When topping, leave a little part of the old stem above the topping point. This helps reinforce the manifold and prevent any main stems from splitting as they are thickened through the manifold process. I know this may be hard for those who want to make everything completely even and neat. But leaving a little extra stem will help prevent your “elbows” from splitting.
After the colas are well formed and you have a thick stem and manifold, you’ll be able to see the little mini stems (they won’t have grown at all, while the colas would have thickened coniderably). Main-lining works very well when mixed with LST (low stress training – gentle bending) to hold down plants in the spaces you want. Just remember that after you tie down a part of the plant, it will immediately start turning up and towards the light. If plants ever get an open wound or split any part of their stems, make sure to reinforce the injury (if needed) and immediately wrap with electrical tape, duct tape or even scotch tape. The leaves on the damaged stem may wilt, but if you secure the injury fast enough, the life will come back to the leaves. When using this technique, always make sure you check on the injury regularly to make sure the tape isn’t choking the stem. You will need to use a few different tools to secure down your plants at various phases of the manifolding process. You can use whatever you’d like, but I do warn you not to use anything sharp (like string or thread) as it can start cutting into your plants once they start getting bigger and fighting back. The tools listed below will never run into that problem since they were explicitly made for training plants.
Where to Tie… You can tie your new tops down to anything handy – the sides of your container, net pots, etc. Just make sure that you’re tying your colas to something that moves with the plant. You don’t want to tie to a nearby object, use weights on the ground, etc. When you move the plant for whatever reason, you want the ties to move with the plant. Growers almost always end up needing to move their plants for one reason or another during a grow, and it’s just a good practice to make sure the plant and container is self-contained and can be moved without disturbing the LST you are doing.. It will work well at first, but it can start digging into the “skin” of your plant as it gets bigger unless you cut them off first. When building a manifold, the stems and stalks will end up getting big, and you want something that will. I like using a mix of “plant ties” and “soft wire ties” which are both made for gardening and are more gentle on the plant than string. The plant ties are good for young plants, and soft wire ties are better for larger plants with strong stems. Now that you’ve got an idea of what tools you can use to secure your plants in the shape you want, let me walk you through everything. This plant was secured with plant ties, which were hooked to the edges of the container. The plant ties are very gentle on young stems & they can be easily molded into any shape, allowing you to create hooks to gently move young stems where you want them. Once you build your manifold, you won’t need these first ties, and they’ll naturally fall off. When the plant is responding to training by growing up at the tips, that’s a sign that the main-lining is going well. The growth tips of a healthy plant grow upwards and towards the light. At this point, you may start noticing that the base of your two main colas are starting to “beef up” as the plant sends ALL its resources to just those two stems. The plant is strengthening the connections between the main stem and the new colas, which causes bulging at the base of the colas. Plant ties are made of thin wire with a plastic coating on the outside. This material usually comes in a long spool so you can cut off as much as you need at a time. The container usually has a built-in cutter so you can quickly get a piece without any other equipment. They tend to be more flimsy than some of the other methods to secure plants – they don’t have a lot of strength. But this is part of what makes them so great – they are very gentle on young plants.
When plant ties aren’t strong enough, you can use soft wire ties to hook around colas or anchors, and use plant ties as the “string”.
Soft wire ties are made of a thicker wire, with a very soft coating. These are much stronger than the palnt ties, but they will give way to a strong stem and will never cut into the plant. These can be used in situations where strength is needed to hold down a thick unruly cola which wants to grow in the wrong direction.