Relying on the power of the sun, you won’t need to spend a ton of money on an outdoor grow. You’ll need some soil, fertilizer, seeds or clones, and maybe a small greenhouse to get them started. You won’t need to pay for electricity for lights, AC units, or dehumidifiers, and you can even collect rainwater.
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 recommend these organic fertilizers:
How to set up your outdoor marijuana grow.
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.
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.
Soil also varies in:
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.
You can plant directly into the ground, using the preexisting soil, but you’ll need to understand your soil’s composition and amend it accordingly. If you go this route, we recommend getting your soil tested, which will minimize headaches, and it’s easy and relatively inexpensive. A soil test will tell you the makeup and pH of your soil, any contaminants present, and will recommend materials and fertilizers to amend your soil.
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.
Soil and other media for outdoor cannabis growing.
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.
Here are some important considerations before starting an outdoor marijuana grow.
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.
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.
What size pot do I need?
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.
We also advise against using nutrients designed for indoor weed growing—they are generally composed of synthetic mineral salts and can damage soil bacteria.
You may need to put all of your plants in containers if you don’t have great soil. Also, if you’re unable to perform the heavy labor needed to dig holes and amend soil, containers may be the only way for you to grow your own cannabis outdoors.
Sandy soil is easy to work, drains well, and warms quickly, but it doesn’t hold nutrients well, especially in rainy environments. You’ll want to dig large holes for your plants and add compost, peat moss, or coco coir, which will help bind the soil together.
Some growers plant in containers on balconies or rooftops that are shielded from view, while some build heavy-gauge wire cages to keep thieves and animals at bay. Whatever you decide, think about how big you want your final plant to be—outdoor cannabis plants can grow to 10 feet tall or even more, depending on how much you let them go.
The best soil mix for cannabis is often produced by blending several starting ingredients. The ingredients may include additives that are proven to be useful, such as bat guano, worm castings, dolomite limestone (contains Calcium & Magnesium), coco fibre, mycorrhizal bacteria as well as a high grade nutrient-rich soil/compost. Many growers have found good results with peat based soils which don’t contain wood products. The absence of wood minimises potential problems later on with fungus gnats which thrive in a warm indoor grow room.
Drainage A perfect soil mix for cannabis allows good drainage. Waterlogged soil results in poor root health and subsequent slow growth. If you water your plants and notice surface water forming in pools it is an indication that your soil may have poor drainage.
Texture Cannabis doesn’t grow well in heavily compacted, dense soils. The best soil mix for cannabis tends to be light and airy. This allows good levels of root oxygenation, especially when combined with air-pots or porous fabric root sacks. Healthy cannabis roots will thrive in a light, aerated soil.
The best soil for cannabis seeds and seedlings.
The best soil for growing cannabis has several important functions to perform in order to allow healthy growth of the cannabis plant and the roots. There is a huge range of options from cheap supermarket soil to expensively blended specialist soils. Not all of these are ideal for growing cannabis. Here are some of the most important features for anyone seeking the best soil for cannabis growing:
Main ingredients: • 1 part coco fibre • 1 part perlite • 2 parts compost • 1 cup of worm castings.
Indoor cannabis growers are spoilt for choice when it comes to soil options. Many of the top brands do a great job. Some indoor growers are reluctant to change from their preferred soil choice once they feel settled with a particular soil recipe which works well for them. As well as trying to grow in the best soil for cannabis, indoor growers also try to fine-tune and improve their grow room conditions.
Water retention The best soil for cannabis has good drainage qualities but at the same time it is able to retain some moisture for the roots to absorb.
Many outdoor cannabis growers simply use the existing outdoor soil. Sometimes this can be supplemented with well-rotted manure and other additives. Experienced outdoor growers will test the soil with specialist test kits and amend the soil accordingly. If the outdoor soil is simply too low in nutrients/quality (e.g. too sandy) then it can be supplemented by high quality soil form the grow shop. Remember cannabis has been growing outdoors without human intervention for hundreds of thousands of years. Cannabis can grow well in many outdoor soil types.
Steps to follow: • Sieve the compost to remove/break down any large lumps • Place the sieved compost in a large mixing bucket and add the other ingredients • Using your hands, ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
What are the main traits of the best soil for cannabis?
Growing your own cannabis in soil is regarded by many as one of the easiest ways to produce high quality crops of delicious tasting buds. But what is the best soil for cannabis indoor growers? What about the best type of soil for outdoor cannabis? The best soil for cannabis combines excellent nutrition and good water retaining properties along with good drainage and an optimum pH.
Your choice of ingredients is quite wide. You can lighten the soil mix with coco coir, perlite, vermiculite or even sphagnum moss according to your preferences. Here is a suggested mix.
When growing cannabis outdoors in hot, dry regions some growers add water absorbing crystals to the soil. These are water retaining polymers (as used in babies nappies) which can greatly increase the water retention properties of your soil.
Note. Other popular additives include small amounts of blood meal, dolomite lime, fish meal, bat guano, peat, bone meal etc. Mycorrhizal and other beneficial bacteria are also great at breaking down the soil and gradually releasing more nutrients. They are highly recommended to create a healthy ‘living’ soil.
Most soils contain a reasonable level of nutrients. These eventually become depleted, requiring the grower to use perhaps a bloom nutrient as the plant flowers. Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K) and Phosphorus (P) are the main nutrients, but there are plenty of other important trace nutrients which are also required.
Organic soil vs soil mix.
Many less experienced growers find it convenient to buy ready-made soil from their grow store. The more professional ‘living soil’ blends can be very expensive. That’s why some growers like to save some money and create their own soil blend themselves.
A good organic soil is often produced with generous levels of compost, peat and slow release nutrients which are broken down in the soil by beneficial bacteria. Some of these specialist soil can cost upwards of €/£/$ 50 per 50l bag and are said to contain sufficient nutrition for (almost) the entire grow.
Lightmix is a blended soil type which is often used in the cannabis growing community. It contains a mixture of ingredients together with added perlite to make the medium more aerated. It also contains a small amount of nutrients, sufficient for the first weeks. Lightmix soil preparations are a good starting point for inexperienced growers.
Outdoor growers can grow their plants in the ground or in containers. When growing in containers avoid dark coloured/black containers which can get very hot in direct sunlight and ‘cook’ the root ball. This can slow growth rates or even kill the plant.
pH value The best ph for cannabis in soil around 6. Some growers ask ‘how to test soil ph for cannabis?’ You can buy specialist kits which measure soil pH, though many soil growers have never worried about testing pH. To some extent soil is self-buffering, meaning that soil growers need not worry about e.g. pH-adjusting their nutrients in the way that many hydroponic growers have to. Using a larger plant container with more grow medium enlarges the buffer zone and is the preferred approach by many soil-using cannabis growers.
Note that the best potting soil for cannabis seedlings and seeds is often a very light mix with low nutrient levels. Young cannabis plants and roots are easily burnt by soil which contains too many nutrients. The best soil for seedlings allows rapid root growth in the light, aerated soil. For young seedlings, nutrition is not as important as it is for mature plants in full bloom. In fact, a light mix with few nutrients is great for seeds and seedlings. Special soil types optimised for seedlings are available, such as Terra Seed Mix from Canna.
Still, Formula 707 has enough nutrients to last 10-14 days before you need to add anything. And for convenience, you can use the soil bag itself as a pot. Just cut off the top, poke some holes in the bottom, plant your seedlings and you’re ready to grow.
The best soils for weed don’t always have to be products specialized for cultivating cannabis. Sometimes, a good organic potting soil is all you need, and Sungro’s Black Gold all-organic potting soil is an excellent case in point.
Designed for indoor and outdoor cultivation, Happy Frog potting soil takes care of young cannabis plants’ essential needs, from correct pH levels to balanced nutrients, including a vital combination of microbes and fungi from earthworm castings and forest humus.
If you’re digging through the literature on growing weed, you’ve probably seen the term “super soil” come up quite a bit. Coined by the legendary grower and seed producer Subcool, the term generally describes a neutral organic soil base that’s been enhanced with a comprehensive range of “amendments,” i.e., added nutrients and microorganisms. Using a super soil eliminates the need for liquid nutrients as your cannabis plants grow.
If growing cannabis is an art, then the soil is the canvas, paint and even a little bit of the brush. As your “grow medium” (the material that your plants grow in), the balance of nutrients your soil contains shapes how your plants grow, how fast and abundantly they flower and how many buds they yield.
Aurora Innovations Roots Organics Formula 707.
Your soil’s nutrients and the water you provide need to link up to be available for and absorbed by plants’ roots. Biochar, a carbon-rich charcoal amendment, not only facilitates this process but it also provides a large surface area for microorganisms to live and thrive. Red’s Premium Biochar-based soil thus creates an ideal “habitat” for all the living beings that help your cannabis plants reach their full potential.
Fox Farm’s specialized line of soils for cannabis are some of the most widely acclaimed grow mediums available. If you’re beginning your grow journey from the ground up, Happy Frog is an excellent soil to nurture seeds and seedlings.
If you’re planning on planting a large container cannabis garden outdoors, Roots Organics Formula 707 is a versatile and capable option. An organic soil designed with greater water-holding capacity, Formula 707 contains ingredients and beneficial microbes specific to using larger containers.
At a price point that won’t put a hole in your pocket, Black Gold boasts all of the essential traits of a strong soil for growing weed. Its loamy mixture contains an optimal blend of pumice and perlite for hydration and microorganism development, and its balanced nutrient blend won’t burn young cannabis plants. Those features have won this soil praise from gardeners of all stripes, cannabis growers included.
Cannabis plants spring up like a literal weed. But growing weed optimally — in a way that allows it to express its best traits and produce trichome-rich flowers — demands care, attention to detail and a bit of trial-and-error. At the same time, there’s no better way to develop a closer, more connected and more rewarding relationship with cannabis than growing some yourself. To get you started, here’s our list of the five best soils for healthy weed.
But just as important as what’s in this soil is what’s not: less perlite, less pumice, and fewer amendments. This makes Formula 707 a highly customizable soil, allowing you to add your topsoil and liquid nutrients at various growth stages depending on your cannabis plants’ needs.
From planting seeds to harvesting buds, Nature’s Living Soil’s Organic Super Soil has you covered through cannabis’ entire grow cycle. Reviewers love the ready-to-use simplicity this soil provides: just plant, water and wait. For those growing on their own for the first time, this is one of the best soils you can buy.
Red’s Premium is another all-in-one, ready-to-use soil blend. But what makes it one of the best soils for weed is its stand-out feature: biochar. Biochar is an amendment that excels at protecting and promoting the growth of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that are essential for root development and strengthening your plant’s immune system.
Every ingredient in Black Gold is organic, and it’s suitable for a wide range of environments, from patio containers to indoor hanging baskets. The bottom line: Black Gold is a reliable and high-performance base soil for cannabis. You can also get hands-on with this soil, since adding amendments as your plants grow is super easy.