Broken, bent, or detached stems are common growing problems, especially for first-time growers. They have the potential to seriously endanger your grow and limit your final yield. However, with care and attention, these issues can be fixed quite easily. Even branches that have completely snapped off the plant can be saved by using a few simple methods.

Broken Cannabis Stem

WHAT CAUSES BROKEN OR BENT STEMS?

Stems can be damaged by something as simple as moving plants carelessly. This can especially be a problem with plants that are more rigid and upright. Moreover, damage from wind or excess airflow can similarly damage branches and stems.

Stems and branches can also be broken or bent from the utilisation of growing techniques like low-stress and high-stress training methods. Techniques that bend or otherwise stress branches inherently have the potential to lead to stem complications. Even if branches don’t split or break completely, the damage caused by bending them too much can harm plant vigour and production.

It is important to treat broken or otherwise damaged stems quickly. Open wounds can lead to infections in the plant, similar to humans. These kinds of breaks and open wounds will not only lead to a lower yield, but have the potential to kill the plant altogether.

WHAT KIND OF DAMAGE TYPICALLY HAPPENS TO STEMS?

The three most common types of stem damage are broken or split stems, bent or folded stems, and detached stems.

BROKEN STEMS

When training rigid plants, or when training during the flowering phase, plants are at an added risk for broken stems. If left untreated, the branches of these stems will stop growing. These stems can be easily fixed with the tape method or with a support structure. Plants have a natural healing mechanism that will allow them to mend themselves. However, if you act quick enough, you may not even notice a reduction in the plant’s production on these branches.

BENT/FOLDED STEMS

This is the most common type of stem damage that occurs. When branches are bent or stressed too much by training techniques, permanent damage can occur. Bent or folded stems are unable to support themselves. Bends or folds can make it more difficult for branches to receive water and nutrients from the plant. These stems will continue to grow, but at a slower pace than the rest of the plant. This is not just because they are bent, but because their bending makes them hang lower, potentially blocking their exposure to light.

DETACHED STEMS

Branches that have completely snapped off and detached themselves from the plant can be one of the most stressful problems to deal with. Luckily, these detached stems can be healed and mended with the same techniques used for other kinds of stem damage. They simply require more care and attention than bent or broken stems. However, if the detached stem is small, or located towards the bottom of the plant, it may be best to simply toss it away and cut your losses.

Cannabis Broken Stems (Types)

HOW CAN YOU FIX BROKEN OR DETACHED STEMS?

The most common method of fixing broken stems is to use the tape method. Both duct tape and scotch tape can be used to help plants heal. Which kind you use will depend on the extent of the damage and the weight of the branch being mended.

Follow these steps to fix your broken stems:

  1. Prepare a piece of tape about 10cm in length (you may need more for larger stems/branches).
  2. Wrap the tape around the broken stem, making sure it fully covers its original base.
  3. Ensure that the stem and its base are packed together tightly to allow mending.
  4. Leave the tape on for between 2–4 weeks.
  5. Check healing progress every day.

Tip: Be sure to wrap the tape around the branch as tightly as possible. Packing everything together will greatly assist the healing process. When removing the tape, take care so as to not damage the stem again. Sometimes the stem may still be fragile or may not have fully healed. In these situations, it is easy to retear the stem unintentionally.

Fix Broken Stems And Detached Stems

HOW TO FIX BENT STEMS

Bent stems can be fixed with support structures. Follow these steps to fix a bent stem:

  1. Place a thin bit of wood or plastic in the soil, directing it upwards toward the bent stem.
  2. Attach the stem to the support structure with a piece of duct tape.
  3. Leave the support structure in place until the stem is able to stand upright on its own.
  4. Remove the tape and support structure carefully.

Similarly to fixing broken or detached stems, be very careful when removing the tape. Bent stems can be easily damaged again if not careful.

Fix Bent Stems

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR PLANTS FROM STEM DAMAGE?

The main way to protect your plants from stem damage is to be careful when handling them, especially when moving your plants, or when utilising training techniques that stress stems or branches. When training your plants and bending your branches, be careful not to overdo it. Plants with rigid stems and structures are especially susceptible to damage. Although it can be easily fixed, it is best to take proper care so as to avoid an issue in the first place.

It is advisable to take proper precautions to protect your plants from excessive wind or airflow damage. Moving air can provide numerous benefits for cannabis plants, including making the stems stronger. However, too much of it can cause significant structural damage, affecting health and yield in kind. In strong enough winds, plants can be toppled over or completely uprooted.

Reinforcing and protecting plants against the wind is simple and inexpensive. It is usually inadvisable to rigidly secure cannabis as this will completely prevent motion. It is much better to keep your plants next to some form of windbreaker. Rows of hedges or trees can act as natural defences. Meanwhile, fences and walls can act as man-made barriers. Bamboo matting, shade cloth, and plastic film can also make for suitable windbreakers. Some growers also prefer to use mesh fences that surround the plants. These fences can then be layered with cloth or plastic to ensure they act as effective barriers.

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