Plant Training: Mainlining / Manifolding - A-Grade Hydroponics

Plant Training: Mainlining / Manifolding

Last week we looked at some time saving perpetual gardening methods, this week we are going to show you how to perform a mainline on your plants. 

The process takes some time but the end result is worthy of being mentioned as a legitimate training technique to increase yield. The process requires great patience and lots of maintenance, the goal here is to train your plant to have multiple, equally distributed points instead of the traditional single stemmed multi branched plant.

An equalized distribution of nutrients is primarily the goal here.


What’s the difference between training a plant with 4-main branches Vs a Manifolded one? 

The main difference that springs to mind is bud uniformity, it is better on the manifolded plant, however the overall yield is not much different. The main benefit achieved with a manifold technique is the outcome of consistent and uniform fruits/flowers.

If that is of no concern, then a 4-main branched plant is easier to grow and much less work.


How do I perform the mainline?

There are a couple of good techniques online that have become quite popular over the years, so finding guides with pictures and true references can be found quite easily. Our explanation is below.

A-Grade’s 6 Steps to Mainlining:

  • Grow your seedling or cutting until it has developed 6 main internodes
  • Using sharp pruners or a scalpel, remove the top half of the plant leaving 3 main internodes by cutting just below the 4th set, this is key.
  • Once the plant has recovered from the shock of being cut in half, grow the 2 or 4 remaining stems until the 4th internode shows itself on each of these specific branches (approx. 4-6 days)
  • Training these stems flat continuously, almost like a t-piece is key as this dictates the auxin and gibberellin flow.
  • Top the individual branches back to their 3rd internode (so now you have a topped plant that has just had each one of its stems topped back to their 3rd node) carry on training the node flat.

Once you have transformed the skeletal appearance of the plant you have yourself a mainlined plant. Many mainliners strip all the leaves off entirely only leaving behind the main tips with vegetation on them, once the shock of defoliating has subsided it is time to put them into flower, if you have done the mainlining technique correctly you won’t have to intervene too much for the candelabra effect to appear. If you did the mainline incorrectly it will be apparent within 3-4 weeks as the main branches start to lean toward the centre of the plant which can create a hot mess so to help it along you’ll have to encourage the growth & shape of the plant by daily, by spreading these branches using resistance to help form the desired spacing between branches.


Hope this helps!

Happy training & happy growing



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Hydroponics - Crop Steering
Maximizing Plant Yields and Quality with the SCROG Method in Hydroponics
How to Prune & Defoliate Indoor Plants
Plant Training: A-Grade's "Four Mains" Technique
Plant Training: How to perform LST on your plants

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