If you are curious about outdoor cannabis cultivation in Florida, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, we’ll be covering the most important basics of what you need to know in order to be a successful outdoor grower in the hot climate of the “Sunshine State.”
However, before getting into all the general rule-of-thumb tips for doing some successful outdoor growing in this extremely conservative state, it is important to point out that at this exact point in time, growing weed and/or possessing it for recreational purposes is still illegal, even for low-THC cannabis. In fact, possession and cultivation offenses can result in jail time, although it is decriminalized in certain counties in the state.
Although it’s worth mentioning that medical cannabis is legal in Florida for residents who are 21+ with approved medical conditions and have a valid state-licensed medical marijuana card are allowed to purchase and use medical cannabis, they cannot grow it at home.
But! Having said all of that, we aren’t actually here to focus on the state of Florida statutes or the seeming lack of progress around growing recreational or medical cannabis plants.
Instead, this is about just providing some useful knowledge and education on the cultivation of marijuana in a cultivation location like Florida, where the climate zone is a mix of subtropical and tropical, and much of the native soil is sand.
Florida’s Sandy Soil
In general, marijuana plants need loamy soil, which is a mix of clay-rich soil, silty soil, and sand, along with organic matter, etc., in which to thrive.
While some parts of Florida do have fertile, nutrient-rich soil that is conducive for growing weed, the yards of many residents tend to be more sand than soil. As such, there are a couple of ways to deal with this.
The first, most affordable option, is to grow your outdoor cannabis plants in planters, which you can just fill with the kind of loamy soil and other soil amendments you need for your plants to thrive. The added bonus to growing weed plants in pots or planters is that when a tropical storm or hurricane threatens to slam into your region or when the outdoor conditions become too extreme due to heat or humidity, you can quickly and easily move things indoors.
Another option for growing outdoors is to plant your germinated cannabis seeds in the ground after having procured the kind of soil and nutrients they require. If you’re planting straight into the ground, you’ll want to do so in an area where your plants can get enough sunlight, air circulation, and protection from the sun when things are at their hottest.
What is the Climate in Florida?
Florida is not considered to be a temperate climate, which is usually defined by warmer weather, but not uber hot and humid like this southernmost state is. Instead, Florida is comprised of two climate zones, where the northwest part of the state is mainly subtropical humid and the rest of the state is tropical humid.
So, while many cannabis strains are known to thrive in warm and sunny outdoor conditions like Florida offers, the caveat is that it’s also an extremely humid state with above-average humidity year-round, which limits the abundance of different kinds of marijuana plants you can actually grow outside.
Due to the state’s high humidity levels, which are at their absolute worst from June-August or into September, outdoor weed growers have to pay special attention to inspecting their outdoor plants for pests, mold, and mildew.
Provided in the section below are some tips for how to navigate the state’s humid and hot climate as an outdoor weed grower.
Navigating Florida’s Climate for Successful Cannabis Growing
In order to ensure the optimum growth for your outdoor cannabis plants, here are a few things you’ll want to do:
1. Control your water levels: doing this can help to reduce excess humidity.
2. Water early in the morning, as the soil will then dry by the evening.
3. Inspect your marijuana plants regularly for yellowing or spotting.
4. Plant early: Florida’s least humid month is March, and while the state can get relatively cold weather in the winter months, the chance of frost in late February is quite low.
5. If you’re a first-time grower who is new to growing weed, starting with auto-flowering seeds is best as, as opposed to photosensitive plants, autoflowers will grow quickly in the state’s copious sunshine and extreme heat.
7. Plant pure sativa strains and sativa-dominant hybrids, as they handle Florida’s hot climate quite well due to their built-in resistance to subtropical and tropical conditions.
Sativa Strains That Make for Good Outdoor Grows in Florida
Here are just a few sativas and auto-flowering seeds you can invest in for cultivating your own outdoor weed plants if you live in a subtropical or tropical climate like Florida.
1. Acapulco Gold: this sativa-dominant hybrid is well-suited for outdoor growing in Florida, with a tolerance for up to 80% moisture levels. However, you’ll want to keep an eye out for mold and ensure it has access to as much of a constant breeze as possible.
2. Cannalope Haze: this near-pure sativa should thrive in Florida’s warm and sunny Mediterranean-like spring and autumn weather.
3. White Nightmare: while this might seem like an appropriate nickname for Florida’s current extremist conservative governor, this autoflowering sativa-heavy hybrid is a wonderful delight that will thrive in Florida’s less humid months.
4. Jesus OG: this sativa-heavy autoflowering hybrid will need more space than other strains when grown outside, but does well in warm weather settings like Florida.
Outdoor Greenhouses and Grow Houses
First and foremost, let’s answer the question that might be popping up in your mind: “What is the difference between a greenhouse and a grow house?”
In short, a grow house is a miniature version of a greenhouse that is ideal for those who don’t have a lot of space in their backyard.
Now that we have that clarified, let’s get into the benefits of growing cannabis outdoors in either one of these two types of structures.
Utilizing a greenhouse or grow house will allow you to take advantage of Florida’s abundant sunshine whilst being able to control important factors like temperature, humidity levels, etc., and maintain a greater semblance of relatively secure privacy is grow your female plants in a greenhouse or grow house. Doing so makes growing indicas, and indica-dominant hybrids “outside” a lot easier since indicas and indica-dominant hybrids aren’t as resistant to subtropical and tropical conditions. You can also easily cultivate feminized seeds, autoflowers, photosensitive plants, and of course, sativas, in one of these outdoor setups.
Guide to Growing High-Quality Weed in a Greenhouse / Grow House
An important thing to remember when growing in an outdoor setup is that your plants will need a minimum of three hours, with six being the most ideal, of direct sunlight every single day.
Other things you’ll need to ensure, apart from having nutrient-rich soil, to grow top-quality cannabis from your marijuana seeds are as follows:
1. Buying or building the right type of greenhouse: It’s important to consider your growing location in Florida, as what makes for a good greenhouse there is not the same as what would make for a good greenhouse in the Upper Midwest or Alaska.
2. Ventilation: You’ll want to install a system, like an airflow fan, that removes hot air from the greenhouse.
3. Thermometer and hygrometer: Using both of these will allow you to precisely monitor the temperature and humidity levels in your enclosed outdoor grow space. While using the traditional versions of these devices is perfectly fine, using digital ones will provide you with more accurate readings.
4. Temperature control: Generally speaking, maintaining the temperature between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended, but this also depends on which strain(s) you’re growing. In a place like Florida, you’ll need to invest in some kind of cooling system, such as a window unit or mini-split. If money is not an issue, some growers install smart A/C systems which can automatically regulate both the temperature and humidity levels without your constantly having to check on them.
5. Humidity control: With Florida having above-average humidity levels year-round, maintaining the moisture levels for your cannabis plants is probably one of the hardest parts about ensuring they complete all of their growth cycles without succumbing to mold, mildew, bud rot, etc. If you have some kind of air unit installed in your greenhouse, then that should be enough to address your humidity levels. However, if you’re relying more on ventilation and shade, then investing in a dehumidifier is pretty much a “must” for Florida, even if you’re cultivating your crops in a smaller grow house.
6. Blackout curtains: Florida’s not called the “Sunshine State” out of whimsy, as its sunshine is copious, which is a big part of why so many of the state’s residents chose to settle there. However, when it comes to growing your weed plants too much sun can damage them. As such, it is vital that when your plants exit their vegetative growth stage and enter their flowering phase, you will need to completely cover the greenhouse, including its entrance(s) and any vents, so that your plants get the 12 hours of darkness that they will require.
Can You Grow Weed Outside in the Winter in Florida?
The answer to this question is both “Yes” and “No.” While Florida’s winters are some of the mildest in the U.S., they can experience temperatures cold enough for frost to form. So, even though daytime temperatures in January, which is usually the state’s coldest month, can reach the mid-70s, nighttime temperatures can dip down into the “frost level.”
So, a couple of ways to grow your weed outside in the winter in Florida are to either wait until late February when frost is highly unlikely, or from December until February/March to grow your plants outside in pots while the temps are in the low- to mid-70s and move them indoors at night time when they start to drop into the 50s and 40s, and sometimes even 30s.
Another viable outdoor growing option is to grow your female plants in a greenhouse or grow house in the winter months where you can maintain the nighttime temperature levels via an indoor heater.
Lastly, if you don’t feel confident about growing your plants outside for whatever reason, you can always be an indoor grower, where you will have complete control of the environment and grow according to your own schedule. Growing indoors will also give you the advantage of planting according to the harvest time that will work best for you as you can have greater control over your weed plant’s flowering time in terms of setting a 12/12 lighting cycle for it earlier on. (You could also potentially do this in a greenhouse if you’re using blackout curtains.)
Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Growing Weed in Florida?
As stated at the top of this piece, it is currently illegal to cultivate or possess any form of recreational marijuana or cannabis product in the state of Florida. The only people in Florida who are allowed to possess and use it are qualifying medical marijuana patients with a medical cannabis card. Also, as you are probably well aware, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, so if you are caught growing, possessing, or using recreational weed in Florida you could, depending on quantities, potentially face consequences from both state and federal law enforcement agencies.
As such, none of what is written here is meant to be taken as a guide on how to grow weed in Florida when it’s illegal, but instead is meant to serve as a resource for if and when Florida voters, Florida House and Senate, and governor ever manage to get with the times and take steps forward towards positive progress and change instead of their current path of sending Florida back into the 1950s or even late-1800s.
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