Cannabis seeds evolved to grow in the outdoors. The genetics of all cannabis strains, even the latest hybrids, is essentially ‘meant’ to thrive in broad daylight, relying on natural soil, plenty of rain, and a bit of a breeze for fresh air supply. Growing cannabis outdoors has many advantages and positive sides, provided it is done at the right location. In this blog, we’ll explain where growing cannabis outside has the best chance of success. We’ll kick off by highlighting the pros and cons of outdoor cannabis cultivation.
Why Grow Cannabis Outside?
Growing cannabis outside grants a weed plant the chance to express all of its genetic traits in the most natural way possible. These days, just about anyone can grow cannabis indoors by mimicking outdoor conditions. Indoors, the right kind of lighting, ventilation, and nutrition even allows for growing in the colder months of the year. In the end, though, it’s still an artificial setup. Natural soil life, the soil itself, the rhythm of the days and seasons are so complex that indoor grow and growing cannabis outdoors will never be the same. Anyone deciding to buy cannabis seeds to let their genetics come to full fruition in the open air will notice that nature can be a powerful ally for growing first-class cannabis.
Growing Cannabis Outdoors: A Natural Choice
The present focus on notions like organic, pure, and natural seems like it’s here to stay. We fully agree, because choosing nature means avoiding all sorts of artificial additions and other factors that can have negative health consequences. That applies to more than food alone; it sure holds true for cannabis, too. In theory, a cannabis seed planted outside in the soil doesn’t need any artificial fertilisers or other (chemical) extras. That way, even fully organically grown outdoor weed becomes an option.
The Original Taste Of Outdoor Cannabis
Grown outdoors in the right circumstances, cannabis is able to behave naturally. Provided soil life is sufficiently developed and rain and sunshine are readily available, natural growth will follow. This enables full expression of a strain’s natural genetics. That involves more than just THC levels; theoretically, all cannabinoids should remain present in their original proportions. The same holds true for the terpenes and flavonoids present in the plant’s colas. These compounds are responsible for the scent and flavour of a specific cannabis specimen. Perhaps more importantly, they produce the entourage effect and subtly contribute to the effects of all the other compounds present. From this perspective, it seems safe to say that outdoor cannabis growing grants more room for spontaneous, natural expression of genetic qualities carried by cannabis seeds. Which particular genetics to use for outdoor cannabis growing is explored below.
Where To Grow Outdoor Cannabis? Weather And Climate
Anyone trying to grow cannabis outside has to take local climate into account. Together with genetics and soil, weather is a defining factor for successful outdoor cannabis growing. Temperature and hours of sunlight are especially vital. Cannabis is a tough little plant, especially out in the open ground or in a pot full of rich soil out in the garden. Nonetheless, natural influences like extreme temperatures, heavy rainfall, storms, and mist can be actual risk factors.
As with all things in nature, the trick is finding balance. Six hours of full sunlight each day is a bare minimum; however, temperatures over 30°C are harmful. Cold doesn’t make cannabis happy, either: temperatures below 12°C can slow its development. That is why growers living in more northerly, cooler climes should not plant their seedling too early. In the Netherlands and neighbouring countries, the second half of May is just about guaranteed to be free of frost. For anyone living near the Mediterranean, however, the situation is completely different. Up north, summers are brief. The final weeks of flowering, just before harvest time, hold serious risks of issues like bud rot due to cold, damp weather. In those circumstances, rapid-growing genetics such as autoflowers or indica-dominant strains can be a great solution.
A steady water supply is every bit as vital for growing cannabis outdoors. Here, locations nearer the equator run greater risks instead, although northern summers tend to grow drier and hotter too, lately. If the soil dries out, the roots of the plant become unable to absorb nutrients. That makes a watering can or garden hose essential gear for dry spells. If the ground becomes too damp, roots can start to rot and fungi become a threat. That calls for good drainage, and some mobile cover or some shelter in case it keeps pouring for days on end.
The best Spots For Growing Cannabis Outdoors
All outdoor grow locations come with pros and cons. That makes it crucial for outdoor growers to pick the best spot with optimal conditions. Another factor to consider: plants in pots can be moved around if needed, but a plant rooted in open soil is there to stay. We’ll return to that later on.
Light & Heat
Growing cannabis outdoors demands light; lots and lots of sunlight, in fact. Good outdoor grow spots receive at least six hours of direct sunshine every day. That makes gardens or balconies facing south intuitively attractive, but beware! Hotspots where temperatures can exceed 30°C should be avoided if possible. Remember that even if places may appear cool while planting seeds in spring, they may still get scorching hot in summer. Some shade and shelter provided by shrubs, trees, and fences can help keep temperatures in check and provide some protection from the wind, too.
Cannabis plants love a nice gentle breeze. Proper ventilation is healthy and keeps mold at bay. On the other hand, lots of wind tends to dry out plants and soil faster. Powerful summer storms can snap cannabis plants. That means a little protection is useful, whether it’s from a conifer tree, some berry bushes, or a garden fence. Of course, if the weather takes a turn for the worse, mobile pots offer advantages over rooted plants in fixed positions. No matter what, though, growing cannabis outdoors is a constant search for balance between environmental and weather aspects offered by the great outdoors.
Growing Cannabis Outdoors: Pots Or Soil, Balcony Or Rooftop Terrace?
Open Ground Or Flowerpot?
Having a spacious garden available seems an easy decision: just planting seeds out in the open soil sounds like the logical choice. Nonetheless, growing cannabis outside in pots has some definite advantages as well. A pot can be placed precisely where circumstances are optimal. And even if a pot is large enough, it still limits root development to some extent. That causes most cannabis plants to grow shorter in pots than they would out in the open ground. That can be a big plus for anyone with limited space. Potted plants do need ample room for expanding root systems, with plenty of (fresh) soil and nutrients for growth and flowering. In addition, soil in pots dries out faster than a flowerbed full of dirt. Adding some sort of mulch can help protect against evaporation, whether it’s some straw, coco, or wood chip. These come with their own potential drawback, though: they can raise the acidity level in the soil. As you can see, balance is the magic word here, too!
Balcony Or Rooftop?
Outdoor cannabis growing on balconies or rooftops make pots the default choice. That comes with a few disadvantages. Not only will the plants grow in plain sight; they are also fully exposed to the elements. Balconies facing north often lack sunlight, whereas south-facing balconies can easily turn into ovens on hot days. Dehydration is a serious threat up on the rooftop, as are gusts of wind. Tarpaulin or similar material can provide some protection, but if these cut off the light and air supply of the plant, it’s still a problem. Screened balconies can turn into full-blown convection ovens quickly. The sun’s angle is a factor here, but there is more to consider. Walls reflect heat and keep emanating trapped warmth long after the sun goes down. These are all important matters for anyone considering growing cannabis outdoors.
Straight Into The Ground
Growing cannabis in open ground offers rich soil life, space, nutrients, and stability. Certain strains, particularly the sativa-dominant ones, tend to grow two to three metres tall when firmly rooted in good soil. If the soil was well-prepared in early spring, ample nutrient supply will promote prolific growth. In such conditions, overfertilising poses a greater threat than a lack of nutes. Good outdoor soil also provides a more balanced whole of crucial fungal and micro-organism driven soil life. That generally makes growing weed outside in open ground more robust. Healthy, natural dirt usually contains all the diversity that an outdoor habitat can offer.
The Best Cannabis Seeds For Growing Outdoors
As mentioned, all cannabis strains are basically ‘meant’ to flourish in outdoor conditions. Which strains are best suited for outdoor cultivation largely depends on grower preferences. All cannabis seeds that connoisseurs can order at Amsterdam Genetics are loaded with powerful genetics. And yet, not all strains are equally suited for any grow location – especially in the Netherlands with its poor weather reputation. Generally speaking, though, we can offer the following guidelines for successful outdoor cannabis growing:
Growing Indica Cannabis Outdoors
As a rule of thumb, indicas and indica-dominant hybrid strains tend to perform better in Northern European weather types. In contrast to sativa-heavy strains, indica plants evolved out on the high plateaus of Central Asia, with relatively short summers and early onset of winter weather. These origins account for the fact that cannabis with lots of indica genetics often has shorter flowering times than most sativas have. We provide indications of flowering times for all of our strains. Many of our top indica-dominant strains, such as Skyrocket or Choco Cheesecake, have flowering times of about eight weeks. That’s a good match for shorter summers typical of more northern areas.
Growing Sativa Cannabis Outdoors
Of course, sativa-heavy strains can thrive outside as well, but these variants tend to need more sunlight and more time to flower. Sativas trace their origins back to the warm, humid regions around the equator, where the summer lasts almost all through the year. Most of our sativas, including Amnesia Haze and Super Silver Haze, are more sensitive to outdoor conditions cooler parts of the world. That explains why growers in Greece or Spain usually have an easier time growing sativa cannabis outdoors than, say, their British or Belgian counterparts. Anyone intent on growing a northern sativa strain out in the garden will have to take this into account. Good alternatives are often found among the autoflower strains.
Growing Autoflower Cannabis Outdoors
Autoflowers are available across the full spectrum of indaica and sativa strains. Autoflower seeds carry ruderalis genetics inside; a subspecies that developed further north than indicas. They often grow and flower much faster than non-autoflowers do. A major benefit of autoflowering cannabis plants is their independence: they decide for themselves when to switch from the vegetative to the flowering stage. Non-autoflowers are photoperiod: the rhythm of the seasons determines when they start to flower. That moment comes with the arrival of the summer solstice in mid-June, when the northern hemisphere leaves the longest day of the year behind.
The big plus of growing autflower cannabis outside is their ability to start flowering before the summer peaks. That leaves more time to make the most out of those genetics before autumn arrives. In autoflower strains, brief flowering times generally go hand in hand with genetics able to cope with some adversity. That makes out outdoor autoflower favourites like Milkshake Kush Auto and Choco Kush Autoflower great candidates for growing cannabis outdoors in just about any type of climate.
Optimal Outdoor Growing: Buying The Right Cannabis Seeds Is Just The Beginning
Finding the best spot is vital for a successful outdoor cannabis grow. Balance is key here: good cannabis seeds are the crucial first step, but sunlight, heat, moisture, air, soil, and shelter all have parts to play. The grower who finds the best spot with the perfect balance has the best chances of optimal and natural growth and harvests when growing cannabis outdoors.
Want to learn more? The next step is knowing when to grow cannabis outisde. Read all about it in this outdoor grow timing blog!
Disclaimer: Local laws and legislation on cannabis cultivation and germination of seeds vary between countries and states. Amsterdam Genetics products and information are exclusively intended for use in areas where such use is fully legal. Check your local rules; do not act in conflict with the law!