Growing plants outdoors is the most natural and least expensive way to grow cannabis. You could get away with just buying the plants, pots, if you choose to use them, and some nutrients for your existing soil, although purchasing high-quality soil would likely produce better results.
Growing outdoors is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It should come as no surprise that growing cannabis outdoors has a much smaller carbon footprint than doing so inside. This comes from the same factors that reduce costs, mainly the use of electricity to control lights, temperature, and humidity.
It is also worth noting that choosing to grow cannabis plants outdoors requires less of your time than growing indoors. Growing outside lets you leave most of the required elements (air, sunlight, temperature) up to nature, so there is less effort required from you.
Plants grown outdoors are constantly exposed to various elements. This includes the environment, weather, pests and animals, which has a big effect on the final results of the cannabis flower. There is also the chance the entire grow can be completely destroyed because of the outdoor elements.
You will have to time it properly to grow your plants to their full potential within the outdoor growing season. In most of Oregon we get one season each year, so it’s important to get started as early as possible or grow larger teen plants further along in the season.
Even if you live in an area where it is legal to grow cannabis outdoors, many growers should be discrete with their plants. This can decrease the risk of theft as well as negative attention.
Before your plant begins to produce flower, it begins with vegetative stage. Keeping your plant in an area that receives at least 18-16 hours of light a day allows your plant to stay in its vegetative stage. During this stage the growth accelerates which will develop a strong root system. Your plant can grow as much as 5 inches in just one day.
Once the daylight changes to 12 hours of light a day and 12 hours of darkness, it will begin its flowering stage. This is the stage in which your plant begins to produce flower. Depending on the strain of your plant, it typically takes anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to finish flowering.
It is recommended to get your plants outside by mid May to early June which will begin it’s vegetative cycle. This should allow enough time for your plants to grow in the Oregon climate, so by August or September your plants will be in their flowering stage.
The finish time of your plant is dependent on the genetics of the strain. Indica strains tend to finish earlier than Sativa strains, but this is not always the case. With so many strains, it’s always good to do a bit of research on the specific strain you are growing in order to get a more accurate time frame on when to harvest your plants. Fall season begins late September, therefore, many outdoor growers will crop their plants late September before colder temperatures approach. Choosing strains that finish quicker is ideal for growers in the Portland area. Different regions may be more suitable for different strains.
The ideal location for your plants should get about eight hours of sunlight every day. It should also be close to a water source, or at least close enough for you to easily water the plants regularly.
It is typically safe to plant as many as four cannabis plants in a single square meter of land. Keep in mind, however, that this depends on the strain you choose. For example, if you are growing a strain that will grow tall and wide like a sativa, you should limit yourself to two plants in every square meter. Also and most importantly, consider local laws. In Oregon, every household is allowed to grow up to 4 plants recreationally.
Topping your plants regularly will increase growth laterally which results in more branches. Ultimately, your plants’ branches are where the flower will form. If you choose to not top your plants, your plants will use more of its energy to grow vertically resulting in less energy being distributed to your lower branches. Top accordingly when you feel your plant is growing too high and skinny and not enough outwards. To top your plant, simply remove the tallest node on your plant with sterile scissors. Keep your plants thinned out. Removing any unwanted yellowing, dead, or unhealthy leaves, allows for more distributed air flow and sunlight.
Growing in the ground gives your plants enough room to flourish to their full potential. It also gives your plant direct access to the natural soil, including its nutrients, resulting in less effort on your part.
However, growing in a pot, gives you the versatility to move the plant around. For example, if a strong storm is coming, you could temporarily move it undercover. Also, there is less concern about potted plants growing out of control, which would be possible if you grow directly in the ground.
Additionally, growing in a pot ensures the quality of the soil more precisely, but that control comes with extra effort on your part.
Whether you’re using an organic soil mix, amending your own soil, or growing hydroponically, your cannabis plants need the “super seven” macronutrients.
The nutrients you give your plant can vary. You can either have enriched soil, or enriched water. Most soil for growing in containers is nutrient rich, so adding more nutrients to your water isn’t necessary until the soil is depleted of nutrients usually by the time the plant begins to flower.
When watering your plants, timing plays a big role. Allowing your plants to fully intake the water it’s given is vital, because over watering can cause growth issues. Touch around the soil to feel for moisture in between watering sessions. If there is little to no moisture, give your plant a light soak making sure there is adequate drainage. Depending on how big your plant is and the size of the container your house in, you should expect to water your plant at least once a day.
We also recommend investing in a pH meter to check on the quality of your water and soil regularly. If you’re growing in soil, try and keep the pH between 6 and 7.