How to Grow Cannabis Plants Outdoors

Learn how to grow cannabis plants outdoors with our guide on location, soil, strains, growth stages, and more for a thriving harvest.

How to Grow Cannabis Plants Outdoors

For successful outdoor cannabis cultivation, it is essential to select a suitable location that offers optimal sunlight exposure and natural soil conditions. Growing marijuana outdoors presents unique challenges and opportunities compared to indoor growing, but with the right knowledge and techniques, you can cultivate a thriving garden.

In this guide on how to grow cannabis plants outdoors, we will cover essential topics such as selecting a suitable outdoor location for optimal sunlight exposure and natural soil conditions. We'll also discuss preparing the soil by adding compost or organic matter for nutrient-rich beds that promote healthy plant growth.

Furthermore, choosing the right strain based on climate compatibility is crucial in ensuring larger plants with bountiful yields. Understanding cannabis growth stages and their specific needs during each phase allows growers to provide adequate watering and fertilization schedules throughout the growing season.

Last but not least, we'll explore effective methods for dealing with pests and diseases that may negatively affect your plants while also providing guidance on harvesting and drying your buds properly for maximum potency once flowering has concluded.

Table of Contents:

Selecting a Suitable Outdoor Location

Growing cannabis plants outdoors can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it all starts with finding the perfect spot. The ideal location for your outdoor grow should have plenty of sunlight, good soil drainage, and protection from strong winds. In this article, we'll go over how to identify the elements needed for a successful outdoor cannabis cultivation and pick the optimal spot.

Plenty of Sunlight

Cannabis plants require direct sunlight for at least 6-8 hours daily to flourish. When searching for a suitable location, look for areas that receive ample sunshine throughout the day. Keep in mind that shadows cast by trees or buildings may change as the sun moves across the sky - so make sure you observe your chosen spot during different times of day before committing to it.

Tracking Sun Exposure

To help determine if your selected area gets enough sun exposure, consider using tools like solar pathfinders or smartphone apps designed specifically for tracking sunlight patterns in gardens.

Good Soil Drainage

Proper soil drainage is essential when growing cannabis outdoors since waterlogged roots can lead to root rot and other diseases. To test whether your potential site has adequate drainage:

  • Dig a hole about one foot deep and fill it with water.
  • If the water drains within 30 minutes, you've got well-draining soil.
  • If not, consider amending the soil with organic matter like compost or choosing another location.

Protection from Strong Winds

Cannabis plants can be quite sensitive to strong winds, which may cause damage or even break their branches. To avoid these issues, look for a location that offers natural windbreaks such as fences, walls, or hedges. Alternatively, you can create your own wind barriers using materials like bamboo stakes or garden netting.

Wind-Resistant Companion Plants

Planting wind-resistant companion plants around your cannabis garden is another effective way to protect them from harsh gusts. These sturdy plants will help shield the more delicate cannabis while also providing additional benefits like pest control and improved soil health.

When selecting an outdoor location for growing cannabis plants, make sure it receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day, has well-draining soil; and provides protection against strong winds. By taking these factors into consideration before planting your seeds or seedlings outdoors - you'll set yourself up for a successful harvest come autumn.

Preparing the Soil

When it comes to growing cannabis plants outdoors, soil preparation is crucial for ensuring healthy growth and a bountiful harvest. In this section, we'll explore the steps necessary for readying your soil to plant cannabis seeds or seedlings, as well as advice on sustaining ideal conditions during cultivation.

Testing Your Soil

The first step in preparing your outdoor grow space is testing your soil's pH level and nutrient content. Cannabis plants thrive in slightly acidic soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. You can purchase an affordable soil test kit from any gardening store or online retailer to determine if your garden's current conditions are suitable for cannabis cultivation.

Ammending Your Soil

If you find that your soil needs improvement, there are several organic amendments you can use:

  • Compost: Adding compost improves drainage while providing essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (N-P-K), calcium, magnesium and sulfur. Aim for a mix of roughly 30% compost to 70% native soil.
  • Coco coir: Derived from coconut husks, coco coir enhances water retention capabilities without causing root rot. Mix it with your soil at a ratio of 1:4 coco coir to native soil.
  • Perlite: This volcanic glass material improves drainage and aeration, making it easier for cannabis roots to access oxygen. Use perlite sparingly, mixing in about 10% by volume into your soil.

Maintaining Optimal Soil Conditions

Throughout the growing season, you'll need to monitor and maintain optimal conditions for your cannabis plants. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  1. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of each plant. Mulch helps retain moisture, regulate temperature and suppress weeds. Straw or shredded leaves work well as mulch materials.
  2. Fertilizing: Cannabis plants require regular feeding throughout their growth stages. Use an organic fertilizer specifically designed for cannabis cultivation or create your own blend using ingredients like worm castings, bat guano or fish emulsion. Always follow manufacturer instructions when applying fertilizers.
  3. pH management: Regularly test your soil's pH level and adjust if necessary using natural amendments like lime (to raise pH) or sulfur (to lower pH). Maintaining proper pH ensures that your plants can effectively absorb nutrients from the soil.

Preparing the earth is a necessity for cultivating cannabis plants outdoors and should not be taken lightly. Choosing the right strain for your particular climate and location will help ensure a successful harvest.

Choosing the Right Strain

Growing cannabis outdoors means you need to select a strain that's well-suited for your local climate. The right strain will not only thrive in your environment but also produce high-quality buds with minimal effort on your part. To help you make an informed decision, consider these factors:

  • Climate compatibility: Some strains are more resilient and adaptable to various climates than others. Research which strains can handle the temperature fluctuations, humidity levels, and precipitation patterns of your region.
  • Flowering time: Outdoor growers must be mindful of their area's daylight hours and seasonal changes when selecting a strain. Choose one with a flowering time that aligns with the optimal growing conditions in your location. For example, if you live in an area with short summers, opt for strains like autoflowering varieties, which have shorter flowering periods.
  • Mold resistance: In regions prone to heavy rainfall or high humidity levels during the growing season, it's crucial to choose mold-resistant strains such as Northern Lights or Durban Poison.
  • Potency and effects: Consider what kind of experience you're looking for when consuming cannabis - whether it's relaxation or stimulation - before deciding on a specific strain. This choice will determine whether you should grow indica-dominant plants known for their relaxing properties or sativa-dominant ones associated with energizing effects.

To get started on finding the perfect outdoor cannabis strain suited for your needs and climate preferences, check out this list of popular options:

  1. Blue Dream - A sativa-dominant hybrid that's known for its adaptability and resistance to common pests.
  2. Gorilla Glue #4 - An indica-dominant strain with high THC levels, ideal for growers seeking potent buds.
  3. Sour Diesel - A classic sativa strain with a long flowering time, suitable for regions with extended summers.
  4. Pineapple Express - A balanced hybrid that thrives in warmer climates and produces large yields of flavorful buds.

Bear in mind that these are just a few examples of the many strains available on the market today. Don't be scared to venture out and discover the ideal one for your particular environmental conditions and individual tastes.

Understanding Cannabis Growth Stages

Understanding cannabis growth stages necessitates knowledge of the various phases to make sure that appropriate care is given when necessary. To begin the process of cultivating cannabis outdoors, we must first become familiar with each stage from germination to flowering and harvesting.


The first step in growing cannabis plants is germinating your seeds. This process involves soaking them in water for 24-48 hours until they sprout tiny roots called taproots. Once these appear, it's time to plant your seeds into small pots filled with moist soil or other suitable growing mediums. Keep the soil consistently moist but not soaked during this stage, which usually lasts around 5-10 days.

Seedling Stage

Your baby cannabis plants will enter their seedling phase once they've emerged from the soil. During this stage, they'll develop their first set of leaves known as cotyledons followed by more recognizable serrated leaves (true leaves). Seedlings require plenty of light - aim for about 18 hours per day - and consistent temperatures between 20-25°C (68-77°F) for optimal growth. The seedling stage typically lasts about two weeks.

  • Light: Around 18 hours per day
  • Temperature: Between 20-25°C (68-77°F)
  • Average Duration: Two weeks

Vegetative Stage

In the vegetative stage, your cannabis plants will focus on developing strong stems and foliage rather than producing buds. This period can last anywhere from 3-16 weeks, depending on the strain and growing conditions. For successful vegetative growth, provide your plants with 18 hours of sunlight per day and maintain temperatures between 22-28°C (72-82°F). It's also essential to provide proper nutrients during this stage, with a focus on nitrogen for healthy foliage growth.

  • Light: Around 18 hours per day
  • Temperature: Between 22-28°C (72-82°F)
  • Average Duration: Three to sixteen weeks

Flowering Stage

The flowering stage is when your cannabis plants start producing those precious buds you've been waiting for. This phase begins as daylight hours decrease in late summer or early fall. Cannabis plants require around 12 hours of darkness each day during this period to encourage bud production. The ideal temperature range drops slightly compared to the vegetative stage - aim for between 20-26°C (68-79°F). Be sure to adjust your nutrient mix accordingly by reducing nitrogen levels and increasing phosphorus and potassium ratios. Flowering can last anywhere from six weeks up until several months depending on the strain.

  • Light: About twelve uninterrupted dark hours daily
  • Temperature: Betweeen20-26 °C(68-79 °F)
  • Average Duration: Six weeks up to several months

Understanding cannabis growth stages is essential for successful cultivation, and with the right knowledge, you can ensure your plants reach their full potential. When it comes to watering and fertilizing cannabis plants, proper technique will help maximize yield while minimizing stress on the plant.

Watering and Fertilizing Cannabis Plants

Growing healthy cannabis plants outdoors requires proper watering and fertilization techniques. In this article, we'll go over the fundamentals of hydration and fertilization for outdoor cannabis plants, including selecting suitable nutrients, setting up a regular feeding routine to ensure optimal growth.

Watering Techniques for Outdoor Cannabis Plants

The key to successful watering is striking the right balance between keeping the soil moist but not saturated. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering may cause your plant's leaves to wilt or turn yellow. Here are some tips for effective watering:

  • Check soil moisture: Before you water your plants, stick a finger about an inch into the soil near their base. If it feels dry at that depth, it's time to water.
  • Morning routine: Water your cannabis plants in the early morning when temperatures are cooler; this reduces evaporation loss and allows roots more time to absorb moisture before daytime heat sets in.
  • Drip irrigation system: Consider using a drip irrigation system if possible; these systems deliver water directly to each plant's root zone without wetting foliage or wasting resources through runoff or evaporation.

Selecting Nutrients for Your Cannabis Plants

For optimal growth and health, cannabis plants should be provided with the necessary balance of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These elements play crucial roles in various aspects of plant development such as vegetative growth, flowering stage performance, and overall health. To ensure your plants receive the proper balance of nutrients, consider using a cannabis-specific fertilizer that contains N-P-K ratios tailored to each stage of growth.

Creating a Feeding Schedule for Your Cannabis Plants

A well-planned feeding schedule can help optimize nutrient uptake and promote healthy plant development. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Vegging phase: During the vegetative stage, focus on providing higher levels of nitrogen to encourage leafy growth. A typical N-P-K ratio during this period might be 3-1-2 or similar.
  • Blooming phase: As your plants transition into flowering, gradually reduce nitrogen levels while increasing phosphorus and potassium; these elements support bud formation and overall yield. Look for fertilizers with an N-P-K ratio around 1-3-2 during this time.
  • Maintaining pH balance: The pH level in your soil affects nutrient availability; aim for a slightly acidic range between 6.0 and 7.0 when growing cannabis outdoors . Regularly test soil pH and adjust as needed using products like lime (to raise) or sulfur (to lower).

Watering and fertilizing cannabis plants is a critical step in ensuring healthy, high-yielding harvests. Attending to the needs of cannabis plants is essential for successful harvests, requiring growers to be meticulous in their efforts. Dealing with pests and diseases requires an even higher level of diligence as these issues can quickly damage or destroy entire crop yields if not addressed properly.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases

Growing cannabis outdoors exposes your plants to a variety of pests and diseases that can potentially harm or even destroy them. It is essential to recognize potential issues and take the necessary steps for a successful yield when cultivating cannabis outdoors. In this section, we'll cover some typical issues you might encounter while growing cannabis outdoors, along with tips on prevention and treatment.

Common Cannabis Pests

  • Aphids: These tiny insects suck the sap from your plants' leaves, causing curling and yellowing. They also produce honeydew which attracts ants and promotes mold growth. A natural solution is introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs or using insecticidal soap sprays.
  • Caterpillars: Caterpillars love munching on cannabis leaves, leaving holes behind as they feed. Hand-picking them off your plants is an effective method for small infestations; otherwise, consider using organic pesticides like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
  • Mites: Spider mites are another common pest that feeds on plant sap resulting in yellow spots on the leaves. Introducing predatory mites or applying neem oil can help control these pesky invaders.

Frequent Cannabis Diseases

  • Mold: High humidity levels create perfect conditions for mold growth - particularly during flowering when buds are densest. Prevent mold by ensuring proper airflow around your plants and removing any affected buds immediately.
  • Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease appears as white, powdery spots on leaves and stems. It can be prevented by maintaining good airflow and treating with organic fungicides like potassium bicarbonate or neem oil.
  • Root Rot: Overwatering your cannabis plants can lead to root rot - a condition where the roots become brown, slimy, and decayed. Prevent this issue by ensuring proper drainage in your soil mix and avoiding overwatering.

Tips for Prevention

To minimize the risk of pests and diseases affecting your outdoor cannabis grow, follow these simple tips:

  1. Maintain a clean growing environment: Remove dead leaves or plant debris regularly to prevent them from becoming breeding grounds for pests or mold spores.
  2. Avoid overcrowding: Space out your plants adequately to ensure sufficient airflow around each one, reducing humidity levels that promote mold growth.
  3. Monitor closely: Regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation or disease so you can act quickly if any issues arise.
  4. Use natural remedies when possible: Opt for organic pesticides and fungicides whenever possible to avoid harming beneficial insects that help keep pest populations under control.

Tackling pests and illnesses is a major factor in outdoor cannabis cultivation, as it can be the key to achieving an abundant yield or no harvest at all. Now that you have tackled this challenge, let's move on to harvesting and drying your buds for consumption.

Harvesting and Drying Cannabis Buds

To ensure the best results, it is important to know when and how to harvest your buds from outdoor-grown cannabis plants. In this article, we'll provide a guide to harvesting and drying your outdoor-grown cannabis buds.

Identifying the Right Time to Harvest

The first step in harvesting is determining when your cannabis plants are ready. The ideal time depends on the strain you're growing and personal preference regarding potency and flavor. To determine if it's time to harvest, closely examine the trichomes - tiny resin glands that cover the buds. For a better look, use either a loupe or magnifier.

  • Milky white trichomes: When most trichomes have turned milky white with only a few clear ones remaining, it indicates peak THC levels - perfect for those seeking potent effects.
  • Amber-colored trichomes: If you prefer more relaxing effects with less psychoactivity, wait until about half of the trichomes turn amber before harvesting.

Cutting Your Cannabis Plants

To begin harvesting, cut each branch at its base using clean scissors or pruning shears. Be gentle while handling your plants as excessive pressure may damage delicate trichomes containing valuable cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

Drying Your Cannabis Buds Properly

Drying is crucial because it helps preserve terpenes responsible for aroma and flavor while reducing moisture content that can lead to mold growth. Follow these steps for proper drying:

  1. Trim excess leaves: Remove large fan leaves and any remaining small sugar leaves, leaving only the buds.
  2. Hang branches upside down: Hang your trimmed branches in a dark room with good air circulation and humidity levels between 45-55%. A closet or grow tent works well for this purpose.
  3. Maintain optimal temperature: Keep the drying room's temperature around 60-70°F (15-21°C) to avoid over-drying or under-drying your buds.

Drying usually takes about one to two weeks. You'll know your cannabis is dry enough when stems snap rather than bend when you apply pressure. Overly dry buds may lose potency, while under-dried ones can develop mold during storage - so finding that sweet spot is crucial.

Curing Your Cannabis Buds

To further enhance flavor and potency, cure your dried cannabis by following these steps:

  1. Place buds in jars: Fully fill airtight glass jars like mason jars with your dried buds without overly compressing them.  
  2. "Burping" the jars: For the first week of curing, open each jar daily for about fifteen minutes to release moisture trapped inside - this process is called burping. Afterwards, reduce burping frequency gradually until it reaches once every few days. 
  3. Store in a cool, dark place: Keep sealed jars away from direct sunlight at temperatures between 60 -70 ° F (15 -21 ° C ). Proper curing typically takes four weeks but can last up to several months for connoisseurs seeking optimal flavor and potency.

Frequently Asked Questions How to Grow Cannabis Plants Outdoors

What are the basics of growing cannabis outside?

To grow cannabis outdoors, select a suitable location with ample sunlight and protection from strong winds. Prepare nutrient-rich soil, choose an appropriate strain for your climate, and understand the growth stages. Provide regular watering and fertilization while monitoring for pests and diseases. Harvest buds when they're matured and dry them properly.

Is cannabis hard to grow outside?

Growing cannabis outdoors can be relatively easy if you follow proper guidelines. Selecting a suitable location, using quality soil, choosing the right strain for your climate, providing adequate water and nutrients will ensure healthy plant growth. However, outdoor growers may face challenges such as pests or unpredictable weather conditions.

What months are best to grow cannabis outside?

The ideal months to start growing cannabis outdoors depend on your local climate but generally fall between April and October in most regions. Start germinating seeds indoors in late winter or early spring before transplanting seedlings after the last frost date when temperatures remain consistently above 50°F (10°C).

What are the problems with growing cannabis outside?

Potential issues with outdoor cultivation include exposure to extreme weather conditions like heavy rain or droughts; vulnerability to pests such as insects, rodents or mold; theft by humans; potential legal restrictions depending on jurisdiction; difficulty controlling light cycles during flowering stage without supplemental lighting sources.


Growing cannabis plants outdoors is a rewarding experience, but it requires knowledge and dedication. By selecting the right location, preparing the soil properly, choosing an appropriate strain for your climate and taking care of pests and diseases along with proper watering and fertilizing techniques you can successfully grow cannabis plants outdoors. With patience and attention to detail in harvesting and drying buds you will be able to enjoy a high-quality crop that has been grown with love.