Growing weed outdoors is more accessible than you think. Outdoor cannabis cultivation can be a fulfilling and relaxing activity for growers of all skill levels. Of course, outdoor cultivation comes with its own set of challenges. Our outdoor growing guide shows you how to grow your own weed in your backyard, balcony, rooftop, or terrace.
Benefits of Outdoor-Grown Weed
Outdoor weed has long been compared unfavorably to indoor weed, which is seen as the most potent and flavorful available. Despite this misconception, outdoor-grown weed can boast a fuller spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes than indoor weed. Plus, there are many more benefits to growing in the great outdoors.
Consider the high energy costs of artificial lights, air conditioning, and dehumidifiers inside an indoor growing space. When growing outdoors, you rely on the natural power of the sun to stimulate root, leaf, and bud growth. All you need is good soil, fertilizer, and seeds.
Indoor growing spaces are usually limited in size. Outdoor spaces, however, give your plants plenty of room to grow roots and plants as tall and wide as they please. Large plants mean a bountiful harvest of up to a pound of weed per plant.
As mentioned above, indoor gardens require high energy costs, which can be wasteful for some people. Outdoor gardens are seen as a more environmentally-friendly approach that doesn’t waste electricity. Instead, the energy is derived from the free sunlight.
Most importantly, outdoor cannabis growing is a fun and relaxing pastime. Gardening, in general, can be a meditative experience that allows you to literally reap the fruits of your labor. What could be better than smoking some of your freshly-cured flower buds?
Climate plays a big part in how you plan to grow your weed outdoors. While cannabis has adapted to grow in nearly every environment, harsh conditions can still cause damage and even lead to death. Ideally, temperatures should be between 75º and 85º F. Consistent temperatures above 86º F can stall growth, while temperatures below 55º F can cause stunted growth and death.
In terms of environmental stressors, heavy rains and strong winds can wreak havoc on your crop. Furthermore, extremely humid environments can be a breeding ground for moisture and powdery mildew. Also, consider the length of daylight your area gets if you are growing photoperiod strains. Some areas of the world receive more hours of daylight on the same day.
Choosing a Space
Now, that you’ve decided to continue with your garden aspirations, you must choose the proper growing space. Will you be ground in the ground or in portable containers? Ideally, you’ll want to plant or place your cannabis in areas that receive the most amount of light, especially during mid-day when the sun is in full force.
Consider the privacy and security needs of your garden. Most states with legal cannabis require you to conceal your cannabis garden from neighbors. A tall fence, tree, or other foliage could help seclude your area. Planting in balconies or rooftops could keep your grow under wraps. In terms of security, a strong cage or fence could keep thieves and pests out.
Choosing a Strain
Choosing a strain is one of the most exciting parts of the process. Consider your strain’s unique growing characteristics. Does your strain grow well in your climate and location? Look up strain reviews and tips from growers on which strains prefer which growing conditions. Furthermore, you’ll have to choose between seeds and clones to grow. Seeds can grow a heartier taproot compared to clones, but you risk ending up with a male or a different phenotype than you’d like.
Clones, which are cuttings from a mother plant during its vegetative state, can be bought from a licensed dispensary. Watch out, though, because clones can inadvertently introduce pests and disease into your garden if you’re not careful. Autoflowering strains are a good choice for gardeners who want a fast-growing crop or those who want multiple harvests throughout the year. Autoflowering strains begin to bloom automatically after a few weeks instead of waiting for a specific sunlight period. The only downside is that these strains can be less potent.
Soil is a crucial part of the equation that holds the moisture and nutrients necessary for growth. Soil pH is important because extremely high or low levels could restrict nutrient uptake. You can check your own pH and make the necessary amendments to get your plant back on track to a healthy state.
Soil consistency is a major element of the soil’s quality. Cannabis plants thrive in loamy soil, which is soil that consists of sand and silt and some clay. Too much clay can reduce oxygen levels for roots. Sandy and silty soil offer a good mix of drainage, warmth, and nutrient lockdown. Ensure your soil fertility allows for a healthy and diverse microbiome that helps your cannabis plants grow big and bountiful.
Fertilizer full of nutrients is an essential part of a cannabis plant throughout its life. The three main nutrients a cannabis plant uses are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Beginners can stick with nutrient solutions made specifically for cannabis. DIY or pre-made organic fertilizers are made of things like blood meal, bat guano, kelp meal, which is helpful for healthy microbe diversity.
Cannabis plants need more nitrogen during their vegetative state and more phosphorus and potassium during their blooming phase. If possible, follow the fertilizer’s feeding charts to determine when and how much of the fertilizer to use.
Containers offer portability, convenience, and ease of use. You won’t have to dig up and amend your soil. You can also move your container around to get the most sun or shade depending on your climate. Generally, 5-gallon pots are good for medium-sized plants. 10-gallon pots are good for larger plants. Make sure to shade your containers to prevent the roots from heating up too quickly.
Rain and groundwater can be beneficial to outdoor plants and saves you time and money on watering. Too much of it, however, can be detrimental to the plant. Check your plants regularly and water them consistently when it gets too hot during the summer. Some large plants can use up to 10 gallons of water per day.
Ideally, use filtered water to reduce the number of dissolved minerals in your soil. Tap water can contain high levels of these that can affect the soil’s pH level. Water your plants if the top couple of inches is dry. If you have a rainy climate, you’ll need to improve drainage. Try planting in raised beds or diverting the water through ditches. If water retention is a problem, add clay, rocks, or other materials to improve retention.
Outdoor environments can produce some of the best cannabis buds ever, but not without some obstacles. The outdoors can be unpredictable and dangerous to plants. Temperatures below 40º F can be overcome with a greenhouse or other protective cover. High winds can be improved with a rudimentary or fancy windbreak.
A greenhouse can also protect your plants from heavy rain. Heavy rain can damage a crop by leading to mold and mildew. A temporary protective covering can be used when rain is coming. For pests and animals, fencing can detract some. Organic pesticides and some native insects can also keep your plants healthy and thriving. A mulch layer can protect your plants from underground pests and weeds.
Master Cultivator Certification
Are you ready to grow weed at home? Enroll in CTU’s online cannabis training program to learn everything about cannabis cultivation. From choosing genetics to harvesting your buds, our course material covers every aspect to get you started on your road to becoming a master grower. Sign up today!