Growing Weed From Seed Outdoors

Growing cannabis outdoors can be a rewarding. Read on so that you can enjoy homegrown bud, even if this is your very first gardening experience! Growing marijuana outdoors is cheap and easy. Learn how to set up your outdoor space, and about climate, soil, fertilizers, and more. Learn how to choose an outdoor grow site for cannabis and how to harden off, support, and protect the marijuana plants as they mature.

How to Grow Weed Outdoors, A Beginner’s Guide

Growing cannabis outdoors can be a rewarding, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly experience. Read on so that you can enjoy homegrown bud, even if this is your very first gardening experience.

Is Growing Marijuana Legal?

If medical marijuana is legal in your state, your medical marijuana card may authorize you to grow cannabis. However, there are a handful of medical marijuana states that do not authorize home grows.

The same variance exists in states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Legal cannabis doesn’t necessarily mean legal home grows.

If your state does allow you to grow your own weed, you’ll have to make sure your outdoor grow is hidden from public view. Building a fence around your cannabis garden is a good way to comply with that requirement. It also protects your plant from animals and thieves.

Choosing a Strain

The strain you grow depends on your environment.

Generally speaking, sativas are ideal for tropical climates with longer growing seasons. Indicas are a good fit for regions with shorter growing seasons and temperature variance.

However, there are many hybrids bred to thrive in specific conditions. As you peruse different strains, choose one that the outdoor climate you live in can accommodate.

Another aspect to consider is whether you want to grow an auto-flowering or photoperiod strain. Autoflowering strains flower only a few weeks after they germinate regardless of the light cycle. Photoperiod strains flower when days become shorter than nights.

Autoflowering strains tend to be smaller and produce fewer yields because they don’t have as much time to develop as photoperiod strains. Autoflowering strains are more popular with novice growers because they require no light manipulation whereas photoperiod strains sometimes do.

The Cannabis Growing Season

The dates of your growing season depending on your climate.

Most cannabis plants will take about 70 – 150 days to grow from seed to harvest. Knowing that range and the length of the strain’s vegetative stage can help you determine when to start growing outdoors.

Cannabis needs lots of sun during the vegetative stage. They shift to the flowering phase once the light cycle provides more uninterrupted darkness than light. This starts happening after the summer solstice.

The vegetative stage can last anywhere from 3 to 11 weeks depending on the strain. Count back from the summer solstice the length of your strain’s vegetative stage for an idea of when to start your seeds. If your cannabis plant’s vegetative stage lasts 11 weeks, for example, you should start your seeds in early April.

If you live in a cooler climate, it might be too cold outside for you to start your seeds outdoors that early in the spring. In that case, you can start your seeds indoors and then transplant them outside once the temperatures are consistently warm enough.

Seeds vs Clones

Clones are cuttings of existing cannabis plants. Plants grown from seed are generally healthier and hardier because they’ve experienced less stress than clones.

However, seeds are less predictable than clones. If your clone comes from a female cannabis plant with an ideal phenotype, you know exactly what kind of bud it will produce. On the other hand, seeds might be male. Male plants do not produce flowers.

If you buy feminized seeds, you shouldn’t have to worry about growing male plants. If you do grow a male, make sure to keep it separated from females. If a male pollinates a female, the female plant will prioritize seed over potent flower production.

Ideal Outdoor Climate

The ideal temperature for growing cannabis plants hovers around 70 degrees F. Temperatures above 85 degrees will stunt cannabis growth while temperatures below 55 degrees F will kill the plants.

Cannabis plants also like about 50-55% humidity. More than that can lead to mold growth. Too little humidity can dry out the plants more quickly than they can rehydrate from their roots.

Your plants will thrive if they get at least 7 hours of direct sunlight light each day. Keep this in mind as you decide where to place them.

Mild wind is good for your plants. It strengthens their stems and dries off excess moisture. However, high winds can be damaging. If you live in a region subject to occasional volatile winds, consider placing your plants near windbreakers like trees, bushes, walls, or fences.

Containers vs Inground

Whether you plant inground or in a container depends on the quality of your inground soil. If you have great soil, planting weed inground gives your plants plenty of room to grow. It also exposes them to beneficial microbial life and the best soil companions of all—worms.

However, if your soil quality is low or you have limited outdoor space, planting cannabis in a container is a great way to grow cannabis outdoors. Grow bags are pots made with cloth. These containers provide excellent drainage, don’t get too hot, and tend to last longer than plastic pots.

Smaller plants will do well in a 5-gallon pot, but the more space you can provide, the more room for roots. A 10-gallon container should provide plenty of space for one plant.

The Best Soil for Weed

Like most plants, cannabis likes fertilized, well-draining soil. Cannabis roots use water to uptake nutrients through their root system. Those nutrients are used to help the plant grow. Soil that can’t hold on to water will make it difficult for plants to get the nutrients they need. Soil that holds on to too much water can smother the roots and lead to root rot.

The growing medium you use should be crumbly and contain a good mixture of silt, sand, and organic matter like wood chips and compost. It can contain aerating material like peat moss, coco coir, vermiculite, and perlite.

Cannabis plants thrive in soils with an acidity range of 5.5-6.5 PH. The growing medium should contain nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK). During the vegetative stage, you will need more nitrogen. During the flowering stage, you will need more phosphorous and potassium.

When growing cannabis outdoors, the sky’s the limit. Your plants will have much more room to get as bountiful as their root systems allow. Here’s everything you need to know to keep your outdoor cannabis plants alive.

Germination and the Seedling Phase

If you live in a warmer climate, you may be able to start your seeds directly outdoors. However, seedlings do not have the strength to resist volatile winds, temperature shocks, and diseases. Starting seeds indoors can protect them from these elements.

If you live in a region with night temperatures dropping lower than 55 degrees, you will need to start your seeds indoors. Colder temperatures will kill seedlings.

To plant the seeds, poke a hole into the soil or potting mix about an inch deep. Place one seed in each hole. Cover the hole with soil, tamp it down, and water. Seeds need moisture to germinate, so keep the soil evenly damp.

The seeds should germinate in 5-10 days.

Once the seedlings have popped through the soil, carefully monitor your watering. Water the seedling when the topsoil looks dry. Too much water will kill a seedling either through root rot or by encouraging mold and fungal growth.

When seedlings sprout through the soil, they quickly unfurl two leaves with smooth edges. These are called seed leaves. They don’t look anything like the serrated, multi-bladed fan leaves weed is famous for. Those leaves are considered true leaves.

Cannabis seedlings do not need nutrients until they’ve grown 3-4 sets of true leaves.

Keep seedlings under a grow light for about 18 hours each day. You can also keep them on a sunny windowsill.

Transplant Cannabis Seedlings Outdoors

Once night-time temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees F, you can transplant your seedlings outdoors in a location that will receive at least 8 hours of direct light, and 18 hours of light in general. Ideally, your plants will be nearing the end of the seedling phase (about 2-3 weeks after germination) by the time you are ready to transplant them.

About a week leading up to transplant, you should harden your seedlings to prepare them for life outdoors. Place them in a shaded area for a few hours each day. Then bring them back indoors.

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After a couple of days of doing this, place them in direct sun for an hour. The next day, increase the time in direct sun to two hours. Then three hours. By the end of the week, your plants should be hardened and ready for transplant.

Whether you’re transplanting your seedlings to a raised garden bed, the ground, or a large pot, you need to prepare the soil. One 10-gallon pot per plant is a safe size, but the bigger the pot, the bigger the plant. Mix the fertilizer into the soil and then soak the soil with water.

Before you remove the seedling from its small container for the transplant, lightly water the soil. This will keep the roots from drying out during the transplant process.

It’s beneficial for the cannabis plant’s root system to bury the seedlings up to the first node—the point on the stem where a set of serrated leaves grows. Roots will grow out of the stem where it is buried in soil.

Fertilizing and Watering Your Plant

Cannabis needs nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK) and micronutrients to grow and flower. Nitrogen is especially important during the vegetative phase while potassium and phosphorous are important for flowering.

There are plenty of organic fertilizer options that will provide these nutrients. Cannabis roots can absorb these nutrients best if the growing medium is at an acidity level of 5.5-6.5 pH.

Yellowing, stunted plants may be nutrient deficient. Cannabis leaves with brown edges may have nitrogen burn—an excess of nutrients.

As with nutrients, you will have to monitor your cannabis plants daily to determine how much water they need. When it gets hot outside, you may need to water your plants up to two times a day. In more temperate climates, watering them once a day or even once a week may be enough.

If you stick your finger about an inch deep into the soil and it comes out dry, you should water your plants. Likewise, if you notice algae growth or an infestation of fungus gnats, you may need to decrease the water.

Water your plants from the bottom. Wet flowers and leaves encourage mold and pathogens. You can cover your plants with plastic tents to shield them from excessive rain.

Pruning Your Cannabis Plants

It’s a good idea to prune leaves that are touching or close to touching the soil. These leaves are susceptible to diseases that can spread throughout the plant.

Pruning yellowing, dead, or infected leaves allows the plant to divert energy and nutrients to its healthiest parts.

Topping is another pruning strategy you can use to optimize your harvest and control your plant’s height. Once your plant has developed 4-5 nodes, you can make a clean cut to the top of the cannabis plant. This encourages the development of side shoots, which you can top again in about 2 weeks. These side shoots will become new colas, which means a greater flower yield. Do not top during the flowering phase.

Common Cannabis Pests and How to Stop Them

There are all kinds of insects and animals that like to eat parts of the cannabis plant when growing outdoors. Spider mites, aphids, caterpillars, fungus gnats, rats, mice, deer, cats, and rabbits enjoy the occasional nibble of weed.

You can protect your plants from larger pests by keeping them enclosed in fences.

Small statues of owls, eagles, or other birds of prey might deter mice and rabbits from your garden. Mint and lavender plants deter rodents and other insects.

Certain companion plants like dill, yarrow, and chamomile can attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, beetles, and wasps. These bugs will kill cannabis-eating insects for you. As will spiders, an insect that needs no invitation to show up.

The most important thing you can do to protect your cannabis plant is keep it properly watered and fed. A healthy cannabis plant can tolerate a few bug bites.

Remember, cannabis has survived outdoors for thousands of years. Give your plant the best environment possible, and let nature do its thing.

How to grow marijuana outdoors

Growing marijuana outdoors is great because you won’t need to spend a ton of money on it and you can rely on the power of the sun. If you have access to a sunny spot in a private yard or even a balcony, terrace, or rooftop, you can grow weed outside. You will be tied to the sun and the seasons and local weather, but you won’t have to spend a bunch of money on equipment and utilities like indoor growers.

If you’re growing weed outdoors, it’s great to find a community of cannabis growers in your area to see how others are growing in your specific climate. Local climates vary, so it can be helpful to see what strains thrive where you are, and also when other growers are popping seeds, harvesting, and more. You can also join online forums or Social media groups, but a great place to start is your local grow shop.

Benefits of growing weed outdoors

Low costs

Relying on the power of the sun, you won’t need to spend a ton of money on an outdoor grow. You’ll need some soil, fertilizer, seeds or clones, and maybe a small greenhouse to get them started. You won’t need to pay for electricity for lights, AC units, or dehumidifiers, and you can even collect rainwater.

Big yields

The sky’s the limit with outdoor plants—you can let them get as big and tall as you want, as long as they’re manageable. One plant can potentially yield between a half-pound and full-pound of dried weed! Growing a handful of hands for yourself is more than enough. With an indoor grow, your space is a lot more restricted.

Environmentally friendly

Indoor grows can be wasteful, using a ton of electricity to power all those lights, fans, and other equipment. The sun and the wind are free!

It’s fun and relaxing

Don’t underestimate the therapeutic value of gardening. It’s relaxing to spend some time outside, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty for a while. And there’s nothing better than smoking something you grew yourself.

How to set up your outdoor marijuana grow

Here are some important considerations before starting an outdoor marijuana grow.

Climate in your area

It’s crucial to have a good understanding of the climate in the area you’re going to grow. Cannabis is highly adaptable to various conditions, but it is susceptible in extreme weather.

Sustained temperatures above 85°F will cause your plants to stop growing, while continued temperatures below 55°F can cause damage and stunting to plants, even death.

Heavy rains and high winds can cause physical damage to plants and reduce yields, and excessive moisture can lead to mold and powdery mildew, especially during the flowering stage.

Choosing the best outdoor cannabis grow site

Once you have an understanding of the climate in your area, you’ll need to consider a few things before planting your weed.

Sunlight

Weed plants will need full, direct sun for at least 6 hours a day. You may have a backyard, but it might not be great to grow there if it doesn’t get full sun every day.

Your cannabis plants should receive as much direct sunlight as possible, ideally during midday, when the quality of light is best. As the season changes and fall approaches, your plants will get less and less sunlight throughout the day, which will trigger the flowering stage.

Having a constant breeze is good for your plants, and especially in hot climates. But if you live in an area with a lot of high winds, consider planting near a windbreak of some sort, like a wall, fence or large shrubbery.

Privacy and security

You also want to consider privacy and security. A lot of people want to conceal their gardens from judgmental neighbors and potential thieves. Tall fences and large shrubs or trees are your best bet, unless you live in a secluded area. Also, most state laws require that you keep cannabis plants concealed from the street.

Types of outdoor grow spaces

Some growers plant in containers on balconies or rooftops that are shielded from view, while some build heavy-gauge wire cages to keep thieves and animals at bay. Whatever you decide, think about how big you want your final plant to be—outdoor cannabis plants can grow to 10 feet tall or even more, depending on how much you let them go.

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Garden plot: Probably the most common outdoor growing spot, many will plant cannabis alongside other growing veggies.

Balcony: This can be a great spot if it gets good light—ideally, it faces south—and will usually get good wind. However, you may need to cover your balcony from peeping neighbors.

Roof: This can be great for sun but may have too much wind.

Soil and other media for outdoor cannabis growing

Soil, at a basic level, is defined as the topmost layer of earth in which plants grow—it’s a mixture of organic remains, clay, and rock particles. Cannabis plants thrive in soil rich with organic matter, and they need good drainage.

Most outdoor weed growers will either dig a hole and add fresh soil for the plant, or grow their weed in pots. This will allow you to better control the growing medium and the amount of nutrients your plants receive.

You can plant directly into the ground, using the preexisting soil, but you’ll need to understand your soil’s composition and amend it accordingly. If you go this route, we recommend getting your soil tested, which will minimize headaches, and it’s easy and relatively inexpensive. A soil test will tell you the makeup and pH of your soil, any contaminants present, and will recommend materials and fertilizers to amend your soil.

Soil has three basic consistencies, in various ratios:

Soil also varies in:

  • pH level
  • Water retention
  • Texture
  • Nutrient makeup
  • Drainage

Silt soils

Silty soil is the ideal growing medium. It’s easy to work, warms quickly, holds moisture, has good drainage, and contains a lot of nutrients. The best silty soil is dark, crumbly loam—it’s fertile and probably won’t need any amending.

  • Medium granular size
  • Naturally fertile (contains nutrients)
  • Retains water
  • Stabilizes plants
  • Poor drainage
  • Easily compacted

Sandy soils

Sandy soil is easy to work, drains well, and warms quickly, but it doesn’t hold nutrients well, especially in rainy environments. You’ll want to dig large holes for your plants and add compost, peat moss, or coco coir, which will help bind the soil together.

In hot climates, sandy soil should be mulched to help with water retention and to keep roots from getting too hot.

  • Large granular size
  • Low pH
  • Good drainage
  • Prevents compaction
  • Easy to work with
  • High oxygen levels
  • Poor water retention
  • Dries out quickly
  • Nutrients get washed away

Clay soils

Heavy clay soils drain slowly and don’t hold oxygen well, so they will need to be heavily amended. A few weeks before you plant, dig large holes where you’ll be placing your weed plants and mix in big amounts of compost, manure, worm castings, or other decomposed organic matter. This will provide aeration and drainage, as well as nutrients for the plants.

  • Small granular size
  • High pH
  • Provides minerals
  • Retains water
  • Stabilizes plants
  • Poor drainage
  • Heavy soil
  • Hard to work

Loam soils

While some plants thrive in their native soils, which are usually one of the compositions listed above, cannabis plants are best grown in soil that includes a combination of the three consistencies above—this mixture is known as loam.

The best way to identify loamy soil is by touching it. How does it feel? Sandy soil should be difficult to compact while clay should compact into a tight ball that won’t crumble. When squeezed, loamy soils should form a loose ball that will hold its structure momentarily before breaking apart in large chunks.

  • Mixture of sand, silt, and clay
  • Near neutral pH
  • Drainage
  • Water retention
  • Naturally fertile
  • Easy to work
  • Nutrient retention
  • Supports microorganisms
  • High oxygen levels

Most potting soils used in gardening are loam soils. If you’ve ever worked with potting soil, you’ll know that its composition is rich and diverse, and it looks dark and hearty. Beyond texture and color, the soil should smell rich and alive.

Buying the right soil for an outdoor cannabis grow

For most first-time gardeners, we recommend buying a quality potting soil that will provide your plants with enough nutrients to get them through most of their growth cycle without having to add many amendments. This pre-fertilized soil—often referred to as “super-soil”—that can grow cannabis plants from start to finish without any added nutrients if used correctly.

You can make this yourself by combining worm castings, bat guano, and other components with a good soil and letting it sit for a few weeks, or it can be purchased pre-made from a local nursery or grow shop.

While shopping for soil, you might be overwhelmed by the options available at your local garden store. The soil type is the basic structure of your soil. From there, look at nutrients, microorganisms, and other amendments that improve the soil. Your choices will be flooded with words like:

  • Perlite
  • Worm castings
  • Bat guano
  • Biochar
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Fish meal
  • Bone meal
  • Glacier rock dust
  • Plant food

These are just some examples of amendments commonly used in different types of soils. Heavily amended soils will have long lists that break down all organic nutrients they contain. Some companies create soils that offer a great structure with base nutrients, but allow you to fill in the gaps as you desire.

Growing containers

You may need to put all of your plants in containers if you don’t have great soil. Also, if you’re unable to perform the heavy labor needed to dig holes and amend soil, containers may be the only way for you to grow your own cannabis outdoors.

If you don’t have a suitable patch of earth to make a garden, containers can be placed on decks, patios, rooftops, and many other spots. If needed, you can move them around during the day to take advantage of the sun or to shield them from excessive heat or wind.

However, plants grown in pots, buckets, or barrels will likely be smaller than those planted in the ground because their root growth is restricted to the size of the container. In a broad sense, the size of the pot will determine the size of the plant, although it’s possible to grow large plants in small containers if proper techniques are used.

What size pot do I need?

In general, 5-gallon pots are a good size for small-to-medium outdoor plants, and 10-gallon pots or larger are recommended for big plants. Regardless of size, you’ll want to protect the roots of your plants from overheating during warm weather, as pots can quickly get hot in direct sunlight. This will severely limit the growth of your plants, so be sure to shade your containers when the sun is high in the sky.

Fertilizers and nutrients for outdoor soil

Cannabis plants require a large amount of nutrients over their life cycle, mainly in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. How much you need to add to your plants will depend on the composition of your soil.

Typically, outdoor growers will add amendments to soil when weed plants are transplanted outside. Outdoor amendments usually come in powder form that you mix in with soil.

Start off with fertilizers that are inexpensive and readily available. Some release nutrients quickly and are easily used by the plant, while others take weeks or months to release usable nutrients. If done correctly, you can mix in a few of these products with your soil amendments to provide enough nutrients for the entire life of your plants. Most of these items can be purchased cheaply at your local nursery.

We recommend these organic fertilizers:

  • Blood meal or fish meal for nitrogen
  • Bone meal or bat guano for phosphorus
  • Wood ash or kelp meal for potassium
  • Dolomite lime for calcium and magnesium
  • Epsom salts for magnesium and sulfur

There are also commercially available soil blends that already contain the proper mix of these types of ingredients.

For first-time growers, we recommend avoiding commercial fertilizers like long-release granular fertilizers. These can be used, but you need to have a good understanding of how they work and what your plants need.

We also advise against using nutrients designed for indoor weed growing—they are generally composed of synthetic mineral salts and can damage soil bacteria.

Again, getting your soil tested can be very useful and will tell you how to amend your soil and what types and amounts of fertilizer to use. If you are unsure how much to use, be conservative, as you can always add nutrients to the top of soil—called “top dressing”—if plants start to show deficiencies.

How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors

Growing marijuana plants outdoors is generally easier than growing them indoors because Mother Nature chips in to do some of the work. Even so, you have to lay the groundwork for a successful grow to ensure that your plants receive the nutrients they need. Here, we lead you through the process of preparing a site for outdoor cultivation.

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As long as you have a sunny location in an area where you get at least eight to ten weeks of relatively sunny weather and temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow cannabis outdoors. If your growing season is short, you can get a jump on things by starting your plants indoors and then transplanting your seedlings (after a brief hardening period). If you live in a warmer climate, you can simply plant your seeds outside after the threat of frost passes.

How to choose a cannabis grow site

  • Compliance: Your grow site must comply with all local rules and regulations. It must be private property owned by you. In most locations, your garden must be secure with a privacy fence and plants no taller than the fence. Any gates must be locked to prevent kids from getting to the plants and to discourage theft.
  • Space: The amount of space you need depends on the number and types of plants you want to and are legally permitted to grow. Your plants will need to be spaced at least three to five feet apart, so they all get plenty of sun and breeze.

Think ahead. Will each plant have enough space when fully grown? Will plants shade other plants from the sun?

  • Soil: Cannabis can grow in a wide variety of soil types, as long as the soil has sufficient drainage. If it doesn’t, you can amend the soil or plant in containers.
  • Sunlight and darkness: Cannabis plants need at least five hours of direct sunlight plus at least five hours of indirect sun daily. They’ll reward you for more sun with a bountiful harvest. Also, don’t plant a photoperiod strain under or near a bright street lamp; otherwise, it may not flower properly.

Consider surrounding objects such as buildings and trees and how the angle of the sun changes over the course of the growing season. As a result, an area that gets full sun all day long during one part of the growing season may be shaded part or all of the day during another part of the growing season. Ideally, your grow site will get sun all day long throughout the growing season.

  • Convenient access: You’ll be tending to your plants regularly and be eager to watch them grow, so pick a location with easy access. A backyard garden may be ideal.
  • Access to water: Unless it rains every few days, you’ll need to water your plants regularly, so pick a site that has easy access to water.

Cannabis must be grown on private property, so you must own the land. Growing on public land, such as a national park or forest, is illegal.

Evaluate the soil

  • Loamy: Loam soil is a combination of approximately equal parts of sand and silt along with relatively little clay. It retains moisture, but it also drains well, so plants aren’t sitting in saturated soil in which they’re susceptible to root rot and other diseases. Loam soil crumbles easily in your hands. If the soil is rock hard when dry, it contains too much clay. If it doesn’t hold together at all when you squeeze it into a ball, it may be too sandy.
  • Fertile: Healthy soil also contains organic matter, such as decomposing wood and other plant matter. You can mix mulch and other amendments into the soil to increase its fertility, if necessary.
  • Slightly acidic: You can use a pH meter to test the soil’s pH, which should be in a range of 5.5 to 6.5. Anything lower is too acidic, and anything higher is too alkaline.
  • Alive: Good soil is home to many critters, including earthworms and beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. If you don’t see anything crawling around in your soil, it’s probably lacking in organic matter.

Take a soup can of soil from several areas around your grow site to your local nursery or university extension office to have your soil tested. Test results show pH levels; levels of key nutrients, including potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen; concentrations of organic matter; and so on. You may also receive specific recommendations on amendments needed to improve soil quality.

For a more thorough guide to evaluating outdoor soil, check out the free Willamette Valley Soil Quality Card Guide published by Oregon State University.

Decide whether to grow in-ground or in containers

  • Planting in-ground is generally easier and more forgiving. With quality soil, you don’t have to worry so much about plants becoming root bound or developing root rot, and you may not have to water as frequently.
  • Containers add height which may make your plants taller than allowed by law or taller than the privacy fence you built.
  • If containers are too small, plants can get root bound, preventing them from absorbing the water and nutrients they need. In containers, plants may also be more susceptible to root rot if the plants don’t drain properly.
  • You can move containers around if the sunny locations in your space change over the course of the growing season.
  • If you have poor quality soil, you need to amend the soil prior to planting, which adds to the cost and work involved.
  • In a container, you can easily customize your soil mix to create the perfect grow medium for your plants.

Harden off your marijuana plants

If you start your plants inside (in a grow room or on a windowsill), harden them off before transplanting them to an outdoor location. Hardening off is a process in which plants gradually become acclimated to the outside environment over a period of seven to ten days.

Take your plants outside for 30 minutes or so on the first day and place them in a sheltered area where they receive indirect sunlight and perhaps a gentle breeze. Continue to increase this time by 30 minutes or so each day, gradually increasing their exposure to more direct sun. Watch your plants carefully for signs of heavy stress such as burning or wilting. Light stress is good, and it will accelerate the hardening off process, but heavy stress can kill a plant or severely impact its ability to flourish.

You should also harden off your plants against the cold. If frost is possible, keep the plants inside at night. Otherwise, gradually expose them to the cold nights. You may want to place them in a cold frame or under a box or bucket at first to provide some shelter from the cold without having to bring them inside, just be sure to uncover them the next day or they may overheat. Over the course of seven to ten days, they should be able to make it through a cool and frost-free night.

Support and protect your plants

When growing plants outside, you may need to provide them with support and protection from the elements, especially cold and frost as the summer growing season ends.

First, focus on providing your plant with structural support throughout its growth cycle especially in the flower stage. The idea is to provide your plant’s branches the support they need to grow big fat buds without becoming too heavy and breaking off from the main stalk. Bamboo stakes, along with twine or Velcro plant straps, are great and provide a variety of ways to stake your plants, such as the following:

  • Place a stake alongside the stalk, and tie the stalk to the stake.
  • Place three or four stakes around the periphery of the plant, and tie branches that need support to the stakes. You can also wrap twine around the stakes to create your own “cage.”
  • Place a row of stakes in front of or behind several plants, and then tie stakes horizontally to the vertical stakes (or weave them together) to create a trellis. You can then tie branches to the trellis.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Kim Ronkin Casey has been a communications professional for more than 20 years and recently took a year-long leap into the world of cannabis as the communications manager for one of the leading dispensaries in North America. She now consults for companies in the industry on internal and external communications. Joe Kraynak is a professional writer who has contributed to numerous For Dummies books.