How To Grow Marijuana From Seed

ILGM

Buy Cannabis Seeds Online

Farm. Food. Life. It’s possible to grow marijuana at home, both indoors and outdoors. However, there are many things you need to know before buying your first cannabis seeds. How to grow weed outdoors: an intro to outdoor cannabis cultivation Outdoor cultivators take what Mother Nature gives them and turn it into the best possible harvest. Many cannabis consumers

How to Grow Cannabis In Your Garden

With weed well on its way to being legal, it’s high time we talk about how to grow the stuff in your garden.

With weed well on its way to being legal, it’s high time we talk about how to grow the stuff in your garden.

The federal government still considers it a crime to grow or possess cannabis, but 30 states have now legalized it to varying degrees. Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, and Massachusetts have decriminalized weed for recreational use, and similar legislation is under consideration elsewhere. Pardon the pun, but it is high time we talk about how to grow the stuff.

The old-fashioned way – outdoors – is easiest. The trend towards indoor cultivation is more a product of, one, a desire to hide what you’re doing (no longer necessary in many locales); and two, to exert total control over growing conditions for the sake of producing enormous buds with maximum market value. But if your sole goal is just to have a bit of decent weed around to occasionally enjoy, you may as well plant it alongside your zucchini and basil.

Growing a successful cannabis crop is a bit more complicated than your average vegetable, but not much. Before you get carried away, familiarize yourself with your local laws – NORML provides a comprehensive list here . Horticulturally speaking, here’s what you need to know.

Varieties

Plenty of mail-order firms have sprung up to fill the demand for legal plant material. There are thousands of varieties, with all the trippy descriptions you would expect. If you want a cerebral high and non-skunky citrus flavor, there is a breed for that; if you want something that is good for anxiety, low in THC, and grows less than 3 feet tall, you can find that too.

Most importantly, purchase seeds for varieties suited to outdoor conditions, rather than those bred for indoor grow operations. Any reputable supplier will specify that information in their varietal listings. Most will also note mold-resistant varieties, which are a wise choice in humid regions, as well as those with a “short flowering period,” an important consideration in northerly latitudes (this is akin to the “days to maturity” listed on packets of vegetable seed).

Understanding Male and Female Plants

Cannabis is one of many species in the plant kingdom that produce male and female flowers on separate plants. Females produce fat flower “buds” rich in psychoactive compounds, while male plants produce spindly little flowers that aren’t worth smoking (or however you choose to partake).

When you plant cannabis seeds, you typically end up with about half male plants and half female plants. It is imperative to get rid of the males before the plants begin to flower, as the male pollen will result in female buds that are full of seeds, which is no good. It’s not that hard to determine the sex of cannabis seedlings – you can find instructions here – and cull the males.

But it can be even easier! How? Look for varieties labeled “feminized.” These are seeds that have been bred to produce only female plants and are highly recommended for novice cannabis gardeners.

Another option is to purchase “clones,” which are rooted cuttings of female plants. This is essentially like buying vegetable seedlings, rather than seeds, which saves you the time and effort required for germination, along with the trouble of weeding out the males.

Starting Seeds

Weed seeds require no special treatment, though they’ll germinate faster if you soak them in water for a few days before planting. As with tomatoes and other heat-loving vegetables, you’re better off starting the seed indoors in a sunny window in early spring, and then transplanting the seedlings outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Growing Conditions

To do well, cannabis plants require a minimum of six hours of direct sun each day and excellent drainage. They’ll do fine in a typical raised bed like you’d use for vegetables, though five-gallon pots filled with potting soil also work well for pot (hard to resist the punny wordplay!). Good air circulation is critical for preventing fungal diseases, so space the plants at least six feet apart (closer is ok for dwarf varieties) to ensure that they don’t resemble a dense hedge by the end of summer.

Cannabis plants love their nutrients, so plan to enrich the beds with composted manure, ideally at least one month prior to planting, if not the previous fall. Spread a minimum of 2 inches of compost over the planting area and work it into the soil. If planting in pots, you can rely on fertilizer, rather than compost.

Feeding and Watering

This crop is also a thirsty one, so be sure to irrigate whenever the surface of the soil becomes dry. Adding a layer of mulch once the plants are knee-high will cut back on the loss of soil moisture through evaporation and help to prevent other “weeds” from getting established in your weed planting.

If your beds are sufficiently rich, fertilizer is not required, though it will lead to better results (it’s a must for potted plants). Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer every three weeks until mid-summer, as this will stimulate abundant vegetative growth. Then switch to one higher in phosphorus to stimulate dense and abundant flowers (buds).

Pruning

Depending on the variety, outdoor plants can grow 12 feet or more in height. Most growers prune them, which makes the plants easier to manage and results in far more buds. Professional growers have perfected pruning to a fine art for the sake of maximizing yield, but for the casual grower is sufficient to cut back the most vigorous shoots from time to time. Simply clip off the outer 30 percent of each major shoot every few weeks.

Pruning encourages a bushier form (rather than a tall, spindly plant) by stimulating the growth of numerous small side shoots, each of which will produce additional buds. Just be sure to stop pruning by mid-summer, so as not to interfere with flower production.

Harvest

Buds will begin to form in late summer and should be ready for harvest during the month of October. You’ll know they are ready when the flower pistils – those wispy hairs that emanate from the buds – turn from white to reddish-brown.

Cut the buds from the plants, leaving 6 or 8 inches of stem below each one, and trim off all the leaves. Hang them from their stems to dry in a warm, shaded place for about a week. The weed is now ready to use. Trim the buds from the stem and store in a glass jar.

How to Grow Marijuana: The Essential Guide for Beginners

Growing your own marijuana is possible, whether you’d like to cultivate an outdoor garden or choose an indoor grow medium. Learn how to grow marijuana indoors and outdoors in our step-by-step guide for beginner cultivators.

Determine Legal Status

One key step to take before starting your marijuana garden is to determine the legal status of cannabis cultivation in your state, including how many plants you are allowed to grow . Some states place a limit on just two cannabis plants, while others may allow as many as 16. Stay informed of the ever-changing laws in your jurisdiction.

How Much It Costs

The start-up costs for cannabis cultivation include materials like nutrition for the plant, grow lights (if indoors), basic gardening tools, and more. For some people, the start-up costs may range in the thousands, but if you’re on a budget, it’s possible to start growing marijuana at home for as little as $200 .

Choose a Location: Indoors vs. Outdoors

Many new growers choose to cultivate marijuana indoors, for practical reasons including discretion. However, there are benefits and drawbacks to indoor and outdoor set-ups.

Growing Marijuana Outdoors

Growing cannabis outdoors can be quite the challenge, even if nature’s doing a lot of the work (i.e. providing light, water, and soil, although you can use your own pots and soil as well). This is because you need to take many more variables into consideration, and you also have to be in the right geographic location to grow cannabis outdoors to its best. Those who do not live in equatorial, Mediterranean, or temperate climates with a well-defined spring and summer season may find it extremely difficult if not impossible to grow outdoors.

However, there are few things more satisfying than cannabis grown outdoors, and many people prefer the effects it can give. Also, if you live in the right environment, have an understanding of your local climate, and have the right space to do so, growing cannabis outdoors can become rather simple, on top of producing bumper yields due to the amount of space available. Assuming there are no drastic weather changes, you merely have to watch your cannabis grow and do nothing but give your plants a little TLC along the way (e.g. a little pruning).

Best Strains for Outdoor Growing
  • Early Queen / Early Skunk Feminized
  • Gorilla Glue #4 Autoflower
  • Kyle’s Skywalker OG
  • Skywalker Haze by Dutch Passion
  • Nikki and Swami’s Lemon OG Feminized
  • Steve’s Dream Queen Feminized
  • CBD Mango Feminized

Growing Marijuana Indoors

Indoor growing is usually best suited for beginners as you can control all the variables. Using soil or a mixture of coco coir and organic nutrients as the medium, a set of 400- to 600-watt lights, a grow tent and some pots, you can successfully grow cannabis indoors without too much hassle.

See also  When To Plant Weed Seeds Outdoors
Best Strains for Indoor Growing

Here are some of the best strains for beginners interested in growing cannabis indoors:

  • Northern Lights (NL)
  • Skunk #1
  • Blue Dream
  • Cheese/Blue Cheese
  • Blueberry
  • OG Kush

In addition to these hybrid strains, autoflowering strains and ruderalis strains are recommended for novice indoor growers.

Using a Greenhouse

The greenhouse can meld together the advantages of both indoor and outdoor cannabis growing. Greenhouses can be covered to produce true dark time, and the cannabis is kept in a protective environment which can reduce the chances of pests (though not as much as an indoor grow).

On top of this, greenhouses allow in natural light, allowing for the full development of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes. Greenhouse growing also uses far fewer resources compared to indoor grows, so less energy is spent on lights and fans. The enclosed environment can also make it easier to hide from prying eyes, and you can use other plants to camouflage the cannabis.

However, greenhouse grows are prone to the seasons, and a good amount of natural light is required. Temperatures and humidity levels are also harder to control. Still, those who want to step into the world of outdoor growing, and who are in a suitable environment, ought to consider a greenhouse.

Decide How You’ll Grow

You have a number of choices for a cannabis grow medium. Here are some of the most common ways to cultivate cannabis, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

With outdoor grows, you can use natural soil and sunlight to do most of the work, and many people prefer the results of outdoor cannabis with regard to its smell, taste, and effect. However, growing outdoors can be legally risky, and there are many more variables to consider.

Indoor grows can also utilize soil, and many prefer to use soil as it is a natural source of nutrients and you do not need to add too many extra nutrients from other sources. Good soil is also quite readily available at many gardening stores.

Advantages
  • Cannabis has better taste, smell, and effects.
Drawbacks
  • Weather issues.
  • Legal issues.
  • Pests.
  • Thieves.
  • Wild animals.
  • Requires careful balance of water and sunlight.
  • Potentially only two yields per year (depending on your climate).
  • Overall challenging.

Coco Coir

Coco coir is a natural fiber extracted from the outer husk of the coconut. It’s a growing medium that combines elements of both soil and hydroponic growing. It can be combined with soil or used on its own and is an ideal growing medium for beginners.

Advantages
  • Excellent water retention.
  • Reliable drainage.
  • Lots of air.
  • Roots spend less time searching for food, as you are providing it via nutrient water.
  • Coco coir has a neutral pH range of 5.2-6.8 — ideal for growing cannabis.
  • Reduces the risk of pests, fungi, and other harmful pathogens attacking your plant.
  • Environmentally friendly, and can be reused if prepared properly for your next growth cycle.
Drawbacks
  • Coir bales are often treated with chemicals to ensure that they don’t get infected with harmful pathogens, so read the label or check the manufacturer’s website for information on the coir you’re using to ensure that the chemicals won’t interfere with your plant growth cycle
  • You’ll need coco coir-specific nutrients to boost calcium, magnesium, and iron levels in the plant
  • Some types of coco coir may have a high salt content due to being rinsed in saltwater – ensure the coir has been rinsed with fresh water if this is the case
  • You’ll need to feed the plant nutrients yourself

Hydroponics

Hydroponics is where you grow cannabis using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. Basically, the plant will usually be in a pot surrounded by an inert growing medium (e.g. perlite, vermiculite, clay aggregate, gravel, or sand) and have a nutrient solution pumped through the inert material and into the plant (continuous-flow solution culture). In some methods, the plant is kept in a reservoir of nutrients (static solution culture).

Advantages
  • Large, powerful yields.
Drawbacks
  • Precise nutrient requirements.
  • Knowledge of different strains is required for optimum growth.
  • Aerated water is necessary.
  • Better-suited to experienced growers.

Aeroponic

Aeroponics is similar to hydroponics in many ways, except the plant’s roots are kept in an aerated chamber saturated with fine drops of nutrient solution. The roots are periodically wetted with a fine mist of atomized nutrients.

Aeroponic grows require fewer nutrients and less water compared to hydroponic grows, and unlike hydroponically-grown plants can be transferred to soil mediums without shocking the plant.

Advantages
  • High, efficient yields.
Drawbacks
  • High initial cost.
  • Constant supervision is necessary.
  • Excessive time and stress.

Aquaponics

Aquaponics is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture which is the growing of fish and other aquatic creatures in a tank. Aquaponics is a symbiotic environment where the aquatic animals’ discharge or waste feeds the plants growing on top, and the plants remove toxic levels of waste from accumulating in the water. Aquaponics systems have been in use for many years, but it is arguable that they weren’t perfected until relatively recently.

Advantages
  • Low water usage.
  • No plant feed needed.
  • Little to no chemical usage.
  • Less susceptibility to pests and diseases.
  • Cannabis plants grow quite well in aquaponic systems.
Drawbacks
  • Smaller area, so fewer plants.
  • High electricity outputs.
  • High maintenance.
  • More complex, so a greater number of points of failure.
  • High costs.

Growing Marijuana From Seeds Step by Step

There are several steps to follow to grow marijuana from seeds. After you select your marijuana seeds, you will carry the cannabis plant through each stage of growth, from germination through to harvest.

Germinate

Spray two to four sheets of paper towels (kitchen towels) with some water so it’s damp but not soaking, put a seed in between them and onto a plate, and wait for a taproot to emerge. Keep the room temperature somewhere between 70 and 90˚F.

Transplant

Transfer the germinated seed to a small pot of soil or whatever growth space you are using. During the seedling stage, it will produce two leaves that open outward from the stem to start receiving sunlight.

This is when you start seeing a mini cannabis plant. Seedlings should be kept at 77˚F with a humidity of around 60%. Cannabis likes a light cycle of 18-hours of white light per day once the leaves have emerged. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer at this point.

Vegetative Stage

By this time, you will need to transfer your mature seedling to a larger pot. You can tell when the seedling is ready to be transferred, as the roots will outgrow the plant pot. Cannabis plants grow rapidly at this stage as they take on more nutrients and carbon dioxide.

You can also do some vital checks at this point. One is checking for the sex of the plant. Female plants will start developing two white pistils. Male plants grow pollen sacs. If you see these sacs, remove the plant from the vicinity before it pollinates the females and ruins your harvest.

Keep the temperature between 68 and 77˚F, and the humidity between 50% and 70%. 18 hours of light and 6 hours of dark. Light wattage of around and 125 Watts. Cannabis ruderalis skips this stage entirely and moves onto the next stage (flowering). More nitrogen (N) than phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).

Flowering Stage

This is when the vegetative plant is fully mature and is ready to start growing buds/flowers, and you begin to see the trichomes (little white hairs that are the powerhouse of cannabinoid and terpene production).

Transfer the plant to a larger pot. The plant now needs 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. Indicas tend to finish flowering in about six to nine weeks and Sativas 10 to 14 weeks. Most growers tend to go for a maximum of 14 weeks’ flowering.

Prevent light leaks during dark times during the flowering stage. Light leaks can cause the plant to get stressed and produce both male and female organs (called “hermaphroditism”, “hermying”, “hermied” or “hermies”), even in feminized varieties.

Keep the temperature somewhere between 68 and 77˚ F, with the humidity at around 50 percent. Stop giving the plant nitrogen (N) now, but up the intake of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Once the plant is in the last week of flowering, flush the soil with distilled water and refrain from adding any more nutrients.

Harvesting

Once your plant is mature enough, it needs to be chopped and dried. But first, you need to know when to chop the plant. Some say you should harvest the plants when 70 to 90 percent of the pistils have browned.

Others look at the color of the trichomes, which start off white, then turn amber, and finally brown. Many say the ideal time to harvest is when around half (50 percent) of trichomes are amber. Too clear, and it can be too soon (but can produce a more energetic effect). Too brown, and the cannabinoids lose their potency (although some may prefer slightly less psychoactivity).

Drying

Dry your cannabis plants in a dry room away from sunlight for about seven to 14 days. Your cannabis plant will be ready for chopping into smaller buds for jarring once the plant stem snaps when you bend them. This is an extremely important stage, as a good drying process will prevent your cannabis from developing mold or mildew.

See also  Heirloom Cannabis Seeds

Curing

After you’ve chopped, pruned, and dried your cannabis, it is usable, but it is not at its best. You will want to put your cannabis into a mason jar (no more than 3/4 full) with an airtight seal. You will then leave it in there for two weeks to one month, opening the jar once a day to let the cannabis breathe. This will break down the sugars and chlorophyll in the bud/flower, and you will get a far more flavorsome product with a well-defined effect.

Growing Tips and Tricks

There are many helpful strategies you can employ to help your cannabis plant thrive. You can even save a dying cannabis plant . Here are some basic tips for growing cannabis to help you get the most abundant yield possible:

  • Do your research and choose the right strain.
  • Monitor daily conditions, especially light and temperature.
  • Provide adequate water.
  • Understand the life cycle of the cannabis plant.
  • Harvest at the optimal time.

How to Store Homegrown Marijuana

Storing your homegrown cannabis properly is essential to keep the harvest fresh.

Airtight containers stored in dark, cool places are ideal. Be sure to avoid exposing your cannabis to excessive light, heat, or moisture, as these elements will degrade the freshness and potency of the plant.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to fully grow a marijuana plant?

From seedling stage to harvest, the approximate time to grow a marijuana plant is 16 weeks, but this timeframe will differ depending on the strain you are growing as well as your grow medium.

Is it legal to grow marijuana?

State laws vary widely, so investigate the legal status of growing marijuana in your area before you plant your first seeds.

Is it better to grow marijuana inside or outside?

Growing cannabis indoors is easier for many beginner cultivators, as you are able to control the conditions. Growing cannabis outdoors poses more threats, including pest infestations and challenging weather conditions.

Explore the world of cannabis with a medical marijuana card. Leafwell’s doctors are here to meet with you online in our virtual clinic and get you started on the process.

Article written by

Tina Magrabi Senior Content Writer

Tina Magrabi is a writer and editor specializing in holistic health. She has written hundreds of articles for Weedmaps where she spearheaded the Ailments series on cannabis medicine. In addition, she has written extensively for the women’s health blog, SafeBirthProject, as well as print publications including Destinations Magazine and Vero’s Voice. Tina is a Yale University alumna and certified yoga instructor with a passion for the outdoors.

Keep updated with our social media

Leafwell HQ
Phone: +1 (800) 660-9085

©2022 Leafwell. Pepperjam Verification. Note: Information on this site does not constitute medical advice or legal advice.

How to grow weed outdoors: an intro to outdoor cannabis cultivation

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.

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.

How to grow marijuana 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.

Using Mother Nature to cultivate cannabis

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.

Becoming intimately familiar with your local climate and seasons is one of the most important steps in producing high-quality outdoor marijuana. Before you grow, you’ll need to know the ideal temperature your plants require in order to thrive, the best site, optimal timing of planting and harvesting, and the season’s photoperiod — the amount and intensity of light available through the duration of the growing season.

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.

While cultivars may vary, here are some general rules that will be useful no matter which one you choose.

Temperature

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.

Season

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.

Light

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.

After the solstice, the available daylight hours decrease, allowing the plant to naturally transition into the flowering period. Cannabis is a short-day plant, meaning it will begin to flower as the nights get longer and the hours of sunlight decrease.

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.

Plan to put plants in the ground based on the temperature, season, and light where you live so your cannabis plants have time to finish flowering before cold, rainy weather sets in.

Choosing the best site for outdoor cannabis

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.

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.

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.

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.

Planning your garden

Seeds vs. clones

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

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.

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

Image lightbox

If you decide to use seeds, make sure you start them about a month before you would typically start clones to give them time to germinate and adequately develop their taproot.

There are also many advantages and disadvantages of using clones. They can often be found at your local dispensary, are from a proven genetic lineage, and typically do well outdoors, making them the perfect choice for inexperienced growers. On the other hand, clones develop a fibrous root system, as opposed to the deep taproots that seeds develop. Fibrous root systems can reduce the plant’s ability to deal with environmental stress and predatory insects.

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.

See also  How To Germinate Weed Seeds In Paper Towel

Soil

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.

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

Image lightbox

Containers vs. in-ground

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.

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.

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.

Nutrients

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Water

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pest and weed control

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.

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.

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.

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.

Security

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.

Greenhouse basics

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.

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.

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.

Final thoughts on successfully growing cannabis outdoors

Keep this info in mind as you embark on your cannabis-growing adventure. The smallest adjustments can make all the difference — planting a week earlier, a week later, watering less, watering more, etc.

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

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.

Practice makes perfect, so always keep a grow journal and make sure to record any mistakes and wins along the way. Maintaining a record can help ensure you will have successful future harvests.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.