Growing Cannabis From Seed Outdoors

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If you've ever thought of growing cannabis outdoors, then this comprehensive guide is for you. We discuss climate, soil, nutrients, watering, and more. 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! Outdoor cannabis growing has become a popular way to grow your own cannabis easily. But how to harvest cannabis, when and what's best to do?

How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors: A Beginner’s Guide

Although it’s possible to purchase high-quality weed from a dispensary, there are few things more thrilling than growing cannabis outdoors.

Having the ability to choose the right marijuana strain, the ideal location, and the best possible soil is one thing. Possessing the patience to see the entire project through is quite another.

If you live in a state where an outdoor grow is permitted, then this article is for you. This step-by-step guide will go through everything you need to know and show you how to grow marijuana outdoors.

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo

Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.

Growing Marijuana Outdoors: The Beginner’s Guide

Just to be clear, growing cannabis is a time-consuming process. However, it is also an extremely rewarding one. This is a guide for a first-time grower who wants to grow quality cannabis without breaking the bank. If this is your first outdoor grow, and you miss a single step, then you may end up with a disappointing yield.

It is also an outdoor growing guide designed for small-scale cultivation. It is crucial that you check your state’s laws before proceeding. For example, weed is legal for recreational use in Colorado. You can grow marijuana plants as long as you’re aged 21 or over.

However, all marijuana growing areas must be enclosed, locked, and they can’t be viewed from the outside. In other words, it is tricky to grow cannabis outside and meet all state laws.

Incidentally, Colorado residential properties are allowed to grow a maximum of 12 plants, while medicinal marijuana growers are permitted up to 24.

We are offering this guide with the assumption that it is legal to grow marijuana plants in your state. First and foremost, it is imperative that you have the right climate for optimum growth.

Benefits of Growing Marijuana Outdoors

There’s no doubt that growing marijuana outdoors comes with challenges (which we address later on), but it also has a list of cool benefits:

  • Eco-Friendly:Indoor growing uses a lot of electricity because it requires so much lighting, not to mention ventilation systems and other equipment. In California, it’s estimated that growing marijuana indoors uses the equivalent of 200 pounds of coal to grow just a single pound. Outdoor growing needs sun, air, water, and minimal equipment for your plants to survive.
  • Better Quality Buds: Marijuana that is grown outdoors carries a distinctive flavor and aroma. As long as you choose the right strain, you’ll enjoy every single smoke.
  • Low Cost: Assuming that you have selected the right location, outdoor growing offers unlimited sun, fresh air, carbon dioxide, and rainwater. Buy the best seeds, take good care of them, and when they sprout, they’ll need minimal maintenance. Once you learn how to handle pests and inclement weather, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to grow marijuana outdoors.
  • Larger Yields: It is common for outdoor marijuana plants to grow nearly six feet tall. Plants of this size offer 500 grams of dried bud. A harvest from just six plants is usually enough to provide you with a year’s supply of premium cannabis.

Step #1: Determine the Climate in Which You’re Going to Grow the Marijuana

Climate is all-important when growing cannabis, with the primary concern being the amount of available sunlight. While this isn’t a problem in sun-kissed California, not every American state has the same luxury. However, don’t assume that glorious sunny weather is perfect for growing flowers.

When growing cannabis outdoors, you have to realize that, while weed is reasonably adaptable to different weather conditions, it is still vulnerable to temperature extremes.

For example, sustained temperatures of over 86 degrees Fahrenheit can prevent growth. On the other hand, temperatures below 55 degrees could kill your precious plants.

Step #2: Choose the Best Possible Location

Outdoor cannabis plants love basking in the sun. Therefore, find a plot that offers at least five hours of sunshine a day. Once again, residents of certain towns and cities will find it easier than most. For example, those who live in San Diego will experience 14 hours of sunlight during the Summer Solstice (June 21).

As we mentioned above, make sure the temperature of your location does not exceed 86 degrees. If your area regularly surpasses this temperature, then you will need to be careful where you cultivate your plants.

Look for a plot that gets direct sunlight early in the day and filtered sun later in the afternoon. It is also ideal if you can find a place that offers a constant breeze. However, bear in mind that this increases water consumption.

Areas that are subject to high wind will need a wall or hedge to act as a windbreak. Then there is the small matter of privacy and security.

Even if it is legal to grow outdoors in your location, there will always be judgmental individuals and possible thieves. Try and plant your marijuana so that it is hidden behind tall fences or shrubs.

It may also be worth investing in wire cages to keep animals at bay. As already mentioned, some plants often grow over six feet tall. However, some plants, when grown outdoors, can become so tall that they resemble mini-skyscrapers. These plants can sometimes be over twelve feet in height, so make sure you plan for this.

Some Potential Grow Sites for Outdoor Growers

It isn’t easy to find the best location. Not only must it offer ideal growing conditions, but it must also be safe from discovery, even when planting legally. If you are adhering to the law, private property is best because you have full access and can control security. Otherwise, you have to risk public property, which increases the chances of discovery.

Some places to consider for an outdoor grow include:

  • Balcony: This allows easy access; however, it is also highly visible. Frosted plastic film can conceal your plants and reduce the spread of the scent. As the U.S. is in the northern hemisphere, it is best if your balcony faces south. This will ensure your plants get the most sunlight during the day.
  • Personal Garden: Again, your plants are highly visible but easily accessible. If you have the right security measures in place, this is the best location.
  • Roof Terrace: Guarantees the maximum amount of sun, but strong winds and odors are an issue.
  • A Forest: Streams provide an excellent source of water. Alternatively, you can dig a couple of feet into the earth to find groundwater. It is well hidden, but just about anyone could stumble upon your stash. As the soil is also likely to be acidic, it is best to use huge pots filled with premium-quality soil.
  • An Open Field: You will need to camouflage it with other plants that are capable of growing as tall as marijuana. Look for land where nettles grow. This is a sign that the soil is filled with nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for healthy marijuana growth.

Tips for Choosing a Grow Site

When choosing the ideal location for your outdoor grow, look for the following features:

  • Sunlight: More sunlight equals bigger plants and larger yields.
  • Water: Marijuana plants thrive in most areas as long as they get enough water.
  • Wind: A gentle breeze is perfect because it helps develop robust root systems. Heavy winds can damage or destroy a crop.
  • Soil: We explore soil choice below, but suffice to say, it has to be rich in the right kind of nutrients.
  • Access: You don’t need to spend as much time tending to outdoor plants as their indoor counterparts. However, you still have to visit your crop every couple of weeks. This helps you identify if they lack nutrients, need more water, or are infested with pests.
  • Security: If your crop is easy to access, don’t be surprised if someone comes in and helps themselves. Also, we urge you not to break the law. Getting caught will lead to a massive fine and possibly jail time.

Step #3: Buy the Best Soil for Your Plants

We are assuming that you intend to grow your cannabis plants from seed. In this case, you should germinate indoors during the early spring. In a warmer climate, seeds can start to sprout by early April. If you live in cold weather, this process probably won’t happen until May.

Typically, seeds only begin to germinate when exposed to constant temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Experts suggest keeping your plants indoors for up to four weeks before bringing them outside when the weather is more suitable.

When choosing the right soil, bear in mind that it is made up primarily of clay, sand, and silt. Your plants require slightly acidic soil with organic matter that has been adequately drained. Therefore, you have to test the soil if you intend to plant your cannabis directly in the earth.

Different Types of Soil

If you decide to use the soil in the earth, make sure you have its pH tested. Otherwise, purchase the soil from a garden store. Please remember that even store-bought soil could use added nutrients from compost. Your options include:

  • Clay-Rich Soil: This is heavy, doesn’t hold oxygen particularly well, and drains very slowly. Around four weeks before you start planting, dig the holes for the marijuana. Add significant amounts of manure, compost, and any other decomposed organic matter. This process improves drainage, offers aeration, and ensures your marijuana plants receive adequate nutrients.
  • Sand-Rich Soil: This is a good option because it drains well and warms quickly. On the downside, it doesn’t hold nutrients very well, and this can be problematic in wetter climates. Dig holes for the plants and add peat moss and compost to bind the soil together. If you live in a warm environment, mulch the soil to prevent the roots from overheating. This process also helps the soil retain water.
  • Silt-Rich Soil: This is the best soil for growing marijuana plants because it warms rapidly. It also has excellent drainage, holds moisture, and is easy to work with. You will find the best silty soil at the bottom of lakes or in prehistoric riverbeds.

Step #4: Add Some Fertilizer to the Plants

For outdoor growers, it is best if you skip commercial fertilizers and focus on organic fertilizers. You should add it to the soil before planting and throughout the growth cycle. Natural options include:

  • Compost
  • Kelp Meal
  • Blood meal
  • Fish meal
  • Worm castings

Adding these to the soil before planting means you won’t have to add as much fertilizer during the growing cycle. After planting your marijuana in premium quality soil, you don’t need to add anything else for a few weeks.

It is tempting to make your soil amendments with store-bought fertilizers, but remember, they are filled with chemicals. This can significantly impact the flavor and aroma of the finished product.

If you elect to purchase soil from a store, don’t assume that it has a balanced pH level. Also, don’t think that it will maintain this standard for the duration of the season, either. Ideally, your soil’s pH will be 7.0. However, it may change over the course of a couple of months and become too alkaline or acidic.

It is a fact that some store-bought soils are too acidic at the beginning. This means you have to use organic fertilizers after a couple of weeks because the plants are lacking crucial nutrients.

Composting is the way forward because it is cheap and relatively simple. You can also add all sorts of organic matter from fruit clippings to animal manure. Avoid using meat or animal fat as it will attract pests.

Make sure you layer the compost heap and ensure it has proper airflow. Turn the heap every few weeks and test the pH regularly to ensure it is balanced. These days, consumers are turning to super-soil to help fertilize their plants. This is organic pre-fertilized soil, which contains all the nutrients your marijuana needs.

Step #5: The Importance of Properly Watering Your Cannabis Plants

Obviously, your plants need water, and the benefit of growing outdoors is that your marijuana should be exposed to rainwater. However, in places like California, the hot summer months mean minimal rainfall, so you have to water your plants manually. The main danger is overwatering your cannabis. A good rule of thumb is that a large plant needs 10 gallons of water a day during hot weather.

If you live in a dry and hot climate, then try this tip. Dig beneath your plants before adding rocks or clay-rich soil beneath the planting holes as a means of slowing drainage. Some growers believe that adding polymer crystals to the soil helps improve water retention as these crystals absorb water.

Three Ways to Boost Drainage

Those who live in wetter than average climates need to improve drainage. Marijuana that grows in waterlogged conditions is susceptible to root diseases. Here are three ways to improve the drainage of your soil:

  1. Plant your weed in beds or raised mounds.
  2. Dig ditches to ensure that the water flows away from your plants.
  3. Add clay pebbles, perlite, and gravel to the soil.

If you use tap water, test it first. It could have a significant number of dissolved minerals that build up in the soil and impact the pH level. Alternatively, tap water could contain an excessive amount of chlorine, which is very bad for the soil. Therefore, we recommend filtering the water you use.

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Some people use a container garden instead of planting straight into the soil. If you opt for this, bear in mind that they dry out much faster than soil. Therefore, you may have to water your plants daily. Additional watering is also necessary for warm or windy conditions. To avoid overwatering, wait for the top inch of the soil to be dry before adding more. Invest in a soil moisture meter to make things easier.

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo

Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.

Step #6: Select Carefully the Type of Container You Need

If this is your first outdoor grow, you may not realize that the surrounding soil is unsuitable for growth until you try and use it. If so, you have no choice but to use container gardens.

Also, when using natural soil, you have to dig holes and amend the soil regularly. For people with debilitating medical conditions, this level of manual labor will prove difficult.

One of the main advantages of container gardens is that you can place them anywhere. Therefore, you can grow your weed on a patio or even on a rooftop. Make sure you move the plants around to make the most of the available sunlight. You can also use store-bought nutrient-rich soil, which simplifies the fertilization process.

Take note that growing the weed in containers will impact the size of the plant. Container-grown marijuana will be smaller because root growth is restricted. In other words, the size of the container determines the size of the plant.

You will have to learn specialized techniques if you wish to grow a few large plants.

Don’t use a container smaller than five gallons. If you want large plants, try 15+ gallon containers. There are even 100-gallon container bags!

If you live in a warm climate, be wary of excessive heat damaging the roots. It is normal for container-grown pots of soil to exceed 90 degrees on a hot day. Always water the plants generously in the morning to ensure they don’t dry out during sweltering afternoons.

Airflow is also critical, so be sure to invest in breathable containers. These enable air to penetrate the root zone quickly and ensure that oxygen gets to the roots. Once marijuana plants breathe in the CO2, the roots use the most with the highest consumption occurring at night.

Step #7: Protect your Cannabis Plants from Pets and Inclement Weather

Outdoor cannabis growers face a significant disadvantage compared to their indoor growing counterparts; outdoor plants are vulnerable to inclement weather. Also, plants grown outdoors are susceptible to attack from pests and pets. Rapid changes in the weather can damage or even kill cannabis plants, while animals and aphids are a constant threat.

Protecting Your Marijuana Plant from Pets & Pests

Don’t just focus solely on bothersome insects. Larger animals such as rodents, dogs, cats, rabbits, deer, and raccoons can damage or eat your crop.

While insects damage your plants over a few days or weeks, larger animals can destroy them in minutes. You must examine your cannabis plants daily.

You should be able to deal with animal threats by surrounding your plants with a high and sturdy wire fence. If you are concerned about birds, you can place netting over the plants.

Threats like moles, who push up from the soil beneath your plants, require extra planning. An excellent way to prevent them from causing damage is by building a fence around 2-3 feet beneath the soil. You can also use deterrents such as urine from predators like coyotes, to ward off rabbits, gophers, and raccoons. Household items such as garlic and castor oil are pretty effective deterrents, too.

Homemade solutions for every g…

It is imperative that you keep your marijuana healthy because blooming plants have a natural resistance to specific pests. You can add ladybugs and lacewings, as these predators keep harmful pests at bay while doing no damage themselves.

Pyrethrum is one of the most popular organic insecticide options. Homemade remedies include combining soap with water and misting your plants with it. Soap and water solution is effective against a mild outbreak

Garlic is useful for fighting beetles. Check your plants daily for signs of infestation and act immediately if you see any issues.

Another method of fighting pests is to grow companion plants. Companion plants are plants of a different species to cannabis that you plant near your crop. Clover, rosemary, basil, and marigold are good choices as they are capable of repelling pests.

Protecting Your Weed from Rain & Wind

High winds are a significant problem for cannabis growers as it can damage the plants. It can break branches, damage trichomes, and leave your weed vulnerable to disease and infestation. Any type of excess strain like this can over-stress the plants, causing the buds to produce seeds. You do not want this to happen.

If your crop is in a windy spot, create a windbreak such as a wall. Alternatively, tying perforated plastic sheeting to garden stakes is also effective.

Although rainwater helps your plants grow, too much of it results in mold and mildew. This problem is at its worst during the flowering stage.

If you live in a wet climate, choose a mold-resistant marijuana strain, and support it with stakes or cages. Otherwise, the rain will collect on buds and leaves, and your plants will be weighed down. Alternatively, try and predict wet spells and be prepared by adding a makeshift shelter to your crop.

Protecting Your Precious Crop from High Temperatures

It is best to maintain the temperature between 55-86 degrees Fahrenheit for as much of the growing cycle as possible. Marijuana plants can survive outside this range for short periods.

However, once the temperature goes below 42 degrees Fahrenheit, most varieties of cannabis will be damaged quickly. If excessively cold temperatures are a problem, use protection such as cold frames, hot caps, or cloches.

Step #8: Choose the Right Genetics

It’s essential to first consider your climate because it will dictate the kind of marijuana strain you’re able to grow. If you live in an area with a history of cannabis growing, find out what strains people have grown. There is also a good possibility that there are strains available explicitly for that climate.

Picking the Right Marijuana Strains for Your Climate

Whether you like it or not, certain strains don’t grow well in specific climates. No matter how much care and attention you give your crop, its yield will always be disappointing.

It is important to remember that cannabis plants start flowering as the days get shorter. This is why growing marijuana in northern latitudes is a problem. Your cannabis will flower. However, the process happens too late to get the most from the sun in late summer.

Southern California growers can grow these strains and not worry about late flowering due to plentiful sunshine. Growers in British Columbia, on the other hand, won’t achieve a decent yield because they won’t finish flowering until December. By that time, the lack of light, cold weather, and heavy rainfall will probably have killed the plant.

Cannabis Seeds vs. Clones – Choosing the Best Seeds on the Market

The best genes equal the best marijuana. Marijuana with good genetics not only smells and tastes fantastic but is also extremely potent.

Indoor growers tend to grow their marijuana from clones, while outdoor growers prefer to grow from seed. You can get quality buds using either method, and they both have their advantages and drawbacks.

Clones

If you elect to clone, you need a mother plant. It’s possible to buy clones from your local dispensary. However, bear in mind, clones require at least 16 hours of light a day to ensure that they don’t flower.

All clones are female plants that have the same traits, and they are known for producing premium quality weed.

You must root the clones indoors before they are ‘hardened off.’ This is the process of moving a plant outdoors for a few hours a day. This method gradually exposes them to air, cold nights, and sunlight.

The main downside to using clones is that they produce small yields. If you want a more abundant harvest, you have to grow the clones indoors during the winter and early spring. Cloned plants never develop the thick central taproot that goes into the ground, which stabilizes the plant and consumes groundwater. As a result, they are vulnerable to drought and windy conditions.

Seeds

Plants grown from seed offer larger yields and are more robust in the face of inclement weather conditions. You can plant these seeds in the garden in the spring, even if it is still cold and wet outside. Another option is to begin the growing process indoors, but they have to be hardened off eventually before they are transplanted.

The chief downside to growing from seed is that the outcome is less predictable than it is with clones. If you don’t choose an inbred seed line, you could end up with a different plant to the one you expected. Also, cannabis seeds produce males and females. This means you have to sex your plants when they achieve sexual maturity. This process involves culling the male plants. You can avoid this issue by purchasing feminized seeds.

One other option for outdoor growing is auto-flowering seeds. As soon as they reach maturity, these plants begin to bloom irrespective of the length of the days. If you live in a temperate climate, you will benefit from two crops every year by using auto-flowering seeds. Simply plant one crop in late winter (or even early spring), and another at the beginning of summer.

Step #9: Cut Your Cannabis Plants Carefully

You can use training tools such as screens and ties to ensure the plants grow in a specific shape. You need to prune your plants if you’re concerned about height control; an essential element of low-key growing!

Make sure you trim your plants regularly to help them attain optimum growth. Get rid of unnecessary cannabis cuttings because leaving dead leaves and branches will only attract pests. Pruning also enables you to shape your plant. If you see new shoots that are not growing properly, take a pair of pruning scissors and trim them away. This will help your plants develop bigger buds.

The type of strain you’re growing dictates the duration of flowering. For example, most sativa strains will go through the full growth and flowering cycle in a little over three months.

Lastly, make sure female plants are not exposed to males. Otherwise, pollination could occur – a process that decreases the quality of the harvest. If your strain begins flowering during a wet season, excess moisture exposure could prove troublesome. In this instance, find shelter for the plants to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Step #10: Grow, Enjoy, Repeat!

Most cannabis strains are ready for harvest between the end of September and the first week or two of October. Although, this does depend on the strain and climate conditions. Monitor pistil and trichome formation to gain a better idea of when your plants are ready for harvesting.

The growing process can take anywhere from two months to 8+ months. Your plants are ready to be harvested when approximately 70% of its pistils turn from white to a reddish-brown color. If the pistils are turning red, harvest immediately!

Other signs that it is time to harvest include brown resin on the buds, a broader stem, and if the leaves of the plant begin to turn yellow and die back.

The plant’s trichomes should have turned an opaque white color at this stage, too. This is a good indication that they are fully mature and ready for harvesting.

Experienced growers also recommend keeping an eye out for a change in color in the plant’s stigma. A good sign that the plant is ready for harvesting is when the stigma changes in color from white to orange. However, most growers agree that the most accurate method to determine when it is time to harvest is to wait until the trichomes have turned opaque white.

You must be careful not to wait too long to harvest because marijuana plants suffer a decline in health once they have completed the flowering phase.

Is There a Precise Time to Harvest?

It is impossible to provide a ‘precise’ time to harvest. Most experts believe that you should harvest an indica strain eight weeks after flowering. Sativas usually require harvesting ten weeks after flowering. Strains that come from auto-flowering seeds should take ten weeks to grow from seedling to bud. These are just simple guides, however.

When harvesting outdoors, make sure you have the requisite tools. When it’s time, bring sealable bags. We recommend carrying a holdall if you use Ziploc bags for added security. Cut the marijuana plants into lengths that make them easy to transport. In other words, make sure they fit in your bags!

Congratulations! You have successfully grown a healthy and hearty batch of marijuana. We would love to tell you that it’s time to light up and celebrate. However, there are a few more key things you have to do first. Most pertinently, curing and drying the buds.

Once you have a successful harvest under your belt, move onto the next stage with our article on Drying and Curing Cannabis Buds.

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo

Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.

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.

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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
  • 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.

How to harvest cannabis, dry and cure your outdoor crop

Growing cannabis outdoors is perhaps the lowest cost way to grow your own. All you need is a few good quality outdoor cannabis seeds and a sunny, sheltered spot with reasonable quality soil. You can always supplement the soil with additional high quality compost and fertiliser if necessary.

You don’t need to live in a warm, tropical climate to be able to grow great quality outdoor cannabis. High quality autoflower seeds can grow from seed to harvest in around 100 days outdoors (they are even faster indoors). Even those with short summers can find a good 3-month window to grow and harvest some autoflower seeds outdoors. But what are the best ways to harvest, dry and cure outdoor grown cannabis? Read on for some expert tips and advice.

Harvesting advantages of autoflowers grown outdoors

Growing autoflower seeds offers some tremendous advantages to the outdoor grower. Autoflowers have earned a solid reputation for being easy and convenient to grow. With their fast life cycle and short size they are a fast way to grow plants which will hide easily behind other plants and shrubs.

  • Autoflowers grow from seed to harvest in around 100 days outdoors. That’s much faster than photoperiod outdoor strains and ideal for those with short growing seasons.
  • Autoflower seeds tend to produce short, stocky plants which are around 1m tall. These are much easier to hide than 3-4m monster plants grown from photoperiod outdoor feminised seeds.
  • Autoflower seeds are easy to grow with little maintenance required. If you choose a sunny location with good quality, moist soil you can expect a straightforward grow with little effort.

Harvesting advantages of photoperiod feminised strains grown outdoors

Your other main option for outdoor cannabis growing are feminised photoperiod cannabis seeds. Unlike autoflower seeds, you won’t be able to grow these in short 100-day summers. You will typically need 5 months or so to grow these larger plants. But harvests can be huge. Yields of well over 1Kg from a 3m tall specimen are quite possible.

If you enjoy a reasonably long growing season you will be able to harvest your outdoor photoperiod cannabis plant before the worst of the late-season weather arrives. For some outdoor cannabis growers, feminised photoperiod cannabis seeds are the preferred choice.

  • For the largest harvests, outdoor cannabis seeds with photoperiod genetics are the best choice.
  • Plants can be 3-4m tall and just as wide in optimum conditions. However, for some growers such large plants can present security/risk issues and are difficult to hide.
  • You need to ensure that your preferred outdoor photoperiod strain is able to complete the bloom cycle before the growing season ends.

One other advantage of growing photoperiod feminised seeds is that they may be able to recover somewhat more easily from a pest attack or accident than an autoflower.

Autoflowers have a fixed life cycle outdoors, usually around 100 days. If an autoflower plant suffers any kind of grow incident/accident in its prime, it may not have the time to recover from it. A photoperiod plant, with a longer growth phase before bloom, may be able to recover slightly better when it comes to dealing with attacks from slugs, rabbits or other pests.

When to harvest outdoor cannabis, autoflower seeds vs photoperiod feminised seeds

In general, autoflowers take around 100 days from seed to harvest outdoors (indoors, with optimised conditions they often take nearer to 75 days). This means that growers in warm climates can get 2 (or even 3) successive outdoor autoflower harvests per year. That’s one of the reasons autoflower seeds have become so popular with outdoor growers.

Outdoor feminised seeds often have a 5-6 month life cycle. That’s longer than the life cycle of an autoflower, but the grower is usually compensated by heavier harvests than those produced from smaller autoflower plants. However, unless you live close to equatorial latitudes, you will only be able to grow one outdoor photoperiod crop per year.

Note that some growers of photoperiod feminised seeds can artificially force extra productivity from their plants if they grow in greenhouses equipped with blackout blinds. This can allow growers to ‘force’ an early bloom and create quicker harvest cycles by creating 12/12 light conditions manually. Some balcony growers also use this technique.

When to harvest outdoor cannabis according to trichome appearance

Many growers will examine the colour of the trichome resin glands and monitor the transition from clear, to cloudy to amber. This technique works well for both autoflower strains and traditional photoperiod outdoor strains.

Many growers buy an small magnifying glass (sometimes known as a jewellers loupe) to make accurate close-up judgements on the trichome appearance. You can also buy a sophisticated digital microscope which will also do a great job at showing trichome appearance.

Clear trichomes

Cannabis harvested with clear, colourless trichomes tends to have a lively, uplifting and energetic high. However, THC levels may not have quite peaked and the buds may not have finished growing. Most outdoor growers prefer to wait a little longer as this tends to give heavier harvests and slightly stronger weed.

Cloudy trichomes

Waiting until the clear trichomes are transitioning to cloudy/milky allows your buds to pack on more weight. It also allows THC content and resin coverage to increase, meaning stronger buds. Many growers like to harvest their cannabis when the trichomes are mostly cloudy. You may notice that a few trichomes are starting to show some amber colour at this point.

Amber/red trichomes

Leave your buds another week or two and you will notice more and more of the trichomes have transitioned from cloudy/milky to amber or red. Some growers prefer to harvest at this point, feeling that their cannabis has more of a narcotic, heavy effect. Many consider that a majority of red trichomes represents a somewhat over-ripe crop. But some growers prefer it that way e.g. medical marijuana growers who want a strong body effect with good sleep inducing qualities.

See also  Best Marijuana Seeds

When to harvest outdoor cannabis according to pistil (hair) colour

As well as considering the appearance of the trichomes, many cannabis growers also monitor the colour of the pistils. These are the hairs which come out of the buds. Initially the pistils tend to be white. As they start turning increasingly brown it is an indicator that the plant is approaching harvest.

50% brown pistils

Cannabis is approaching harvest, though with many pistils still white in colour growers will often wait a little longer until they harvest.

70% brown pistils

At this point the majority, but not all, pistils are brown. For many growers this represents a good harvest point.

80-90%+ brown pistils

For some growers this would represent a mature cannabis crop with heavier, narcotic effects. Although some growers might consider such buds to be a little over-ripe, there are plenty of growers who consider the extra bloom time well worth the wait. But it’s worth saying that we all have a unique endo cannabinoid system that responds differently to cannabis.

One of the great joys of growing your own cannabis seeds is that you (not an unknown grower/dealer) decide precisely when to harvest the cannabis in order to deliver maximum personal satisfaction. Some cannabis users have strong preferences for specific strains which have been grown to a perfect ripeness level for them.

100% brown pistils

Most growers would consider a crop to be over-ripe if all the pistils are brown, but there are a minority of growers who would disagree.

The next time you grow some cannabis seeds, try taking (and drying) buds at different ripeness levels and comparing the high/effects from them. You may be surprised to find you have a clear preference which influences your harvest timings for future cannabis crops.

When to harvest your outdoor crop according to sativa vs indica genetics

If you know the cannabis genetics contained in your strains it will help you estimate the approximate harvest time. Much depends on the latitude that you are growing at as well as the specific climatic conditions experienced during your grow. But in general, indica genetics tend to reach maturity faster than sativa or haze genetics.

In the northern hemisphere, late blooming Haze varieties may not be ready to harvest until late November. For northern European growers that is simply too late for outdoor growing. Knowing which outdoor strains will grow well in your conditions is part of the skill of the experienced outdoor cannabis grower.

Drying cannabis buds grown outdoors

Drying your outdoor grown cannabis plants requires careful planning. If you plan to dry them outdoors you will need a warm and dry climate, though this can be difficult to guarantee around fall/autumn as the weather often turns cooler and wetter. That’s why many outdoor growers invest in some specialist drying equipment at home.

If you are growing cannabis outdoors in the hills and countryside you will probably be used to chopping down the plants and putting the heaviest branches and buds in large sealed bags to transport home. This can be a nervous journey since the freshly harvested weed can have a powerful odour. Stick to the speed limits and don’t attract attention on the drive home!

Once the buds and branches are at home you can begin the process of drying them. Even if you never grow cannabis indoors, many outdoor growers buy a small tent and some drying racks to dry their buds in. Some people hang the larger branches from clothes hangers or a piece of cord suspended across the top of the grow tent. You will need an extraction fan and a carbon filter to eliminate the smell. Drying an outdoor cannabis harvest without odour protection is always tremendously risky when others live nearby.

Often the buds will take around a week to dry. One drying tip is to start at 60% humidity for the first few days, slowly working your way down to 55% again for a few days. After 7-10 (max) days you may wish to set your dehumidifier to 50% to dry the buds a little further.

As soon as the branches start to snap (or almost snap) you can be sure that the buds on those branches are just about ready to be put into your curing jars. Be aware that the larger buds/blooms can take a day or two longer to dry.

Buds that are bright green at harvest often fade to a paler, less vivid appearance after drying. Often, you may notice brown colourations and perhaps even some blue or red hues as drying/curing progresses.

Trimming cannabis buds grown outdoors

Some growers don’t mind waiting until the buds are dry before trimming off the excess leaf material. Usually, after around a week of drying the buds are considered dry enough to think about jarring and curing. This is usually around the time that the branches have dried sufficiently to snap. The only problem with waiting until the buds are dry is that you may lose some of the trichomes when trimming dry buds.

For that reason, many growers prefer to try to trim the buds when freshly picked, or shortly afterwards. Some rubber gloves help keep your fingers clean, and a good pair of scissors (or trimming scissors) is highly recommended. From time to time, you may need to scrape the scissor hash off the blades to save for a post-harvest celebration smoke/vape. The trimmed leaf material can be frozen and used to make hashish or cannabis concentrates.

Curing and storing your outdoor cannabis crop

Curing and storing your outdoor grown cannabis buds is exactly the same process as that used for indoor cannabis harvests. If you have dried your cannabis well (without over-drying it and losing your delicious terpenes) you are ready to cure your buds.

Curing is the slow process of slowly removing the last remnants of moisture while allowing the buds to reach a state of preservation where they will last for months, or years. During this process the aroma can intensify to produce quite breathtaking flavours and aromas. A great terpene profile not only makes your buds taste delicious, they may also modulate the type of high you experience.

As the cannabis buds reach the curing stage they have lost most, but not all, of their moisture. The final curing stage is the last, and perhaps the most important part for the connoisseur cannabis lover. Growers often use glass jars. Plastic containers are less desirable since they can be softened or discoloured by the sticky resin. The well trimmed buds are placed in the glass jars leaving a centimetre or two at the top of the jar. The jars are sealed, and left in the dark.

The jars are then unsealed occasionally, once or twice a day, to allow any moisture to be released. Some people call this ‘burping’ the jars. Two or three weeks is considered a minimum cure time. Many connoisseurs prefer to wait longer, feeling that curing is complete after around 1-2 months. The cured buds will vape with a clean flavor, without a ‘chlorophyll’ taste.

Once your buds are fully cured you may prefer to store them in a freezer to fully preserve potency and ensure no degradation. Never store your buds in a high temperature environment (e.g. a hot loft space) if you want the best long term storage.

Fine control of the cannabis curing process with Boveda or Integra humidity sachets

You bought the best cannabis seeds and you grew them to the best of your ability. The last thing you want is to open your jars to find that the buds are mouldy because they were insufficiently dry.

Likewise, you don’t want to open your jar of precious buds and find that they are just too dry and crispy, with poor taste and aroma. This can feel like the buds are low quality and too old with a harsh effect when vaped/smoked.

When you open your jars you want to see and smell premium quality buds, with optimized potency, a well cured aroma and a delicious taste. One way to help achieve this is with humidity control sachets from companies like Boveda or Integra.

These sachets release moisture if your buds are too dry, or they absorb moisture if the buds are damp. You can select different products from these companies. From Boveda we recommend the “58% Humidity” sachets. From Integra we recommend the “55% humidity” packs.

Frequently asked questions about harvesting cannabis

If you have never grown cannabis outdoors then it’s something you may want to try. The costs of growing outdoor cannabis are far lower than indoor grown cannabis. You won’t need a grow light, you won’t need to pay for energy costs either. If you are worried about your carbon footprint, then outdoor growing holds a lot of attractions. Even growers at extreme northern and southern latitudes are able to grow autoflower seeds outdoors in short summers.

Do environmental factors affect the cannabis grow season?

Growing and harvesting outdoor grown cannabis really is enjoyable and rewarding fun. Understanding your own climate, the onset of spring and fall/autumn is an important starting point. Environmental factors play a large part in determining which strains will best suit you. You need to select the best cannabis seeds for your own requirements and climate.

Many outdoor cannabis growers grow both autoflower seeds as well as outdoor feminised photoperiod cannabis seeds. The grower can usually rely on their autoflower plants finishing in time even if stormy fall/autumn weather arrives early and damages the photoperiod cannabis harvest.

Daylight hours and outdoor cannabis flowering

Indoors growers use a 12/12 light schedule to artificially induce bloom. But outdoors the plants go into flowering a considerable time before 12/12 outdoor light conditions are reached. Precise timings for bloom can of course be vary from strain to strain. But most of them are triggered to start flowering when daylight hours drop to around 14 hours per day and below.

In the northern hemisphere at Amsterdam latitude there are around 16-17 hours of daylight at the peak of summer. In the northern hemisphere, outdoor cannabis plants usually start preparing to flower in August when daylight hours are quickly diminishing.

Between 10 – 25 August daylight hours start to decline from 15hrs per day to 14hrs. This is often the period outdoor plants start preparing to go into flowering. 12/12 outdoor light conditions are seen around 25 September at Amsterdam latitude. Around 25th October there are only around 10 hours of daylight. This (or before) is usually the date that most outdoor strains are harvested.

You will need to know the average last frost date for your region and be careful to put your seedlings/plants outside after that date.

Some growers will germinate their cannabis seeds indoors and grow them under indoor lights for a few weeks to give them the best possible start before planting them outdoors, after the last frost. The best outdoor cannabis growers will gradually ‘harden’ their seedlings by exposing them increasingly to outdoor conditions before they are finally transplanted outdoors.

The seedlings will need to be protected with slug/snail pellets. Some growers also surround their grow location with thorny brambles to give further protection from animals such as deer, goats and rabbits.

If the soil quality is poor, it can be easily improved with high quality compost from the garden centre. This will help improve the quality of your outdoor cannabis harvest. Once the plants are settled in their final grow position you can let them do the rest of the work. Just protect them from thieves and wild animals. In times of drought you may need to transport water to the grow site, but other than that there will be little to do.

Is there an optimal time to harvest your plants?

In an ideal world, you will know your own preferences for early vs late harvested cannabis. And with a little experience you will soon feel quite confident about judging cannabis ripeness from trichome appearance or pistil appearance. But the astute outdoor cannabis grower also has to consider the local weather patterns and plan ahead carefully.

If winter storms are due earlier than normal then it makes sense to harvest your plants early rather than allow them to get battered by bad weather. If you cannot be certain of the onset of winter weather, then it may be worth considering growing autoflower seeds rather than relying completely on photoperiod outdoor strains.

Some outdoor cannabis growers feel that growing their plants under natural sunlight gives the buds an extra ‘kick’, delivering a particularly satisfying high. Outdoor grown cannabis is certainly cheaper to grow with no energy costs. It can also be great fun finding an outdoor grow location and watching your cannabis seeds grow into healthy, heavy yielding plants. However you go about it, enjoy your outdoor growing and good luck!

6 Comments . Leave new

Generally your guides are good, so thanks. But this one on drying is not comprehensive enough. For instance, how do I dry the plants? If outside is it best to hang the whole plant upside down from a tree so the wind and the sun dry it with little risk of mould or do you strip all the good bits from the plants, discarding the trunk and branches and just dry the flowers/leaves in some other way?

Indeed you are right, this blog is not that extensive. Here you can check out an updated document about drying and curing https://dutch-passion.com/en/blog/the-best-way-to-dry-and-cure-cannabis-n918

Growing 3 plants 8 to 10 ft. Fertilized with raw fish only. My plants are as wide as high! I’need 2 strong men to pull them by the roots, hose the dirt off w
ith warm water then hang whole plants by their roots for six weeks in dark un-heated garage. What say you.

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