Outdoor Cannabis Growing Basics by LuckyAcres
by LuckyAcres (Check out his Instagram and Youtube for more!)
Are you ready to start growing cannabis outdoors? If you’re a wannabe grower looking for a quick and basic tutorial on how to grow weed outside, this is it. Check out these plants and learn how to grow plants just like them yourself!
Plants grown outdoors can get huge if you care for them properly
Growing auto-flowering strains can help keep plants from getting so big. This is Night Queen Auto by Dutch Passion not long before harvest.
What you need to get started growing outdoors:
Here’s a complete list of supplies you need to grow plants outdoors.
Seeds (or clones)
- You need to get your plants somewhere. If you can’t get plants locally, here’s a list of online seed sources that deliver anywhere.
Root Riot Plugs
- Seedlings get germinated in RootRiot Plugs (the extra michoryzae is nice!)
Container(s) – Air pots or Nursery Pots
After 20 years of being around black “nursery pots”, airpots have become my number one choice. Better root growth, better access to air, massive root terminals…. day and night to what I was accustomed to. Grow bags can retain salts and pests if not dealt with properly between grows. My access to sun changes thru the season so I must be able to move my ladies as needed.
- Fox Farm Ocean Forest soil does the job. There are better ones out there but I’m happy with the results for the price.
Nutrient companies seem to have reached a status quo imo. They all seem to sell different variations and packagings of the same ingredients. Buy what you can afford. Keep it simple. The sun brings the food, nutes are the vitamins. When it comes to nutrients, you can use just the “base nutrients” or you can get the whole line (which also includes additional supplements that are nice but not necessary).
I’ve had similar results using at different times the full lines of nutes by Emerald Harvest (you can use just the base nutrients or the whole line), Roots Organics (base nutrients are Buddha Grow and Bloom, and they offer the whole line in a kit) and Fox Farm (soil base nutrients or whole line)…
I swear by Foliar Essence foliar spray weekly. Mammoth P is great to lubricate the nutes highways. I use Mad Farmer Detox right before harvest, which is a cleaning/flushing solution.
PH and PPM Tester
To test the pH, I use a Bluelab PH Pen. I also use a PPM meter to measure the strength of nutrient solutions.
I use old hydrogen peroxide bottles(quart size) that I cut at the top for a wider neck. 3 or 4 rounds of these will feed one auto.
How to Start Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Follow these steps and you will be harvesting your plants in a few months:
1.) Find a growing location
When growing cannabis outdoors, it’s important to find a private spot with easy access to water and 6+ hours of direct sun each day.
I built my backyard for privacy long before growing cannabis outdoors so it was canna-ready, but if fence height and privacy are an issue I’d recommend growing autos or scrogging photos. Have a dog to keep away cats and rodents as much as possible. Be nice to your neighbors, and a little sharing goes a long way! Sunlight availability is my number one challenge. 2-3 hrs in the morning and 3-4 hrs in the afternoon. The more the better!
A private, secluded area with plenty of sunlight is perfect for growing cannabis. Make sure you have access to water!
2.) Set up your containers with soil
Nursery pots are straight forward. Fill with loose soil to the rim, bang the pot lightly 2-3 times on the ground, add soil up to the rim again and that’s it.
In airpots the soil has to be pushed lightly into the holes on the sides as it’s poured in but same tapping and refilling method works great afterward.
3.) Germinate your seeds and place in containers
I germinate seeds in RootRiot plugs (the extra michoryzae is nice!) I drop the seed in water(shot glass in a dark spot for a day or two usually) until the tap root pops out and is about half an inch long.
I move autos in their final pot as soon as they’ve germinated (5-gallon container(= #7 Airpot USA), though 10 gallons is better for the longer cycle strains and super autos.)
Photoperiod plants go to a 1-gallon pot first then 5 or 7-gallon then to their final pot. I use 15 or 20-gallon nursery pots for photos.
4.) Water plants regularly
Cannabis plants like when the root environment is slightly acidic. The optimal ph is 6-7 for cannabis plants grown in soil. It’s important to check the pH of your water because plants get nutrient deficiencies if it’s too high or too low. The city water where I live has a 6.5 ph so on plain-water days it comes out straight out of the hose.
If it’s a day I give nutrients, I mix nutrients then take ppm readings. Once everything looks good I ph the water. Nutrients tend to lower the ph, so on feeding days I usually have to adjust the ph up before giving it to the plants. Your experience may vary depending on the ph of your water source. Here’s a tutorial on how to test the ph of your water.
How often do you water the plants?
- Every other day to every 3 days
How often do you water seedlings?
- I make sure they stay moist until I know the root growth is sufficient to allow for the top to dry out between watering.
How often do you water bigger plants?
- Bigger plants, especially later in the summer get watered every day in between feedings, not a full round of water but enough to sustain them thru the heat. And it helps them use up whatever nutes leftovers were there…
How much water do you give at a time?
- Full pressure on the hose wand, set on shower, and I count until 3 or 5 seconds while I release water.
5.) Plant care
Make sure photoperiod plants don’t get light at night. A privacy fence or a hedge will block street lights pollution enough. No direct bright light at night is the ticket!
A young outdoor marijuana plant
Watch for bugs or nutrient deficiencies and react quickly to problems
- Every day, twice a day I survey my plants, if something is spotted I make sure to treat it as soon as possible. Once a week I spray a pesticide and make sure to rotate between them, spinosad, neem oil, insecticidal soaps etc… to keep any kind of invasion from happening.
- Diagnose some common plant bugs and other plant problems with this cannabis plant doctor.
Do you do any plant training like LST, supercropping, topping, etc?
- All of it! Depending on the plant or my mood I might top one and not the other but supercropping is a constant for sure.
How to deal with caterpillars
Caterpillars are one of the most common cannabis pests for outdoor growers. They will eat leaves and may even tunnel through the middle of your buds.
There’s a worm in there, that’s what this leaf tells me… Now I must remove the whole bud.
“B.T.” is an organic and OMRI certified insecticide that kills caterpillars but won’t hurt people, bees, animals or plants. It is safe to use on your plant up until the week of harvest. Get Monterey B.T. Ready-to-Use Spray on Amazon.
Anything else major to keep an eye on?
- The tip of the leaves, if they remain green you’re good, but watch for that yellowing tip, every day! Too much food! When it happens, it’s time to flush!
6.) Harvest plants when ready
When to Harvest
Plants are getting close when most trichomes are cloudy(autos and photos). At that point, I start flushing with mad farmer detox. I chop when the first ambers show up at about 10% max. Learn more about trichomes and when to harvest.
Autoflowering plants are ready to harvest on their own schedule as determined by the breeder.
For photoperiod plants the exact timing depends on your local latitude, but are typically ready to harvest in mid to late fall. Harvest here runs from mid-September to early November for those late sativas.
How to Dry and Cure Buds
My methods remain the same for autos and photos. (Here’s an alternative guide)
- Hang for 10 days at 70F and 60% humidity
- Dry trim
- Store in brown paper bags for another 7-10 days
- Store in glass jars with a 62% humidity pack
That’s it! A quick and dirty tutorial that will get you all the way to your first outdoor cannabis harvest!
More from LuckyAcres
Check out more pictures and videos by LuckyAcres on Instagram and Youtube.
Are you ready to start growing cannabis outdoors? If you're a new grower looking for a quick and basic tutorial on how to grow weed outside, this is it!
Stealth Ideas for Growing Weed Outdoors
Always consider stealth when growing cannabis outdoors! Not only is law enforcement a consideration, it’s common for thieves to steal plants right before harvest time!
Outdoor growing has some incredible benefits, including the availability of free light. Light is like food for cannabis plants and in the flowering stage, the amount of bud produced is directly proportional to the amount of light received by the plant (especially at the bud sites). The plant is converting light energy into buds.
Sunlight provides free energy for growing cannabis plants. No need to spend money on electricity to power your grow lights!
Indoor growers have to provide all their own light, typically by using specialized grow lights. However, grow lights produce heat and use a lot of electricity (how much electricity does it take to grow weed indoors?), and indoor grow rooms need a space that’s easily hidden to visitors yet has easy access to water.
When it comes to outdoor growing, instead of setting up a grow room, your job is to pick the perfect place to grow weed. This is one of the most important things you can do not only for plant health, but also for stealth and security!
Not only is this extremely not stealthy, light from the window will likely prevent the plant from flowering (making buds). Light pollution is a common problem when growing outdoors on your own property. Plants need complete darkness at night to start making buds!
Outdoor Stealth – Growing on Your Property
Growing on your own property is much more convenient than hiking to a remote grow spot, but the stakes are much higher because if the plants are spotted it’s easy to determine that you are the owner. Make sure to take every precaution!
Hide Plants from View
Think about looking into your yard from outside the grow space. You want to go outside and make sure that plants are not visible from someone’s window, from the street, a neighbor’s yard, etc.
Camouflage your plants!
In addition to making sure no one can see your plants, it’s still a good idea to try to camouflage them so that if someone is on your property for some reason, the plants don’t obviously stick out.
This grower actually cuts the tips off all the leaves of their plant in order to make them look less like typical leaves. This is pretty effort-intensive, but there’s no doubt they look less like cannabis plants!
There are some interesting “stealth” strains that naturally don’t look like typical cannabis plants, which can also help increase the illusion.
This is a Frisian Duck plant in the vegetative stage. “Duck” or “Duckfoot” strains have 3-finger leaves which makes them look less like cannabis leaves. As a result, these strains can look like other types of plants at first glance.
Plant bright flowers nearby, so it looks like the cannabis plant is producing the flowers.
Consider planting your cannabis in a decorative planter or container that causes it to grow in non-typical growth patterns. Adding flowers to some of the empty pots would complete the illusion.
This marijuana plant has been placed in the middle of an area that naturally has lots of trees and other types of vegetation.
Even having a few plants nearby will make a big difference compared to growing the cannabis plant all by itself.
Some growers put plants in a greenhouse or other outdoor structure that lets light in but obscures the inside from view.
A greenhouse can not only help keep plants warm in cool climates, they help obscure the plants. Some greenhouses are built opposite this one, with opaque sides and a clear top so sunlight comes from above yet plants can’t be seen from the sides.
However, consider that a greenhouse might look suspicious if it’s all by itself in the middle of the yard, especially if you don’t typically do a lot of yard work or gardening
Keep plants shorter than your fence!
Change Natural Growth Patterns with Bending
Consider bending or otherwise altering the overall shape of the plant so it has less of a “Christmas Tree” shape, which is the most typical shape for cannabis plants grown naturally. This change of shape can cause the plant to look less like cannabis overall. You can also use bending to prevent plants from getting too tall.
Low stress training can be used to grow marijuana plants in any size or shape. This grower trained his outdoor cannabis plants to grow flat like hedges by training stems to grow along a ScrOG net.
Watch Out for Anyone Taking Interest of Your Plants
Be aware of anyone looking over the fence or otherwise spending time hanging around your property.
Even if it’s not someone who will report you to law enforcement, they may still be a problem. They might tell a friend who reports you. Or even worse they may be a thief. Nothing is more heartbreaking than growing plants all summer and then losing them to thievery…except jail.
Remember, even if a person doesn’t take your plants right away, many experienced thieves who understand the life cycle of cannabis plants will wait until just before harvest before they steal your plants.
This plant does not have any buds to steal now, but thieves may take note of your plant and come back in the fall when they know it’s getting close to harvest time. Stay vigilant!
Consider that people might be able to smell your plants. Some plants smell a little “weedy” in the vegetative stage, but by the time your plant is flowering and getting close to harvest, the smell can be overwhelming, especially with certain “high-smell” strains.
- Choose a low odor strain for outdoors that stays small if you’re looking for something very stealthy. Auto-flowering strains can be a good choice because they’re easy to grow, won’t get very big, have a quick time-to-harvest and there are several stealthy looking and low-smell varieties that are suitable for growing outdoors. Auto Duck is an example of an auto-flowering strain that is great for outdoor stealth growing due to its smell (or lack thereof), growth patterns and quick time-to-harvest. Some examples of photoperiod strains that stay small and low-odor include Northern Lights, Papaya (smells tropical), Jock Horror, Ice (smells like jet fuel), and Blue Mystic. Smells are usually more intense when things get hot and humid.
- Plant lots of other types of plants nearby, especially ones with bright and fragrant flowers. This will detract attention away from both the appearance and smell of a typical cannabis plant.
What if you can’t grow on your own property, and need to grow in a more remote spot? A good outdoor grow spot has a few important factors….
Outdoor Stealth – Choosing a Safe Place to Grow Outside Your Property
Scope Out the Spot
Check out any possible grow spot at least 3 different times, and on both weekdays/weekends to make sure you never see hikers or other people in the area.
Far from a Visible Path
Stay far away from any path, and make sure not to leave tracks or marks when visiting plants – if you make a visible path, other people might follow it to see where it goes.
Test the Spot for Potential Visitors
I‘ve heard a grower say to securely leave a twenty-dollar bill in a few places around the chosen area, where they can be easily seen by a human but won’t blow away. If they are still there when you get back after a week or two, it’s unlikely there are many people passing by because they would have picked up the money.
Even if you’re certain no one will be around except yourself, you should still try to camouflage your plants as best you can by using the tips given above.
Bonus: Outdoor Plant Health
These factors are important to making sure your outdoor plants grow as fast and healthy as possible. They don’t necessarily contribute to stealth, but you must make sure to consider these factors if you want your outdoor marijuana grow to be successful! Since this article is all about picking the right spot for your cannabis plants, I thought it was important to also touch on this.
Easy to Visit
You should be able to visit the spot at least once a week to tend to your plants.
Access to Water
Plants need to drink, but water is way too heavy to carry long distances. Therefore, you’re looking for a spot with easy access to fresh, clean water. If there’s no hose, you’re looking for a brook or stream with moving water. Some growers collect rainwater near the grow site. Don’t use water that looks or smells bad to you.
Lots of Sunlight
The spot gets 8+ hours of direct sunlight each day (the less direct the light, and the fewer hours a day, the smaller the plants and buds will be).
A gentle breeze provides airflow and cooling, which helps prevent heat stress, mildew, bud rot and bugs compared to the plant living in stagnant air. You’re looking for leaves that are rustling. There shouldn’t be enough wind that plants are waving around.
Consider the Heat
If it gets very extremely hot where you live, you want to consider making sure there’s a way to at least partially shade your plants on the hottest days. Learn how to care for heat-stressed outdoor marijuana plants.
Consider the Cold
Will your plants be ready to harvest before it starts getting cold and/or rainy where you live? High humidity, rain and temperatures under 60°F (15°C) are the leading causes of bud rot, which can take out an entire harvest in just a day or two! Frost and freezing temperatures will actually kill some plants (though some strains are more resistant than others). Make sure that you can protect your plants from cold or rainy conditions, or even better, make sure you get a strain that will be ready to harvest before your local bad weather begins!
Auto-flowering strains can be a good choice for growers with short summers because they are typically ready to harvest just 3 months from germination. However, there are also many ‘standard” (non-auto-flowering) strains with short flowering periods that only need 3-4 months before they’re ready to harvest.
Provide Your Own Soil
Even if the ground soil appears to be a good quality, you’ll often get the best results by providing your own soil which has been formulated for a plant like cannabis. This will contain the right ratio of nutrients so plants grow fast and buds get as big as possible. Many growers put their plants in containers with soil, which makes it so plants can be easily moved around. Some growers will dig a hole in the ground and fill it with good soil, though raised beds often perform better because the plant will use the “good” soil for longer, and it can be easier to water the plants.
Don’t Forget Nutrients
Cannabis plants should have an adequate amount of nutrients. Although high-quality soil will typically provide everything your cannabis plant needs for nutrients during the vegetative stage, it’s typically a good idea to provide the plants with extra plant food during the nutrient-intensive flowering/budding stage! Plants need a surprisingly high amount of nutrients to produce the biggest buds!
Stealth Ideas for Growing Weed Outdoors Always consider stealth when growing cannabis outdoors! Not only is law enforcement a consideration, it’s common for thieves to steal plants right before