Trellis Netting & Plant Support in your Grow Room
Every gardener wants to grow plants that grow to gigantic proportions and are weighed down with pulp fruits and flowers. We use a range of tools from different lights, to grow media, to even training plants to grow horizontally simply to increase and maximize our yield. And not only are we fantastic at doing this, but plants respond incredibly well to us tinkering with them.
Unfortunately, plants can’t always keep up, and grow flowers and fruits that are too large for their stems to support. This can lead to stems snapping and fruit falling to the ground where they become susceptible to rot and insects. That’s one of the reasons you’ll see every great garden covered in stakes, netting, clips, and what have you.
But what good is a support system if you don’t have anything that needs supporting?
Increasing Yields: Plant Training 101
Plant training is altering the natural way a plant grows to increase yields, and it makes a big difference when growing plants that are affected by apical dominance. Apical dominance means a plant has a main stem that grows stronger than the rest, giving you a plant that has one main stem and many mini-stems. Think of a pine tree as an example.
The apical bud found on the main stem produces auxin which inhibits the lateral buds from properly developing. Plant training is to designed to break apical dominance so the lateral buds can grow large along with the apical bud. This increases yields, especially when growing inside as you’ll come to see.
Plant training can be simple, like tying twine around a stem then pulling it to the side and holding it in place with a stake. This method won’t completely apical dominance, but it will still allow the lateral buds to develop much more than they normally would.
There are more advanced methods where you remove the apical bud by cutting off the top of the main stem, and this will completely break apical dominance.
The goal is always the same though, and that is to create a wide canopy and shorter plant that has more of its stems and flowers evenly getting the same amount of light. Many plant training methods cause stress to the plants and they will need time to recover, as a result, they will need to stay in the vegetative stage longer. It’s recommended to do only “stress-free” plant training to plants in flowering.
Indoors vs. Outdoor
When growing plants indoors, you’re going to have to do more plant training than you would if you were going outside and it all has to do with your lights. Grow lights are affected by the inverse square law of light intensity. The sun is incredibly powerful and plants will get essentially the same amount of light whether they 10 feet in the air or on the ground.
Grow lights’ intensity doesn’t even come close, and moving them just a few inches away from your plant can really affect the amount of light it’s receiving. This happens regardless of how intense your grow lights are. Grow lights are better at spreading out their light than they are at penetrating deep, and this is why you want to grow short and wide plants indoors.
Even basic plant training is recommend to all indoor growers who are growing plants with apical dominance.
Create an Easy All-In-One Plant Support and Training System
Trellis netting is perfect for creating a system that can both support and train your plants.Trellis netting is especially helpful if you’re using a system like hydro that doesn’t allow you to stick stakes into the grow medium.
To create your all-in-one system, you’ll first need to create a free-standing frame that surrounds your plants. This will hold your netting in place and allow your plant to grow up into the netting. You can use PVC to create a cheap, but durable frame, or easier just use four stakes arrange in a square that the netting can tie to.
As the plants stretch up and through their netting ceiling, they will naturally be forced to branch out a bit to pass through. For additional training gently push branches back under to create a more even canopy. You can also weave the branches through the netting creating a brilliantly wide canopy.
As the plant stretches through, you can create a second netting ceiling over the first that “locks” the stems into place. The locking will support the flowers as they get heavier, supporting them so they aren’t putting too much stress on the stems and leaning over.
Trellis netting is a great way to increase yield and efficiency by filling out your tent allowing all your light to be utilized.
Choosing the Right Trellis Netting
As wonderful as this support and training system is it comes with one big downfall. It can be difficult to remove when you harvest. You can cut the netting and attempt to pull it straight up and off, but plant material may stick. You can also cut the plant at the base then flip the whole thing over. It takes some delicate work, and you’ll have to see which method of removal you’re most comfortable with, but it’s worth it.
If you plan to pull the netting up and off, then you may want to use trellis netting that is made out of a harder plastic. Soft nylon netting is great because you can find nets with smaller holes, which a lot of growers like for training, but it gets wet and sticky, and can take plant material with it when removed.
Our recommendation is to use the soft nylon trellis netting for your first ceiling as the smaller squares allow for better training and the first ceiling won’t usually come in contact with the flowers. Then use a harder plastic netting for your second ceiling as this provides support and won’t stick.
At Hydrobuilder, we offer a range of tools for the plant training method that matches your comfort level. Go all out and create trellis netting system, or grab some twine and stakes that work great for outdoor training and support.
Trellis Netting and Plant Support and How to Use Them
The one aspect of hydroponic gardening that isn’t discussed enough is the area of trellis netting and other types of plant support. Every grower is going to need to use them at some point but understanding which to go with can be confusing.
There are, after all, dozens of products to choose from and how do you know what is right for your needs. That really depends on the type of plant and what you’re planning to do with the plant.
Meaning, if you’re cucumbers it’s a lot different from poinsettias which are raised and groomed for the retail market.
Vining crops perform well with trellis netting.
Trellis netting is ready made with vining crops in mind. It comes in a variety of sizes and weaves depending on the intended use. It also comes in common ready to use sizes of 4’ X 8’, 4’ X 16’ and 4’ X 100 which is a generous size for covering an entire greenhouse.
Trellis netting is best for vining crops because the nature of the plant doesn’t lend itself to other forms of support such as central pole. The web netting provides ample space within the web for easy access to the fruit, but is strong enough to bare the weight of the entire plant.
Go with the commercial grade, however, because vining crops are heavy, and this grade can fully support that weight without sagging or falling.
Bamboo stakes are handy for floral plants, tomatoes and cannabis.
Bamboo stakes have multiple uses and are best for any single central stemmed plant like a tomato or cannabis. They can be run tight against the stem which is where this type of plant needs the support to prevent sagging and breaking.
They are also the preferred method for plants headed for retail sale like houseplants or blooming plants such as kalanchoe.
Bamboo stakes work great when secured with the 8” plastic cable ties, although, do not secure them so tightly that they tear into the plant’s stem flesh.
Plant yo-yos also work excellent on stationary central stemmed plants like tomatoes and related plants. They’re slick devices that suspend from the ceiling and pull out just as the name implies.
Plant pull ties work well on stationary plants without restricting fruit access or getting in your way.
Plant ties come in easy to work with lengths of 50’, 100’ and 250’ and are another way to anchor those tough vining plants without the hassle of netting tangling you up. However, you can not rely on a single strand stretched across the growing area.
Cucumbers, melons or squash plants by nature vine at multiple points, so when using plant ties you need to stretch several of them at various intervals in height. You will do best by layering the plant tie at one-foot intervals.
Grid supports are excellent support and marketing tools for retail vining blooming plants.
Grid supports are often overlooked but are excellent for anchoring and displaying retail blooming plants like climbing rose or clematis. A grid support is a round gridded medal ring with a central support pole.
The advantage to using a grid support is that the multiple vining stems of a rose or clematis can be attractively spread and anchored with twist tie separately to the grid to maximize the bloom features of the plant.
This safely secures the vining stems of the plant while also fully enticing the customer with its colorful blooms.
Use steel plant stakes with Velcro plant ties for smaller retail blooming plants or vegetables for more appeal.
Nobody wants to buy a droopy plant, and this is where steel plant stakes come into play. They are great for small blooming plants and vegetables retail transplants. Steel stakes help support the plant while also making it more attractive the potential buyer.
Every grower will likely need to use some form of plant support and knowing the right one for the job is important. For the stationary garden plant think practical and support and for the plant intended for retail sale always remember that plant support must also improve the curb appeal.