The Ultimate Guide to Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Are you interested in growing cannabis outdoors? Cannabis has been growing naturally for thousands of years. Before humans even thought to cultivate cannabis outside, cannabis grew wild in many areas of the world with no help from humans.
All it takes to grow marijuana in your yard are some soil, digging tools, and a watering pot. The sun will provide a free, no cost lighting source for your plants. The clouds will provide a free watering source for your needs.
Why Grow Marijuana Outdoors?
If you chat with any old school cannabis growers they will tell you that the best, most potent cannabis is grown outdoors in nature. We believe this to be true, as unlike growing indoors, there is no better place to grow cannabis. Nature will provide your plants with everything they need to grow healthy and happy.
Over time the cannabis plant has grown in all sorts of places all around the world. Cannabis evolved on our planet approximately 28 million years ago. It is believed to have evolved in Central Asia specifically in the regions of Mongolia.
Over the last 1000 years the plant has been taken all over the world and cultivated by humans, as a natural medicine.
There is really no better way to cultivate cannabis than doing so outdoors, as nature will provide the best growing environment for cannabis.
Getting the Right Seeds for Growing Cannabis Outdoors
When growing outdoors you will want to pick cannabis seeds that are right for your outdoor environment. If you live in a cooler northern region, that has a growing season that ends around mid October, the grower will not want to pick Sativa Strains that finish in 12 weeks in November. They will be killed by frost. As a grower you will want to pick strains that will perform best in the growing environment that you live in. Growers can buy cannabis seeds from us here.
What Things will you Need to Grow Cannabis Outdoors
These are things that you will need to grow cannabis outdoors:
- Pots if you are not going to grow directly in the ground where you live
- Shovel if you are not growing in pots
- A large watering can, if it’s dry in your area in the summer
- A quality soil, if you are growing in pots or digging holes to fill
- A spot in your yard that receives about 12 hours of direct sunlight each day
Preparing your garden to Grow Cannabis Outdoors
If you are going to grow your outdoor cannabis directly into the ground, depending on your soil you will need to dig a good sized hole for the plant. Even if you are growing directly into the grow it’s a good idea to loosen up your soil that you will be planting in.
After you have your soil ready you will need to add some organic nutrients to the hole for your plant. There are many choices you can pick from for this but we will give you our recommendations.
Large Outdoor Lighting
One thing to keep in mind when you are growing cannabis outdoors is large street lights, or neighborhood lighting. This will have little to no effect while your plant is growing in a vegetative state. These large outdoor lights can prevent your cannabis from getting the dark cycle that it needs to start flowering in late summer early fall.
Make sure to pick a spot where these lights will not be a factor for your cannabis plants. Your flowering cannabis will require 13 to 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness to flower.
What we like to add for outdoor organic fertilizers:
- A form of organic calcium into the soil, this can be ground egg shells, ground oyster shells, ground or crushed lobster shells, snail shells.
- Horse, sheep, cow manure either mixed in very well with your existing soil or at the bottom of your growing hole. We recommend running water though it after as these manures can be quite salty.
- Chicken poop, a high source of nitrogen for the plants to give them a great start.
- Bat Guano, this stuff is awesome and will provide nutrients all summer long.
- Small crushed rocks, this will help with oxygen content in the soil and provide a home for fungi and bacteria
You can read more here about growing with organic cannabis fertilizers.
Choosing Large Enough Pots for your Outdoor Cannabis
Outside marijuana can grow into massive bushes over the summer. It is important to have enough space if you are growing outdoors in pots. Picking 50 gallon pots for summer growing is not unheard of. You will want to prepare your outdoor pots in much the same way as you would prepare the soil you will be growing directly in the ground with.
Your pots should have excellent drainage, if it rains, as a grower you will never want any water sitting in the bottom of the pots. This will drown the roots, causing root rots among many other issues.
Why you should start your Outdoor Cannabis Seeds, indoors then transplant outdoors
It’s always a good idea for marijuana growers to start their seeds indoors, before the outdoor growing season starts. This gives you a chance to get a head start outdoors. Younger plants are more susceptible to many outdoors pests when they are younger seedlings. Slugs and Snails love to eat younger cannabis seedlings and can chew your young plants up in one night.
While you can start cannabis directly outdoors from seed, we believe it is much easier to start your plants indoors in the springtime.
Transplanting Cannabis Outdoors
Once the outdoor gardening season starts in your area, it’s time to take your plants out to the spot that you have prepared to grow them for the summer or in your pots.
What is Cannabis Plant Mulching?
Mulching cannabis is when you as a grower use something to cover the top of your soil either on the ground directly or in your pots. To mulch you can use any number of things to do it, either free or paid for depending on your growing budget.
The Importance of Mulching when growing outdoors
Mulching your outdoor cannabis is one of the most important and useful things you can do for your plants that many new and experienced growers overlook, year after year.
When you mulch you are covering the roots with a material that will allow many good bacteria and fungi to live and grow, they will help to break down any nutrients under the mulch. These nutrients will wash down into the soil and feed your plants. Mulching also provides shade for the root zone under the soil, keeping your roots cooler in hot weather.
It will also keep your soil humidity longer in the root zone in dry weather, so the roots will have more access to water, and the grower will have to water less.
Mulching is also awesome for weed control, it will suppress weeds from growing all around you plants, stealing nutrients and water from your cannabis plants.
List of things that you can use to mulch your cannabis plants:
- Used Cut Recycled Rubber Tires
- Word chips, hardwood are best, stay away from pine as it will inhibit growth of the plant
- Wood Shavings
- Lawn Grass, free works great, breaks down into useful plant nutrients (recommended)
- Used animal bedding, has tons of great nutrient content, chicken coop bedding works awesome!
- Broken down cardboard boxes, break them down and lay them around your plants
How to Use your Mulch for Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Mulching marijuana is very easy to do, whatever you have picked for mulch you just need to lay it out around where the main plant’s stem is located. Laying it out in all directions about 5 feet from the plant will work best, or all around the top of the plant’s pot.
Lay the mulch out, about 1 to 2 inches thick around the plant. Depending on the type of mulch you choose it may break down over the summer or the years and you will need to re-add more to keep the depth.
Using a Cover Crop around your Outdoor Cannabis
When growing outside you can also use cover crops around your cannabis plant instead of mulch. Using a crop can help growers use less water and less nutrients around their plants all summer long. A cover crop is planting a type of plant that helps your cannabis plant grow and make nutrients more available to your main plant.
Remember these are only certain plants that you can grow, other plants around you cannabis like weeds will only use water and steal valuable nutrients from your plants.
Cover Crops plants that you can grow under your cannabis:
- Clover type plants will work as a great cover crop
- Mustard can be grown as a good cover crop
- Rye and Oats are good cover crops
- Beans, you can grow them around your plants. They will help fix nitrogen and you can eat them!
Why Hot Temperature is not an issue for Outdoor Growers
Cannabis has adapted over the years to handle all sorts of outdoor conditions. Outdoors, cannabis can handle just about any temperature that nature can throw at them. If the temperature gets very high for the day, the plants will be fine just make sure that they are watered correctly. Cannabis has natural ways to cool itself on hot days. If you live in a region that has very high heat for days on end you can look into getting a shade net for the plants for those very hot days or weeks.
Your plants will also be able to stand cooler temperatures in the fall as the temperature meter drops over time. In the fall you will have to be aware of frost damage to your plants. However mature cannabis plants can withstand temperatures of -3 and still survive.
Different Season Growing Cannabis Outdoors and what to expect
If you are going in the northern hemisphere you will be able to plant your cannabis plants outdoors between Middle April to the end of May. The further south you are, the sooner you will be able to plant outdoors. Outside your plant will grow most during the summer months of the year. Expect the most growth for your plants in June and July. If you are in the southern hemisphere expect these dates to be the opposite.
When June 21st hits the days will start to get shorter. Everyday the days will get a little shorter and once the daylight reaches about 13 to 14 hours a day, depending on the strain you are growing, the plants will start to flower around the end of Aug first part of Sept. The longer period of darkness is what will trigger the cannabis plant to start to flower. This is nature telling your plant that it will need to start producing seeds for the next year’s growing season.
Knowing When to Harvest Outdoors
It’s a little more tricky harvesting outdoor cannabis plants than indoors. Indoors you have full control over when your plants will start to flower with lighting. Outdoors your plants start flowering and you only will have a ruff idea of when this has started.
For this reason it is important to understand how trichomes should look when the buds are ready for harvesting. You can read more about harvesting your cannabis plants here.
Keeping your Plants Secure Outside
When you grow outdoors common sense will tell you to keep your plants out of sight and away from view of the road, even if you can grow legally in your country or state. Plant thieves are everywhere and they are looking for those easy plants to grab and steal from whoever left them where they can see them.
Buying a security camera is always a good idea if you are growing and point it directly at your plants. You can keep an eye on your plants when you are away, or turn it to detect moisture at night. Most of the time it will be the neighbors teens stealing your plants and if you see them on camera you can go get them back.
Motion detectors are also helpful to know if someone is in your garden late at night. You can put these facing away from your plants and make sure there isn’t anything that will accidentally trip them. If anyone comes near your garden it will set this off and it will ring like a doorbell in your home alerting you to the thieves presents.
Outdoor Bugs and Other Pests
There are a number of pests and bugs you will encounter growing cannabis outdoors. There are great big pests like deer, woodchucks, gophers that will be happy to have a nice cannabis meal to chow down on. While dealing with those there are also a whole host of bugs that would like to suck, and chew you plants down to nothing. You can read more about spider mites here. You can read more about Slugs and Snails here and about Grasshoppers (leafhoppers) here.
These bugs all love to eat and suck cannabis leaves, slowing your plant down, or even killing it if the issue is not addressed.
We recommend that you not use any synthetic pesticides outdoors (or indoors for that matter). An organic pesticide that we like to recommend for growers is Diatomaceous earth. This is a type of naturally occurring siliceous sedimentary rock that looks like flour and you can dust your plant leaves and stem with it. It is very effective at keeping bugs off your cannabis. You will need to apply diatomaceous earth after each rain.
You can also spread diatomaceous earth around your plant stem to keep bugs out of your soil and climbing your plants.
Bring Predatory insects to your outdoor garden
Many outdoor insect pests in your area will have predators that will kill and eat them. Bringing such pests as Ladybugs, parasitic wasps to your garden can help to keep your garden free of the pests you don’t want.
Clones vs Seeds for Outdoor Growing
Outdoors we recommend that you grow plants from seeds. The reason for this is that when you grow a plant from seed it develops a very strong tap root. This is a main root that will go straight down into the soil looking for water and nutrients. When growing a clone outdoors, it will not develop a tap root as it was from a clone.
If you are growing in pots it will not matter if the plant was grown from a clone or a seed as the root can only go as far as the bottom of the pot it’s in.
Watering When Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Growing outdoors will require that the grower pay close attention to the plants watering needs. If you live in an area that will receive lots of rain in the summer, you will have to make sure the plant has good drainage and does not get overly wet roots. If the leaves are curling inward this is a good sign the plant has been receiving too much water.
If you live in a very dry area you will need to keep an eye when the plant looks like it will need more watering. When the plant is lacking water the bottom leaves will start to hang down and droop. The top leaves will generally look fine until even those will start to hang in need of water.
If you live in a dry place, having a rain barrel can be very useful to collect water for your plant. If you have a large number of plants it would be best to set up a drip irrigation system for watering. For smaller gardens hand watering will be fine.
When watering by hand, water the plant in the evening, also make sure you water the plant well so that the water soaks into the ground well. Watering outdoor cannabis this way will encourage the plant’s roots not to grow at the top of the soil, but instead grow deeper into the soil.
You can read more on how to water cannabis here.
Fertilizing Outdoor Cannabis Crops
As your plant gets bigger, so will its need for fertilizer. The plant will be using up the organic nutrients that you added at the first of the growing season. Outdoors growers can grow massive plants. These large plants will require large quantities of Nitrogen to keep it green and growing as fast as it can. You will need to top dress all summer and fall to keep up with the plant’s nutrients. Once the days start to get shorter in late summer and fall your plant will require much more potassium to grow strong flowers.
Beware of the Wind
Wind can completely destroy your cannabis plants in the fall, with the plant starting to develop large heavy buds. Wind can break limits, knock your plant over, or smash it right into the ground. As the summer moves on and your plants are getting larger, wind will be a big factor. A good structure will be needed as the plant grows to keep the plant upright.
If the plant is extremely large you will require a structure made of wood or something that can support the plant in high winds. Make this a priority all summer long, you will thank yourself come fall and all your neighbor’s plants are on the ground, with broken branches.
Defoliating Plants before they start to flower
In the last week of July and the first couple of weeks of Aug you will want to start giving each cannabis branch more lighting to make larger flowers on your plants. Start by removing any very large fan leaves on the plant that may be shading other branches and nodes (where the leaf meets the stems).
Then remove all the underbrush of the plant that is not receiving any light. Removing all the big fan leaves will allow for better air flow within the plant.
Late Season Mold and Bud Rot
Pretty much anyone that has grown cannabis has had to battle bud rot growing cannabis outdoors, this is a mold that gets inside the buds that are dense and have a lot of moisture in them. It will attack the bud from the inside out. This makes it incredibly hard to see until it is already destroying your buds.
Once you see bud rot remove it
Never leave any bud rot on the plant, if you see it, it is very important to remove it right away. To do this, take scissors and cut out all the buds that have rot on them. Because mold spores could already be in the surrounding buds, (even if they look ok) remove them as well. Remove the moldy buds first, then clean the scissors or pruners with ISO alcohol after this.
Then remove the other buds around the area that look ok. After all these buds have been removed, take a bit of water and hydrogen peroxide and spray it around the area this will help to kill any more mold spores from getting into other buds.
Harvesting Your Plants
Now that you have worked so hard to get all these great cannabis buds, you can check the trichomes to make sure they are all cloudy with a few amber ones with a jewelers loop. When you see they are ready, it’s time to cut your plants and get them ready to trim and dry. If your lucky some of your plants may have turned a beautiful shade of purple.
You can read more here about trimming and drying cannabis plants.
Growing Cannabis Outdoors Payoff!
Now that you have completed your outdoor grow successfully you have all winter to enjoy your hard work and healthy harvest!