In hot climates, sandy soil should be mulched to help with water retention and to keep roots from getting too hot.
Start off with fertilizers that are inexpensive and readily available. Some release nutrients quickly and are easily used by the plant, while others take weeks or months to release usable nutrients. If done correctly, you can mix in a few of these products with your soil amendments to provide enough nutrients for the entire life of your plants. Most of these items can be purchased cheaply at your local nursery.
Here are some important considerations before starting an outdoor marijuana grow.
There are also commercially available soil blends that already contain the proper mix of these types of ingredients.
Weed plants will need full, direct sun for at least 6 hours a day. You may have a backyard, but it might not be great to grow there if it doesn’t get full sun every day.
The best way to identify loamy soil is by touching it. How does it feel? Sandy soil should be difficult to compact while clay should compact into a tight ball that won’t crumble. When squeezed, loamy soils should form a loose ball that will hold its structure momentarily before breaking apart in large chunks.
Sustained temperatures above 85°F will cause your plants to stop growing, while continued temperatures below 55°F can cause damage and stunting to plants, even death.
Heavy rains and high winds can cause physical damage to plants and reduce yields, and excessive moisture can lead to mold and powdery mildew, especially during the flowering stage.
Soil, at a basic level, is defined as the topmost layer of earth in which plants grow—it’s a mixture of organic remains, clay, and rock particles. Cannabis plants thrive in soil rich with organic matter, and they need good drainage.
We also advise against using nutrients designed for indoor weed growing—they are generally composed of synthetic mineral salts and can damage soil bacteria.
Most potting soils used in gardening are loam soils. If you’ve ever worked with potting soil, you’ll know that its composition is rich and diverse, and it looks dark and hearty. Beyond texture and color, the soil should smell rich and alive.
Heavy clay soils drain slowly and don’t hold oxygen well, so they will need to be heavily amended. A few weeks before you plant, dig large holes where you’ll be placing your weed plants and mix in big amounts of compost, manure, worm castings, or other decomposed organic matter. This will provide aeration and drainage, as well as nutrients for the plants.
It’s crucial to have a good understanding of the climate in the area you’re going to grow. Cannabis is highly adaptable to various conditions, but it is susceptible in extreme weather.
Growing marijuana outdoors is great because you won’t need to spend a ton of money on it and you can rely on the power of the sun. If you have access to a sunny spot in a private yard or even a balcony, terrace, or rooftop, you can grow weed outside. You will be tied to the sun and the seasons and local weather, but you won’t have to spend a bunch of money on equipment and utilities like indoor growers.
However, plants grown in pots, buckets, or barrels will likely be smaller than those planted in the ground because their root growth is restricted to the size of the container. In a broad sense, the size of the pot will determine the size of the plant, although it’s possible to grow large plants in small containers if proper techniques are used.
Roof: This can be great for sun but may have too much wind.
Balcony: This can be a great spot if it gets good light—ideally, it faces south—and will usually get good wind. However, you may need to cover your balcony from peeping neighbors.
If you’re growing weed outdoors, it’s great to find a community of cannabis growers in your area to see how others are growing in your specific climate. Local climates vary, so it can be helpful to see what strains thrive where you are, and also when other growers are popping seeds, harvesting, and more. You can also join online forums or Social media groups, but a great place to start is your local grow shop.
We recommend these organic fertilizers:
These are just some examples of amendments commonly used in different types of soils. Heavily amended soils will have long lists that break down all organic nutrients they contain. Some companies create soils that offer a great structure with base nutrients, but allow you to fill in the gaps as you desire.
Climate in your area.
While shopping for soil, you might be overwhelmed by the options available at your local garden store. The soil type is the basic structure of your soil. From there, look at nutrients, microorganisms, and other amendments that improve the soil. Your choices will be flooded with words like:
Soil also varies in:
Cannabis plants require a large amount of nutrients over their life cycle, mainly in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. How much you need to add to your plants will depend on the composition of your soil.
Having a constant breeze is good for your plants, and especially in hot climates. But if you live in an area with a lot of high winds, consider planting near a windbreak of some sort, like a wall, fence or large shrubbery.
You also want to consider privacy and security. A lot of people want to conceal their gardens from judgmental neighbors and potential thieves. Tall fences and large shrubs or trees are your best bet, unless you live in a secluded area. Also, most state laws require that you keep cannabis plants concealed from the street.
For first-time growers, we recommend avoiding commercial fertilizers like long-release granular fertilizers. These can be used, but you need to have a good understanding of how they work and what your plants need.
High winds are a significant problem for cannabis growers as it can damage the plants. It can break branches, damage trichomes, and leave your weed vulnerable to disease and infestation. Any type of excess strain like this can over-stress the plants, causing the buds to produce seeds. You do not want this to happen.
Some people use a container garden instead of planting straight into the soil. If you opt for this, bear in mind that they dry out much faster than soil. Therefore, you may have to water your plants daily. Additional watering is also necessary for warm or windy conditions. To avoid overwatering, wait for the top inch of the soil to be dry before adding more. Invest in a soil moisture meter to make things easier.
Obviously, your plants need water, and the benefit of growing outdoors is that your marijuana should be exposed to rainwater. However, in places like California, the hot summer months mean minimal rainfall, so you have to water your plants manually. The main danger is overwatering your cannabis. A good rule of thumb is that a large plant needs 10 gallons of water a day during hot weather.
All clones are female plants that have the same traits, and they are known for producing premium quality weed.
We are offering this guide with the assumption that it is legal to grow marijuana plants in your state. First and foremost, it is imperative that you have the right climate for optimum growth.
Protecting Your Weed from Rain & Wind.
Most cannabis strains are ready for harvest between the end of September and the first week or two of October. Although, this does depend on the strain and climate conditions. Monitor pistil and trichome formation to gain a better idea of when your plants are ready for harvesting.
Make sure you trim your plants regularly to help them attain optimum growth. Get rid of unnecessary cannabis cuttings because leaving dead leaves and branches will only attract pests. Pruning also enables you to shape your plant. If you see new shoots that are not growing properly, take a pair of pruning scissors and trim them away. This will help your plants develop bigger buds.
It is a fact that some store-bought soils are too acidic at the beginning. This means you have to use organic fertilizers after a couple of weeks because the plants are lacking crucial nutrients.
As we mentioned above, make sure the temperature of your location does not exceed 86 degrees. If your area regularly surpasses this temperature, then you will need to be careful where you cultivate your plants.
You must be careful not to wait too long to harvest because marijuana plants suffer a decline in health once they have completed the flowering phase.
Threats like moles, who push up from the soil beneath your plants, require extra planning. An excellent way to prevent them from causing damage is by building a fence around 2-3 feet beneath the soil. You can also use deterrents such as urine from predators like coyotes, to ward off rabbits, gophers, and raccoons. Household items such as garlic and castor oil are pretty effective deterrents, too.
You should be able to deal with animal threats by surrounding your plants with a high and sturdy wire fence. If you are concerned about birds, you can place netting over the plants.
Lastly, make sure female plants are not exposed to males. Otherwise, pollination could occur – a process that decreases the quality of the harvest. If your strain begins flowering during a wet season, excess moisture exposure could prove troublesome. In this instance, find shelter for the plants to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Experienced growers also recommend keeping an eye out for a change in color in the plant’s stigma. A good sign that the plant is ready for harvesting is when the stigma changes in color from white to orange. However, most growers agree that the most accurate method to determine when it is time to harvest is to wait until the trichomes have turned opaque white.
Step #5: The Importance of Properly Watering Your Cannabis Plants.
If you live in a state where an outdoor grow is permitted, then this article is for you. This step-by-step guide will go through everything you need to know and show you how to grow marijuana outdoors.
It isn’t easy to find the best location. Not only must it offer ideal growing conditions, but it must also be safe from discovery, even when planting legally. If you are adhering to the law, private property is best because you have full access and can control security. Otherwise, you have to risk public property, which increases the chances of discovery.
If you elect to clone, you need a mother plant. It’s possible to buy clones from your local dispensary. However, bear in mind, clones require at least 16 hours of light a day to ensure that they don’t flower.
If you live in a warm climate, be wary of excessive heat damaging the roots. It is normal for container-grown pots of soil to exceed 90 degrees on a hot day. Always water the plants generously in the morning to ensure they don’t dry out during sweltering afternoons.
It may also be worth investing in wire cages to keep animals at bay. As already mentioned, some plants often grow over six feet tall. However, some plants, when grown outdoors, can become so tall that they resemble mini-skyscrapers. These plants can sometimes be over twelve feet in height, so make sure you plan for this.
It is imperative that you keep your marijuana healthy because blooming plants have a natural resistance to specific pests. You can add ladybugs and lacewings, as these predators keep harmful pests at bay while doing no damage themselves.
Step #4: Add Some Fertilizer to the Plants.
The growing process can take anywhere from two months to 8+ months. Your plants are ready to be harvested when approximately 70% of its pistils turn from white to a reddish-brown color. If the pistils are turning red, harvest immediately!
The type of strain you’re growing dictates the duration of flowering. For example, most sativa strains will go through the full growth and flowering cycle in a little over three months.
If you live in a wet climate, choose a mold-resistant marijuana strain, and support it with stakes or cages. Otherwise, the rain will collect on buds and leaves, and your plants will be weighed down. Alternatively, try and predict wet spells and be prepared by adding a makeshift shelter to your crop.
Homegrown CannabisCo are the masters when it comes to seeds. Offering a massive variety of cannabis seeds that are well categorized, not only does this company create a resource for superb quality options including feminized seeds, it also provides extensive growing information for those looking for some support along their journey.
The plant’s trichomes should have turned an opaque white color at this stage, too. This is a good indication that they are fully mature and ready for harvesting.
While insects damage your plants over a few days or weeks, larger animals can destroy them in minutes. You must examine your cannabis plants daily.
Take note that growing the weed in containers will impact the size of the plant. Container-grown marijuana will be smaller because root growth is restricted. In other words, the size of the container determines the size of the plant.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you live in a climate with exceptionally hot and sunny days, use shade cloth to prevent your plants from overheating. In cold areas, natural enclosures and cement or brick walls can be used to help retain any available heat and keep your plants warm.
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.
Cannabis has been cultivated outdoors for thousands of years, but before you go putting a seedling in the ground, it’s best to know how the process works and how to make the most of Mother Nature’s gifts. You should also have some idea of how to handle those unwanted gifts you’d rather return — pests and weeds.
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.
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.
Avoid spraying synthetic insecticides on your cannabis plants as further research is needed to determine the health effects of smoking plants treated with synthetic chemicals. Organic pesticide and insecticide solutions can be effective if used properly. If you can avoid it, it is always best to not spray anything on your plants while they are flowering.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Determining the optimum location is another important factor that can affect the yield and quality of your plants. Cultivators in the Northern Hemisphere should attempt to place their plants in an area with southern exposure to ensure their plants are getting the most available sunlight. The opposite is true for the Southern Hemisphere.
Using Mother Nature to cultivate cannabis.
Most cultivars will begin to flower once they receive fewer than 15 hours of sunlight per day. The latitude of your garden has a direct impact on how many hours a day your plants receive light.
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.
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.
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.
Pests and wild plants are an inevitable occurrence when cultivating cannabis outdoors. Most issues can be avoided with proper planning. Clearing a buffer area around your plants can go a long way, but your first line of defense is a healthy plant that can defend itself naturally.
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.
Beneficial insects, fungi, and bacteria can also be used to protect your plants from their parasitic or predatory counterparts. Jumping spiders, ladybugs, and other native, beneficial predatory insects can clear your crop of insects such as aphids and whiteflies. When sourcing beneficial insects, fungi, or bacteria, it’s important to research those which are native to your region.
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.
To grow cannabis outdoors, the bare minimum required is basic gardening tools, soil, water, and a spot in your backyard that receives ample sunlight.
Planting directly into the ground or a raised bed requires a bit more preparation but has its benefits as well. Without a container to restrict growth, roots can grow deep and thick to support a strong plant. The added surface area also allows the plant to access a greater quantity of nutrients and water in the soil, compared with a container garden. The major downside is that the plants cannot be moved and could require additional structures to protect them in the case of extreme weather.
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.
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.
Avoid all-in-one fertilizers as they can be too high in nitrogen for the flowering cycle and damage any beneficial microorganisms that may be present in the soil. Instead, choose a line of nutrients created specifically for cannabis, and use its suggested feeding charts to avoid over- or under-feeding. Organic sources of nutrients are best, as they are a great source of beneficial microbes, but they may take longer to break down and become available to the plant. Both types of nutrients can be found in dry, pre-blended powders or liquid emulsions, but can also be made from scratch with the right ingredients. Organic compost tea, which includes nutrient-rich ingredients, like molasses and earthworm casting compost, is a popular homemade brew for cannabis farmers.
During the vegetative phase, plants need more nitrogen in order to create the roots and leaves that serve as the base for flowering. During the start of the flowering cycle, the plants will require more phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen. Towards the end of the flowering cycle, once the majority of the nitrogen has been depleted, the plants will focus their attention on using the remaining nutrients. The lack of nitrogen is largely responsible for the vibrant purple and orange hues that can be seen on large fan leaves and throughout the plants’ colas.
Pests come in many forms, from large deer and gophers to small slugs and spider mites. Larger animals and pets can be kept out of the garden with fencing, while gopher wire beneath your soil beds can keep rats and gophers from eating the plants’ roots. Weeds will not damage cannabis, but they will compete for the nutrients in the soil and reduce the quality and yield of your crops. A light layer of mulch on top of your soil can prevent weeds from sprouting in the middle of your plants’ cycle.