Top 9 Tips for Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Growing cannabis outdoors is not as simple as just throwing some seeds in the ground and hoping they grow. To ensure a good harvest, outdoor growers should do some research—analysing the local soil, preparing the site, and thinking about appropriate pest-control methods—and a great deal of maintenance.
Naturally, we all have our favourite strains, which we can’t wait to plant after the cold, tough and long winter months. Each situation is certainly unique, with the circumstances of someone living in Russia being different from those of someone living in Spain. Even so, there are enough varieties to be enjoyed in every corner of the globe.
Once you’ve chosen your favourite cannabis seeds, the first step is obviously to germinate them. It goes without saying that this must be done correctly, as otherwise the seeds will be useless. Be patient and bear in mind that some seeds may need a bit more time to sprout. For best results, follow this germination method.
The good thing about cultivating outdoors – and which makes us appreciate spring – is that, among other things, you can obtain considerable crops with a minimum of investment. And in times like these, who doesn’t want that?
Once we are clear on the conditions that we need – the right environment, the right growing spot, the outdoor growing method, and the variety that best suits our needs – we can get started.
1. Pick the right strain when growing cannabis outdoors!
It is important to choose the right strain of cannabis when growing outdoors. Depending on your location and climate, you may be limited in your choice of strain.
For example, if living in regions in the far north or south of the globe, where year-round temperatures are cool and summer growing seasons are short, you will need to choose strains that are acclimated to such conditions. Picking the right strain means curating your strain choice to suit the climate that you will be growing in.
Outdoor cannabis strains for cold temperate climates
Those who live in colder temperate climates, such as Northern and Eastern Europe, have to choose their strains accordingly. Summers are short and winter frosts are strong enough to destroy any cannabis crop. Therefore, timing and strain choice are essential.
Strains ideal for this kind of climate include Early Skunk Feminised and Jamaican Pearl. They are hardy strains with early flowering times.
Outdoor cannabis strains for warm temperate climates
Those who live in warmer temperate climates have a little bit more freedom when it comes to growing cannabis. In fact, the majority of commercial strains have been developed for growing specifically in warmer climates. Mild winters and long summers is the perfect growing condition for cannabis.
Those living in warmer climates can grow almost any strain. Both sativa dominant varieties and indica dominant varieties can be grown.
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2. Start your plants indoors if possible
It is advisable to germinate your seeds indoors, and allow your plants to grow in pots for at least a week or two under artificial lighting (which could be a simple household CFL light) or on a windowsill.
This will protect your seedlings from being eaten by birds or insects while they are young and tender, as well as giving them a head-start if outdoor conditions are still a little too cool.
When it’s time to expose your young plants to the outdoor world, it is advisable to go through a period of ‘hardening-off’ so that your plants gradually become accustomed to the change in environment.
At first, out your plants outside for a few hours at a time, and be sure to keep them sheltered from the elements.
After a week or so of increasing exposure to outdoor conditions, they will be hardy enough to be left outside full-time, either in pots, bags, or in holes dug into the soil.
3. Choose soil or pots for outdoor growing
Every grower gets to choose whether they will sow their seeds or seedlings directly into the ground or whether they will be cultivated in pots. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages, so let’s focus on the pros of each growing method.
Advantages of growing in soil
- Unrestricted access to nutrients and moisture from the ground
- Plants can reach maximum height as there is no restriction on root growth
- Maximizes yield
- Keeps costs low as there is no need to purchase pots
Advantages of growing in pots
- Flexibility to move plants around
- In the case of extreme weather, pots can be moved indoors
- Easier to conceal a growing operation
- Maximum control over the size and growth rate of plants
- Ensures no contamination of soil from surrounding environment
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4. Good soil is crucial when growing cannabis outdoors
Making sure your soil is prepared correctly is perhaps the most fundamental aspect of outdoor growing.
Soil should be checked to determine pH, and if it is too low or too high then additives such as lime (to increase pH/make more alkaline) or sulphur (to decrease pH/make more acidic) must be mixed in.
Consistency of soil is also important—too much clay, and soil will be sticky and will drain poorly; too much sand, and drainage may be too rapid.
Cannabis prefers loamy soil, or soil that consists mainly of sand and silt with a lower ratio of clay (around 40%-40%-20% silt-sand-clay is a good rule of thumb).
As well as this, soil fertility is important. Does the soil support a large amount and diversity of vegetation?
If not, adding mulch or manure is a good way to invigorate soil and increase the levels of available nutrients for your plants. If soil is poor, or if you just want to go the simple and hassle-free route, you can buy commercial soil, and even grow your plants in pots—or dig them into the ground, but keep them in bags so they are not exposed to surrounding soil.
5. Pick the right spot
The ideal spot for growing cannabis outdoors will be sunny, sheltered, well-irrigated, and will have good drainage. It will also be far enough off the beaten track that little human activity occurs in the vicinity—so no popular hiking trails or logging roads, for one thing!
A forest clearing that receives a good amount of sunlight and is sheltered from wind (as well as prying eyes!) is ideal; mixed broad-leafed forest is preferable to coniferous, as soil in the vicinity of coniferous woodland is often very acidic.
If you are growing in hilly terrain, aspect is an important and often-overlooked factor. Just as a south-facing balcony is preferable for apartment growers, a south-facing hillside is ideal for outdoor grows as it maximizes hours and intensity of sunlight.
The angle at which the sun’s rays strike the surface of the planet varies from the perpendicular according to latitude; in the northern hemisphere a south-facing spot will receive more sunlight, and in the southern hemisphere, a north-facing garden is preferable for the same reasons.
If you’re at all doubting your spot (for any reason), it is perhaps better to put your plants in pots. This way, you can move your plants around as necessary until you find the optimum spot to grow your cannabis plants. If you put them in the ground too soon, you won’t have the liberty of transporting them in the case of extreme weather or sub-optimal conditions.
6. Pick the best time to grow outdoors
In most climate zones, you should be aware of changes in seasonal temperature, rainfall and hours of daylight. If you live in the temperate zones, the change in daylight hours is considerable between seasons. This acts as a cue to photoperiod-dependent cannabis varieties to either perform vegetative growth (during the long days of late spring and early summer) or commence flowering (when the hours of daylight drop in the latter half of summer).
If you attempt vegetative growth in early spring, hours of daylight may still be short enough to induce flowering, so it is best to wait until at least mid-April (northern hemisphere) or mid-October (southern hemisphere) to put out your seedlings.
If you live in particularly warm climates, you may be able to achieve more than one harvest in a year; in locations near the equator, this should definitely be achievable by taking advantage of the year-round warm temperatures and intense sunlight.
If located in a tropical region that experiences seasonal monsoons, it is best to avoid this time of year due to the increased risk of mould.
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7. How to take care of outdoor plants
It is important to check on your plants relatively frequently, especially if growing outdoors in pots that do not have access to groundwater in the soil.
If temperatures are hot, your plants will drink a great deal of water as they grow, and it is vital to ensure that they receive sufficient water to ensure that they grow vigorously and do not dry out. As well as this, checking your plants frequently will alert you to any problems, such as pests or nutrient deficiencies.
If you are unable to access your plants on a regular basis due to security concerns, it is possible to set up a drip-feeding system so that your plants remain hydrated.
8. Pick the best time to harvest outdoor plants
Harvest time is the moment of glory where growers finally get to enjoy the fruits of their labour. With that being said, many novice growers actually compromise the quality of their final product by harvesting too early (due to impatience) or too late (due to complacency or miseducation). So, dear growers, never underestimate the importance of the harvest stage.
In general, there are two things most important when you’re trying to figure out when to harvest:
- The variety of cannabis you are growing
- What you have observed when monitoring your buds during their flowering
When you purchase a seed or packet of seeds, there is usually an indication as to the flowering time of that particular variety of cannabis. This is a good place to start if you are a little bit confused about when to harvest.
However, the most effective way to know when to harvest outdoor plants is by inspecting them. You will probably need a magnifying glass to do this successfully. There are two things you should be observing very closely when your buds are nearing the end of their flowering period:
- The colour of the pistils (small hair-like protrusions from the buds)
- The colour of the trichomes (tiny, crystal-like resinous spheres that coat the buds)
The pistils will slowly begin to change colour from white to a dark reddish, brown colour. If you want to harvest when THC levels are at their maximum, at least 60% of the pistils should have darkened and curled in towards the bud. If you want to harvest with maximum CBN (more calming, less psychoactive effects), then you should wait until 70-90% of the pistils have darkened and curled inwards.
You may also inspect the trichomes to assess whether it is harvest time or not. When your plant first starts developing these resinous trichomes, they will be clear upon inspection with a magnifying glass. They will slowly turn from clear to an amber/golden colour. This is when THC levels are at their maximum. When around 30% of the trichomes have become amber, it is a good time to harvest. If the trichomes turn grey or withered, the optimum harvest window has passed.
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9. Practice makes perfect
It might all look very daunting – but don’t be overwhelmed. Growing cannabis is a rewarding experience. It isn’t simply about harvesting and enjoying your final product – it’s also about learning more about a plant that human beings have used and loved for millennia.
If you’re growing outdoors for the first time, it is safe to say that you won’t get it perfect the first time. The only way to make your grow operation perfect is to practice endlessly! Don’t let some of the challenges discourage you from your outdoor grow operation. Nobody got good at anything overnight!
All that is now left to be said is good luck with outdoor growing, and happy smoking!
31 thoughts on “Top 9 Tips for Growing Cannabis Outdoors”
Having picked the right strain, found the right spot and planted at the best time, it’s good to remember during the vegetative stage, when stems are branching and leaves are proliferating, that the focus should be on growing a bush with a good skeleton. As the bush grows, prune and trim for a sturdy and open shape that allows for air flow with minimum resistance and maximum light throughout the bush.
When the bush begins to flower, trim leaves and prune it into a chandeliered bouquet. This will be a continuing process. Begin by cutting off all leaves that have visible stems, an easy but on-going task as the plant continues growing leaves while the flowers develop.
As the flowers ripen, they become sticky and so do the still remaining leaves. The fewer leaves left at harvest time, the easier the final manicuring for buds will be.
So again, grow a bush with a good, bright and airy skeleton. When the bush begins flowering, trim and prune for a bouquet of blossoms.
Thanks for your comment and for sharing your gardening tips! We really appreciate it when our readers contribute their experience, it enriches the blog for everyone.
With best wishes,
i was searching for flowering time zones and got what i was trying to find
Was wondering why you don’t ship to Canada ??
Current legal restrictions prevent some products, including seeds, being shipped to Canada. We are aware of the current changes in legislation there, and are keeping a close eye on the situation. Rest assured that as soon as it’s legal, we will look into the possibilities! In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.
With best wishes,
Not much. Was searching for ‘flowering time’ zone 8, and I end end up with a pile a bullshit I didn’t need
Damn, Glen. So you took the time to spread some sweet negativity about such a sour situation life handed you today?
I think your hostile customer complaint needs to be taken up with your search engine, or the user itself, but probably not here.
And I do hope you find what you’re looking for so you can grow some weed and smoke it and chill out. Or maybe try one of those pills around, think they’re called “Chill Pills.” Or just breathe Glen. Breathe. In and out. Focus on your breath. That’s it, one breath at a time. Let the tension in your body relax. The universe is perfect as it is. Breathe. You are a beautiful creature. In and out, keep your mind focused on your breath and let everything else go. Just let go. It’s okay Glen. We all love you. Just breathe.
Hey man , I live in Canada and have 4 plants in my garden ( legal limit to grow ) and its now about 3 months since the very beginning. each plant is close to 3 ft tall planted into the garden soil and looking very healthy, im just looking for tips on if i should do anything to help produce as much Bud ( flower ) as possible such as trimming leaves off the top or adding more fertilizer ( bought pre-mixed fertilzer/soil when i first moved the plants from a red solo cup into a larger planter) , i still think i have about 1-2 months until the process is 100% complete. Any tips would be helpful.
Unfortunately, legal restrictions mean we can’t answer grow related questions or give grow advice on this blog. However, we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can browse through questions and share the experiences of a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts. Also, other readers of this blog will often answer questions like yours. Sorry I can’t be of more help, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!
With best wishes,
Like the tips love the weed never done any sensi seeds will try next year it’s green house seeds this year in honor of Franco rip brother the doctor cannabis straining awesome!
First time reader first time poster. This article pure gold, people would pay $ for this info. I wish I could be just like the author 😀
I planted to early my seedlings didnt start flowering to ypung but stunted it seems stoped growing will they continue as normall eventually
Unfortunately, legal restrictions mean we can’t answer grow related questions or give grow advice on this blog. However, we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask questions and share your experiences with a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts, so please don’t hesitate to join the community!
Solely planting some cannabis seeds and waiting for them to grow just won't cut it (pun intended). Follow these 9 crucial tips for growing outdoors!
Stealth Ideas for Growing Weed Outdoors
Always consider stealth when growing cannabis outdoors! Not only is law enforcement a consideration, it’s common for thieves to steal plants right before harvest time!
Outdoor growing has some incredible benefits, including the availability of free light. Light is like food for cannabis plants and in the flowering stage, the amount of bud produced is directly proportional to the amount of light received by the plant (especially at the bud sites). The plant is converting light energy into buds.
Sunlight provides free energy for growing cannabis plants. No need to spend money on electricity to power your grow lights!
Indoor growers have to provide all their own light, typically by using specialized grow lights. However, grow lights produce heat and use a lot of electricity (how much electricity does it take to grow weed indoors?), and indoor grow rooms need a space that’s easily hidden to visitors yet has easy access to water.
When it comes to outdoor growing, instead of setting up a grow room, your job is to pick the perfect place to grow weed. This is one of the most important things you can do not only for plant health, but also for stealth and security!
Not only is this extremely not stealthy, light from the window will likely prevent the plant from flowering (making buds). Light pollution is a common problem when growing outdoors on your own property. Plants need complete darkness at night to start making buds!
Outdoor Stealth – Growing on Your Property
Growing on your own property is much more convenient than hiking to a remote grow spot, but the stakes are much higher because if the plants are spotted it’s easy to determine that you are the owner. Make sure to take every precaution!
Hide Plants from View
Think about looking into your yard from outside the grow space. You want to go outside and make sure that plants are not visible from someone’s window, from the street, a neighbor’s yard, etc.
Camouflage your plants!
In addition to making sure no one can see your plants, it’s still a good idea to try to camouflage them so that if someone is on your property for some reason, the plants don’t obviously stick out.
This grower actually cuts the tips off all the leaves of their plant in order to make them look less like typical leaves. This is pretty effort-intensive, but there’s no doubt they look less like cannabis plants!
There are some interesting “stealth” strains that naturally don’t look like typical cannabis plants, which can also help increase the illusion.
This is a Frisian Duck plant in the vegetative stage. “Duck” or “Duckfoot” strains have 3-finger leaves which makes them look less like cannabis leaves. As a result, these strains can look like other types of plants at first glance.
Plant bright flowers nearby, so it looks like the cannabis plant is producing the flowers.
Consider planting your cannabis in a decorative planter or container that causes it to grow in non-typical growth patterns. Adding flowers to some of the empty pots would complete the illusion.
This marijuana plant has been placed in the middle of an area that naturally has lots of trees and other types of vegetation.
Even having a few plants nearby will make a big difference compared to growing the cannabis plant all by itself.
Some growers put plants in a greenhouse or other outdoor structure that lets light in but obscures the inside from view.
A greenhouse can not only help keep plants warm in cool climates, they help obscure the plants. Some greenhouses are built opposite this one, with opaque sides and a clear top so sunlight comes from above yet plants can’t be seen from the sides.
However, consider that a greenhouse might look suspicious if it’s all by itself in the middle of the yard, especially if you don’t typically do a lot of yard work or gardening
Keep plants shorter than your fence!
Change Natural Growth Patterns with Bending
Consider bending or otherwise altering the overall shape of the plant so it has less of a “Christmas Tree” shape, which is the most typical shape for cannabis plants grown naturally. This change of shape can cause the plant to look less like cannabis overall. You can also use bending to prevent plants from getting too tall.
Low stress training can be used to grow marijuana plants in any size or shape. This grower trained his outdoor cannabis plants to grow flat like hedges by training stems to grow along a ScrOG net.
Watch Out for Anyone Taking Interest of Your Plants
Be aware of anyone looking over the fence or otherwise spending time hanging around your property.
Even if it’s not someone who will report you to law enforcement, they may still be a problem. They might tell a friend who reports you. Or even worse they may be a thief. Nothing is more heartbreaking than growing plants all summer and then losing them to thievery…except jail.
Remember, even if a person doesn’t take your plants right away, many experienced thieves who understand the life cycle of cannabis plants will wait until just before harvest before they steal your plants.
This plant does not have any buds to steal now, but thieves may take note of your plant and come back in the fall when they know it’s getting close to harvest time. Stay vigilant!
Consider that people might be able to smell your plants. Some plants smell a little “weedy” in the vegetative stage, but by the time your plant is flowering and getting close to harvest, the smell can be overwhelming, especially with certain “high-smell” strains.
- Choose a low odor strain for outdoors that stays small if you’re looking for something very stealthy. Auto-flowering strains can be a good choice because they’re easy to grow, won’t get very big, have a quick time-to-harvest and there are several stealthy looking and low-smell varieties that are suitable for growing outdoors. Auto Duck is an example of an auto-flowering strain that is great for outdoor stealth growing due to its smell (or lack thereof), growth patterns and quick time-to-harvest. Some examples of photoperiod strains that stay small and low-odor include Northern Lights, Papaya (smells tropical), Jock Horror, Ice (smells like jet fuel), and Blue Mystic. Smells are usually more intense when things get hot and humid.
- Plant lots of other types of plants nearby, especially ones with bright and fragrant flowers. This will detract attention away from both the appearance and smell of a typical cannabis plant.
What if you can’t grow on your own property, and need to grow in a more remote spot? A good outdoor grow spot has a few important factors….
Outdoor Stealth – Choosing a Safe Place to Grow Outside Your Property
Scope Out the Spot
Check out any possible grow spot at least 3 different times, and on both weekdays/weekends to make sure you never see hikers or other people in the area.
Far from a Visible Path
Stay far away from any path, and make sure not to leave tracks or marks when visiting plants – if you make a visible path, other people might follow it to see where it goes.
Test the Spot for Potential Visitors
I‘ve heard a grower say to securely leave a twenty-dollar bill in a few places around the chosen area, where they can be easily seen by a human but won’t blow away. If they are still there when you get back after a week or two, it’s unlikely there are many people passing by because they would have picked up the money.
Even if you’re certain no one will be around except yourself, you should still try to camouflage your plants as best you can by using the tips given above.
Bonus: Outdoor Plant Health
These factors are important to making sure your outdoor plants grow as fast and healthy as possible. They don’t necessarily contribute to stealth, but you must make sure to consider these factors if you want your outdoor marijuana grow to be successful! Since this article is all about picking the right spot for your cannabis plants, I thought it was important to also touch on this.
Easy to Visit
You should be able to visit the spot at least once a week to tend to your plants.
Access to Water
Plants need to drink, but water is way too heavy to carry long distances. Therefore, you’re looking for a spot with easy access to fresh, clean water. If there’s no hose, you’re looking for a brook or stream with moving water. Some growers collect rainwater near the grow site. Don’t use water that looks or smells bad to you.
Lots of Sunlight
The spot gets 8+ hours of direct sunlight each day (the less direct the light, and the fewer hours a day, the smaller the plants and buds will be).
A gentle breeze provides airflow and cooling, which helps prevent heat stress, mildew, bud rot and bugs compared to the plant living in stagnant air. You’re looking for leaves that are rustling. There shouldn’t be enough wind that plants are waving around.
Consider the Heat
If it gets very extremely hot where you live, you want to consider making sure there’s a way to at least partially shade your plants on the hottest days. Learn how to care for heat-stressed outdoor marijuana plants.
Consider the Cold
Will your plants be ready to harvest before it starts getting cold and/or rainy where you live? High humidity, rain and temperatures under 60°F (15°C) are the leading causes of bud rot, which can take out an entire harvest in just a day or two! Frost and freezing temperatures will actually kill some plants (though some strains are more resistant than others). Make sure that you can protect your plants from cold or rainy conditions, or even better, make sure you get a strain that will be ready to harvest before your local bad weather begins!
Auto-flowering strains can be a good choice for growers with short summers because they are typically ready to harvest just 3 months from germination. However, there are also many ‘standard” (non-auto-flowering) strains with short flowering periods that only need 3-4 months before they’re ready to harvest.
Provide Your Own Soil
Even if the ground soil appears to be a good quality, you’ll often get the best results by providing your own soil which has been formulated for a plant like cannabis. This will contain the right ratio of nutrients so plants grow fast and buds get as big as possible. Many growers put their plants in containers with soil, which makes it so plants can be easily moved around. Some growers will dig a hole in the ground and fill it with good soil, though raised beds often perform better because the plant will use the “good” soil for longer, and it can be easier to water the plants.
Don’t Forget Nutrients
Cannabis plants should have an adequate amount of nutrients. Although high-quality soil will typically provide everything your cannabis plant needs for nutrients during the vegetative stage, it’s typically a good idea to provide the plants with extra plant food during the nutrient-intensive flowering/budding stage! Plants need a surprisingly high amount of nutrients to produce the biggest buds!
Stealth Ideas for Growing Weed Outdoors Always consider stealth when growing cannabis outdoors! Not only is law enforcement a consideration, it’s common for thieves to steal plants right before