harvests with this method?

I do perpetual harvests, and I'm not sure if that would work with this method… You're definitely right that more root = more bud! I'm diggin on the 7 gallon for the greater training possibilities. I totally agree it all depends on space though, everything is built around the space.

But since I do perpetual, I don't screen anything. I just super crop and LST each plant individually. The last 7 gallon I did I got about 4 quality zips which is just fine by me. If I can dial it in and duplicate those results every time I will be happy

Answer: I run perpetual also, allowed 12/12 so I run 3 screens, 4 plants each, each offset by 4 weeks.

2 of the screens get a 400 each and the third screen is longer and gets a 600 on a mover. 4 per plant is the perfect balance right there and damn skippy if ya ask me.

Sometimes you'll get a strain that pumps it out, sometimes you'll run one that spits golf balls, either way, you learn from each and every run. The 600 w/ a mover is the cat's meow though.

I'm on run 3 with it and the gram/watt has gone up with each run, can't wait to see where it tops out. Looking at hopefully 22-24 ounces for those 4 plants this run, that'll be a personal best for me indoors.

Question: Can this technique be used for clones? Or just seeds?

I understand that the method you detailed here is specifically for seeds.

What would be the best way to get clones ready for a Scrog grow?

I saw your reply to another post that said clones have a different plant structure, so would it need less topping maybe or somethin completely different?

I'd totally be down for seeds but clones are a lot easier and cheaper for me to get. I've seen other Scrog grows with clones, but I like your style and want to know your input on it.

Also, how do I know where to top a clone (since the nodes aren't symmetrical)?

Answer: This 4-way LST method is for "from seed" only. No clones or autos.

This exact method is only possible from seed like you read and if I were to give any advice about scrogging ANY other way, I would redirect you to the scrog thread by woodsmantoker in the advanced section of Rollitup.

Lots of different methods are discussed but the standard scrogging style is the main body of the discussion and some of those guys have it down quite well.

I do grow clones once in awhile but don't have a rhyme or reason to how, I just get the plant to a size I want and then just get it under the screen and start pulling arms through the holes.

Nothing fancy or specific but again, some guys have their ways, and their results are, quite frankly, better than mine when I attempt to grow their style.

4-way LST (as explained on this page) is the way for me with screens but if you don't have beans and clones are available, don't hesitate to get your hands wet there first. You'll want to try both ways eventually anyway.

Note from grower Shwagbag:

Clones are a feel, you have to play around and go with the flow. Once you do it enough it will be a cinch!

There is basically no exact method to using clones for me. It's mostly going with a feel and giving them a "haircut" from time to time.

Hope you don't mind if I share a couple pics since you get this question a lot. .

This clone was supercropped constantly, topped several times and given a few "haircuts" to keep growth even and consistent.

She's a Bubble gum clone (topped, super cropped, LST with a paper clip and a little haircut to promote more consistent growth).

How I start my clones

She will stay in this 6" pot for a bit longer.

End of Veg Pics

10 Days into Flower

Comment by LBH: That plant came out perfect for a Scrog screen! I didn't mean you can't scrog with clones, just that you can't do the 4-way LST method exactly as I've described in this tutorial.

If any one else out there is going to use clones in a screen, take the time to veg them up like this right here and you'll be happy with your results.

For me, the time involved in veg, being a perpetual, a clone only gets to be one nice arm by the time I need to move it to the screen where's from seed. With the 4 way LST, I can move them to flower a little quicker with similar to same results

Question: Would you recommend doing this without scrogging?

I was thinking about doing it up until the first LST and just letting the plant grow because my vertical space is limited.

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Answer: Certainly wont hurt.

Question: Have you had any problems with the clothes hangers rusting up?

Answer: I did not but I only used those for a few runs. Now I'm in hydro and use other ways to hold down the 4 arms, you can get creative as you want.

Question: What's the best time during the day to LST?

When it's dry right before you water it, or right after it's watered?

Question: I broke a branch, what do I do?

I broke a stem doing this today =/ but that's ok. What's the best way to repair this? So far I just gave it support and now I think I'm going to try Zip tying it.

Answer: I like to use duct tape to mend broken stems. Either that or just make it a cutting (clone) and move along! Good luck!

Question: What would happen if I FIM'ed rather than topped at the beginning stages of growth (In terms of bud production)?

Answer: Not much difference. You would get 2 more tops but I wouldn't do it on purpose. If you top the plant, as described in this tutorial, the middle of the plant will fill the extra space with all those minor arms coming up.

Question: What's the best way to tie plants down in a hydroponic setup?

I noticed this grow is in soil but I saw you mention that you have switched over to hydro. I grow in bubbleponics and wonder if you have any tips for holding the plant down (spikes wont work so I was thinking string and tape). Also do you have any other hydro specific tips (in addition) on how to shorten veg times.

Answer: Let me explain….

I've done hydro for a few years as well and found a few things that work.

The beauty of any LST type training is you can get creative as all hell. In hydro tho, I always would put the plant under when it was about 5" above the screen (height wise).

To get the plant in there I would lift the screen and drop it in the bucket and then have someone else inch the screen down as I would tuck. If you have multiple plants, do them all at once.

At 5" above the screen, I had the perfect amount to fill a 3.5 x 3.5 screen after the stretch.

Many hydro set ups are different… problem solve that shit. I was running 4 smaller plants per screen so my options were limited. Single bucket set ups with independent screens… you have many options

Question: Do you top only once?

For this grow, I think I am going leave it as is with the one top. My plants are filling out nicely. The only other 'topping' I may do is when I clone.

Answer: I top twice. the intial pinch at the 4th node is considered a topping. I top once more after that, all 4 mains.

You can only top a clone if you are cutting a main off of the mother plant. All other arms are secondary and have apical growth (not top-able).

Question: Is it too late to top?

My plants have been veging for 4 weeks already… Is TOPPING still necessary? All my plants are far past the 5th leaf they are more like on the 10th leaf. Is it to late for me to top my plants? Can I do the scrog without topping or should I just not do scrog with this grow?

Answer: It's not necessary but highly recommended to top. You can top any time during veg but to follow this particular technigue, you need to do it as early as possible. You CAN still scrog but you'd probably be better off just growing it out and trying with the next one.

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Double Skippy

Good to see others who love our Aussie wildlife. Can’t really take much credit for the shot considering it’s a sefl activating camera, but it is my personal favourite wildlife pic from my bush canna adventures, getting the joey hangin out the pouch near centre shot was a good bonus. Don’t know if they’re endangered, but they are pretty rare locally, and cute. Just a pity the canna plants are hard to spot in the background. Will be the last of these for a while, cam’s back home now and guerilla growing is off the agenda for a while as well, except for a couple of males for a few weeks soon