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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!

Comments

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!

How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors (2020 Guide)

Looking to grow cannabis outdoors this season? Follow our comprehensive guide for a smooth and easy experience.

A guide to growing cannabis outdoors in 2020.

  • 1. Growing cannabis indoors vs outdoors: differences
  • 2. Growing cannabis outdoors
  • 2.a. Benefits of growing outdoors
  • 2.b. Choosing location
  • 2.c. Genetics
  • 2.d. Germination
  • 2.e Maintaining the plant
  • 2.f. Preventing pests
  • 3. Outdoor Grower’s Calendar 2020
  • 3.a. Indoor germination
  • 3.b. Seedling stage / growing indoors
  • 3.c. Sowing and moving outdoors
  • 3.d. Topping and training
  • 3.e. Sexing
  • 3.f. Pruning
  • 3.g. Harvest
  • 1. Growing cannabis indoors vs outdoors: differences
  • 2. Growing cannabis outdoors
  • 2.a. Benefits of growing outdoors
  • 2.b. Choosing location
  • 2.c. Genetics
  • 2.d. Germination
  • 2.e Maintaining the plant
  • 2.f. Preventing pests
  • 3. Outdoor Grower’s Calendar 2020
  • 3.a. Indoor germination
  • 3.b. Seedling stage / growing indoors
  • 3.c. Sowing and moving outdoors
  • 3.d. Topping and training
  • 3.e. Sexing
  • 3.f. Pruning
  • 3.g. Harvest

Growing cannabis outdoors comes with many benefits. Apart from being a thoroughly enjoyable experience, it allows growers to rear bigger plants with better yields. Read on to learn how to grow cannabis outdoors.

GROWING CANNABIS INDOORS VS OUTDOORS: DIFFERENCES

Growing outdoors usually means more space to work with, plenty of sunshine, free rainwater, better ventilation, and the joy of cultivating in the elements.

However, growing outdoors also comes with a set of challenges. Plants are more vulnerable to pest insects, larger predators, heat waves, and cold snaps.

Growing indoors offers plants more shelter, and cultivators are in complete control of the growing environment. They are free to change temperature and humidity settings, and their plants are more concealed.

With that said, indoor growers usually have less space at their disposal, less potential for massive yields, and have to splash money on electricity bills to run their setup.

GROWING CANNABIS OUTDOORS

Sun. Fresh air. Soil. Growing cannabis outdoors offers a plethora of benefits for cultivators and cannabis plants alike. Everything from free resources to more time spent outside make it a worthwhile pursuit.

BENEFITS OF GROWING OUTDOORS

– Larger plants
– More space
– Free rainwater
– Sunshine (cheaper than lighting)
– No need to change light cycle
– Ventilation helps keep mould at bay
– Companion plants
– Beneficial insects
– Soil rich in native microbes
– Opportunity to practice regenerative methods

CHOOSING LOCATION

After deciding to grow outdoors, you’ll need to decide where to position your plants. Find an area that provides stable temperature, adequate sunlight, and shelter from harsh weather.

Make sure the area of your garden/position of your planting containers meets the following demands when growing in Europe in 2020:

• Temperatures never drop below 12°C
• Temperatures never exceed 30°C
6–8 hours of direct sunlight each day (south-facing location is ideal)
Shelter from torrential rain and heatwaves (e.g. temporary tarpaulin, greenhouse)

GENETICS

After selecting a location, you’ll need to choose a strain to grow. Here, you’ll need to consider your growing environment, and what kind of effect you’re looking for from your cannabis.

If you live further north and experience a shorter growing season, hardy and fast-flowering genetics such as autoflowers are a good choice. For those living further south, towering sativas that take longer to flower are a suitable option, and hybrids will thrive in these conditions.

Are you looking for a specific flavour? Research the terpene profiles of the strains you’re considering. This will give you a window into the sensory experience. Do you prefer fruity or earthy? Citrus or candy?

You can also use seed bank data to estimate the size, flowering time, and yield of a particular strain. If you can grow openly, consider a tall and highly productive strain. If you need to be more discreet, choose a smaller and more stealthy variety.

GERMINATION

The first phase in your cannabis plant’s life is germination. During this process, your seed will form its first taproot and emerge into a seedling. Germination requires three specific factors: darkness, humidity, and moisture. Together, these elements will activate your seed. It just so happens that soil provides the perfect venue!

Growers in warm climates can start their plants directly in pots or garden beds outdoors. However, plants require high humidity during the seedling stage. Consider starting outdoor plants in a greenhouse or polytunnel.

Those in colder climates can get a head start by raising their seedlings indoors during the chilly spring. Transplant them directly into the soil or into larger outdoor containers when the weather warms up.

Before germinating your seeds, secure some high-quality soil. Organic soil provides everything your plants need to thrive: nutrients, beneficial bacteria, and synergistic fungi.

To germinate your seeds, poke a hole into the topsoil in a garden bed or pot. Place the seed in the hole and gently cover with soil. Add a little water. You’ll see the first shoot emerge within 2–7 days.

The seedling stage will last around two weeks. Provide consistent lighting, humidity levels of around 70%, and water sparingly.

MAINTAINING THE PLANT

The vegetative phase begins once the seedling stage comes to an end. During this time, your plants will focus on photosynthesising and creating energy to fuel development. Expect a flurry of large fan leaves to proliferate throughout this phase. To maintain your plants, you’ll need to consider the following:

Only water after the top 3–5cm of soil has become dry. If you don’t wait long enough, your plant can become vulnerable to root rot and other nasties.

Test your soil occasionally and make sure it stays within a pH range of 6.0–7.0—the optimal range for nutrient absorption.

PREVENTING PESTS

As one of the main challenges for outdoor growers, pests can be managed and prevented using the following tips:

Predatory insects: Introduce predatory insects such as ladybirds and parasitic wasps to protect your plants against pest species.

Companion planting: Plant basil, lemon balm, or dill to repel pest insects.

Beneficial fungi: Soil that contains mycorrhizal fungi can help capture and kill nematodes—soil microorganisms that attack cannabis roots.

Physical barriers: Erect chicken wire fences and other barriers to prevent larger animals such as deer and birds from munching on your crop.

OUTDOOR GROWER’S CALENDAR 2020

This calendar revolves around the average climate in Europe. If you live in a more extreme climate (or in a different hemisphere), it’s worth looking into the relevant growing conditions.

Also, different strains will move much faster or slower than others. Keep the individual traits of your chosen cultivar in mind.

You’ll also notice that our calendar takes the time of year and the position of the moon and sun into consideration. Many gardeners work around the moon cycle due to the way the celestial body influences movements of moisture, sap, and subtle energies.

INDOOR GERMINATION

Start germinating your seeds indoors around March 9th if you live in a cooler climate. This date falls just before the full moon and encourages larger and more aromatic buds.

The spring equinox takes place on March 20th. During this time, the sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the first day of spring. Longer days and increased sunlight mean the growing season has begun! The seed will take anywhere between 2–7 days to complete germination and enter the seedling stage.

SEEDLING STAGE / GROWING INDOORS

The seedling stage lasts around two weeks before the vegetative phase begins. Continue to raise plants indoors in colder regions until mid-April to meet temperature and light demands.

SOWING AND MOVING OUTDOORS

If you live in a warmer climate, now is the time to germinate seeds directly outside. You’ll also be able to move indoor plants outside and transplant them into soil or larger containers.

If you decide to orient your grow around the lunar cycle, aim to transplant while the descending moon enters its crescent phase.

After transplantation, plants will become established in the ground, continue vegetating, and put on some serious mass. The shift into summer will see them receive plenty of light. They’ll continue to stretch upward as the North Pole reaches its maximum tilt towards the sun.

TOPPING AND TRAINING

Once your plants settle in, growers have the option to top and train them. Doing so will increase their yields, open up their canopies, and make them easier to tame.

Measures such as low-stress training can be conducted throughout June and July into early August. After this, plants will begin edging toward the flowering phase, and additional training won’t be beneficial.

Aim to top and train your plants when the ascending moon is in its crescent phase, ideally in a water constellation.

SEXING

Before flowers appear, your plants will enter the pre-flowering phase. Use this time to sex your plants to ensure no unwanted males end up fertilising your ladies. Pre-flowers occur at the nodes—points at which each branch meets the main stem.

Female pre-flowers feature a small bulb and a protruding hair, or pistil. In contrast, male pre-flowers feature a hairless bulb. Remove any males if you’re not looking to create seeds.

PRUNING

Your plants have entered the flowering phase. As the fall equinox approaches, the days begin to get shorter, and plants get the signal to blossom. Tidy them up and make sure each bud site has an adequate amount of light exposure.

Prune your crop between mid-July and the end of August in preparation for harvest time. Snip away excess fan leaves during a descending moon in the waning phase.

HARVEST

Perhaps the most exciting time of the entire grow occurs between mid-September and mid-November. It’s time to revel in your hard work and harvest your precious flowers. The weather becomes cool, the days shorter, and winter solstice approaches.

Harvest your buds in the morning during a descending moon in the waning phase.

Learn how to grow cannabis outdoors in 2020 using these essential tips and our outdoor growing calendar. Look forward to great harvests of top-tier bud!