Growing cannabis outdoors might not be as intimidating as you thought!
If you have been considering growing your own cannabis at home, then it makes sense that you’d want to know how to grow cannabis outdoors the right way. After all, the last thing you want is to invest a lot of time and money into marijuana seeds only for them to go to waste.
Once you get the hang of it and have the correct information, growing cannabis at home outdoors can be extremely rewarding. Not only personally satisfying, but it can also save you a lot of money!
In this article on how to grow cannabis outdoors, we’ll cover the following:
- Using Mother Nature to Grow Cannabis Outdoors
- Temperature, Season, Light, and Location
- Planning Your Grow: Seeds or Clones
- Soil and Containers
- Nutrients, Water, Weeds, and Pest Control
- Growing Security
- State and Local Laws
Using Mother Nature to Grow Cannabis Outdoors
Humans have a long and rich history when it comes to cannabis cultivation. So, you won’t be the first person to put some marijuana seeds in the ground and patiently wait for them to grow!
If you’re planning on growing outdoors, especially using cannabis seeds, then you’ll need a few essentials: gardening tools, some high-quality soil, a good water source, and a location that receives plenty of sunlight.
Cannabis has been grown for thousands of years in almost every country in the world. It’s incredibly hardy and adapts well to most climates. However, it’s still susceptible to extreme weather changes. Excessive rain, frost, snow, or high winds can quickly turn a happy and healthy cannabis plant into a dead or dying one.
Before you attempt to grow anything, you must research your local weather conditions and seasons. In addition, you need to know the ideal temperature for your strain of cannabis and pick a planting window to suit it while avoiding, if possible, extreme weather changes. Researching the strains and their ideal growing conditions goes a long way to prevent disappointment later!
Temperature, Season, Light, and Location
The Ideal Temperature
Generally, daytime temperatures between 75 and 85 Fahrenheit (24 and 26 degrees Celsius) are perfect for growing cannabis. If your temperature drops below or rises above this substantially, it can cause a delay in the plant’s growth. Although cannabis is typically considered “heat-tolerant,” extended periods of excessive heat or cold can cause issues.
The Best Season to Plant
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can typically plant your cannabis seeds from early to mid-spring and harvest in mid-fall, depending on the weather. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, then reverse it.
Growers in cold climates may benefit from starting their seeds or clones indoors and waiting until early summer to take them outside. This will protect the delicate seedlings from frost, rain, and cold weather.
You’ll experience more light during the first half of the growing season. Eventually, it will peak around June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere and December 21st in the Southern Hemisphere. While daylight hours are increasing, the cannabis plant is going through its vegetative growth stage. Its growing roots and stems are the foundation the plant will build upon. Once the light peaks and then starts to decrease, the plant will naturally transition into its flowering stage. Typically, once the plant drops below 15 hours of sunlight per day, it will start flowering. You want to give your plant enough time to complete flowering before it starts getting too cold.
The Farmer’s Almanac is an invaluable tool when planning when to plant your cannabis plants.
The Best Location to Plant
Choosing the right location outdoors plays a significant role in how successful your cannabis grow will be. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, go for southern exposure. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you want northern exposure to maximize how much light the plants get. Always plant close to a structure that will provide natural windbreaks. Also, avoid planting in low areas that are easily flooded. Plan for the worst and be prepared to cover your plants if it gets too hot during the day or rains heavily during flowering.
Planning Your Grow: Seeds or Clones
Choosing between seeds and clones is a big decision and significantly impacts how you will time your grow.
Cannabis plants grown from seeds are generally more vigorous and hardier than clones because they grow sturdier taproots. Bigger and deeper roots enable the cannabis plant to deal with environmental stresses and pests better. The only disadvantage to cannabis seeds is that you must allow an extra month to germinate them. But once you do this, the mature plants will be much sturdier and better equipped for outdoor environments than clones. If you choose premium feminized seeds, you also eliminate the need to remove any male plants.
Using clones comes with advantages and disadvantages too. Clones are typically available from local dispensaries and eliminate the need for germination. However, generally, clones develop a fibrous root system not ideally suited to environmental stresses and pests. If you go the clone route, you may need to keep them indoors for a longer period of time while they become more robust.
Soil and Containers
Your soil should be rich in nutrients, dark, and have a fluffy and light texture. It needs to be able to retain water but not become water-logged. Choosing organic potting soil is great, but many experienced growers will mix their own custom soil blend. You want slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.5. Test kits are available to test the pH and nutrient density of the soil.
Containers or In-ground?
One of the advantages of planting into containers is that it gives you the flexibility to move plants quickly around your garden. If you are considering containers, avoid clay pots, as they’re expensive, heavy, and retain a lot of heat. Plastic pots are cheap and lightweight but also retain heat.
The best option for most growers is to use fabric pots. These lightweight, affordable containers allow oxygen to get to the roots quickly, preventing them from rotting or becoming rootbound. They also don’t retain a lot of heat. The only downside is that you’ll need to water more frequently when using fabric pots.
Of course, your container needs to be big enough to accommodate a fully mature cannabis plant. The general rule of thumb is to provide five gallons of container space for every 12 inches of plant growth. Because outdoor plants can often become very large, you’ll likely need to use a larger pot than you would when growing indoors.
Planting directly into the soil requires a bit more preparation but has its own advantages. Without a container limiting growth, roots can grow as deep and thick as they like. Plants also have greater access to water and nutrients from the soil. However, once planted, plants can’t easily be moved. So if the weather becomes inhospitable, you’ll have to find a way to cover the plants rather than simply taking them inside.
Nutrients, Water, Weeds, and Pest Control
Cannabis plants require a wide variety of micro- and macronutrients. Good soil naturally contains plenty of nutrients, but as the plants grow and enter the flowering stage, they may need to be supplemented with additional fertilizer.
The three primary nutrients for growing cannabis are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, often referred to as “NPK.”
- Vegetative Stage – During this stage, cannabis plants need more nitrogen for roots and leaves.
- Flowering Stage – Once the cannabis plants start budding, they need more potassium and phosphorus.
You should avoid all-in-one fertilizers as they often contain too much nitrogen for the flowering stage. Most experienced growers use nutrients specifically for cannabis plants based on their growth stages. You can choose between synthetic nutrients or organic nutrients. Top dressing with organic amendments usually take longer for the nutrients to break down in the soil but provide beneficial microbes which can boost plant growth and health.
Watering Your Cannabis Plants
Learning how to water cannabis plants is another essential skill for both indoor and outdoor growers. How much water your cannabis plant needs will depend on its size, whether it’s in the ground or a container, and environmental conditions, including weather. Typically, larger cannabis plants in hotter climates will use more water compared to smaller plants in colder areas.
How much water your cannabis plant needs will change as the plant enters different growth stages.
- Vegetative Stage – During the vegetative stage, you should water your plants deeply every 1-4 days. When the top inch of soil has dried out, you know it’s time to water again. As the roots grow deeper, plants will need to be watered more frequently, and container plants typically need to be watered more often.
- Flowering Stage – During the flowering stage, especially towards peak flowering, the cannabis plants will suck more water out of the ground and into the flowers. Therefore, they may require additional water during this stage, but be careful not to overwater and avoid watering the plant’s flowers directly.
Wilting plants, branches, droopy leaves, and dry soil are clear signs that your cannabis plant is thirsty! If you have only a few plants, hand-watering is ideal. However, an automatic watering system may be a good investment if you have more plants.
Weeds and Pest Control Outdoors
Growing outdoors inevitably leaves you open to the risk of weeds and pests. It’s unavoidable in a natural outdoor growing environment. However, with a little prior planning, you can avoid many issues. Remember, a healthy cannabis plant is the best defense against weeds and pests. Therefore, the health of the plant should always be a top priority.
Pests could range from deer to rabbits and gophers. It all depends on where you live. Smaller pests include spider mites, slugs, fungus gnats, and many other insects. All enjoy turning a healthy cannabis plant into a delicious snack!
Building an enclosure around your plants will protect them from most larger animals and even smaller critters. Using insect traps, insecticidal sprays, or beneficial bugs can help prevent insects from overtaking the garden. Just make sure to avoid spraying your flowering plants with any chemicals.
Weeds won’t damage your cannabis plants directly, but they compete with the plants for nutrients, sunlight, and water. Remove weeds where possible and place a light layer of mulch around the base of cannabis plants to prevent the weeds from returning.
Where possible, always avoid using synthetic insecticides on your cannabis plants. If used properly, organic pesticides and insecticides are a viable option and much more palatable to use on cannabis you intend on smoking, vaping, or consuming.
Even if it’s 100% legal to grow cannabis outdoors where you are living, basic security measures are a good idea. The last thing you want is to put a lot of time, effort, and money into learning how to grow cannabis outdoors just for someone to come onto your property and steal your plants.
If you live in an urban area, growing cannabis alongside other plants in the garden could be an excellent way to hide it, especially in the early stages. Another idea is to build a screen or fence to keep your cannabis plants out of sight. Just remember not to block the sunlight. However, many cannabis strains can grow taller than average fence heights. Fortunately, there are also specific cannabis strains that have been bred to grow denser, shorter plants that won’t become as tall.
For those that live on more remote properties, keeping cannabis plants away from the main road and tucked away out of sight is still recommended. The fewer people that know you’re growing cannabis, the better. This includes not posting photos of your cannabis plants online or on social media apps. You never know who’s watching!
Another excellent option for outdoor growing is a greenhouse or hothouse. Not only is it a great middle ground between outdoor and indoor growing, but it also helps to keep prying eyes away from your cannabis plants.
A greenhouse will also give you more flexibility regarding when you plant, with some people getting more than one grow-in per year thanks to the added protection of the structure. However, if you don’t already have a greenhouse or hothouse on your property, building one can be a significant financial investment.
State and Local Laws
It’s always important to research your state and local laws regarding cannabis cultivation. Some areas limit the number of plants you can grow or how much cannabis flower you can possess. Some also require home growers to keep their plants in a locked container. So, please don’t take your plants outside until you know it’s legal.
How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors: Conclusion
You can always refer to any of the information in this guide as you embark on your outdoor cannabis-growing adventure. Don’t be afraid to try new things when you grow each successive crop of cannabis. A small change in where you plant or when you harvest can make a big difference in your final yield.
If you have any questions about growing outdoors or want to purchase premium cannabis seeds, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us directly. Our friendly and professional team is always happy to address your questions, and we stock a massive selection of regular and feminized seeds.
What are your top tips for outdoor cannabis growers? Drop a comment below!