Screen of Green: Maximizing Your Per Plant Yield

Kenny Hall
March 25, 2024

While growing cannabis has become legal in a majority of US states, each one imposes limits on how many plants an individual may grow. This has led many growers to look for ways to maximize the yield they receive from each plant and there have been some incredible breakthroughs. Screen of green growing takes the idea of getting the most out of a single plant to the extreme and, if done properly, can easily double or triple the yield from an untrained plant.

What is Screen of Green Growing?

Screen of green (typically abbreviated as SCROG, SCroG, or scrog) is a relatively advanced growing technique that uses a screen or net as a barrier to limit a plant’s vertical growth in exchange for large lateral branches. In short, the idea is to weave the stems and branches of a vegetating plant through the screen forcing them to grow horizontally instead of vertically. This is done through a series of controlled toppings and delicate weavings that take a fair amount of time and labor.

Once it’s time to begin flowering, buds will form at a uniform height across the plant, allowing growers to maintain an even canopy and keep as much of their plant under proper light as possible.

What Are the Benefits of Screen of Green?

Scrogging a plant (yes, it can be used as a verb) allows growers to get the most out of their limited resources.

  • Efficiency: The main reason for considering this method. If you’re limited to only three mature plants, there’s no reason not to make them three of the largest plants you’ve ever grown.
  • Light: Since every flowering site is receiving an equal amount of light, the formation of small “popcorn buds” is all but eliminated. Instead, each flower can grow to its full potential as your plant develops multiple colas.
  • Yield: As mentioned, a properly scrogged plant will produce significantly more than a completely untrained one. While this increased yield does require more time, the results often outweigh the costs.
  • Space: Since scrogging aims to keep a plant wider (as opposed to taller)  they can be grown in areas with much less vertical space. Under proper LED lights, many strains can be grown in areas as short as 1.25 meters (~4 feet).
  • Cleanliness: By keeping the lower parts of your plant clean and free of leaves, you can increase airflow and decrease moisture at the top of your plant’s soil. This will help prevent infestations or the growth of mold or algae. 

A cannabis cultivator is checking her Screen of Green setup to ensure proper cannabis growth.

The Downsides of Screen of Green Growing

No system is perfect and scrogging isn’t without its risks.

  • Time: If a rapid turnaround is your priority, then scrogging isn’t for you. Growing a proper screen of green takes time—up to 6 extra weeks of vegetating if you want to go all out. Training a plant takes time and every time you top a plant, you add several more days (or even a week) to its development time.
  • Labor: Scrogging takes considerably more time each day than a standard grow. Since this is one of the most extreme forms of training, putting in the work upfront is paramount. We’ll be covering the details below, but be prepared to spend twice as long tending a scrogged plant.
  • Risk: Putting all of your eggs in one basket is always a nerve-racking idea but that’s essentially what scrogging is. If something goes wrong and you lose a plant, it could mean the end of months of labor and result in a significant hit to your bottom line.

Whether or not screen of green growing is right for you is a choice that each grower needs to make for themselves based on a range of factors that are beyond the scope of this article. As with anything, though, trying out a single plant as an experiment is likely worth the effort.

How to Set Up a Screen of Green

So, you’ve decided that scrogging just might be the technique you’ve been looking for. Great, how do you do it? While it is one of the more complicated techniques out there, anyone who has a bit of growing experience should be able to pull it off without the need for any advanced cultivation technology. But, first things first. How do you actually set up a scrog grow?

The good news is that if you’ve already got a grow space, there’s very little that you need to do to get ready for scrogging. First off, be sure that you give each plant plenty of room to grow outwards. You don’t want your plants bumping up against each other so you’ll likely have fewer plants in the same area as you would if you were growing more traditionally.

Once you’ve got everything measured and set up a game plan, the only new item you’ll need to add is the eponymous screen. 

Building a Scrog Screen

While there are several commercially available options, the best choice is to build your own as this is the easiest way to make sure that it fits your space perfectly. Even if you’re not a particularly “handy” person, building a screen is as easy as it comes. All you need are two things: a frame and a net.

For the frame, wood, aluminum, or PVC pipes are all good choices so pick whichever you’re comfortable with. Be sure that the dimensions of the frame are as close to the dimensions of your grow space as possible so that you can maximize your growing area.

As for the net, the best option is simple string. It can be tied easily, moved if needed, and come harvest time, it’s a cinch to just cut away. Twine or hemp are also fine choices, however, they tend to leave fibers behind on sticky buds. You might be tempted to use fishing line or chicken wire for added durability, but these are terrible choices. Fishing line is liable to cut or choke a plant, Likewise, plants can grow around chicken wire, meaning that you’ll need to trim bits of metal out of your buds come harvest. While that might be fine for a home grower, businesses need to worry heavily about quality control, so this kind of contamination simply isn’t acceptable. For best results, we recommend sticking with string.

Once you’ve built your screen, it’s time to install it. Keep in mind that the screen shouldn’t be moved during the grow, so make sure that it’s secure and in the right spot. The ideal location for a scrog screen is 20-30 cm (~8-12 inches) above the top of your grow pots and about 30-45 cm (~12-16 inches) below your light. 

A top-down view of several cannabis plants with a Screen of Green net on top.

How to Grow a Plant in a Screen of Green

Now that you’ve built your screen, you might be wondering what you should do next. Below, we’ll walk you through each step, so you know the process inside and out. 

Step 1: Topping

The main technique that you’ll be using to get your plant in shape is topping. This is one of the most tried-and-true methods out there for upping a plant’s productivity and scrogging makes heavy use of it.

The process is incredibly simple; just cut the uppermost, inner nodes of leaves off. Typically, it’s best to wait until the plant has developed five inner nodes and then cut just above the third. This ensures that the plant has developed enough root support to handle this fairly stressful event. 

Topping a plant in this way will cause it to grow two stalks in place of one. After several days, these two stalks can be topped again giving you four main stalks. In theory, there’s no upper bound to how many times you can do this, though eight is considered the reasonable limit for many indoor setups.

Step 2: Weaving

After several weeks, your plant should be growing up into the net you placed at the beginning and it’s time for the real work to start. Once the plant is tall enough, you’ll need to carefully weave the branches under the net. The point here is to create as even of a canopy as possible, so make sure to radiate the branches outwards as evenly as you can. 

After weaving a branch through the net, let it grow up and through the net for another 5-8 cm (~2-4 inches) before gently pulling it back below the screen and moving it to the next square over. Continue until you’ve grown the plant to the desired size. Keep in mind that you’ll be doing this for the first 2-3 weeks of flowering as well, so don’t wait too long.

Step 3: Flowering

Picking the perfect time to start flowering during the scrog process can be tricky. It’s important to remember that many plants can grow up to two-thirds of their total size during this period, so if you wait too long, you’ll find yourself out of space. Many scrog growers will transition their plants to flowering when the net is about 75% full. Genetics will play a major role in picking the best time. Stretchy Sativas should be flowered sooner with bushier Indicas flowering a bit later.

After several weeks (or even months), you’ll reach the point where your branches have stopped growing and just can’t be tucked any further. At this point, it’s best to prune away anything below the screen and let the plant flower as normal.

A close-up of the flower portion of a cannabis plant, meaning the Screen of Green method is almost complete.

Wrapping It Up

Screen of green growing isn’t for everybody, but with a little patience and the right skills, you can radically increase your yields from a single plant to new levels. 

Growing, though, is only one small part of running a successful cannabis business. If you’ve got any questions about how to get the most out of your enterprise, reach out to schedule a free demo and learn how KayaPush can streamline your cannabiz.

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March 2024


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