Growing marijuana outdoors may not have been, and indeed still may not be an option, for everyone. However, if you live in an area where you are now allowed to grow cannabis or will be able to in the future, considering outdoor rather than indoor is worth consideration.
Of course, there are factors to take into account. Do you have a garden or yard being the first? If you live in a condo or your property does not have a suitable space outdoor growing will not be an option. If you do have a space but it is sheltered and not receiving much sunlight it may also not be suitable.
If you have space, why opt for outdoor growing? Here are a few good reasons:-
Indoor growing involves a fairly substantial capital investment before you even begin. You need space in which to grow your plants, possibly a grow tent. Then you need lighting, the best option being LED lights that are not that cheap. You also need fans and a variety of ancillary tools to check the temperature, humidity, soil PH, etc. Outdoors require none of these so your setting up costs are virtually non-existent.
With the popularity of indoor growing comes the excessive consumption of energy. Grow rooms require lights, ventilation systems, and other equipment that eat up a lot of electricity. In contrast, outdoor growing needs only the sun, air, and water to thrive. It does not produce any carbon footprint, and it even contributes to the dynamics of the ecosystem. So, if we want to save the planet, the outdoor option is the better choice.
Less Effort Required:
One of the most obvious benefits of growing marijuana outdoors is the free sun. The plants get unlimited sunshine or daylight even on a cloudy day that is much better than grow lights. Also free is the unlimited supply of fresh air, carbon dioxide, and rainwater. As we know, these are all the elements that the hardy marijuana plant needs to flourish.
Growing outdoors also doesn’t require that much expertise. You only need good seeds and the proper care to germinate them. Once they sprout, they can technically grow by themselves. Marijuana is colloquially called “weed” with good reason as it really is a weed, and as any gardener knows weeds grow abundantly without any help. Of course, that does not mean you leave them to flourish without help. The more effort you put in the better your crop will be.
Higher Cannabis Yields:
Growing outdoors will most definitely lead to huge buds and an overall higher yield. With the help of the sun and carbon dioxide, the plants will grow extra-large leaves. This, in turn, will help accumulate more energy to produce huge buds. Outdoors you have the benefit of allowing the plant to extend its roots which produces a stronger plant and larger growth above ground.
Assuming that you have a secure location, a plant can grow larger than 180 cm. With this size, it can potentially produce around 500g of dried buds. With just 5 to 7 plants that are this size, you have a year’s worth of supply of high-quality weed.
For patients who use marijuana for medication, this type of yield is especially useful. Many states that legally permit home growing apply limits to the number of plants at various stages of growth (see our article on this). What they cannot limit is the size or quantity of the buds, so the higher yield you can get from each plant is clearly a major advantage. Obviously, growing plants indoors that are this size is simply not possible.
Choosing the right seed for outdoor marijuana growing is important. Most seed suppliers will have a list of the ones they stock and recommend for outdoor planting. Just use their search options to find the right strain you want to grow.
The location of your growing space may well dictate the best type of plant to grow. You may prefer one that is more low level and bushy if you have plenty of space but don’t want high plants because of their visibility or damage due to strong winds. Alternatively, if you have limited space and a protected location a tall plant might be your better choice.
The plants can be grown directly in the ground where they generally do very well, or they can be grown in five- to twenty-gallon containers. Plants growing in larger containers will naturally produce more bud.
Watering and Nutrition:
Even outdoors, and particularly in warmer dryer areas, watering your plants is an essential task to ensure successful growth. This can be accomplished easily and cheaply using tubing and drip-feeding to the plant roots. So all that is required is turning on a tap once or twice a day, preferably early morning or as the sun is setting.
You can also set up a simple system to add nutrients to the watering system changing from the growing to flowering type when appropriate.
When to Plant:
This will depend on where you live but generally speaking, you can plant marijuana outside in the late spring all the way through to the middle of July. Planting earlier basically ensures a much bigger plant. Starting late can prevent plants from getting too large before flowering begins.
In areas that tend to stay warm throughout the year, sativas and sativa-indica varieties can be planted in the fall. They will continue growing into the winter as they flower and will be ready in about 70 to 80 days after planting.
Pruning is sometimes needed to keep marijuana plants at a manageable size. When the main stem is cut, the lower branches increase in size, and the plant grows several other strong branches.
When these are pruned, the plant becomes bushier and puts less emphasis on growing taller. Plants with the main stem clipped will produce greater yields than unclipped plants.
Forcing the Flowering Stage:
Regardless of where you live, you can start the flowering stage at any time during the summer by covering the plants before the sun sets so that their “night” period is lengthened. For example, if dusk is at 9:00 p.m., the garden needs to remain enshrouded in darkness until 9:00 a.m. the next morning. With an opaque cover over the plants during the required 12-hour dark period, the plants will only receive 12 hours of light every day and will thus be persuaded to begin flowering.
Around week six of flowering, you should notice that the buds are starting to smell during the day. The non-pollinated flowers are starting to mature, and, in two or three weeks, the flowers will be ripe and ready. Buds that get the most light will ripen first in most cases. You can remove them but leave the unripe buds to continue ripening. They will be ready in around a further 10 days.
Growing marijuana outdoors or indoors is really down to a matter of practicalities and personal options and opinions. What may be right for you will be different from your neighbor or a grower in another state. However, we hope this article will at least give you pause for thought and a chance to consider whether switching from one method to the other might be the right thing to do. Of course, you might also consider doing both and comparing your results, and then decide how best to proceed for the future.
If you do decide to try outdoors, please do let us have your comments as to how it went so that other readers can learn from your experiences.