The benefits of growing cannabis indoors are well known and having the ability to control a plant’s environment at every stage of its life has obvious advantages. However, every outdoor gardener will tell you that buds grown under natural conditions come with an extra special something... the magic ingredient of real sunlight! However the journey from seed to harvest needs careful navigation to overcome common outdoor cannabis grow problems.
Every outdoor gardener has experienced this scenario; the cannabis seeds have popped, the seedlings have sprung and been placed outside in May (or November in the southern hemisphere) and for a couple of months they have shown great health and vitality. Then one morning you check on the girls and find a blemish – maybe the leaves show signs of discolouring, the edges have turned or strange spots have appeared...
This is the point when the outdoor cannabis grower has to do a bit of detective work! Without that controlled environment they have to put on the Sherlock hat (and of course stoke up the pipe!) to solve the clues. Rarely is diagnosis a straightforward process – one often has to eliminate other outdoor cannabis grow problems on the way to finding a solution – but here are some factors behind common issues found in the garden.
Outdoor Cannabis Grow Problems: Environment
Every garden and outdoor space is different; northern region to southern region, sunny climate to rainy climate, with different soils, surrounding vegetation and different pests and diseases that have decided they prefer your garden to somebody else’s. To know your problem it’s essential to be aware of your environment.
Heat, Wind and Rain
The weather report is essential reading for any outdoor cannabis grower because the elements can play a significant role in cannabis plant problems. In southern regions, extreme heat is the enemy of healthy plant growth, causing heat stress which will show itself through the curling of leaf edges and tips. While lack of water is an obvious issue but sometimes the problem is closer to home in the form of your growing medium. Simple mistakes, such as using a black pot which absorbs heat or keeping your plant on a heat absorbing surface (ie concrete or tiles) are also frequent causes of heat stress.
In northern regions, where conditions can fluctuate dramatically during the summer, wind burn can be an issue. This will manifest itself in small brown/bronze patches towards the center of leaves and slight yellowing at the leaf base. This condition is often missed because the spots can easily be misdiagnosed as nutrient burn (which will affect the tips of leaves). Excessive rain can also be a problem, giving bacteria and fungus the ideal conditions to spread disease which will produce stunting, leaf decay and brown spots and patches, which are often the result of root rot from the plants being saturated.
Outdoor Cannabis Grow Problems: Pests
In June and July your garden becomes the insect equivalent of The Purge! Depending on which part of the world your cannabis plants are growing will determine which pests are likely to give you outdoor cannabis grow problems, although some of these pests are universal.
Common pests include red spider mites which will feast on your plant’s chlorophyll reserves, producing little white or yellow spots on the leaves. Other suspects are aphids (aka greenfly and blackfly) and fungus gnats, which will latch on to your plant and suck out the juices. By the time the damage becomes clear (wilting or yellow leaves) you have an infestation on your hands.
The best prevention for all pests is vigilance. Get into the regular habit of checking the undersides of plants. If you see tiny dots on the surface they could be pests or just specks of dirt, so hold a white sheet of paper below, tap the leaf and closely investigate what falls. Check out the Paradise Seeds news archive for other common cannabis plant pests and cannabis plant pest treatments.
Before we leave pests behind, there is one more, the name of which is sure to strike terror into the heart of any cannabis grower – Phorodon Cannabis!While the Cannabis Aphid is relatively uncommon, this is an insect that has cannabis munching hardwired into its genetic code!
Work With Mother Nature!
Many people think it’s easy to grow cannabis outside (“It’s a weed right? It will grow anywhere!”), but the truth is much more complicated. Growing au natural brings its rewards but, as with all gardening experiences, it’s vital to respect the forces of Mother Nature.
It’s very rare that outdoor plants will reach harvest without some signs of wear and tear. The important thing to remember is not to panic at the first signs of damage and take hasty actions! Be methodical in the diagnosis; what have you - or your environment done - in the past few days to influence changes in your plants? Although cannabis plants are incredibly resilient, solving the clues will be the difference between a surviving plant and a thriving plant. Good luck Sherlock! Don’t forget your pipe...