Growing plants outdoors is the most natural and least expensive way to grow cannabis. You could get away with just buying the plants, pots, if you choose to use them, and some nutrients for your existing soil, although purchasing high-quality soil would likely produce better results.
Growing outdoors is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It should come as no surprise that growing cannabis outdoors has a much smaller carbon footprint than doing so inside. This comes from the same factors that reduce costs, mainly the use of electricity to control lights, temperature, and humidity.
It is also worth noting that choosing to grow cannabis plants outdoors requires less of your time than growing indoors. Growing outside lets you leave most of the required elements (air, sunlight, temperature) up to nature, so there is less effort required from you.
Plants grown outdoors are constantly exposed to various elements. This includes the environment, weather, pests and animals, which has a big effect on the final results of the cannabis flower. There is also the chance the entire grow can be completely destroyed because of the outdoor elements.
You will have to time it properly to grow your plants to their full potential within the outdoor growing season. In most of Oregon we get one season each year, so it’s important to get started as early as possible or grow larger teen plants further along in the season.
Even if you live in an area where it is legal to grow cannabis outdoors, many growers should be discrete with their plants. This can decrease the risk of theft as well as negative attention.
Key Tips to Growing Outdoor
Before your plant begins to produce flower, it begins with vegetative stage. Keeping your plant in an area that receives at least 18-16 hours of light a day allows your plant to stay in its vegetative stage. During this stage the growth accelerates which will develop a strong root system. Your plant can grow as much as 5 inches in just one day.
Once the daylight changes to 12 hours of light a day and 12 hours of darkness, it will begin its flowering stage. This is the stage in which your plant begins to produce flower. Depending on the strain of your plant, it typically takes anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to finish flowering.
Choosing the Right Time and Location
It is recommended to get your plants outside by mid May to early June which will begin it’s vegetative cycle. This should allow enough time for your plants to grow in the Oregon climate, so by August or September your plants will be in their flowering stage.
The finish time of your plant is dependent on the genetics of the strain. Indica strains tend to finish earlier than Sativa strains, but this is not always the case. With so many strains, it’s always good to do a bit of research on the specific strain you are growing in order to get a more accurate time frame on when to harvest your plants. Fall season begins late September, therefore, many outdoor growers will crop their plants late September before colder temperatures approach. Choosing strains that finish quicker is ideal for growers in the Portland area. Different regions may be more suitable for different strains.
The ideal location for your plants should get about eight hours of sunlight every day. It should also be close to a water source, or at least close enough for you to easily water the plants regularly.
Spacing and Training of Plants Outside
It is typically safe to plant as many as four cannabis plants in a single square meter of land. Keep in mind, however, that this depends on the strain you choose. For example, if you are growing a strain that will grow tall and wide like a sativa, you should limit yourself to two plants in every square meter. Also and most importantly, consider local laws. In Oregon, every household is allowed to grow up to 4 plants recreationally.
Topping your plants regularly will increase growth laterally which results in more branches. Ultimately, your plants’ branches are where the flower will form. If you choose to not top your plants, your plants will use more of its energy to grow vertically resulting in less energy being distributed to your lower branches. Top accordingly when you feel your plant is growing too high and skinny and not enough outwards. To top your plant, simply remove the tallest node on your plant with sterile scissors. Keep your plants thinned out. Removing any unwanted yellowing, dead, or unhealthy leaves, allows for more distributed air flow and sunlight.
Choosing Between Pots and in the Ground
Growing in the ground gives your plants enough room to flourish to their full potential. It also gives your plant direct access to the natural soil, including its nutrients, resulting in less effort on your part.
However, growing in a pot, gives you the versatility to move the plant around. For example, if a strong storm is coming, you could temporarily move it undercover. Also, there is less concern about potted plants growing out of control, which would be possible if you grow directly in the ground.
Additionally, growing in a pot ensures the quality of the soil more precisely, but that control comes with extra effort on your part.
How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors
Growing marijuana plants outdoors is generally easier than growing them indoors because Mother Nature chips in to do some of the work. Even so, you have to lay the groundwork for a successful grow to ensure that your plants receive the nutrients they need. Here, we lead you through the process of preparing a site for outdoor cultivation.
As long as you have a sunny location in an area where you get at least eight to ten weeks of relatively sunny weather and temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow cannabis outdoors. If your growing season is short, you can get a jump on things by starting your plants indoors and then transplanting your seedlings (after a brief hardening period). If you live in a warmer climate, you can simply plant your seeds outside after the threat of frost passes.
How to choose a cannabis grow site
- Compliance: Your grow site must comply with all local rules and regulations. It must be private property owned by you. In most locations, your garden must be secure with a privacy fence and plants no taller than the fence. Any gates must be locked to prevent kids from getting to the plants and to discourage theft.
- Space: The amount of space you need depends on the number and types of plants you want to and are legally permitted to grow. Your plants will need to be spaced at least three to five feet apart, so they all get plenty of sun and breeze.
Think ahead. Will each plant have enough space when fully grown? Will plants shade other plants from the sun?
- Soil: Cannabis can grow in a wide variety of soil types, as long as the soil has sufficient drainage. If it doesn’t, you can amend the soil or plant in containers.
- Sunlight and darkness: Cannabis plants need at least five hours of direct sunlight plus at least five hours of indirect sun daily. They’ll reward you for more sun with a bountiful harvest. Also, don’t plant a photoperiod strain under or near a bright street lamp; otherwise, it may not flower properly.
Consider surrounding objects such as buildings and trees and how the angle of the sun changes over the course of the growing season. As a result, an area that gets full sun all day long during one part of the growing season may be shaded part or all of the day during another part of the growing season. Ideally, your grow site will get sun all day long throughout the growing season.
- Convenient access: You’ll be tending to your plants regularly and be eager to watch them grow, so pick a location with easy access. A backyard garden may be ideal.
- Access to water: Unless it rains every few days, you’ll need to water your plants regularly, so pick a site that has easy access to water.
Cannabis must be grown on private property, so you must own the land. Growing on public land, such as a national park or forest, is illegal.
Evaluate the soil
- Loamy: Loam soil is a combination of approximately equal parts of sand and silt along with relatively little clay. It retains moisture, but it also drains well, so plants aren’t sitting in saturated soil in which they’re susceptible to root rot and other diseases. Loam soil crumbles easily in your hands. If the soil is rock hard when dry, it contains too much clay. If it doesn’t hold together at all when you squeeze it into a ball, it may be too sandy.
- Fertile: Healthy soil also contains organic matter, such as decomposing wood and other plant matter. You can mix mulch and other amendments into the soil to increase its fertility, if necessary.
- Slightly acidic: You can use a pH meter to test the soil’s pH, which should be in a range of 5.5 to 6.5. Anything lower is too acidic, and anything higher is too alkaline.
- Alive: Good soil is home to many critters, including earthworms and beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. If you don’t see anything crawling around in your soil, it’s probably lacking in organic matter.
Take a soup can of soil from several areas around your grow site to your local nursery or university extension office to have your soil tested. Test results show pH levels; levels of key nutrients, including potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen; concentrations of organic matter; and so on. You may also receive specific recommendations on amendments needed to improve soil quality.
For a more thorough guide to evaluating outdoor soil, check out the free Willamette Valley Soil Quality Card Guide published by Oregon State University.
Decide whether to grow in-ground or in containers
- Planting in-ground is generally easier and more forgiving. With quality soil, you don’t have to worry so much about plants becoming root bound or developing root rot, and you may not have to water as frequently.
- Containers add height which may make your plants taller than allowed by law or taller than the privacy fence you built.
- If containers are too small, plants can get root bound, preventing them from absorbing the water and nutrients they need. In containers, plants may also be more susceptible to root rot if the plants don’t drain properly.
- You can move containers around if the sunny locations in your space change over the course of the growing season.
- If you have poor quality soil, you need to amend the soil prior to planting, which adds to the cost and work involved.
- In a container, you can easily customize your soil mix to create the perfect grow medium for your plants.
Harden off your marijuana plants
If you start your plants inside (in a grow room or on a windowsill), harden them off before transplanting them to an outdoor location. Hardening off is a process in which plants gradually become acclimated to the outside environment over a period of seven to ten days.
Take your plants outside for 30 minutes or so on the first day and place them in a sheltered area where they receive indirect sunlight and perhaps a gentle breeze. Continue to increase this time by 30 minutes or so each day, gradually increasing their exposure to more direct sun. Watch your plants carefully for signs of heavy stress such as burning or wilting. Light stress is good, and it will accelerate the hardening off process, but heavy stress can kill a plant or severely impact its ability to flourish.
You should also harden off your plants against the cold. If frost is possible, keep the plants inside at night. Otherwise, gradually expose them to the cold nights. You may want to place them in a cold frame or under a box or bucket at first to provide some shelter from the cold without having to bring them inside, just be sure to uncover them the next day or they may overheat. Over the course of seven to ten days, they should be able to make it through a cool and frost-free night.
Support and protect your plants
When growing plants outside, you may need to provide them with support and protection from the elements, especially cold and frost as the summer growing season ends.
First, focus on providing your plant with structural support throughout its growth cycle especially in the flower stage. The idea is to provide your plant’s branches the support they need to grow big fat buds without becoming too heavy and breaking off from the main stalk. Bamboo stakes, along with twine or Velcro plant straps, are great and provide a variety of ways to stake your plants, such as the following:
- Place a stake alongside the stalk, and tie the stalk to the stake.
- Place three or four stakes around the periphery of the plant, and tie branches that need support to the stakes. You can also wrap twine around the stakes to create your own “cage.”
- Place a row of stakes in front of or behind several plants, and then tie stakes horizontally to the vertical stakes (or weave them together) to create a trellis. You can then tie branches to the trellis.
About This Article
This article is from the book:
About the book authors:
Kim Ronkin Casey has been a communications professional for more than 20 years and recently took a year-long leap into the world of cannabis as the communications manager for one of the leading dispensaries in North America. She now consults for companies in the industry on internal and external communications. Joe Kraynak is a professional writer who has contributed to numerous For Dummies books.
When To Plant Cannabis Outside: A State By State Guide
Spring is finally here, let’s get your plants outside! Even if you don’t have a huge yard, you can still enjoy the great outdoors by planting and growing your very own cannabis. Even if it’s still a bit chilly where you are, now is the time to start. Growing cannabis outdoors may be easier than you might expect, especially with a growing system like a Pot for Pot.
State by State Guide to Growing Cannabis Outside
Of course, every state has a different climate and/or legal setup for growing cannabis, so it’s important to know what is possible where you live. Read on to learn how to grow outdoor plants in your state.
How to Grow Cannabis Outside
The first step to growing cannabis is doing your research. You need to research a location, your seeds, whether you’ll use pots or plant in the ground, what kinds of nutrients to use, what the weather is like, and so on. For some people, this level of detail is exciting. For others, especially beginners, thinking about how to grow cannabis outside can seem a bit overwhelming. That’s where a Pot for Pot comes in.
The a Pot for Pot’s Complete Grow kit ends the confusion that likely comes from growing cannabis for the first time. It’s also ideal for veteran growers who want a low-maintenance, effective way of growing cannabis plants. A Pot for Pot’s Complete Grow Kits are specifically designed to help anyone enjoy the benefits of growing cannabis outside.
Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.
Grow with the Sun
Grow Year Round
Seed Coupon Included
Online Grow Support
Harvest up to a pound
For many, the idea of outdoor growing paints a mental picture of working in your backyard or a community garden, tending lovingly to your plants every day. But this is not always possible, either because you want to keep your plants discreet or because you simply don’t have space for it. Even if you don’t have the best place to grow cannabis outside, a Pot for Pot Complete Kits can help. Simply set your potted plant on your balcony or patio. Of course, you don’t need a kit to grow a potted plant. However, if you choose to ‘do-it-yourself,’ you’d have to plan, buy, and assemble everything yourself as well. With that comes the opportunity to make critical mistakes that could ruin your entire investment. If you’re only going to grow one or two plants, don’t you want to ensure that they succeed and produce something worth your effort?
A Pot for Pot, on the other hand, makes planning and executing a marijuana home grow super simple. The Complete Grow Kit provides just about everything you need to nurture a successful plant in as few as 80 days. All that’s left for you is selecting your seeds, adding some water, and providing plenty of sunshine.
Why does this method work?
Growing in pots, in general, makes the process of growing anything easier, since you can move your plants around (between indoors and outdoors) during undesirable weather developments. On top of that, a Pot for Pot also provides the nutrients as well as the best soil for growing cannabis outside. Our simple, easy-to-follow process is literally the best way to grow cannabis outside. This is true whether you are growing for the first time or want to make growing cannabis outside in pots as effortless as growing any other plant.
A pot and optimized soil aren’t the only things included. You’ll also receive a seed germination kit, a step-by-step grow guide, aerated top soil mix, a rooting booster, magnifying lenses, scissors for trimming, natural pest repellants, a watering can, and a spray bottle. Need seeds? A Pot for Pot includes a coupon that you can use to purchase some of the best cannabis seeds to grow outside. If you have ever avoided growing cannabis because of how complicated it is, a Pot for Pot has taken the guess work out of the equation.
Can You Grow Cannabis Outside?
The difficulty of growing cannabis can vary based on the type of plants you choose to grow. Non-autoflowering (photosensitive) cannabis plants depend on the specific timing of daylight (and darkness) to grow properly. Autoflowering strains, on the other hand, have their own internal clocks, so to speak. No matter how much sunlight they receive, they will go through their seedling, vegetating, and flowering phases as usual. This means you don’t have to worry quite as much about the timing of the seasons. As long as your plants receive adequate amounts of sunlight, water, and have good enough levels of humidity and nutrients, they will do just fine.
For those who have not gone through the process of growing “normal” photosensitive plants, the difference is huge. Photosensitive plants will not even enter their flowering phase until the hours of uninterrupted darkness reach a certain length. This must be consistent every night for several weeks to be successful. If even a flashlight or streetlight interrupts this darkness, the cycle is interrupted, and it takes that much longer to reach the point of entering the flowering phase.
The fact is “normal” marijuana plants are not always easy to grow. If you are growing cannabis outside in pots, you’ll need plenty of equipment, as well as lots of planning, months in advance. For these types of strains, knowing the best place to grow cannabis outside is more than personal convenience and access to sunlight. Planning an outdoor garden with photosensitive plants means finding an utterly dark spot far away from streetlights. You’ll also need to pay careful attention to the best time to grow cannabis outside. Otherwise, your plants may flower too early in their growth cycle or too late in the growing season. If either of these things happens, your plants won’t have grown enough when it comes time to harvest.
That is why autoflowering strains are some of the best cannabis strains to grow outside. They will grow correctly even if they are exposed to a little light during the night. Their straightforward growing process is perfect for those already busy with day jobs or other hobbies who simply want to grow some high-quality cannabis plants on the side. If this applies to you, autoflowering seeds growing in a Pot for Pot are likely an excellent solution.
How Long Does A Cannabis Plant Take To Grow Outside?
Lots of people would like to know how long it takes to grow a cannabis plant outside. You need this information because you want to get your plant(s) out early enough, but not too early. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.
The length of time needed to go from seed to harvest varies hugely depending on the strain. This is because genetics can be extremely different depending on the dominant strain, whether it is a hybrid, and whether it is photosensitive or autoflowering. Besides that, the grower’s own behavior can make a difference as well. If you plant earlier in the season, a photosensitive plant will take longer to reach harvest. If you plant later in the season, it will take less time. Of course, this will only work if the plant has been given enough time to properly grow, especially during the vegetation and flowering phases.
Autoflowering plants, however, take exactly how long you are told they will. In other words, the information about the growing time of the strain will be accurate, since it is not based on daylight or nighttime hours. In general, autoflowering plants grow faster than photosensitive plants – taking roughly 3 months to go from germination to harvest. That means you can either be a bit relaxed with the timing, as long as you have three months of adequate sunshine and warmer weather. This also means those who are super proactive can grow cannabis outside twice in one season – doubling their harvest. If you want to do it that way, it is best to germinate and grow your plants a bit inside before moving them outdoors, just to ensure a surprise frost doesn’t hit them.
The Best Time to Grow Cannabis Outside
The big question when it comes to growing outdoor cannabis is when to germinate the seeds and plant them. This answer varies widely by state. However, it should not be ignored. Timing your planting incorrectly could make or break your garden. If you plant too early, your young plants might not make it to their adulthood because of less-than-ideal temperatures.
In general, if there is still a risk of frost, it’s not a good idea to plant yet, or you will be majorly risking your plants. However, if you plant too late, you might end up with a disappointing end result. Luckily, this state-by-state guide can help.
There are a variety of ways to section the different regions of the United States. For this guide, we’ll break it down into a few of the broader sections to provide a general idea of the country’s climate regions. Since the climates can still vary quite a bit within each region, we’ll sometimes include state-specific details as well.
Note: This information is based on climate rather than laws. It’s still a good idea to check into your state’s local laws to see if and what you can grow.
Includes Northwestern states (Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado), the Midwest (Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota), the Northeast (including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, and Pennsylvania), and Alaska.
Northwestern states, especially Oregon and Washington, have to deal with rain as one of the biggest concerns. The best time to grow cannabis outside here is in early spring, which can be different from year to year, depending on the weather, but primarily meaning March or April. Sometimes May can be a good time to start, depending on how cool the weather has been that year. Keep in mind, autoflowering plants have a shorter growing time, so waiting until the later side is not a bad idea for these strains. This helps ensure good weather and more sunshine from the get-go.
The rain in the Northwest can make mold an issue, especially close to harvest time. This makes the complete growing kit from a Pot for Pot so useful. Because every kit includes discounts on some of the best autoflower cannabis for outside grow seeds, it’s not hard to find the best strains for this region. With autoflowering plants, you can harvest before things get too wet and rainy during the impending fall and winter, lowering the risk of mold and mildew.
States that are higher altitude and/or have colder winters, such as Colorado, Montana, the Midwest, and the Northeast, also benefit from the shorter growing season of autoflowering plants. The best time to plant might not be until April or May, and that’s okay; the plants will still be ready to harvest before the weather starts getting too cold. In general, it should be safe to bring your plants outside by the time the end of April rolls around. This applies to the majority of states in the North, although you might want to bring them indoors at night when the risk of nighttime frost still exists.
Includes the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, Utah, and California) and the Southeast (Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and Kentucky), and Hawaii.
From the desert states of Arizona and New Mexico to the more tropical regions such as the Carolinas and Florida, these states benefit from lots of sunshine and warmer weather. In these states, the key to growing cannabis outside in pots is to plant on the earlier side if you’re organized early enough. Place your pots outside as early as March, although April is fine too.
The beauty of growing in the Southern states is you can easily complete two rounds of growing if you use autoflowering seeds. Just remember to bring your pots outside early enough (March or early April). For the desert states, make sure the plants get extra water both at the beginning and throughout the entire growing season.
Can cannabis grow outside? Of course, it can. However, if the goal is homegrown marijuana with the least amount of effort, you’ll want to start with a Pot for Pot.