How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors – Growing weed or growing marijuana is achievable in most habitable places around the world. In this guide, you will learn how to grow weed outdoors, in the sun or in a greenhouse. Check out our 5 step tutorial and start growing today. How to grow weed outdoors: an intro to outdoor cannabis cultivation Outdoor cultivators take what Mother Nature gives them and turn it into the best possible harvest. Many cannabis consumers
How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors – Growing Weed
With marijuana being legalized or decriminalized in a number of US states and other countries around the world, there are many people who wish to grow their own weed. Indoor hydroponic systems are becoming easier to master and can produce some very satisfying yields, but there is something about letting cannabis plants flourish in an outdoor environment that can be incredibly rewarding. Left to grow naturally marijuana can produce even better yields than indoors and flavors are often said to be more intricate. For those people who prefer things more natural, it is also possible to grow marijuana outdoors in a 100% organic way.
So, for all you budding guerilla gardeners out there, this guide will cover the basics, giving you all the information you need to start growing your own top grade weed outdoors.
Lots of people think that you require a hot, sub tropical climate to grow marijuana outdoors. This is not the case. If you think about the high areas of Central Asia where cannabis originally comes from, the climate can be harsh and often cold at altitude. There are also cannabis strains bred specifically for outdoors in colder climates, such as Early Skunk. Strain selection is a crucial part of a successful outdoor grow, read about it more in the section about cannabis strain selection. With some care and planning you can grow cannabis outdoors from the hottest tropical regions to as far north as Alaska or Scandinavia.
Selecting the right site for your outdoor marijuana grow is of the utmost importance. When considering a potential site you will need to think about the basic requirements of your marijuana plants as well as how you are going to get to and from the site and whether the plants are going to be hidden from view. We have a full section on outdoor growing site selection.
Even though you may live in a place where it is not illegal to grow marijuana outdoors, weather you are growing in your backyard or elsewhere stealth is still one of your primary concerns. Growing marijuana is still a contentious issue to many people, possibly including your neighbors, and some people just don’t like it. There’s always the danger of theft too. Any smoker who happened to stumble upon your lovely ripe plants while out walking in the woods or seeing it over your back fence one day might be likely to help himself to some. If you are growing in your garden, after you consider the best locations in terms of sunlight start thinking how you will conceal the plants. Usually the best way to do this is with other plants such as tomatoes as they grow quickly like your weed will. If you are growing in the woods consider locations that are far away from tracks or paths used by walkers. You might need to get your hiking boots on and head across country, away from people. Dog walkers and hikers get everywhere so look out for signs of their passing and look for places that they might think too awkward to get to. If you live somewhere where there is dense ground cover, it is sometimes possible to worm your way under the foliage to clearings within. Using ‘fox holes’ like this can be an excellent idea as their entrances are easily concealed with branches and leaves. Choosing a site near a stream or brook means that it may be accessed via the water. This is a good way to avoid leaving paths or tracks that clearly show to others where you have been. Farmer’s fields can be useful if you know the area well and know which bits are regularly visited and which aren’t. Field margins are often overlooked and can provide good locations for outdoor grows. However, be careful if there is any chemical spraying going on in the area. Industrial sites should not be ignored either, especially derelict or run down sites. Sometimes these locations can go for years without being visited at all. They often contain hidden away bits of scrap land that are all but forgotten by everybody. There is a more extensive guide to picking a spot in the woods in our guerilla grow guide.
Once you are satisfied with the security of your chosen site, you will have to then consider if it offers all of your plants’ natural requirements. The first of these is sunlight. The more sunlight your cannabis plant gets, the more it will grow. As an absolute minimum, cannabis plants require around six hours of sunlight per day. More would be much better. When selecting a site try to envisage or calculate with a compass how much light it will get throughout the day, and throughout the summer. Note where the sun rises and sets and imagine the arc that it makes, both now and at high summer and into fall. Will your plants get enough light throughout their entire life cycle? Watch out for surrounding plants and if they will shade out your babies now and in the future when they grow, can you cut them back. Remember, if you are checking a site out in spring, there will be a whole lot more foliage come the summer.
If you live in a climate with adequate rainfall then water shouldn’t be too much of a problem. However, if you live somewhere that experiences long dry seasons then a good supply of water is crucial. Near to a river or stream is ideal, but remember that they may flood in spring or autumn. Is there a strand line that shows you where the high water has been? If you are able to, situate a water tank nearby on a slow drip or try stashing some large containers of water nearby so that you can water the plants easily in times of drought. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecasts during your grow. You should know if any adverse weather like a late or early cold snap or long days of hot weather – know beforehand and not get caught out by surprise to find your babies dead.
Check the soil of the site first. Good soil should compact when you squeeze it, be dark brown in color and but should break apart again with only a small amount of pressure. You should know good soil when you see it really; if you have any doubts take a look online for what it should look like. You need the soil to be well drained, try to avoid places with patches of standing water, clay or rocky soil. Cannabis does not like being waterlogged. Look at what else is already growing at the site. If there are plenty of grasses, weeds and nettles then chances are that the location is already blessed with decent soil and water. A soil pH meter is relatively cheap to buy. This is not essential, but the more effort you put in now, the better your weed will be. Cannabis likes a very slightly acidic soil, pH 5.5 -6.5 is ideal. You will be very lucky if you find the ideal soil, but don’t despair. It is easy to improve soil, try digging in a mix of some potting compost, well rotted manure and Perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage and aeration. Cannabis roots need plenty of oxygen so try to lighten heavy, compacted soils. Having selected your site, clear the area completely of weeds. When your plants are young they can easily be swallowed up by indigenous plants so you need to give them a head start. If you are able, dig a hole out for each plant approximately two feet deep and two feet in diameter and line the base with two inches of gravel to enable good drainage. Now fill the rest of the hole with your prepared soil/compost mix. This is a lot of work and to fill it with good potting mix and gravel will take plenty of trips with a heavy backpack. Your site is now ready to take your plants but you still have some more decisions to make.
Indica or Sativa
As stated earlier, the cannabis strain that you choose is going to be crucial to the success of your grow. This is an area where it is worth doing a bit of research. If you live somewhere frost free with an incredibly long growing season you can pretty much choose whatever strain you want. This includes nearly all the indicas and the old school sativas, like the Hazes which have a long flowering period but which can produce immense yields. Climates which are less tropical, but otherwise sunny, like the Mediterranean or the southern states, have less choice. However, you can still grow most indicas and, with modern breeding techniques, you can grow some hybridized sativas such as Silver Haze #9, which is a Haze with a shorter flowering cycle.
Those millions of us without the luxury of such an environment, who live in colder, damper environments, need to be a bit pickier. Although it is mostly indicas that can be grown in these environments, again, some modern hybrid strains allow you to get sativas such as Bangi Haze. Or, you could just work with what you have and select a good indica strain such as Sensi Star, or Holland’s Hope which has been specifically bred for growing outdoors in northern climates.
Autoflowering cannabis strains
The ever increasing amount of autoflowering cannabis strains available is of great interest to the outdoor cannabis grower. Their fast finishing time ensures missing any untimely frosts and their diminutive stature makes stealth much easier. Auto strains get their autoflowering qualities from Cannabis ruderalis genes and many of them are suitable for growing outdoors in cooler conditions. Consider Auto Frisian Dew or Snow Ryder.
Of course, we are not all granted the luxury of being able to pick and choose which strains we grow. Lots and lots of people have great success with growing seeds found in bags of purchased weed. You might not even know what type of cannabis it is, but it’s always worth giving it a go. Nothing ventured – nothing gained. If you do grow bag weed try and identify it as soon as you can. If it grows with thin fingered, light green leaves and long internode lengths it could be sativa dominant and take longer to finish flowering. Dark, thick fingered leaves and a short, squat structure can indicate an indica dominant plant which should flower more quickly.
Clones or seeds?
If you have access to clones then this is nearly always the best decision to make. Clones have guaranteed genetic traits, particularly if you only require female plants. They also give you a head start over seeds by being more developed with existing leaves and a root system. On the other hand, buying seeds from a shop or online resource gives you much more choice over which strain you grow. Buy your cannabis seeds from a reputable source and try to buy the best you can afford. If you do use clones, be sure treat them with care and make sure their roots are properly developed before planting them out.
If you are growing your plants from seed you have the choice of either germinating them at home and then planting them out, or sowing them directly in their final location. The choice is yours and each has its benefits. Germinating them at home gives you more control over the very delicate early stages whereas sowing them directly avoids possible damage when transporting and transplanting them. There are a number of ways of germinating cannabis seeds. Everyone has their own way of doing it. Perhaps the simplest way is to place your seeds between layers of moist (not soaking) tissue paper and put them somewhere warm and dark. Your seeds should crack their shells in just a few days. Let your seedlings develop a small web of roots before potting them on. When they have, get a small pot full of fine potting compost and make a hole in it with the end of a pencil. Carefully place your young seedling into it, making sure that the roots go down into the hole. Sometimes the roots become woven into the fabric of the tissue paper. If this is the case, do not risk damaging them by pulling them apart. Simply cut a small circle out of the paper, around the roots, and put the plant in the pot with the paper still attached. Some people just plant the seeds directly into a small pot and let them sprout naturally. If you do this, try soaking the seed for 24 hours before planting to soften up the shell. If you are going to sow your seeds directly into the ground at your chosen site, simply make a tiny hole in your prepared soil, about ¼” to ½” deep, and pop the seed in it, pointy side up. Make sure that the soil is watered and clear all other plants from the area to give your baby a chance to get going.
If you have started your seed off at home, which is recommended, you will want to plant it out when it is around six inches tall with three or four internodes. Make a hole in your prepared soil that will accommodate the whole contents of the pot without disturbing the roots. Remove the cannabis plant from the pot by turning it upside down and tapping the base. Now place the root ball in the hole and firm it in. Make sure you give it a good drink at this point. Once established your seedlings will soon enter a vigorous vegetative growth stage. From such fragile beginnings plants quickly become full and robust. Unlike growing marijuana indoors, you have no control over the duration of the vegetative growth stage and over the course of a summer plants can become huge. It is a good idea during this phase to feed your plants well with some quality, nitrogen rich, fertilizer. Your cannabis plant is now growing in your carefully selected site. If stealth is important to you, you will want to keep visits to the site to a minimum. If it is safe to visit your site then keep looking and clearing away any plants that begin to encroach on your babies. If you want to grow only female cannabis plants there is one visit that you will not be able to avoid. At some time, probably between the fifth and sixth week of vegetative growth, your plants will display their gender and you will need to act accordingly.
Sexing Your Marijuana Plants
Why sex your marijuana plants?
Whether you remove the males from your grow or not depends on whether you want seeds or sensimilla. Sensimilla literally means ‘without seeds’ and is obtained from female plants that have not been pollinated by males. Instead of putting their energy into seed production, these ‘virgin’ plants put all their resources into THC production and produce weed that is more potent and has no seeds. Of course, you might want seeds to provide for next year’s harvest. If this is the case then you do not need to worry about removing males. Weed with seeds is fine to smoke too. However, if you are like most people you will want to remove those pesky males as soon as possible. To do this you will need to sex your cannabis plants.
How to Sex Marijuana Plants
Before we start talking about preflowers it is worth mentioning that cannabis plants often exhibit their gender before the appearance of preflowers. Male cannabis plants tend to be taller and leggier than females with sparser foliage. Males also have fewer leaf nodes and are often lighter in color than females. If you have plants that fit these descriptions chances are that they are males. The 100% sure way of sexing your plants is by the appearance of preflowers. Sexing is often considered to be one of the trickiest parts of growing your own marijuana, like a lot of things however it is easier than you think and will become easier as you gain more experience. Usually the preflowers will start to show between the fifth and sixth week and appear around the fifth or sixth nodes. Ideally you will need a magnifying glass to get a proper look at them. Female preflowers are small with delicate white hairs protruding. Male preflowers appear as small bumps right on the node. These bumps are the beginning of the male pollen sac. If you have positively identified male plants at your site and you want to produce seedless weed, remove them immediately.
Growing marijuana outdoors means that your plants are open to all the pests and problems associated with outdoor growth. A lot of problems are specific to your locality but there are two major problems that affect marijuana growers everywhere.
Bud rot, AKA grey mold, is properly known as Botrytis cinerea and is a fast spreading necrotic fungis that can destroy a whole cannabis garden in just a matter of days. Most commonly bud rot affects plants during the flowering phase when kolas get big and fat and damp. The first sign is often when a small leaf sticking out from the kola begins to wither and die. A small, localized clump of mold will quickly appear at this site and this can very quickly infect the whole plant. Left untreated bud rot will turn all your flowers to slime. The best way to treat bud rot is prevention. Try to ensure that your growing area is well ventilated with good air circulation. Some people like to spray their plants with an organic fungicide as a matter of course, whereas other seek to avoid this. If you do spray, only do so before the flowers have began to form. Smoking fungicide is dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. If you find bud rot on one of your plants you need to act immediately. Carefully remove the affected section of bud from at least an inch below the mold with a pair of sterilized scissors. Be very gentle with it, shaking it about will spread the millions of spores to other parts of the plant. Place the infected material in a plastic bag and remove it from the site completely. You will now need to check your plants daily, looking carefully for further signs of mold. Try bending the kolas so that you can see the stem underneath. This is where the bud rot starts. If you see any signs of mold remove the affected part of the plant immediately. Because bud rot tends to affect plants during the later part of the flowering period it is sometimes worth cropping the plant early to avoid further contamination. If you only have a week or so to go before your planned harvest date you might want to consider this.
The other universal problem associated with growing weed outdoors is spider mites. These tiny arachnids generally live on the underside of leaves and puncture the leaf cells to feed. They can cause a great deal of damage and an infestation can quickly get out of hand. Small brown and yellow dots and a scorched look to leaves is the first sign that you may have a spider mite infestation. If this is the case, place a piece of white paper underneath the leaf and tap the leaf gently. Are there small, slow moving specks on it? If so, chances are you have spider mites. Spider mites have many natural predators so there is no need to worry too much at first. However, if the problem appears to be getting worse you will need to act. Spider mite infestations on cannabis plants are fairly easy to control with insecticides. You can choose whichever you prefer although most cannabis growers favor the organic ones. There are also lots of recipes for homemade sprays which can help. You can try spraying with a diluted detergent mix at around five tablespoons of detergent per gallon of water. Be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves as well as the tops.
When to Harvest
As you approach the end of your grow and summer turns to fall you will start thinking about harvesting and sampling your handiwork. Don’t get impatient now and spoil it all. Exactly when to harvest your cannabis plants is a subject on which a lot of different people have a lot of different opinions. With some experience and careful observation it is possible to choose the best harvest time to suit your own personal preferences and whether you like an upbeat smoke or a sitting down smoke. Read this article on [the best time to harvest]. It may be that you don’t have the luxury of daily visits to ascertain the exact best moment for you to harvest. If your access to the site is limited you may just have to take them when you can. If the flowers are sticky and swollen and shine with resin and the opportunity for future site visits is in question, then take them. What could go wrong?
How to harvest
This is just about the easiest and most enjoyable part of the whole process. Having decided that it is now time to harvest your weed, simply cut each plant off at its base with a sharp knife. If you have to transport the plant to your house, turn it upside down and place it in a bag until you get home.
Drying and curing
To dry your hard earned cannabis you will need a dark space with good air circulation. Cut off each branch. Trim off all of the fan leaves and the smaller leaves quite close to the buds. Hang the branches upside down, ensuring good air circulation all round. Cannabis will take around a week to dry out properly, depending on the air circulation in your drying area. Some heavy kolas may take longer. Don’t be impatient and smoke your weed when it is still too wet. That harsh, chlorophyll taste doesn’t do justice to the time and effort that you have put into your grow. Once you are happy that your weed is dry, place it in glass jars to cure. You should remove the lid from the jar for around twenty minutes per day for a further week, making sure that your weed is not too cramped in the jar. This final process will cure the weed; improving flavor and making sure there is no danger of mold spoiling your bud.
Read more about Guerilla Grow Guide.
For more information about growing marijuana outdoors, check out these pages:
Site selection and preparation – This is the real key to growing outdoors. Getting the right light, soil and access to important water is crucial and if you are doing a guerilla grow then security is paramount. Seed germination – For an outdoor grow it is best to think ahead and get the seeds germinating indoors so that you have strong seedlings ready for the first good frost free night of Spring. Seedling and vegetative grow outdoors – Getting you marijuana off to a good start will keep hem healthy and strong right through to harvest. Marijuana sexing – When you are growing outdoors and using regular seeds you need to get rid of those pesky males plants as early as you can, here we have a guide on how to do that. Crucial outdoor visits – This is more if you are growing away from home, you will have some crucial visits to be planned. Harvesting marijuana outdoors – This is the end game, the result of all that hard work. Get it right and you will have achieved what many think is the most satisfying smoke out there, organic, sunshine filled marijuana grown by nature herself.
How to Grow Weed Outdoors: 5 Steps (from Seed to Flower)
Let’s face it—there has never been a better time to start learning how to grow weed outdoors (or in a greenhouse) than today.
There are many areas in the world that are famous for having great sun-grown cannabis, most notably Jamaica, California, Oregon and British Columbia. These 4 places reached legendary status in the growing game and here is why:
Lots of sunlight and high temperatures in the summer.
These are important factors when growing outside, so take that into account when planning your outdoor grow.
Later in the article, we’ll go a bit more in-depth about growing weed in soil and why you don’t see that many hydroponic outdoor grows.
But for now, let’s check out the growing equipment you’ll need for growing cannabis outdoors.
Equipment for growing weed outdoors
Cannabis growing equipment can be split into two types:
- Gear that is absolutely essential for growing cannabis
- Optional equipment that will help you produce higher yields
In this case, the most expensive thing on your list will be a greenhouse, and greenhouse prices depend on the type of the structure. I strongly suggest you get a greenhouse as it will make things significantly easier, and while you are at it get a good one.
Don’t be afraid to spend $100 to $200 on a good greenhouse—the last thing you want is to find your plants dead because of hale or vermin.
Essential growing equipment:
- Feminized seeds or clones;
Optional growing equipment:
- pH meter;
- Humidifiers and dehumidifiers;
Which strain is the best for outdoor growing?
Any strain can be grown outdoors, as all cannabis strains were initially grown outside before being brought indoors.
However, not every strain will yield the same results. Some strains are more adept at growing at higher temperatures, while others are used to growing in colder areas, and these plants are usually smaller.
So, naturally we want a strain with good genetics, and that it is traditionally grown outdoors for its potent yield.
Are Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa Really Different?
Best indica strains for outdoor growing
Afghan Kush is one of the most popular Afghani strains. It started gaining in popularity in the ‘90s after US soldiers started bringing seeds home from Afghanistan.
Quickly after, they started crossing them with already established American and Dutch strains, thus the name Afghan Kush.
This strain is unusually tall for an indica, but still not as tall as an average sativa.
Afghan Kush has a decent yield (500-600 grams per plant) seeing how it doesn’t grow over 2 meters (80 inches). Its flowering time is 5-7 weeks. If you decide for this strain watch out for moisture and mold.
The other indica I believe is great for growing outside is Grape Ape, although this one might be a bit harder to grow.
Experienced growers say that this strain is better grown in water as the buds tend to grow bigger with good nutrient management, although growing it in soil works as well.
Some also note that you shouldn’t attempt to grow this strain outside if you don’t have a greenhouse.
Hydroponic Weed Growing Guide: Grow Cannabis at Home (Step by Step)
Best hybrid strains for outdoor growing
Blue Dream is a hybrid cross between Blueberry and Haze, two very well known strains with good lineage and genetics.
Its flowering time is 9-10 weeks, which means that this strain might take a while.
However, don’t give up from growing Blue Dream just yet, as it has a huge upside. If you’ve never trained plants before, you will be able to do so with this one and get an even bigger yield than you might have expected.
Training cannabis plants significantly increases their yield, and this strain reacts well to all types of plant training. Also, Blue Dream can take high levels of nitrogen without burning so you don’t have to go easy on the nutrients.
On average, Blue Dream yields around 600 grams per plant when grown outdoors, with October being the best month for harvesting.
Trainwreck has been around for a minute now, and it is one of the best and easiest strains for growing outside.
It easily grows well over 2 meters and has a very potent yield—one plant can yield as much as 700 grams when grown outdoors.
It takes only about 8 or 9 weeks to flower, and you can also train and top it to further increase its yield. It’s not very susceptible to mold or rot so you should have an easy time growing this bad boy.
Lastly, Pineapple Express has been one of the most-in-demand strains over the last 10 years since the release of the movie that was named after the strain. This strain also takes around 8 to 9 weeks to flower, which is characteristic for crossed strains.
Pineapple Express is reasonably hard to grow in soil, especially outdoors, but the upside once harvested is just ridiculous. Don’t even think about growing this strain outside without a greenhouse as winds are the biggest enemy of Pineapple Express.
How to Grow a Cannabis Bonsai Tree from Scratch (Step by Step)
Best sativa strains for outdoor growing
Sour Diesel is a great pure sativa for growing outdoors because it quickly grows huge and it is fairly resistant to just about everything.
Sour Diesel is known for being more of a weed than a plant, as it can grow uncontrollably, without producing too many buds. You can control this by pruning, training, and topping your plants to keep them from getting out of control.
Also, if growing Sour Diesel outdoors, make sure it’s in a place where you’ll have warm weather until late September or early October, since it usually flowers after 11 or 12 weeks. If you do it right, Sour Diesel can yield around 650-700 grams per plant.
Maui Wowie is a classic Hawaiian strain which is perfect for growing outside. Flowering time is around 9 to 11 weeks and it has extremely big, thick buds and large yields.
Experienced growers say that this plant should be kept at around 25-30℃ and that it can handle high humidity and rain without a problem, so a greenhouse is not necessary for this strain.
Indoor vs outdoor weed growing: Essential differences
Growing cannabis indoors requires a lot of preparation and there are a lot of moving elements that can sometimes be forgotten—like turning your lights on or off.
It is also expensive if you are trying to make a return on investment by growing with high-powered lights to get a bigger yield.
However, the main difference in growing weed indoors and outdoors is in the growing medium, as purely hydroponic systems are basically non-existent in the world of outdoor growing.
Most of the outdoor growing is done in pots with soil, and some even choose to grow their trees from the Mother Earth itself, although I don’t recommend it.
Growing weed directly from the ground is one of the hardest things you can do as you have little-to-no control over your grow unless you plan on digging around your plant every now and then to add nutrients.
Another big difference is that outdoor-grown cannabis usually has lower THC levels as the lack of controlled environment is known to lower the levels of cannabinoids.
Weed grown outdoors is usually a few shades darker than what you’d expect high-grade weed to be, although this also depends a lot on the drying and curing process.
One thing is for sure, indoor grown weed, especially if grown in a hydroponic system, will always have a much stronger skunky smell and taste.
Growing weed indoors requires you to set up everything so that the plant thinks it’s still outside means that you won’t have to do this when growing outdoors, which is another bonus.
Why grow weed in a greenhouse?
Keeping your plants in a greenhouse is a pretty good idea, if you can afford it.
A greenhouse will help you control wind and pests, plus the temperature inside is usually a few degrees higher than the outside, which cannabis plants like.
Without a greenhouse, you risk weather harming your plants, as well as other unexpected things such as uninvited visitors.
I generally strongly advise in favor of getting a greenhouse because the control you get far outweighs the extra money you spend on it.
Greenhouse growing especially makes things easier when growing indica strains.
If you plan on growing Blue Dream or Trainwreck you won’t need it, but consider getting one for Pineapple Express.
If you plan on growing one of the sativa strains I recommended, don’t use a greenhouse as both Sour Diesel and Maui Wowie tend to grow huge and will quickly outgrow it.
How to grow weed outdoors (step by step)
As I already wrote an extensive article (and an eBook) about growing weed in soil (although in that instance I wrote about indoor growing), there isn’t much to be added here.
All the basic things that were mentioned in that article can be applied to this situation as well.
So, if you feel that I’ve skipped some important steps in my step-by-step guide here, feel free to fill in the gaps by peeking at the article linked below.
How to Grow Weed Indoors for Beginners [Follow-Along Guide]
1) Prepare your grow
Make sure to choose a perfect location for your grow as this will have a big impact on the end result.
Keep in mind that you want your plants to get a lot of light, but not too much wind.
You will also need to prepare your pot by mixing Supersoil and Perlite (or something similar) in order to give your soil some air.
Adding a little bit of coco coir will also do wonders for the soil, as it will give roots more space to grow and they will be supplied with oxygen much more.
Now, I’ve also seen people growing in the ground, digging up pits and using them several times over for multiple grows. They reported having twice as big yields as when compared to growing in pots. However, this will expose your plants to numerous problems which can sabotage your grow, such as pests and bigger animals like cats and birds.
Mix 2 parts of your Supersoil with one part Perlite in the pot, as this ratio will give your plants the best access to oxygen through their roots.
2) Germinate seeds
Germinating is when a young plant leaves its seed and starts developing into an “organism” of its own. It is very simple to do this, and the only thing to keep in mind is that healthy cannabis seeds should float in water, and sink after spending some time in the water as they absorb it.
If you still don’t know how, here are 3 ways to germinate seeds.
After you’ve germinated and planted your seeds, all you have to do is wait for the plant to grow.
If you’re going with a clone, put it in a pot with some dirt and, voila, you just potted your first plant.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds: Three Easy Methods
3) Water your plants
Water them whenever you feel that the top of the soil is dry and make sure that the water isn’t collecting at the bottom of the pot.
Make sure you don’t over-water the pot with the seed. Overwatering is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Here are my 5 general rules of watering cannabis plants:
- Flush soil before planting;
- Water whenever you feel that the top of the soil is dry;
- Bigger pots — water less often, smaller pots — water more often;
- Make sure you have appropriate draining (to avoid overwatering);
- Flush soil two weeks before harvesting, and stop adding additives (nutes and ferts).
Never forget to add nutrients and fertilizers to your water when it’s time to do so. If you don’t add a growing fertilizer in the vegetative stage, your plant might not grow enough, or it might grow too slowly.
If you forget the blooming fertilizer, your plants will have smaller flowers which won’t weight that much, and you won’t have as big a yield as you might have expected.
4) Train your plants
After they’ve grown and started looking like real plants and not just some dandelions, start training plants to get bigger yields.
There are several plant training techniques, however, topping is the most popular one if you’re growing big outdoor plants. Check out the post below for more info.
Monster Cropping: 5 Ways to Increase the Yield of Your Cannabis Plants
Outdoor-specific plants are also perfectly suited for topping, as these strains are known to grow to monstrous sizes. Some strains, especially hybrids with a higher sativa presence, are known to grow extremely tall, easily over 3m (10 feet) tall.
Now, if you were to top these plants, you could easily increase the yield by two or maybe even three times, depending on how skilled you are in training plants.
Having one plant with which you can play around and practice your training techniques will prove to be very much worth your time and effort, as knowing how to train plants is a great skill to have.
You can’t learn this in school, only through practice.
5) Don’t forget pesticides
This is a huge mistake many people make.
Add growing and blooming fertilizer to your water when watering the plants.
You’ll also want to get pesticides in case your plants are harassed by animals, especially insects. Keeping your plants protected is a must, which is why I always say getting a greenhouse is a good idea.
Once you get the hang of how simple growing weed outdoors can actually be, you’ll forget all about wanting to grow it inside, in complex hydroponic systems.
As I’ve mentioned before, cannabis grown in water usually has a stronger smell, and can often taste a bit like the chemicals used for fertilizing the plants. These plants are also usually smaller than outdoor ones and have a bigger yield due to the controlled environment.
Cannabis grown in soil smells much more pungent and has a nice aftertaste. Plants tend to grow huge, sometimes over 4 meters, and even up to 6 meters if kept in the vegetative stage for long enough.
Soil-grown plants can be a bit tough to control or even harvest on your own due to the sheer size of their colas and nugs. I’ve heard stories of people harvesting a whole pound easily off a 3.5m tall plant, so you can see why little investment in plant training can go a long, long way.
Enjoy growing outside and feel free to send us pics of your outdoor grow!
How to grow weed outdoors: an intro to outdoor cannabis cultivation
Outdoor cultivators take what Mother Nature gives them and turn it into the best possible harvest. Many cannabis consumers prefer marijuana grown outdoors under the full spectrum of natural sunlight. That unique spectrum creates a greater variance of cannabinoids and terpenes than artificial lighting.
Cannabis has been cultivated outdoors for thousands of years, but before you go putting a seedling in the ground, it’s best to know how the process works and how to make the most of Mother Nature’s gifts. You should also have some idea of how to handle those unwanted gifts you’d rather return — pests and weeds.
How to grow marijuana outdoors
To grow cannabis outdoors, the bare minimum required is basic gardening tools, soil, water, and a spot in your backyard that receives ample sunlight.
Using Mother Nature to cultivate cannabis
Cannabis is a hardy plant that has adapted to climates all over the world. From the cool and arid mountains of Afghanistan to the humid regions of Colombia, over time the plant has been forced to adapt its defenses against a host of problems. But cannabis is still susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Whether it is heavy winds breaking branches or excessive rain causing mold, the great outdoors presents challenges to growers that can be mitigated with sufficient planning.
Becoming intimately familiar with your local climate and seasons is one of the most important steps in producing high-quality outdoor marijuana. Before you grow, you’ll need to know the ideal temperature your plants require in order to thrive, the best site, optimal timing of planting and harvesting, and the season’s photoperiod — the amount and intensity of light available through the duration of the growing season.
Some cannabis genetics have adapted to specific climates and are capable of growing more easily in certain conditions than others, so pay very close attention to the cultivars, or strains, that you choose. A little research will go a long way in ensuring you have a successful harvest.
While cultivars may vary, here are some general rules that will be useful no matter which one you choose.
Daytime temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9 to 25.4 degrees Celsius) are ideal for cannabis, while temperatures above 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31.1 degrees Celsius) or below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius) can delay growth. Cannabis is considered heat-tolerant, but sustained highs and extreme lows will usually lead to complications that could eventually kill your plants.
In the Northern Hemisphere, cannabis can be planted in early to mid-spring and harvested in mid-fall, depending on the cultivar. In the Southern Hemisphere, the growing season will be reversed with planting in early to mid-fall and harvesting in the middle of spring.
During the first half of the season, the daytime period increases until the summer solstice, which occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on or around June 21 and in the Southern Hemisphere on or around December 21. While the daylight hours increase, the plant’s vegetative stage takes place. During vegetation, the plant will develop the roots and stems that will serve as the foundation for growth until flowering.
After the solstice, the available daylight hours decrease, allowing the plant to naturally transition into the flowering period. Cannabis is a short-day plant, meaning it will begin to flower as the nights get longer and the hours of sunlight decrease.
Most cultivars will begin to flower once they receive fewer than 15 hours of sunlight per day. The latitude of your garden has a direct impact on how many hours a day your plants receive light.
Plan to put plants in the ground based on the temperature, season, and light where you live so your cannabis plants have time to finish flowering before cold, rainy weather sets in.
Choosing the best site for outdoor cannabis
Determining the optimum location is another important factor that can affect the yield and quality of your plants. Cultivators in the Northern Hemisphere should attempt to place their plants in an area with southern exposure to ensure their plants are getting the most available sunlight. The opposite is true for the Southern Hemisphere.
When possible, use natural structures and formations in your garden as windbreaks to prevent excessive stress on your plants that could lead to branches breaking.
If you live in a climate with exceptionally hot and sunny days, use shade cloth to prevent your plants from overheating. In cold areas, natural enclosures and cement or brick walls can be used to help retain any available heat and keep your plants warm.
Depending on your location, you may need to plan for rain. In most regions, the rainy season is typically aligned with the end of the flowering stage and the start of the harvesting period, but this may not always be the case. Rain can be detrimental to an outdoor flowering crop so being prepared to cover or move plants can help ensure a successful harvest. If it does rain on your plants, make sure to immediately shake off any excess water, as lingering moisture can lead to the formation of mold and nobody likes moldy weed.
Planning your garden
Seeds vs. clones
Deciding whether to start with seeds or clones will change the timing and manner by which your plants are introduced to the outdoors.
Plants grown from seeds are typically heartier and more vigorous than clones, as they produce a sturdier taproot that clones are not able to replicate. The vigor that comes from deep roots can be an advantage when dealing with harsh environmental conditions and pest pressures. The disadvantages of growing seeds are the additional attention required to germinate the seeds, the necessity to eliminate any males before they pollinate the females, and the high variability in growth characteristics that results from their genes.
Plants grown from seeds are typically heartier and more vigorous than clones, as they produce a sturdier taproot that clones are not able to replicate. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
If you decide to use seeds, make sure you start them about a month before you would typically start clones to give them time to germinate and adequately develop their taproot.
There are also many advantages and disadvantages of using clones. They can often be found at your local dispensary, are from a proven genetic lineage, and typically do well outdoors, making them the perfect choice for inexperienced growers. On the other hand, clones develop a fibrous root system, as opposed to the deep taproots that seeds develop. Fibrous root systems can reduce the plant’s ability to deal with environmental stress and predatory insects.
Whether using seeds or clones, many cultivators start growing their plants indoors to ensure they are not exposed to damaging weather conditions as they develop their initial root system. The plants can be transitioned outdoors when the weather and light conditions are ideal. Extending the indoor vegetative growth period can help increase yields and allow growers time to select the best plants to be moved outdoors.
Quality soil should be dark, rich in nutrients, and have a light and fluffy texture. The structure of your soil should be capable of retaining water but also allow for drainage of any excess. Organic potting soil blends from your local garden center will do just fine, but more advanced growers prefer to blend their own organic super soil from scratch. The soil itself should be slightly acidic with a pH of around 6. This can be tested with a soil pH meter or test kit.
Container gardens can be convenient as they can be moved around the garden to maximize sunlight or protect them from harsh conditions Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Containers vs. in-ground
Container gardens can be convenient as plants can be moved around the garden to maximize sunlight or protect them from harsh conditions such as rain, heavy winds, or extreme temperatures.
Avoid clay pots as they can be costly, heavy, and retain heat that could dry out the plant’s soil and roots. Fabric pots are the least expensive and most effective solution, as they allow for ample drainage and plenty of oxygen to get to the roots. Plastic containers are also light and inexpensive but tend to retain more heat than fabric pots. Flowering plants need a container that is at least 5 gallons (18.9 liters) to prevent them from outgrowing their containers and becoming rootbound.
Planting directly into the ground or a raised bed requires a bit more preparation but has its benefits as well. Without a container to restrict growth, roots can grow deep and thick to support a strong plant. The added surface area also allows the plant to access a greater quantity of nutrients and water in the soil, compared with a container garden. The major downside is that the plants cannot be moved and could require additional structures to protect them in the case of extreme weather.
Cannabis requires more nutrients than many of the other plants you may have in your garden. Quality soil contains enough organic nutrients to start the growth cycle, but as your cannabis plant grows and transitions into flowering, it may deplete the available nutrients and require additional fertilizers.
The three primary nutrients required for cultivating marijuana are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
During the vegetative phase, plants need more nitrogen in order to create the roots and leaves that serve as the base for flowering. During the start of the flowering cycle, the plants will require more phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen. Towards the end of the flowering cycle, once the majority of the nitrogen has been depleted, the plants will focus their attention on using the remaining nutrients. The lack of nitrogen is largely responsible for the vibrant purple and orange hues that can be seen on large fan leaves and throughout the plants’ colas.
Avoid all-in-one fertilizers as they can be too high in nitrogen for the flowering cycle and damage any beneficial microorganisms that may be present in the soil. Instead, choose a line of nutrients created specifically for cannabis, and use its suggested feeding charts to avoid over- or under-feeding. Organic sources of nutrients are best, as they are a great source of beneficial microbes, but they may take longer to break down and become available to the plant. Both types of nutrients can be found in dry, pre-blended powders or liquid emulsions, but can also be made from scratch with the right ingredients. Organic compost tea, which includes nutrient-rich ingredients, like molasses and earthworm casting compost, is a popular homemade brew for cannabis farmers.
Organic sources of nutrients include alfalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, bat guano, fish emulsion, dolomite, and earthworm castings. Each contains different ratios of nutrients that can be used for different phases of the plants’ growth cycle.
The amount of water a plant needs largely depends on its size, the size of its container, the soil type, and general environmental conditions such as the weather and the intensity of the sun. Larger plants in warmer environments tend to use more water than smaller plants in cooler weather. The amount of water needed will change throughout a plant’s life cycle.
During the vegetative stage, water your plants thoroughly, then not again until the top 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) of soil has dried out. This can be every day or every four days, depending on conditions, but the time between watering will become shorter as the plant grows its roots. Container gardens tend to dry out faster than soil beds, so they’ll need to be watered more frequently.
Wilting plants and dry soil are a direct sign that plants need water. Droopy leaves along with wet soil are a sign of overwatering. Both are common mistakes and can be avoided with some practice.
For a small garden, hand-watering is the easiest, cheapest way to go. It also allows you to get familiar with each cultivar’s needs, and gives each plant the exact amount of water it requires. Irrigation systems can be convenient for a large number of plants or for times when you cannot be in your garden.
Pest and weed control
Pests and wild plants are an inevitable occurrence when cultivating cannabis outdoors. Most issues can be avoided with proper planning. Clearing a buffer area around your plants can go a long way, but your first line of defense is a healthy plant that can defend itself naturally.
Pests come in many forms, from large deer and gophers to small slugs and spider mites. Larger animals and pets can be kept out of the garden with fencing, while gopher wire beneath your soil beds can keep rats and gophers from eating the plants’ roots. Weeds will not damage cannabis, but they will compete for the nutrients in the soil and reduce the quality and yield of your crops. A light layer of mulch on top of your soil can prevent weeds from sprouting in the middle of your plants’ cycle.
Avoid spraying synthetic insecticides on your cannabis plants as further research is needed to determine the health effects of smoking plants treated with synthetic chemicals. Organic pesticide and insecticide solutions can be effective if used properly. If you can avoid it, it is always best to not spray anything on your plants while they are flowering.
Beneficial insects, fungi, and bacteria can also be used to protect your plants from their parasitic or predatory counterparts. Jumping spiders, ladybugs, and other native, beneficial predatory insects can clear your crop of insects such as aphids and whiteflies. When sourcing beneficial insects, fungi, or bacteria, it’s important to research those which are native to your region.
Even if it is legal to grow cannabis outdoors where you live, you should still take some precautions to hide the plants from public view. And it’s often required by law. You can grow your cannabis plants among other plants in your garden to hide them in plain sight. Cannabis can easily grow taller than your average fence, though. Training techniques can help keep your plants shorter. The fewer people who know you are growing cannabis, the better. The ideal situation is to have your grow tucked away on a piece of land where your plants can truly flourish away from prying eyes and nosy neighbors.
Greenhouses can be a great middle ground between the complexities of an indoor setup and the uncertainty of growing outdoors. They provide ample protection from the elements and use far fewer resources than an indoor grow. Greenhouses can be more costly than an outdoor garden and require more planning, but they also allow you to extend the growing season considerably.
Greenhouses also offer growers the ability to harvest more than once per year, if they are equipped with a light deprivation system. These systems allow growers to control the hours of sunlight their plants receive, much like turning lights on and off in an indoor garden, by covering the greenhouse with a black tarp that deprives the plants of sunlight.
Greenhouse structures range from inexpensive polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubes, often called “hoop houses,” to highly engineered, fully automated, and purpose-built steel greenhouses. Due to their efficiency, greenhouses are quickly becoming the preferred growing method for many large-scale cultivators.
Final thoughts on successfully growing cannabis outdoors
Keep this info in mind as you embark on your cannabis-growing adventure. The smallest adjustments can make all the difference — planting a week earlier, a week later, watering less, watering more, etc.
Quality soil is crucial to the success of your crop and one of the few factors that you have control over when growing outdoors.
Timing is key. A short vegetative phase can cause cannabis plants to flower early, while a long vegetative phase can prevent your plants from finishing their flowering cycle if the weather takes a turn for the worse. The Farmer’s Almanac is a reliable source for planning around the seasons and preparing your crop for success.
Practice makes perfect, so always keep a grow journal and make sure to record any mistakes and wins along the way. Maintaining a record can help ensure you will have successful future harvests.