As a grower of a small amount of medical marijuana for personal use, an indoor set-up is often ideal. If you have a suitable location and the proper climate, however, you can successfully grow cannabis plants in their natural, outdoor environment. Not only will you have more space in a garden or field, but your plants will often get much larger, resulting in even more healing, all-natural medicine. Read on to learn more about growing cannabis outdoors.
Can I Grow Marijuana Outside?
Cannabis is native to tropical climates that receive plenty of sunshine during the growing season, and a good amount of rain, but some breeds also grow in the harsher mountain climates of countries like Afghanistan. By planting the appropriate pure strains, or using hybrids that have been selectively bred for non-native outdoor climates, growers in almost any climate should be able to find a strain that will grow outdoors. If that strain also meets their medical needs, that’s even better.
Is It Better to Grow Cannabis Outdoors?
There are pros and cons to growing cannabis outdoors.
There are currently more than a dozen states in the US that allow planting and growing medical cannabis but elsewhere, growing may still be against the law. Growing outdoors also removes a lot of the control the gardener has over their crop – pests may infiltrate, the vegetative stage cannot be controlled, and storms can cause damage.
Some users, however, state that growing cannabis outdoors enhances both the flavour and aroma of the buds, which for some could be reason enough to tackle this traditional option. Also, though the vegetative state cannot be altered (it’s very difficult to add more light), the flowering stage can be induced by simply covering the plants with blackout cloth during the day.
Best Cannabis Strains for Your Climate
Growing Marijuana in Warm Climates
Location will affect the cannabis strains you can grow outdoors. Those living in warm climates in the southern hemisphere may be able to plant in their garden strains recommended for both outdoor and indoor environments. In cooler climates with shorter summers, however, only strains listed as suitable for outdoor planting should be used. These strains may be native to colder regions, or specifically bred to flower more quickly and withstand lower temperatures.
Best Cannabis Strains for Warm Climates
Growing Marijuana in Cooler Climates
In these colder climates, or those lacking extensive hours of sunshine during the summer, indica and indica-dominant cannabis strains are the best choice for outdoor growing. Additionally, auto-flowering strains may be hardy enough to handle cooler nights, and their shortened flowering time means they’ll be ready before the first frost.
Best Cannabis Strains for Cool Climates
When Should I Plant My Cannabis Outside?
In the northern hemisphere, cannabis gardeners get the best results by planting outdoors in April or May. The shorter days of late summer automatically kick off the flowering period, and the cannabis plants harvested around October.
Whether germinating the cannabis seeds indoors, or planting them straight into the outdoor soil, the seedlings should not be placed in the ground until Spring temperatures have stabilized above freezing. The days should also be getting longer; exposing the seedlings to outdoor conditions when the days are still relatively short can induce flowering time when the vegetative state has barely begun, resulting in little or no yield.
Where Should I Plant Marijuana Outdoors?
When and what to plant is important when growing outdoors, but where to plant is equally essential. The quality of the soil, and the amount of water and daily sunshine will all have an effect on the size and quality of the final yield.
Cannabis plants grown outdoors should be planted in an area that gets unlimited sun for as long as possible every day – a minimum of six hours is required for good results.
South-facing exposure is ideal, with some type of barrier that can protect from wind and other undesirables. Basically, if other sun-loving plants grow well there, the cannabis should do fine. On that note, there should be no issue planting cannabis alongside other plants with similar requirements, as long as the usual care is taken to ensure each plant has adequate growing space.
Environments with plenty of rainfall are well-suited for growing cannabis outdoors. If the plants are being grown in areas that receive less rain, they will need to be hand-watered regularly – in some cases, crystals that absorb excess water and release it during drought conditions can be very useful.
Regardless of how the cannabis plants are watered, when growing outdoors waterlogged roots can be an issue, and can result in mold or lack of oxygen, both of which will be detrimental to growth.
Whether planting cannabis in pots or straight into the ground outdoors, attention should be paid to the soil. Organic fertilizers can add nutrients, and good drainage (see Water, above) and a proper pH should be ensured. The soil should maintain a pH between 5.8 and 6.5 – just acidic. Rocky or clay-based soils should be avoided; the lighter the better. Heavy soils can be made more porous with various mix-ins, an important step to allow cannabis roots to get enough oxygen.
Though cannabis plants generally grow well in pots outdoors – as they do indoors – placing them directly into soil in the ground is considered ideal, as this prevents any space limitations and allows the root system to spread out as it pleases, resulting in a larger plant (and therefore larger yields). If pots are the only viable option for growing your cannabis outdoors, black pots should be avoided, as they can get very hot in that direct sunlight, and make conditions unbearable for the root system within.
Planting Cannabis Seeds Outdoors
You have your seeds and you’re ready to go, so what now?
Cannabis seeds can be germinated (sprouted) outdoors or inside, and there are benefits to each method. By germinating the seeds indoors for their first few days or weeks, the gardener maintains absolute control over the conditions. There is evidence that suggests plants first grown indoors under lamps can actually fare better outdoors later in life.
Sprouting Cannabis Seeds Inside
If you choose to start your cannabis indoors in a pot, they can be transplanted into their permanent outdoor home when the plants are about 6 inches tall, or have developed three or four branches. The small plants should be transferred with all the soil from the pot to ensure the root ball is not disturbed. Once placed, water the cannabis well to ensure it settles into its new, outdoor location without much shock.
Planting Cannabis Seeds Directly into the Soil
Planting cannabis seeds directly into the ground outdoors will avoid any possible damage resulting from transplanting them later on. If you want to give them extra protection, or the weather isn’t quite right yet, the seeds can start beneath a greenhouse tent or under a pane of glass. The seeds should be placed into a small hole (1/4” to 1/2” deep) with the pointy side facing up. The area should be well-watered and kept free of other weeds or plants that might overtake the tiny seedling.
Note: if you plant your cannabis seeds from Growers Choice directly into the soil, you will not be covered by the Growers Choice Germination Guarantee.
Putting Your Cannabis Seedlings in the Earth
Regardless of how your cannabis begins its life, preparing a space for each plant is a good way to ensure their well-being. A hole two feet deep, lined with gravel or stones for good drainage, and refilled with quality potting soil, will create a healthy outdoor bed.
How Much Marijuana Will I Get if I Grow Outdoors?
Let’s talk bottom line.
In the past, gardeners would often germinate up to twice as many cannabis seeds as desired plants, to account for the inevitable males mixed in with the females (the ones that create usable buds). Growers Choice is pleased to offer 100% feminized seeds, so gardeners won’t need to sex their plants and remove the males, but can simply harvest as many usable plants as were first planted. (That said, there is a chance a seed may not germinate for some other reason.)
The actual amount of marijuana you harvest from each plant will vary based on a lot of different factors, including the strain, the amount of light and water, temperature, and soil quality. Generally speaking, you’ll get a larger harvest from cannabis plants grown outdoors than those cultivated in a grow room. How much more is impossible to say, but you can expect at least 100g of fresh (pre-dried) flowers more than the indoor average yield.
How Long Do Cannabis Plants Take To Grow Outside?
Once the cannabis plants are settled outdoors in their permanent growing environment, they must be taken care of just like any other flora. The area must be weeded regularly, and checked for pests. Though additional nutrients are not required, some gardeners choose to add a nitrogen-rich fertilizer as the cannabis grows, to encourage a large and sturdy stem capable of holding many buds. Remember, however, that too much fertilizer is more harmful than too little.
The earlier outdoor-grown cannabis plants were germinated, the larger they’ll get. Depending on the strain, they may double or triple in vertical size once the flowering stage begins, or they may cease upward growth completely after vegetation, expending energy instead on dense clusters of resinous buds.
Growing cannabis outdoors in its natural environment can be challenging, but exciting. Though the grower lacks the control over every aspect, as they would have in an indoor grow room, tending the garden en plein air can be a rewarding experience.