can you grow cannabis outside

Timing is key. A short vegetative phase can cause cannabis plants to flower early, while a long vegetative phase can prevent your plants from finishing their flowering cycle if the weather takes a turn for the worse. The Farmer’s Almanac is a reliable source for planning around the seasons and preparing your crop for success.

Quality soil should be dark, rich in nutrients, and have a light and fluffy texture. The structure of your soil should be capable of retaining water but also allow for drainage of any excess. Organic potting soil blends from your local garden center will do just fine, but more advanced growers prefer to blend their own organic super soil from scratch. The soil itself should be slightly acidic with a pH of around 6. This can be tested with a soil pH meter or test kit.

To grow cannabis outdoors, the bare minimum required is basic gardening tools, soil, water, and a spot in your backyard that receives ample sunlight.

The three primary nutrients required for cultivating marijuana are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Plants grown from seeds are typically heartier and more vigorous than clones, as they produce a sturdier taproot that clones are not able to replicate. The vigor that comes from deep roots can be an advantage when dealing with harsh environmental conditions and pest pressures. The disadvantages of growing seeds are the additional attention required to germinate the seeds, the necessity to eliminate any males before they pollinate the females, and the high variability in growth characteristics that results from their genes.

Greenhouse basics.

Cannabis is a hardy plant that has adapted to climates all over the world. From the cool and arid mountains of Afghanistan to the humid regions of Colombia, over time the plant has been forced to adapt its defenses against a host of problems. But cannabis is still susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Whether it is heavy winds breaking branches or excessive rain causing mold, the great outdoors presents challenges to growers that can be mitigated with sufficient planning.

Whether using seeds or clones, many cultivators start growing their plants indoors to ensure they are not exposed to damaging weather conditions as they develop their initial root system. The plants can be transitioned outdoors when the weather and light conditions are ideal. Extending the indoor vegetative growth period can help increase yields and allow growers time to select the best plants to be moved outdoors.

During the first half of the season, the daytime period increases until the summer solstice, which occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on or around June 21 and in the Southern Hemisphere on or around December 21. While the daylight hours increase, the plant’s vegetative stage takes place. During vegetation, the plant will develop the roots and stems that will serve as the foundation for growth until flowering.

Cannabis requires more nutrients than many of the other plants you may have in your garden. Quality soil contains enough organic nutrients to start the growth cycle, but as your cannabis plant grows and transitions into flowering, it may deplete the available nutrients and require additional fertilizers.

In the Northern Hemisphere, cannabis can be planted in early to mid-spring and harvested in mid-fall, depending on the cultivar. In the Southern Hemisphere, the growing season will be reversed with planting in early to mid-fall and harvesting in the middle of spring.

Container gardens can be convenient as they can be moved around the garden to maximize sunlight or protect them from harsh conditions Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.

Outdoor cultivators take what Mother Nature gives them and turn it into the best possible harvest. Many cannabis consumers prefer marijuana grown outdoors under the full spectrum of natural sunlight. That unique spectrum creates a greater variance of cannabinoids and terpenes than artificial lighting.

Plants grown from seeds are typically heartier and more vigorous than clones, as they produce a sturdier taproot that clones are not able to replicate. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps.

Even if it is legal to grow cannabis outdoors where you live, you should still take some precautions to hide the plants from public view. And it’s often required by law. You can grow your cannabis plants among other plants in your garden to hide them in plain sight. Cannabis can easily grow taller than your average fence, though. Training techniques can help keep your plants shorter. The fewer people who know you are growing cannabis, the better. The ideal situation is to have your grow tucked away on a piece of land where your plants can truly flourish away from prying eyes and nosy neighbors.

Avoid clay pots as they can be costly, heavy, and retain heat that could dry out the plant’s soil and roots. Fabric pots are the least expensive and most effective solution, as they allow for ample drainage and plenty of oxygen to get to the roots. Plastic containers are also light and inexpensive but tend to retain more heat than fabric pots. Flowering plants need a container that is at least 5 gallons (18.9 liters) to prevent them from outgrowing their containers and becoming rootbound.

Seeds vs. clones.

Greenhouses can be a great middle ground between the complexities of an indoor setup and the uncertainty of growing outdoors. They provide ample protection from the elements and use far fewer resources than an indoor grow. Greenhouses can be more costly than an outdoor garden and require more planning, but they also allow you to extend the growing season considerably.

Wilting plants and dry soil are a direct sign that plants need water. Droopy leaves along with wet soil are a sign of overwatering. Both are common mistakes and can be avoided with some practice.

Organic sources of nutrients include alfalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, bat guano, fish emulsion, dolomite, and earthworm castings. Each contains different ratios of nutrients that can be used for different phases of the plants’ growth cycle.

Deciding whether to start with seeds or clones will change the timing and manner by which your plants are introduced to the outdoors.

Some cannabis genetics have adapted to specific climates and are capable of growing more easily in certain conditions than others, so pay very close attention to the cultivars, or strains, that you choose. A little research will go a long way in ensuring you have a successful harvest.

The amount of water a plant needs largely depends on its size, the size of its container, the soil type, and general environmental conditions such as the weather and the intensity of the sun. Larger plants in warmer environments tend to use more water than smaller plants in cooler weather. The amount of water needed will change throughout a plant’s life cycle.

Greenhouse structures range from inexpensive polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubes, often called “hoop houses,” to highly engineered, fully automated, and purpose-built steel greenhouses. Due to their efficiency, greenhouses are quickly becoming the preferred growing method for many large-scale cultivators.

How to grow marijuana outdoors.

When possible, use natural structures and formations in your garden as windbreaks to prevent excessive stress on your plants that could lead to branches breaking.

Quality soil is crucial to the success of your crop and one of the few factors that you have control over when growing outdoors.

Container gardens can be convenient as plants can be moved around the garden to maximize sunlight or protect them from harsh conditions such as rain, heavy winds, or extreme temperatures.

During the vegetative stage, water your plants thoroughly, then not again until the top 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) of soil has dried out. This can be every day or every four days, depending on conditions, but the time between watering will become shorter as the plant grows its roots. Container gardens tend to dry out faster than soil beds, so they’ll need to be watered more frequently.

Depending on your location, you may need to plan for rain. In most regions, the rainy season is typically aligned with the end of the flowering stage and the start of the harvesting period, but this may not always be the case. Rain can be detrimental to an outdoor flowering crop so being prepared to cover or move plants can help ensure a successful harvest. If it does rain on your plants, make sure to immediately shake off any excess water, as lingering moisture can lead to the formation of mold and nobody likes moldy weed.

For a small garden, hand-watering is the easiest, cheapest way to go. It also allows you to get familiar with each cultivar’s needs, and gives each plant the exact amount of water it requires. Irrigation systems can be convenient for a large number of plants or for times when you cannot be in your garden.

Greenhouses also offer growers the ability to harvest more than once per year, if they are equipped with a light deprivation system. These systems allow growers to control the hours of sunlight their plants receive, much like turning lights on and off in an indoor garden, by covering the greenhouse with a black tarp that deprives the plants of sunlight.

Daytime temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9 to 25.4 degrees Celsius) are ideal for cannabis, while temperatures above 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31.1 degrees Celsius) or below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius) can delay growth. Cannabis is considered heat-tolerant, but sustained highs and extreme lows will usually lead to complications that could eventually kill your plants.

Adults can grow six cannabis plants at home or no more than 12 plants in a house with more than one adult.

Both Wylie and Sundberg said the key items you need to grow cannabis are nutrient-rich soil, water and light.

Some people use grow tents, which look like black boxes, but cannabis can really be grown most places as long as people are able to adapt to the environment, Sundberg said.

How long does it take to grow cannabis?

On average, a plant takes 50 to 60 days before it’s ready to harvest, Wylie said. Once harvested, the plant needs to be dried for about 10 to 14 days. Growers then have the choice of consuming their cannabis, or curing the flowers another week or two for higher quality, he said.

Ryan Jerrell, co-owner of Dig It Gardens in central Phoenix, also said his nursery plans on selling cannabis seeds in the future, as well as “starter kits” for first-time growers.

Wylie has been cultivating cannabis since 2002, when he first started growing for patient use in California. Sundberg cultivates cannabis for personal use and offers workshops for other growers.

Eddie Smith, co-owner of The Plant Stand of Arizona , confirmed his south Phoenix nursery would be selling cannabis seeds in the future.

Sundberg said cannabis can be grown outdoors in Arizona, where come August the plants flower as the days get shorter and they’re ready to harvest by about October. It’s doable in Phoenix, even with the heat, but extra steps have to be taken to protect your plant, he said.

A clone is a cutting from a living cannabis plant, which can grow into a plant itself. The new plan has the same genetic makeup as the original plant, hence, a “clone.”

What else do I need to grow a cannabis plant?

Indoors, cannabis thrives best in full spectrum light similar to sunlight, so a standard incandescent bulb won’t cut it, Wylie said. He recommended starting off with an inexpensive light made for growing. Sea of Green Hydrogardens in Tempe sells various grow lights.

People can also purchase cannabis seeds on websites such as Leafly. Sundberg warned that quality seeds can be pricey. Seeds are also a gamble because only female plants flower, and there’s no guarantee how many female seeds are in a packet. Feminized seeds are genetically engineered to grow only female plants, but tend to cost more.

People can grow plants from seeds or cuttings off an existing plant, also known as clones. Sundberg said cuttings are a gray area because it’s unclear whether a cutting that hasn’t taken root yet is counted as part of the six or 12 plants Arizonans are allowed to grow.

Wylie said most people will likely grow indoors, in a closet or garage, for example. About 75 degrees, more or less, is an optimal temperature, he said. In a small space with stagnant air, he suggested using a fan to move air in and out. A beginner can start in a closet with a 100-watt grow light and oscillating desk fan, and it’s enough to get going, he said.

How much light does my plant need?

After harvesting the plant, the grower should hang the plant upside down to dry for 10 to 14 days, he continued. The stems should feel brittle when dried. After that, trim the leaves off the flowers and put the flowers in an airtight container, like a mason jar. While the flowers are consumable at this point, the flowers can be cured for a better quality.

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As of Oct. 19, the company was sold out of seeds, but people can join an email list for an update when seeds are back in stock: phoenixseedsandclones.com.

He recommended adding mulch to keep the soil cool. For a pot, the bigger the better for creating a buffering zone — five gallons is a good minimum, he said. Putting the pot in another pot or putting some sort of insulation barrier around it can also prevent the pot from directly baking in the sun.

After a few days, growers can switch to a ratio of 12 hours light, followed by 12 hours of consecutive darkness to activate the flowering stage. If growing outside, the light of a full moon is about the maximum amount of light a plant should receive during the darkness period, Sundberg said.