How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors
The cannabis plant has been cultivated outdoors for centuries. Of course, like with most plants, cannabis grows more naturally in some places than others.
For example, you can see amazing naturally grown cannabis in Jamaica, but perhaps not so much in Antarctica.
There are many benefits to growing cannabis outdoors, especially when compared to indoor cultivation. Additionally, there is no need for expensive and fancy equipment like artificial lights when you have the most powerful natural light: the sun!
However, outdoor cannabis plants can face additional challenges. Growing cannabis in a backyard is very similar to other types of gardening. To some degree, cannabis cultivation is fairly easy to pick up if you can already successfully cultivate tomatoes. All in all, cannabis is not that difficult to grow. It’s getting high quality yields that’s a bit more difficult.
Many beginner growers will tend to make the mistake of growing cannabis just like how actual weeds grow. But nothing could be further from the truth. Cannabis or hemp plants grow similarly to how other vegetative plants do. The cannabis plant is highly dynamic and has specific requirements.
You need to be fairly knowledgeable and meticulous in order to grow cannabis outdoors. Additionally you will also need a few items to get your outdoor garden off the ground.
How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors: Container Gardening
A fair amount of novice outdoor cannabis growers will make the error of planting their seeds directly into the soil.
The soil in your backyard may not have the proper pH balance or nutrients for cannabis to thrive. This is why it is better to grow in a container.
Furthermore, it can be very difficult to identify exactly what is in the soil in a person’s garden or yard, especially below the topsoil layer. It is entirely possible for soil from a yard to contain materials that could be harmful to cannabis plants. So, opt for a nutrient dense soil media with compost
Additionally, containers can be moved whenever necessary. It’s also easier to monitor the moisture through said container. Fiber pots are more preferable than plastic pots because they allow the base of the plant to breathe more effectively. Outdoor plants grow to be particularly large, so the bigger the container the better.
Although plastic containers can be used, they will get hotter than fiber pots in the sun. Also, micro-plastics may be of concern. Raised garden beds can be a great option for mature plants. It is a good idea to keep the plants in a container for at least a week before putting them in the raised garden bed. This will allow the roots to properly develop.
Soil: How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors
It is absolutely crucial to use the right soil for your outdoor cannabis garden.
The soil is the most important aspect of a garden strategy. It’s not worth sacrificing monetary costs or personal time to cut corners on cheap soil. High quality soil will help cannabis plants reach their full potential. It will also decrease the need for nutrients later in the cycle, particularly during the flowering phase.
Consider creating a “super soil” for your garden. Subcool, a legendary cannabis cultivator, first invented the term “super soil”. After blessing the cannabis cultivation community with his recipe, Subcool has recently passed away. Shout out to him for all his hard work!
So what exactly is Super Soil? Here we have a guide that will help you learn more about super soil. Below is the complete list of ingredients needed to create your own batch of super soil:
Ingredients And How To Make Super Soil
- 8 large bags of high-quality organic pot soil with coco fiber, mycorrhizae and other quality ingredients
- 25-50 lbs organic worm castings
- 5 lbs of steamed bone meal
- 5 lbs Bloom bat guano
- Blood meal for 5 lb
- 3 lbs rock phosphate
- 3/4 cup Epsom salts
- 1/2 cup sweet lime (dolomite)
- 1/2 cup azomite (trace elements)
- 2 tbsp powdered Humic Acid
If there are a few ingredients that you aren’t able to afford, the soil can still live up to its potential with a few ingredients missing. Mix as many ingredients as you can. Be sure to combine the ingredients together on a tarp. Add water to make the mixture more cohesive. Then, store the “end product” in a garbage can for about 6-12 weeks before you use it.
The number of ingredients and the heat where you live will determine how much water you will need. Your final goal should be for the soil mixture to be moist all the way through, but not saturated. You should also let the water evaporate before storing the mixture.
This is an investment that will require a lot of time and cost. However, you won’t have to use additional inputs in the process of growing cannabis. Do not plant seeds directly or clones into the super soil.
Begin with only organic soil. Once the root base is strong, transplant into super soil. If you find super soil too daunting, you could use organic soil.
However nutrients must be added during the vegetative, flowering and final stages of growth to make the soil more nutritious. The soil that is used to grow cannabis outdoors will be the most important element of any outdoor garden strategy.
How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors: Using A Greenhouse
If you’re able to afford one, it is worth considering adding a greenhouse as part of your outdoor gardening plan.
It doesn’t have to look fancy to be of any help. You can easily make it from scratch using PVC pipes and clear plastic sheets. Imagine it as building a garden fortress. Many home and garden retailers carry a range of greenhouse sizes for those who have the money but don’t want to build their own.
A greenhouse can protect the female plants by preventing them from being overthrown by winds and/or rain. This is especially important as the weather begins changing after the summer solstice. A quality greenhouse can give you more control over the temperature and humidity. Geenhouses can help you keep animals out of your garden, and it can also provide some added security.
Bracing cannabis plants properly is especially important when growing cannabis outdoors. Plants that aren’t going to be grown in greenhouses should be braced.
This is because wind can easily knock over cannabis plants and cause them to fall, which often leads to serious damage. For bracing cannabis plants, a standard tomato cage is a great choice.
They are easy to find and usually pretty affordable. As well as wooden stakes, or large bamboo stakes can also be used. You can use wire fencing to wrap around the garden to protect large plants too.
From a strain selection perspective, outdoor cannabis gardens are superior to indoor ones. Indoor gardens tend to have smaller spaces so most indoor growers prefer indica varieties that are shorter.
As outdoor gardens are usually quite spacious, height is usually not an issue. Some strains prefer to be sun-grown. These plants have regular growth cycles that will ensure they are ready to harvest at the end of the outdoor growing season (usually lasting from May to October in most places). If you live farther north, the growing season will most likely be shorter.
We recommend that cultivators thoroughly research the available strains for their particular area. Some jurisdictions have more robust options than others. Additionally, sometimes there are not many options to choose from for your particular growth conditions. Take the best you can find. If possible, use the experience of other growers with the strain. Remember, It is entirely possible that you too can successfully cultivate a particular genetic strain if there are others who have done so.
How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors: Light Deprivation
Light deprivation has been a popular technique used by outdoor cannabis growers in recent years. In order to make cannabis plants flower earlier, growers will use light deprivation which means limiting the exposure to the sun.
This is achieved by simply bringing your cannabis plants indoors after they have been outside for 12 hours. Or, if you have a greenhouse, covering it with a dark shade cloth or sheet of plastic after 12 hours. The ultimate goal of light deprivation is to keep plants from receiving sunlight after being in direct sunlight for 12 hrs. If the growing season is shorter, light deprivation is a good way to speed up the plant’s maturation and increase harvest.
Bugs And Diseases
Planting cannabis outdoors will undoubtedly attract pests and bugs. Aphids are a common pest when growing cannabis outdoors. You should be proactive about checking your plants each day.
Use soapy water to spray the plants at the first sign that there are aphids, or other insects. Make sure to spray both the sides of the leaves with soapy water until the soapy water runs down the leaves.
If that fails, you might want to try something stronger. However, only before the plants have begun to flower. Once the plant has reached its peak, it will stop producing new leaves. Anything that you spray on the plants later will be consumed with the harvested cannabis.
The same goes for diseases. If you are growing cannabis outdoors, the most common forms of disease you will see are bud rot or powdery mildew. Taking preventative measures to control pest infestations is your best bet. If you live in an area with a heavy rainy season, powdery mildew or mold can develop. So, be proactive and use neem oil, fish oil, or other natural oils to prevent diseases.
How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors: Water & Nutrients
Outdoor cannabis cultivation is very dependent on water. Although a small cannabis plant may not need much water initially, as it grows it will require more and more water.
As the cannabis plant gets bigger and closer to harvest, it may need several gallons of water per day, particularly on hot summer days. You can use a moisture gauge device to help you keep track of when you should water your plants.
Be sure to check that the pH level of your water is at least 7 or higher. Different water sources may have different pH levels. This is true even within the sources of city or county water supplies. Check the pH of your water before you start watering. You can adjust it as needed with various products available in your local gardening store.
Nutrients are not necessary if you’re using quality super soil. You will need nutrients, however, to provide nutrition for your cannabis plants if you do not use super soil.
The best way to get started is to copy someone else’s feeding strategy and find someone who has previously used those nutrients. You will become more knowledgeable about the needs of your garden and can adjust your nutritional strategy accordingly.
Furthering Your Education
Growing cannabis outdoors is a learning experience. There are many learning curves and growing pains as many factors are involved. Our best advice is to practice patience and go with the flow.
Even the most experienced cannabis growers will tell you that they are constantly learning of new cultivation information.
Sativa University’s Advanced Growing Course provides a great opportunity to learn about the cultivation process, from seed to harvest.
This program is led and taught by industry experts in cannabis cultivation. It also includes informative course materials. This program is great for anyone who wants to grow their cultivation knowledge.
We look forward to seeing you there!