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A Quick Guide to Mainlining Your Cannabis Plant

Ashley Priest

by Ashley Priest

June 23, 2023 12:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 6 Minutes
A Quick Guide to Mainlining Your Cannabis Plant

The popularity of cannabis is growing—along with the popularity of growing cannabis. Thanks to widespread cannabis legalization in America, many people can grow their own cannabis. This new world of cultivating cannabis at home fascinates a lot of people.

Some people try growing during the outdoor growing season, typically June through October. Others, however, go at it year-round, growing cannabis indoors in closets, grow tents, grow rooms, and greenhouses. With more people growing cannabis at home than ever before, people are being exposed to multiple techniques for cultivating cannabis.

There’s topping, cropping, defoliating, training, and more to learn about. There is also genetics, growing, environments, grow mediums, PH levels, hydroponics, and indoor, outdoor, and/or greenhouse growing to take in. Keeping it simple, mainlining a cannabis plant is something all growers should try. Let’s take a closer look at what it means to mainline a cannabis plant, its benefits, and how it’s done.

What Does It Mean to Mainline a Cannabis Plant?

Assuming you have a good growing environment, soil, light, ventilation, etc., mainlining your cannabis plant can yield you great rewards in the end. Mainlining a cannabis plant starts very early during the vegetation stage. The basics behind mainlining a cannabis plant are in low-stress training (LST).

To mainline a cannabis plant, you must first create a manifold. During this process, you train your plant by topping it and securing the branches with tie-downs. Ultimately, you want to train the plant into a Y shape, leaving a small stump at the top. You will trim the plant at certain nodes, leaving four stems growing from each side, plus the original main split.

When mainlining is done correctly, it produces 8-10 colas instead of one. The colas are where the magic is. By mainlining a cannabis plant, you encourage the plant to split nutrients at the split, diverting equal amounts to both sides of the plant. The result produces benefits that you will, without a doubt, notice at harvest time.

What Are the Benefits of Mainlining a Cannabis Plant?

Mainlining a cannabis plant has many benefits. Space, yield, potency, pest reduction, no popcorn buds—need I say any more? Mainlining a cannabis plant allows for conformity in how your plant grows. It keeps the plant within a certain grow space maximizing the yield and producing multiple big cola buds. This helps save space as you can produce as much quality bud from one plant properly mainlined as you can from several plants left to grow naturally.

Cannabinoid and terpene levels are also increased as a result of mainlining. This means higher cannabinoid levels and stronger terpene profiles. This happens because the roots of the plant can distribute nutrients evenly to both sides of the plant. This effectively feeds all the buds, in the same manner, leading to larger yields of higher-quality buds.

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If you have limited grow space, and want bigger yields of better-tasting buds, you definitely want to try mainlining on your next cannabis grow. You might be thinking that mainlining sounds a little difficult, but it really isn’t. It’s very rewarding to grow a cannabis plant that is mainlined nicely. You’ll enjoy the yield, potency, and taste, not to mention showing your lady off to buds. Let’s see what you need to mainline a cannabis plant yourself and just how it’s done.

How to Mainline a Cannabis Plant

If you are ready to give mainlining a cannabis plant a try, let’s look at what you need to mainline a cannabis plant and how it’s done.

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Trimming shears or scissors (to cut your plant and remove vegetation)
  • Gloves (for handling the plant)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (for sanitizing trim scissors)
  • Clean cloth (to clean scissors between cuttings)
  • Bread tie, twine, or string (for tying your plant’s branches down)

Different cannabis strains grow at different rates. To mainline your cannabis plant, wait until it has 5-8 nodes. Once you have 5-8 nodes, cut the plant down to the third node leaving a small stump. Clean all growth from below the third node. At this point, your cannabis plant will have a central stem containing two large fan leaves, one on each side producing a “Y” shape.

The goal is to get your branches to grow parallel with your soil reaching off to the sides. Make sure not to tie your branches too tightly, as young branches can break. If you have completed this part successfully, your plant will now have a central stem, often called a manifold, with two branches coming off the third node.

Time to Cultivate the Colas

To get the most from mainlining your cannabis plant, it is suggested that you aim to have at least eight colas. To do this, you need each branch of your manifold to grow four new sets of leaves. Once this happens, top both sides down to the 3rd node. Remove the second node leaving nodes 1 and 3 alone. Now your plant should have eight branches.

Watch your plant and adjust your ties as needed, keeping your two central branches parallel with the soil. Make sure your new stems grow at the same height. If one is taller than the other, pull her back some with your ties to get even height consistency. All that is left to do now is to continue giving your plant the right growing environment until she reaches the height you are after. Once you’re happy with the height, flip her to the flowering cycle.

Come harvest time, you’ll have eight big, beautiful colas instead of a few big buds and a bunch of popcorn nugs. Mainlining can help cut down on pests by allowing more airflow and light to bud points. The reduction of vegetation cuts down on the opportunity for pests while also allowing the plant to deliver nutrients and put energy into producing those big, beautiful buds packed with high cannabinoid levels and potent terpene profiles. If you find yourself feeling lost during any of this, go online and watch some videos showing you the process. And remember, you’ve got this!

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