Growing cannabis outdoors can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a challenging one regardless of whether you are an experienced grower or a beginner starting out with your first cultivation.
Of course everyone wants to maximize outdoor cannabis yields but it’s important to stress that those huge outdoor cannabis trees you often see on social media are usually the result of a combination of factors.
These factors include optimum conditions for growing cannabis outdoors, many years of grow experience, the right weather combination, an absence of significant pest and disease problems… and often a pinch of good luck!
That said, this article will provide some useful tips for growing cannabis outdoors and maximize outdoor cannabis yields in this complete knowledge base guide with links to some of our most popular grow tips articles.
From choosing the right location to optimizing your soil and managing pests, we’ll cover everything you need to know to take your outdoor cannabis growing to the next level.
Choosing the right seeds for growing cannabis outdoors
A rookie mistake by many beginner cultivators starting to grow cannabis outdoors is to buy cannabis seeds without considering whether they are the right seeds for outdoor cannabis growing.
While all cannabis seeds will almost certainly grow outdoors, choosing the right ones for your outdoor growing situation is crucial. You may be planting your cannabis seeds in early spring but you need to be thinking about autumn harvest times.
This means checking the data available in the web descriptions of cannabis varieties to make sure a strain is suitable for your outdoor grow space. For example:
- Indica cannabis seeds are earlier harvesting but their bigger buds are more susceptible to mold.
- Sativa cannabis seeds produce plants which have a longer flower time and may harvest as late as the beginning of November.
- Hybrid cannabis seeds are sometimes the best choice as they combine indica and sativa qualities.
- Autoflower cannabis seeds are always a great option for growing cannabis outdoors, because of their super quick flowering time. Here’s how to optimize autoflower outdoor cannabis growing.
We also recommend reading our beginners guide to planting outdoor seeds which is filled with great tips related to growing cannabis outdoors for beginners and
Choosing the right location for growing cannabis outdoors
Growing cannabis outdoors is perhaps the purest way of enjoying the home grown cannabis experience and definitely the cheapest way! Working with nature is a joy for gardeners of all types of plants, and enjoying sun-grown weed is something special.
It’s one of the basics of growing cannabis outdoors but choosing the right location is essential. To grow cannabis outdoors you need a location which considers factors such as sunlight, wind, water and soil quality:
- Sunlight: Choose a location that receives plenty of direct sunlight. Cannabis plants require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to grow and produce high-quality buds.
- Wind: If your grow spot is windy, consider growing by a fence or adding a windbreak for protection.
- Water: Cannabis plants need regular watering, so make sure the location you choose has access to a water source.
- Soil: Cannabis plants thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients and has the right pH.
- Neighbors: Choose a discreet location to avoid unwanted attention and consider the lessons of a cannabis guerrilla grow.
- Pot or soil?: There are pros and cons for each approach. Perhaps the best argument for growing cannabis outdoors in pots is the versatility/mobility they provide.
And before we start talking about the specifics of a grow spot location, it’s important to consider where in the world you are intending to grow cannabis outdoors.
For those cultivating in southern regions, this additional guide to growing in a hot climate is also a good reference point.
Growing outdoor cannabis plants requires good soil
One of the most important factors in growing healthy cannabis plants is the quality of the soil. For good soil, be aware of the following factors:
pH: Cannabis plants require a well-draining soil that is high in nutrients and has a pH level of 6.0 – 7.0 (Paradise Seeds recommends 6.5), so slightly acidic.
It is always worth checking pH levels to avoid deficiencies during the growth cycle. This article gives you an insight into the importance of pH and how to correct the levels.
Soil mix: When growing a plant from the seed to seedling cannabis growing stage, choose a specialist seed compost. When it is time to transplant your seedling your soil should be well prepared.
What’s the best soil mix for growing cannabis outdoors?
Many growers will prepare their own soil mix to make sure that their plants are getting everything they need to maximize outdoor cannabis yields.
Remember, the quality of the soil is one of the most important factors in growing successful cannabis plants, so take the time to prepare it properly.
Watering and fertilizing outdoor cannabis plants
Depending on which region of the world is the location for growing cannabis outdoors, watering is likely to be one of the main stress points for growers.
In southern regions, in the heat of the summer plants can easily dry out. In northern regions, most certainly in the autumn but even in the heat of the summer, there can be days and even weeks when the rain does not stop falling.
Watering, just as with indoor plants, is a balance between giving plants enough water to thrive (such as with a wick system) and avoiding over-watering, which can lead to root rot and other problems.
There are many organic fertilizer products on the market, but nature also provides some superb natural fertilizers which can be added to the soil pre-planting, and also as top dressing during the grow process.
Adding mychorrizal fungi has also been shown to have very positive effects on promoting healthy soil to maximize outdoor cannabis yields when growing cannabis outdoors.
Growing cannabis outdoors rain issues: Polytunnel or greenhouse solution
Some outdoor growers, particularly those cultivating in a climate which is more challenging for growing cannabis (such as in northern Europe), invest in a polytunnel or greenhouse to maximize outdoor cannabis yields.
These provide a more controlled environment, while still providing the opportunity for growing cannabis outdoors, as plants are still fed by natural sunlight. One of the big advantages is that these structure help to avoid growing cannabis outdoors rain issues.
While the resinous nature of flowering cannabis acts as a water repellent, prolonged exposure to torrential rain won’t produce happy buds, and all that moisture content is likely to cause mold issues.
While greenhouses and polytunnels can be expensive, there are cheaper DIY solutions growers can utilize such as the one hour polytunnel.
The flipside is that in hotter weather, a polytunnel or greenhouse faces challenges from heat intensity. The biggest challenge is probably watering during a hot summer, although with good planning and the right watering solutions this can be overcome.
Managing pests and diseases when growing outdoor cannabis plants
Some of the biggest outdoor cannabis grow problems faced by outdoor growers come from pests and diseases. Here are some tips on how to keep your plants healthy and pest-free:
Prevention: The best defense against pests and diseases is a healthy plant. To promote plant health, it is essential to make sure that plants are getting enough water, nutrients, and sunlight.
Identification: If you notice any signs of pests or diseases, it’s important to identify the problem early so you can take action before it spreads. This is easier said than done, especially when growing cannabis outdoors, as the grower does not have control of their environment.
Pest damage: Pests are a particular risk for those who grow cannabis outdoors. Common signs of pests include chewed leaves, webbing, and small holes in the leaves.
Mold: With outdoor cannabis plants grown in temperate/wetter regions, there comes a higher risk of bud mold. This needs measures to prevent development and a quick response in terms of mold treatment.
Symptoms in sick plants can be deceptive and it’s important to take the time to research the possibilities and be patient in terms of reacting. The wrong diagnosis may result in more damage.
In many cases issues can be corrected and plants can be saved. The internet is rich with knowledge and resources and grow forums are an indispensable source of experience and ready advice from growers on cultivation related issues.
Ongoing maintenance and training of outdoor cannabis plants
Once cannabis plants are in the ground and moving through the vegetation and flowering phases of their life cycle, it’s vitally important to keep monitoring their progress and to provide ongoing maintenance.
There is also a good case for using various training methods with outdoor cannabis plants, such as using the SCROG technique to improve airflow, reduce mold risk and also to provide ‘stealth’ cover from the prying eyes of neighbors.
Different stages of the growth cycle present different issues, so following basic tips for growing big outdoor cannabis plants can help.
For growers who are depending on autoflowers to provide their outdoor cannabis crop, timing is key. Their short lifecycle means that they will achieve harvest within 60 – 70 days of being planted.
Some useful extra tips for outdoor autoflower growing, from the best pot to choose to planning multiple harvests, will maximize the potential of these popular outdoor cannabis seeds.
To summarize, growing cannabis outdoors is a rewarding experience but it is not a free ride! The grower often has to work harder than their peers operating in a controlled indoor growing environment, depending on the variables which come with each year’s growing season.
Nevertheless, bud grown outdoors and kissed by the sun throughout its life cycle is definitely a reward worth having.
While there is no certainty that the harvest will be consistently big (compared to an indoor grow), the various steps discussed in this article, along with the links provided, give the grower a comprehensive guide to growing cannabis outdoors.