• Home
  • /Step by Step Guide to manifold or mainlining, same thing and often called fluxing

Step by Step Guide to manifold or mainlining, same thing and often called fluxing

Cannabis Main-lining: Everything You Need To Know

There are many ways to train your plant to grow a bigger yield of marijuana. In this guide, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about growing cannabis using the main-ling/manifold method.

For growers that enjoy the science behind growing marijuana, you will love the main-lining technique. The concept is to create symmetry in the branches in order to promote equal distribution of plant hormones, nutrients and energy.

Main-ling Cannabis plants The main aim is to create a base - or manifold - by cutting the main stem and creating two equal stems. When the plant has two stems that are essentially the same size and have the same number of nodes, the plant centres energy towards each one equally. The stems are split again an equal number of times so that one stem becomes two, two become four and four become eight. The goal of main-lining is to grow 8 colas that have an equal yield and quality. You can grow more heads if you have the resources to 16, 32, or 64. The beauty of the mainlining method is that every cola becomes a main cola. This is a cost-effective method of growing more marijuana and is easier to perform than a lot of other plant training techniques. The goal of main-lining is to grow 8 evenly matched colas The beauty of this training technique is that each cola starts from the height from the root so will grow to an equal height and form a flat, even canopy. You will see for yourselves, but trust us; it’s a thing of beauty.

Benefits of Main-lining Marijuana

  • Bigger yields without having to buy extra tools or equipment
  • Less work to do in the latter stages
  • Colas grow to the same height so you don’t need to tend to the canopy
  • Colas produce similar yields which simplifies the curing process
  • Reduces the risk of bud-rot
  • Fewer - if any - Larf buds that use energy without doing anything
  • More energy is directed to the main colas
  • Reduces the stretch when plants switch to the flowering stage, thus is ideal for indoor growers that do not have much height space
  • Outdoor growers have better control over the stealth of the plant

What is Manifold Marijuana?

Manifolding, main-lining, fluxing, call it what you want. The important factor is getting bigger yields and a consistent quality from your plant. That is exactly what happens when you manifold marijuana. Main-lining marijuana technique The main-lining technique makes better use of light - whether you’re growing your plant outdoors or under marijuana grow lights in your spare room or greenhouse. Manifolding also reduces the chances of your plant experiencing bud rot. Other significant advantages include controlling the height of the plant, developing thicker buds and reducing the number of ‘popcorn’ buds that waste energy. Nugbuckets, the grower that takes the plaudits for naming and fine-tuning the main-lining method into a highly-engineered format, suggests the optimal height to top your plant is when you get five nodes. It should not be performed when the plant is taller than six nodes high.

Overview of Main-lining Process

1) Create base
  • Start main-lining after 2 or 3 weeks when plant is in vegetative stage
  • Use topping method and cut main stem at 3rd node
  • Trim undergrowth below 3rd node
  • Tie the two remaining stems to create a Y-shape
2) Second Manifold
  • Leave plant to grow 4 nodes on each of the two main stems
  • Repeat topping process to create 8 main colas
  • Remove foliage from second node
3) Tend to Plant
  • Whilst your plant is still in the vegetative stage, chop away any stems that are getting hard and make sure the colas are growing to equal lengths so you have a flat, even canopy at the flowering stage.
  • Position colas under the grow lights to make sure you are filling any empty space
4) Flowering
  • Start the flowering stage when the plant is half the height it should be
  • Continue to trim away unwanted undergrowth including leaves that are creating a shade for buds
  • If colas are growing taller than the others, bend them back a little to create a flat, even canopy
The process of main-lining is essentially a combination of low-stress training (LST), topping and scrog (screen of green) training methods. When executed properly, manifolding is a technique that trains your cannabis to make better use of its grow space and distribute energy evenly throughout the plant - thus increasing yields. It’s an ideal option for growers that only have one or two plants, but plenty of space to work with. You can apply the mainlining technique regardless of whether you’re growing marijuana indoors or outdoors. Don’t leave it too long to start main-lining though. You don’t want to be chopping away too much of your plant that has already grown as this is a waste of time and energy your plant has already put in. Oh, and one more thing, before we start. Never attempt manifolding once the plant has started to flower. Marijuana flowering

Other Plant Training Methods Used in Main-lining

Training helps teach your cannabis to grow in a design that enables the stems to receive an equal share of the light and distribute energy evenly throughout the plant. When marijuana is left to grow naturally, the lower leaves become sheltered by the higher shoots. Subsequently, the buds in the lower part of the plant don’t get enough light, thus the plant has a disproportionate amount of energy which results in less yield from the lower colas. This is particularly the case when growing marijuana indoors because the lower leafs tend to get trapped in the shade and a lot of light gets wasted. Practicing plant training techniques also enables growers to learn how to manipulate and develop plants in order to harvest a bigger yield. Cannabis actually responds very well to being stressed, and you will find that training techniques encourage vigorous patterns of growth and heavier yield of buds. Cannabis bud Main-lining involves several other plant training methods. Before you get stuck into this tutorial, it’s worth taking a quick look at these other methods: Screen of Green (SCRoG) - The idea behind the Scrog method is to manipulate the growth until every bit of light is hitting the plant rather than the floor. It is a good technique to use when growing marijuana in small spaces and does not waste any energy from the lights. Scrogging is mostly used by growers that do not have much vertical space. It requires more work than main-lining but is a good method for growers that want to understand how to best develop cannabis. Topping - The most common training technique for growing cannabis, topping involves cutting the main stem to encourage the growth of two additional colas. In doing so, you promote the growth of secondary branches in the lower plant that don’t typically receive enough light to flourish. You can also cut the additional stems to create four colas, then 8 heads and so on. Topping a plant when it is still in its vegetation stage encourages it to grow more colas in more or less the same amount of time you would expect to take if you left the plant to grow naturally. In this regard, main-lining is slightly different in that you top the plant two or three times and prolong the vegetation period. The average grow time typically takes about 70 days. LST (Low-Stress Training) - An art form developed by ancient horticulturists. It’s basically a method of teaching your plant to make better use of the grow space and to even out the share of light more efficiently. LST subsequently creates more buds thus rewarding growers with a bigger yield. Okay, that’s enough explaining, it’s time you started taking notes.

Step-by-Step Guide to Grow Manifold Cannabis

To manifold marijuana from scratch you will need the following tools:
  • Seedlings with good genetics
  • Sterilized scissor
  • Soft plant ties
  • Optional - canopy rig
Main-lining cannabis Main-lining is best performed on original plants that have grown from seeds. Cannabis strains that have single cola dominance and a medium or tall growth work best with this technique. You can also manifold from cloned plants, but more work is involved to create the symmetry required when topping and tying the shoots. A feature of cloned cannabis is that the nodes sprout unevenly along the stem, and because main-lining works best when nodes grow from the same place on either side of the stem. It is for this reason that we recommend main-lining with a seed plant, especially as this is your first time using the manifold technique. Once you get used to working with this technique there is no reason why you shouldn’t try main-lining a cloned plant.
  1. When to Start Main-lining

Manifolding involves bending the stems in order to manipulate the length they grow and to avoid leaving lower leaves in the shade. You need to start main-lining when your plant is just 2-3 weeks old and between 4-6 nodes tall. Note: For complete beginners, nodes are the point where the leaves branch out from the stem. A manifolded node will look like this. Main-lining nodes You can wait until the plant has more nodes, but in doing so, you waste the time and energy your plant has spent maturing. You will also have more work to do cultivating the stems that have already grown.
  1. Topping the Plant

To top a plant, take a sharp pair of sterile gardening cutters and clip the plant. When main-lining, clip the main stem at the third node. This will create two stems that grow away from each other and branch into a Y-shape (as you can see in the above image). Note: When manifolding cannabis, make sure you use the topping technique rather than the FIM (F*** I missed it) method. Topping and fimming are both effective plant training techniques in their own right, but to get the most energy efficiency from main-lining, you need to use the topping technique as this creates two equally positioned nodes along the main stem. FIM pruning involves removing the top growth rather than cutting through the main stem. This means stems are not evenly spaced, nor does it reduce the height of the plant. And these are the two key features of manifolding marijuana. Furthermore, by cutting through the main stem, you can put it to better use by cloning an original of the mother. Then, you can try another one of our amazing marijuana training techniques.
  1. Remove Undergrowth Below the 3rd Node

The next phase of the manifold process is to instruct your plant to channel all its energy into developing the magical third node. To do that, you need to remove all the other growth including fan leaves and cotyledons from under the third node. Strip the main branch bare so the plant only has the former third node to concentrate all its energy on until new nodes appear lower down. Essentially the former third node becomes the only node and your plant has a longer stem between the top of your plant and where the new nodes will sprout. After this step you will be left with two stems growing out from the third node like you see in the image below. Outgrowing stems from 3rd node By doing this, energy will be distributed evenly throughout the plant as she continues to grow.
  1. Tie the Shoots

Tying the two main stems is a delicate process so you need to be gentle. You may not want to rush into this step straight away either because cannabis plants can undergo too much stress if they do not receive sufficient nutrients or temperature after a culling. If you damaged the plant, or if you think she might be a little weak after the topping and defoliation process in the previous step, leave her to recover for a couple of days before tying the shoots. Tying the stems should only take place when the plant is growing healthily, but resist the temptation to leave the recovery period for too long. Three or four days at most should be enough. The goal of tying the shoots is to branch the two stems out so they are trained to grow horizontally. Before you apply the string, massage the stem to soften it a little. Also use soft plant strings which are a delicate and easy to bend wire. Tying stems for main-lining cannabis train the pattern of growth And be gentle, otherwise you risk snapping the stem. Also bear in mind to use soft plant string. If you are clumsy and happen to break a node, tape it back together. The plant will re-heal naturally.
  1. Let the Plant Grow

Now you’ve got your first manifold in place, you need to leave your plant to grow for a couple of weeks. You won’t have to do anything during this period other than check the plant is growing vigorously and the colas are stretching healthily. Manifold Cannabis Allow each side to grow four nodes and allow them to sprout decent sized leaves. Once you’re at that stage, it’s time to perform another manifold. A plant with 8 nodes

Image credit: Cannabis info

  1. Repeat the Topping Process

The goal of this step is to create 8 colas - but the most important aspect is where you make the cut. Remember the purpose of main-lining is to create a system that distributes energy evenly. Thus symmetry is important. It’s worth noting at this point that every time you repeat the topping process, you double the number of main stems - from 4 to 8 to 16 etc. You can get up to 32, or even 64 colas if you want, but bear in mind that the more buds you create the less energy reaches they receive which results in a lower calibre of weed. If you’re growing marijuana indoors, the recommended number of heads is 8. You can go up to 16 if you’re main-lining outdoors or in a greenhouse because your plant will get more energy from natural sunlight than artificial lighting. Cannabis plant in greenhouseNote: A cola is the main stem that grows the bulkiest buds. The purpose of main-lining is to space out the colas so they have more room in which to grow and thus yielding more grams from your harvest. Now you know that, read this next section very carefully, because this is the most important step of the main-lining process. After two weeks of vigorous growth, it will be time to give your plant another topping. Because you want symmetry, it’s very important which nodes you choose. The ideal nodes to keep are the stems that are sprouting from opposite sides of the stem. Occasionally, you will get one node higher than the other, especially in cloned plants. These are the stems you want to sacrifice. During this process you will also need to remove some of the extra growth from the lower parts of the plant. However, this time, don’t remove all the growth, just the stems from the second node. Manifold plant - keep the lower branches tidy
  1. Check the Stems

Main-lining essentially prolongs the plant’s vegetation state to a period of about 8 weeks. After the second topping - or third if your go for 16 colas - there is very little to do other than to periodically check your plant is healthy and perform your usual plant tending routine. It is advisable to examine the stems every two weeks to make sure they are not getting hard. This makes them more difficult to train. When the plant is still young, stems are still flexible and easier to bend. During this period, you may notice that some of the stems grow taller than others. When this happens gently bend it down and away from the centre of the plant and use a soft tie to keep everything in place and at the same height. Nurture a flat even canopy The goal of the vegetative stage is to nurture a flat, even canopy that has an optimum number of colas. Then you’re ready to move on to the flowering stage.
  1. The Flowering Stage

When your plant has reached half the desired height, you should start the marijuana flowering process. There is no need for adding stress such as bending topping or super-cropping once flowering starts otherwise the plant will reset itself and direct energy to other branches. As you’re probably aware, a cannabis plant needs a 12/12 lighting schedule for the flowering stage - 12 hours of light, 12 hours of dark. Executed properly, you will find your plant doubles in height in two or three weeks. This is what is known as the “flowering stretch.” Main-lined colas should grow to the same height

Image credit Sant Yerbasi

Before you start the flowering process, you might want to give your plant one last clean up of undergrowth. Remove the big fan leaves from the bottom and middle of the plant and adjust leaves that are blocking light from getting to the buds. You may need to clean up undergrowth several times, during this period but do this bit by bit. You will need to use your judgment. Manifold cannabis in full growth

Image credit spliff seeds

The best approach to the defoliation process is:
  • Remove leaves that are not getting light
  • Remove everything from the bottom of the plant that has no chance of reaching the canopy
  • Remove leaves that are blocking buds
We recommend light defoliation because the plant will stop growing new leaves after five or six weeks. Three weeks into the flowering stretch, you should note buds starting to form. These sites should now become the centre of your focus. If buds are in the shade, they will not fatten. If your colas are starting to get heavy and droopy, tie them to a plant support (“yo-yo”) to keep them upright.


What’s the average yield for main-lining?

The yield you get from the mainlining method will largely depend on how many heads you want to create and how well you perform the job of keeping the plant symmetrical. Remember, by keeping the nodes on either side of the stem opposite one another, nutrients are evenly spread throughout the plant which means the colas grow to the same height, thus share an equal amount of light. According to Nugbuckets, you should be targeting 6.67 zips from a 32-inch plant with 8-heads and 7.31 zips from 27-inch with 16-heads. Some growers are getting 10 colas from 2 manifolds when main-lining.

What are the best strains for main-lining

One of the objectives of main-lining is to grow equal-sized colas so it pays to choose cannabis strains (seeds) that pair up well. The process of manifolding itself doesn’t change the nature of the strain. The plant will still grow to its normal height and size. If you have one strain that stays small whilst the other grows tall, you will create problems for yourself trying to manifold marijuana. The best strains are plants that display single cola dominance and have a medium or tall growth pattern and minimal secondary branching. Balls on a String, Sensi Star and Poodles are all good for manifolding, together with classics like NYC Diesel and Blackjack. Main-lining marijauna

Image credit OZ Stoners

It’s also worth noting that short plants are not good for main-lining because you don’t get the double-sized flowering stretch manifolding marijuana is designed to achieve. FIMing and topping are better training techniques for short strains.

How long does mainlining take?

Bearing in mind the vegetation time is extended, the average growing times when main-lining are 60-70 days. It really depends on how long you wait between stages, particularly the recovery time after topping your plant and how long you leave the plant to flower before harvesting. How long should veg time last when manifolding? If you’re only topping twice, your veg time will be 6-8 weeks. This includes leaving the plant for two weeks after each topping to allow her sufficient time to flourish vigorously. However, the additional vegetation period does reap rewards. As time passes, your plant builds a stronger foundation and subsequently produces higher yields with better quality.

Flux vs Mainlining

Main-lining and fluxing are very similar plant training techniques in that they both extend the vegetation time which is why some marijuana growers class them as the same method. However, there is a slight, but very significant, difference that distinguishes one from the other. As you know after reading our guide, the purpose of main-lining is to create symmetry so the plant distributes nutrients evenly. The manifold method, therefore, ensures you grow evenly-sized colas which is easier to manage in the final stages (you have less work to do managing the canopy). Subsequently, the main-lining method is best used if you only have one or two plants and plenty of space to allow your plant to reach the optimum height of 32-inches. The oal of fluxing on the other hand, is to grow colas to varying lengths in order to fill out small and oddly shaped spaces. Both these training methods will yield you more cannabis, but the method you choose is determined by the size and shape of your grow space.

Mainlining vs Super Cropping

Super cropping is arguably the most common method among growers, but it is very different to main-lining. While the latter is a plant training technique, super cropping is a stress technique, that quite simply, involves breaking bud bearing branches. That may not sound like a good idea, but super-cropping is actually an effective way of increasing your yield. The idea is to break the stem just below the flower cluster so the buds are exposed to more light, and thus receive more energy. Growers that have an uneven canopy need to super crop the plant on a regular basis - every day or two - otherwise the buds will not get sufficient light. When you’re main-lining, you shouldn’t need to super crop because the colas have been trained to grow at the same height and, therefore, fit snugly under the lights whereby they are receiving equal quantities of energy. If you have any more questions about main-lining or other plant training methods, leave a comment below.