Last Updated on September, 2023 by Rob Wilson
Marijuana has been a plant which has been cultivated by humans for a really long time. If you look at the ancient Chinese and Indian texts dating as far back as over 2000 years ago, you would still find mentions of this plant in them! Consumption of marijuana for medicinal purposes as well as recreational purposes has been observed in a number of texts. It is a cultural practice for many communities across the world. While today we see it differently as a ‘drug’, it was just seen as any other plant back then. And just like any other plant – marijuana was grown outdoors! Over the years, as a taboo developed around growing weed and as people learnt about horticulture and the art of growing better plants, they started moving their plants indoors. Growing marijuana outdoors continues even today, and if you wish to do that, you’ve come to just the right place.
Over the course of this article, we shall be taking a detailed look at outdoor cultivation of marijuana. We shall be looking at the basic differences between outdoors and indoors growing, the benefits and disadvantages of growing weed outdoors, as well as take a look at the equipment you need to grow marijuana outdoors. We shall also be discussing some factors you need to consider before you begin growing outdoors. Basically, a summary of everything that you need to know before you start growing your weed.
What is Outdoor Cultivation of Marijuana?
Outdoor cultivation of marijuana, as the name suggests, is simply growing weed outdoors. It is the way weed was grown for thousands of years. It is basically growing weed like how every other plant in an open space grows! It is as simple as that. However, when it comes to weed, you can actually give the outdoor growth an additional boost by ensuring that you get the right kind of equipment and protective layers etc. to make sure that the plants grow better and that the yields are higher.
Growing Marijuana Indoors vs Growing Marijuana Outdoors
When you grow marijuana indoors, you are growing it in an enclosed space where you do not have access to natural resources like sunlight and air. However, here you need to simulate a natural environment. You need to put up grow lights to provide light (which will replace the natural light of the sun) and you will need to put up grow tents to provide a space to enhance the effects of the grow lights. Moreover, you will also need to create a system of ventilation with the help of various fans and outlets so that fresh air can be provided to the plants. However, while this is a little expensive and complex to set up, you get a controlled environment where you will get a higher yield and better growth of your plants.
When you grow your plants outdoors, the biggest advantages are that you get an open and natural environment of growth. Sunlight and fresh air are available in abundance and the soil that exists in nature can be utilized for the same. This is a much cheaper setup which requires little monitoring as the plants then grow on their own. This is the way weed has grown for thousands of years and this is the way many people continue to grow it even today though indoor growth is also catching up. However, most people who grow ‘bulk’ volumes of marijuana prefer growing it outdoors because there are lesser space restrictions over there and it is a cheaper setup too – furthermore, growing indoors consumes a lot of electricity, which means when you grow it outdoors, you’re being environment-friendly as well.
What do You Need to Grow Marijuana Outdoors?
Growing marijuana outdoors is quite a simple process because it does not require much out of you. All you need to do is to simply select a place where you will be growing weed, ensure that the soil is good quality and rich in all the nutrients and that it is an open space with access to a lot of light and air. In most cases you will need to add some nutrients to the soil in order to ensure that you get the best possible growth.
However, there are some growers who like to take it to the next level and add greenhouses to outdoor growth. There are different kinds of greenhouses too – some simply provide a protective layer while there are others where you can actually attach other elements needed for a better growth such as grow lights, etc. Greenhouses are also great to weather-proof your plants and they also help ensure that pests and insects stay away. However, not many growers tend to use greenhouses while growing outdoors.
Another thing that you need to take care of is the water needs. You must make sure that the plants are getting enough water. One more thing that needs to be accounted for is the time of the year you are growing your plants. Many growers (in the northern hemisphere) tend to grow them in July because as we proceed towards late-September/mid-October, days start getting shorter and as daylight starts getting lesser, the flowering starts automatically.
Steps Involved in Growing Marijuana Outdoors
- First of all, you need to decide on a place where the sunlight will reach the plants the best. If you’re growing in the equator region, you’re good to grow anywhere because the sun is directly overhead. However, when growing north of the equator, you’ll need to find a place which is on a south-facing ridge and the opposite for the south of the equator. This will ensure that optimum sunlight reaches your plants.
- You then need to decide how you are going to grow your plants – are you going to use pots all through the growth cycle or are you going to plant them on to the ground? What many growers also tend to do while growing marijuana outdoors is that they have the plants grow for the first few weeks in a pot and then have it transplanted on to the soil.
- You will also need to ensure that you are providing sufficient protection to your plants (for example using basic greenhouse structures) to enclose them in such a way that they are free from any danger of being attacked by insects or pests. Using such a structure will also help ensure that the plants are not facing any danger from extreme weather conditions which are a huge risk.
- Another thing that growers need to do while growing marijuana plants outdoors is that they need to check if the soil that they will be growing their weed in is suitable. You will need to check the soil and make sure it is not too loose or too hard – and if it has all the required nutrients (the ones which are lacking will need to be added separately).
- While light is important, growers also need to make sure that their plants are getting sufficient darkness, which is a cool-off period so that plants do not get overburdened. Moreover, based on where you are growing, the amount of light you get, the type of soil and the type of climate that there is – you also need to carefully choose a strain which has been proven to offer good results. Not all strains grow well outdoors even if you give them the best care and attention.
- Plants tend to grow taller when they are growing outdoors and hence it is important for the growers to constantly monitor their growth and make sure that they are well maintained. This basically includes regular pruning of the plants to make sure they do not get so dense that it hampers their growth (particularly of the lower edges which will then get limited sunlight). Pruning also helps ensure that your plants are using the resources on the right areas.
- Some growers assume that if they grow their plants outdoors, they would need to water them less because there would be natural sources of water like rain or groundwater. However, that isn’t always true and you need to provide water regardless. This is because there might be some regions which are too arid or dry and monsoon might not be regular at all times. Hence, you need to provide water – especially if you’re growing in the summer. Some large cannabis plants can consume up to 10 gallons per day.
- Lastly, it is also essential that we talk about greenhouses. When growing weed outdoors, some growers who want to take the extra step forward to ensure that the plants do not get damaged due to weather/climate conditions, they would need to set up a greenhouse around the plants. A greenhouse is made of a tough material inside which plants can grow with ease. However, setting up a greenhouse can be complex and expensive (especially if you add grow lights and other equipment inside it, it might even become more expensive than traditional indoor growth).
Pros and Cons of Outdoor Cultivation of Marijuana
- The biggest benefit is that you will not need to create artificial conditions in order to grow your marijuana plants and your plants will grow in all-natural conditions.
- This saves you on a lot of expense as pretty much everything will be available in nature. Unlike indoor growth you do not need to buy expensive products like grow lights, grow tents etc.
- Growing marijuana outdoors results in an environment-friendly growth. When you grow indoors, you are using a lot of electricity and electric devices, thereby expanding your carbon footprint. This is not the case when you are growing marijuana outdoors because there’s no electricity/electric equipment needed in this process of growing marijuana.
- When you grow your marijuana plants outdoors, you will not have any restrictions of space and can grow in a much larger scale. Most growers who grow a large amount of weed do it outdoors. You can also distance your plants enough to give them space to grow and enough access to sunlight.
- Last but not the least, when you are growing your marijuana plants outdoors, you also tend to get higher yields because the plants are growing in their natural environment and can attain full growth.
- The biggest disadvantage of growing marijuana outdoors is that you will lose all your privacy which you get while growing indoors. Indoor growth can be discreet, when growing outdoors, that is simply not possible.
- Another major problem with growing marijuana outdoors is the fact that you will not be able to provide it a controlled environment which you get indoors. Here, you will be leaving your plants largely to the mercy of the nature. While growing indoors you can provide optimal light, air, water, etc.
- Pests and insects are a huge issue for outdoor growers as they tend to destroy the entire plant. Imagine growing your plant for three months and then finding out one day that pests have damaged them!
- Weather conditions like too much or too little rain, storms, excess snow, etc. can damage your plants when they grow outdoors without a protection like a greenhouse.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Growing Marijuana Outdoors
Here are some frequently asked questions about the outdoor cultivation of marijuana. Do go through them as there’s a chance that you too might be having a similar question!
1. Why do some people prefer to grow weed outdoors?
Some growers prefer growing their weed outdoors because they believe that this offers them a better and more ‘natural’ means of growth when compared to growing it inside a confined space. Others tend to do it because it is a much cheaper means of growing marijuana as there are no electricity expenses, neither are there costs associated with buying equipment such as grow tents, grow lights, fans, etc. Furthermore, growers who want to grow really large quantities would also prefer growing outdoors as indoor growth restricts the amount of weed you grow based on the space you have inside the room. Hence, there are a number of people who would rather grow weed outdoors.
2. What are some factors that need to be taken care of while growing weed outdoors?
Here are some factors that need to be taken care of during outdoor cultivation of mariuana:
- Temperature changes: You must ensure that you are growing at a time of the year when there are no drastic temperature changes (from hot to too cold or from cold to too hot). If this is the case, you must consider using a greenhouse along with temperature control devices like an AC or a heater in order to control the temperature.
- Wind: Strong winds are often overlooked by growers as a potential threat. Hence, in the event that winds escalate and get severe, some plants (especially young plants) might get uprooted. This is why growers either grow them in pots so that they can be moved around during the time of high winds or use a greenhouse.
- Rain and Snow: Excess rain and snow can be a major deterrent to growth and can totally destroy your cannabis plant. Hence, either grow at a time when rain and snow are minimal or grow outdoors using a greenhouse which might be of great help.
- Pests: A huge problem for growers indoors or outdoors – pests, insects, animals and other such deterrents to growth need to be kept away to ensure you are getting a good growth. Using a greenhouse would again be a good solution towards keeping pets away.
3. Is it illegal to grow weed outdoors?
Now this is something that is different on a case-to-case basis. In some places where consumption of weed is legal you might be allowed to grow weed outdoors (but in limited quantities). In some places smoking might be legal but growing might need a license, while in other places smoking might be legal but growing outdoors might be illegal. However, there are many places where either everything is legal or everything is illegal too. It is best to check with the local law enforcement agencies before you get started with your outdoor cultivation of marijuana.
4. What are the risks of growing weed outdoors?
You are exposing the weed to everyone – growing it outdoors means you might run into trouble with neighbours, visitors or the law. Then there’s also the risk of pests and insects infecting your plants. Moreover, excess rain, snow or storms can also have a bad impact on your marijuana plants.
Lastly, we hope that this article on the outdoor cultivation of marijuana helps you gain a good idea about how to go about it – what the benefits of doing so are and what are the disadvantages of growing weed out in the open. If there’s something that you feel we’ve missed out on, or if there’s something more that you would like to know about – do let us know in the comments section or drop us an email about the same and we shall get back to you.
Happy Growing! 🙂
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