Eventually, when growing you’ll probably look into plant training techniques and while you probably won’t do any for your first grow it’s good to familiarize yourself with them now.
Plant training is a catch-all term for a number of techniques that aim to train the plant to stay short and grow more horizontal. Remember when I said you’d come to find out that cannabis is a super-adaptive plant? This is one of the big things I was referring to.
Growers will do everything from gently pulling down the stems with ties at an angle to force the plant to grow horizontally (Low Stress Training). To deliberately cutting off and removing parts of the plants to increase bud sites and to control which direction the plant grows (Topping and FIMing).
Growers do this for two reasons. The first is it keeps plants short. Cannabis plants, especially sativa strains, can grow to incredible heights with some strains easily towering over people. Most strains have been breed, however, to stay under four to five feet on average. This might not seem like a lot but once you add the lights over top and a container for roots underneath a 4-foot plant may need a 6-7 foot grow tent. Training done right can easily lower a plant's height by at least a foot.
The second reason is this creates a canopy allowing light to hit multiple buds sight with a lot of light instead of one bud site getting the majority. Simply put; the more light coverage a plant gets the more buds it’s going to produce.
It might seem like removing parts of the plant is bad for its health and it is! But only temporarily and when done right the plant rebounds back stronger. Kinda like how a bone is stronger after it broke. You mainly do plant training in veg because with photoperiods you can keep them in veg for as long as you want, giving them ample time to recover. With autoflowers, it’s recommended to not remove parts of the plant.
But, despite what some will say, LST is fine for both autoflowering and photoperiods during any stage after seedling. I personally think, and several other growers would agree with me, that minimal LST causes no stress whatsoever. Don’t start LSTing until the plant is around 5 inches. I would look into LSTing even for your first grow.