Step By Step Guide To Growing Weed Outdoors

growing weed outdoor

Growing your own cannabis is an enjoyable and highly rewarding experience. However, it’s also highly challenging and requires a great deal of time and effort. First-time cultivators, especially those with limited resources, may find that growing indoors or in a greenhouse is far too expensive an investment. Therefore, learning how to properly apply outdoor growing techniques can save both time and money, while also yielding a bountiful harvest that’s sure to please!

Growing Equipment: What Do You Need?

growing marijuana outdoors

Equipment necessary for developing cannabis is typically split into two primary categories: gear that’s essential, and optional equipment that exists only to help produce higher yields. For instance, the most expensive item commonly utilized by outdoor cannabis cultivators is a greenhouse, although this piece of equipment is optional and not a necessity to begin growing.

Essential growing equipment typically includes:

  • Cannabis seeds or clones
  • Pots or other types of containers
  • Soils and fertilizers
  • Perlite

To help increase yields, you may wish to consider utilizing the following optional growing equipment:

  • Greenhouse
  • pH meter
  • Pesticides
  • Humidifiers/dehumidifiers
  • Fan(s)

Take Time And Choose The Right Strain

Any cannabis variety is capable of being grown in an outdoor environment, primarily when harvested by experienced cultivators under ideal conditions. However, not every strain is capable of yielding equivalent results, as each type is better suited to a specific climate, season length, level of humidity and other growing conditions. Naturally, strains developed with superior genetics and explicitly tailored to outdoor cultivation practices are ideal for helping increase the likelihood of growing a healthy and resilient plant with bountiful yields. Consider a feminized or autoflowering cannabis strain if attempting an outdoor grow for the first time to maximize your likelihood of successfully developing a healthy plant with an abundant yield. The following strains are ideal for first-time outdoor cultivators, as they each excel in most climates and conditions. 

  • Gorilla Breath – This Indica-dominant feminized cannabis variety flowers in as little as 65 days from germination and typically yields up to 600g/m2 (about 21 oz).
  • Trippy Gorilla Autoflowering – An autoflowering cannabis strain that typically flowers about 8 weeks from germination and yields up to 600g/m2 (about 21 oz).
  • Purple Lemonade Auto – This autoflowering cannabis strain yields up to an average of 500g/m2 (about 18 oz) as little as 9 weeks from germination.

Spotting The Ideal Grow Site

Selecting the most appropriate area for your outdoor garden is among the foremost crucial decisions directly affecting every stage of your growth, from germination to harvest. First, it’s paramount to ensure that your crop is planted where it will receive as much direct sunlight as possible, especially during midday. Second, a continuous breeze is a crucial element to developing a healthy plant, as airflow acts as an external stressor essential to toughening the stalk and stems of the plant. However, in an overly windy environment, consider planting by some sort of windbreak such as a wall, fence or large hedge to deter possible damage. Finally, it’s crucial to consider the privacy and security of your chosen grow site. Shielding your crop from potential thieves and judgmental neighbors is often achieved by planting next to tall fences, trees or shrubs. 

Consider The Soil Too!

growing outdoor cannabis in pots

Seeds typically begin to germinate when exposed to a constant temperature of around 65° F (about 18.3° C). Experts suggest keeping your crop indoors from germination up to about 4 weeks of growth before bringing it outside into suitable weather. When selecting the proper soil, keep in mind that most soils primarily consist of clay, silt and sand. Your crop requires a slightly acidic soil combined with adequately drained organic matter. Therefore, it is paramount to thoroughly research various types of soil before planting, especially if planting directly into the earth, to ensure a healthy crop with maximum yield capabilities. 

 Common types of soil include:

  • Clay-rich soil – This heavy soil drains slowly and doesn’t hold oxygen particularly well. 
  • Sand-rich Soil – This drains well and warms quickly. However, it does not hold nutrients as well, which has the potential to be problematic in wet climates.

If You Decide To Grow In Pots, Choose The Right One

If you lack an appropriate patch of earth to utilize as a suitable garden space, choosing to grow in pots or other containers is ideal. With this method, plants can be placed on patios, decks, rooftops and several other locations. As an added benefit, crops can be moved throughout the day as needed to increase sunlight or shield them from excessive wind or heat. However, crops kept in pots, barrels or buckets are likely to grow far smaller in comparison due to root growth restriction. Typically, the dimensions of your container will determine the overall size of the crop, although it’s still possible to grow taller plants so long as proper techniques are utilized during growth. Generally, five-gallon containers are ideal for small to medium-sized outdoor plants, while ten-gallon containers are better suited to grow more abundant crops. Regardless of size, it’s crucial to ensure roots don’t overheat during warmer weather, which could potentially drastically limit the expansion rate of your plants.

Next, Choose A Proper Fertilizer

best outdoor marijuana fertilizer

Cannabis requires generous amounts of nutrients throughout their life cycle, consisting primarily of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen. How your crops are fed depends entirely upon the methods utilized and the composition of your soil. 

Commercial fertilizers, such as long-release granular fertilizers, are tailored specifically for home gardeners. However, first-time cannabis cultivators may wish to avoid these altogether unless you have a solid understanding of how they work and what your crops require to flourish. 

Consider beginning with an inexpensive fertilizer, as these materials quickly release nutrients that your crop can easily absorb and utilize. Try blending different products to supply your harvest with the right nutrients required to grow and thrive outdoors. If planting directly into the earth, testing your soil is often extremely useful to learn if your site is ideal for plant growth, as well as which fertilizers will best benefit you. 

Plant On Time

when to plant weed outside

Unlike indoor cultivation practices, which allow for year-round growing, outdoor cultivators are very much at the mercy of mother nature. Growing outdoors requires patience, as there is a minimal window in which cultivators must germinate seeds, rear them through both the vegetative and flowering stages, and finally harvest. Outdoor cultivators living in tropical regions have the added advantage of year-round growing, though those living further north must time their grow accordingly. As mentioned earlier, experts recommend beginning your crops indoors, where they will be safe from potential frost, and then transplanting them outdoors as temperatures start to rise. In most areas around Europe and the United States, cultivators can hope to plant outdoors sometime around May. However, thoroughly inspect the recommended sowing times for leafy greens in your region for a better estimate. Crops are ready for harvest typically beginning sometime around September or October. However, this is almost entirely dependent upon the estimated flowering time and specific characteristics of your chosen cannabis strain.

Water Your Plants, Obviously

growing cannabis outdoors

Just like any other plant, your cannabis crops require healthy water consumption. Therefore, an added advantage of outdoor cultivation practices is continuous exposure to rainwater (although when growing in places such as California, with warmer climates and minimal rainfall, manual watering of plants is often required). However, be sure not to overwater your plants, as this could prove detrimental to their health. If you reside in a hot and dry climate, you may wish to consider digging beneath your chosen grow site and adding clay-rich soil or rocks as a way to help slow water drainage. Certain cannabis cultivators believe that adding polymer crystals to your soil additionally helps improve water retention.

Watch Out For Males And Hermaphrodites

At some point during your growth, it’s ideal to rid your grow space of both male cannabis plants and hermaphrodites, as these do not yield tasty buds and generally possess minimal amounts of THC. Moreover, if males and hermaphrodites are not removed, they will pollinate your female crops. Once pollinated, females will use their energy to develop seeds instead of focusing on bud development. So, how do you spot a male cannabis plant or hermaphrodite? Unfortunately, there is no easy way of telling before your crop enters the flowering phase. Typically, most cannabis strains comprise a 50/50 male to female ratio. If you notice seed pockets throughout your plant, remove it immediately, or else you run the risk of ruining your entire operation. 

Protect Them

how to grow weed outside

One of the most crucial challenges facing outdoor cultivators is adequately protecting your crops from potentially damaging elements. Certain dangers such as pests, mold and powdery mildew could be detrimental to the health and overall wellbeing of your cannabis plant. Fortunately, there are numerous methods commonly employed to help protect your crop. Applying pesticides is one sure-fire way to help prevent potential pest invasions. However, many cultivators would rather not deal with these damaging chemicals. Other viable options include techniques such as companion planting, where cannabis is cultivated close to other species of plants – for example, basil and dill – to help deter pests and lure in other beneficial insects. Mold and powdery mildew are yet another potential threat to outdoor cannabis cultivation. Growers can hope to prevent these damaging elements by counteracting cooler temperatures, humid conditions and stagnant air by planting within the stream of a light breeze and utilizing foliar sprays. 

Finally, Harvest

how long does it take to grow weed outside

Average flowering times vary widely and range anywhere from about 2 to 4-plus months. While harvesting times are widely dependent upon climate conditions and strain type, most cannabis varieties are ready for outdoor harvest sometime between late September and early October. Closely monitor trichome and pistil formation for a better idea of appropriate harvesting times. Most plants will be ready once most of its pistils transform from white to a reddish-brown color. The trichomes should also be white at this stage, though many cultivators choose to wait until an amber coloration is achieved. 

Alternative Outdoor Grow Methods

Similar to indoor growing techniques, there are a wide variety of alternative growing methods suitable for outdoor cultivation practices. Outdoor cultivators commonly choose to plant either in pots or directly into the earth. However, other cannabis growers prefer to grow in a greenhouse or apply an alternative technique commonly referred to as Guerilla Growing. Read on to learn the difference, as these alternative methods may be suitable for your unique cannabis cultivation style. 

Guerilla Growing Technique

outdoor cannabis growing tips

The Guerilla method entails growing your cannabis crops outdoors in a hidden or otherwise discreet location that won’t easily be discovered. The most obvious advantage to this technique is that your plants will be located a suitable distance away from your home or primary place of residence. While the Guerilla technique lessens the potential dangers of being caught harvesting cannabis in regions where it is illegal to do so, routinely traveling to your grow site can prove to be a tedious, daily process. Growing away from your home also leaves your plants vulnerable to potential discovery or at risk of taking damage from various outdoor elements.

Greenhouse Grow Environments

growing outdoor cannabis

Choosing to cultivate your cannabis crops in a greenhouse environment provides a host of added benefits compared to traditional outdoor cultivation practices, such as climate and water control, as well as protection from outside elements. These factors significantly contribute to the development of a healthy cannabis plant that will reward you with maximum yields come harvest time. However, choosing to grow in a greenhouse does have several potential drawbacks that must first be considered:

  • Costly to build
  • Requires an ample and open outdoor space
  • Consumes high amounts of energy
  • Breaks easily and is often expensive to repair
  • Not safe for cultivators with heat-sensitive medical conditions

Growing Outdoors: The Verdict

Growing cannabis outdoors has shown to be extremely beneficial in so many ways. If you live in a suitable climate zone, nothing will take care of your marijuana plant better than sun, wind and rainwater. Nature takes the portion of maintenance burden on itself while ensuring the biggest yields possible. All you need to do is pick the right spot and a strain well-suited for your climate, watch out for pests and other dangers, fertilize if needed and harvest on time. Whenever you’re in doubt, you can always come back to this guide!

outdoor growing cannabis seedsOpen collection
Growing Indoors VS Outdoors. Which do you prefer and why? I like the high thc content in indoor buds but sometimes I just want a 'natural' toke and go for the outdoor buds. Iv noticed a more refined earthy taste in outdoor weed too, can smoke it throughout the day without being incapacitated from a few joints. I prefer indoor weed when I'm smoking at home with nothing to do but watch movies/eat/play video games, whilst prefer outdoor when I have to be active or at work.

As long as it is good weed, i don't mind if it is outdoor or indoor.
One of the best and probably most potent smokes that I've ever had was from a plant which was growing in the wild and guess what, it had bunch of seeds in it too!
Indoor and outdoor for me, though I have much better success outdoors.
Hello matth82003, outdoor is great option, but at the same time, indoor help you to learn new thing about that hobby and plants in general. We wish you best of luck on that.
Looking for any help in best soil and feet mix to prepare soil for an outside grow in the ground with no pits, also what size hole is recommended. Thanks for any and all tips.
Hello Scott. Actually, most of the growint soils, designed for cannabis, will do. You don't even need a big hole if you plant the seed staight into the soils, just make sure to carefully plant it with sharp edge down on about 0.5-1 centieter deep
I would want a hole approx 3 feet across and about 3 feet deep. This should be optimal since the bigger the hole the bigger the potential plant. Even just digging the hole and putting the same soil back in helps since it loosens up the soil and cuts off the roots from nearby trees or shrubs that can compete for water and nutrients. Do not back the hole up right to the shrub or tree line. I could get by with a 18 inch by 18 inch hole but the plant will not get as tall. Buying some decent compost from a landscape supply yard is next on my list. This is to mix with the soil from digging the hole or several holes. Also get a bale of Peat Moss to add to the soil mix. I would consider adding some Kelp Meal, Shrimp or Crustacean Meal, some Neem Meal, and possibly some stone or rock minerals along the lines of Azomite and Basalt. All of this gets mixed in so the that all the microbes and other organisms in the hole can get to work on breaking down all the soil amendments while the plant is still very small.
Agreed. Or, just dig a small hole and let nature do its thing. This will work but the amount of the harvest will not be as much.
99% of my growing experience is indoor with artificial lighting. I understand the 18/6 hour schedule for veg and the 12/12 hour schedule for flowering. But what are the dates one needs to be familiar with throughout the growing season to utilize maximum potential for an outdoor grow? I plan to have plenty of ladies ready to move from indoor under artificial lighting, to a greenhouse, but what is the proper time to put them in a greenhouse? What (date) time of year? What is the best calendar schedule to keep for maximum success in southern Colorado?
the middle of May or Mother's Day is always a good date.. Lots of variables though.. Seeds will react different than clones.. I veg inside at 16-8 in order to come as close to a natural outdoor light cycle at that time of year and try to match sunrise / sunset times inside during veg to ease transition.. I'm also in soco.
Hello Leo! Actually, there's no certain dates for outdor growing as it depends on the weather and such parameters as dayly temperature and moisture. It is better to check this parameters and get a strain that will grow nice within them. Local growing forums might be useful
Thank you sooooo much! This is exactly the kind of information that I was looking for. Thank you.
I pretty much grow ONLY outdoors, but I'm at 34* give or take, in the eastern part of California (Sierra Nevada, @2,500' elevation). First, you want to know your dates of first and last frost, as cold temps will shut down growth. IME, they can handle snow and frost, and some of them can even handle it in 1gal pots. Others, not so much. Being properly hardened off is key, IME.
Thank you! Awesome article.
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