How to Grow Outdoor Marijuana 101
Growing marijuana outdoors can be challenging for a beginner, but once you have developed a concise strategy, the rewards can be well worth the effort. In many parts of the world, marijuana plants are considered a weed and can easily grow in the wild in many tropical environments. In certain areas of India, marijuana can grow on the side of the road and in people’s back yards if it isn’t cut down. However, you can still cultivate a good crop in many other areas of the world with simple planning and care.
To grow marijuana outdoors you won’t need any special equipment, and your plants can yield huge harvests with a minimal investment. Growing this versatile plant outside does not require a warm, sunny environment, although that will certainly make things easier. Marijuana has a lifecycle, like any crops, and will grow tall in spring and the first part of summer. After the first half of summer, the female plants will stunt their leaf growth, putting much of their energy into producing flowers and buds. These buds are the main reason for growing marijuana and will yield a hefty profit in areas where marijuana is legal. Or, these buds can provide an affordable way to enjoy this unique plant for your own recreation.
Getting Started Growing Outdoor Marijuana
Thankfully, mother nature has blessed marijuana with adaptations over the years and it has the versatility to grow in many environments. Experts have developed selective breeding techniques to create some exceptional seeds and strains that produce healthy crops in non-tropical environments such as North America and Europe. For those who don’t wish to grow marijuana indoors, and don’t have the ability to set up a greenhouse, outdoor growing is the best method to produce productive crops.
Cultivating marijuana outdoors will require high quality seeds that will give your plants the traits it needs to prosper. These seeds also will give your marijuana the taste, aroma and effects that you or your customer’s desire.
The outdoor growing season will usually start in April or May, and run well into October in the northern portions of the world. Germination of seeds should be started indoors under artificial light to allow the plants a head start in the growing process. Once the plants start to develop, they will gradually get accustomed to steady light and can be comfortably transplanted outdoors. Most female plants grown outdoors will yield between 100 and 400 grams of marijuana, depending on the strain chosen to grow, and your crop yields will be dependent on the nutrition, water and sunlight provided.
Germination of Outdoor Cannabis
Most seeds can germinate under artificial plant lights and when the soil’s moisture level and temperature are kept at the correct condition necessary for the seeds’ growth. In marijuana germination, the goal is to get that root to begin growing out of the seed’s coat. The root will get longer until it pushes the seed up and breaks through the shell. At this point, cotyledons are produced, which you should take as a sign of having a healthy plant embryo inside the seed.
The life cycle of typical marijuana plant begins when the seed is germinated. The most important part of the germination process is planting your seeds in the right medium. Medium is simply the term relating to the soil, or soil-less, material that you have chosen to plant your seeds in. The term soil does not always accurately describe the material used, since it is often a mixture of what would be considered soil and many other ingredients. One of the best mediums to use can be coco coir, or other soil-less growing mixes that prepares the young seedlings from the shock of being transplanted outdoors. By allowing them to grow in what is more or less their final resting place, your seedlings will have an easier time adjusting to their environment.
Soaking the marijuana seeds in water is another method commonly used by growers for germinating seeds is to let them soak them in clear, slightly warm water overnight. This method is especially effective for germinating older seeds, or for seeds that have harder shells. Viable seeds will float on the surface of the water for a few hours before sinking to the bottom, after which the roots begin to break through.
You can also germinate your seeds by putting them in a wet, folded paper towel and leaving it in a warm place. While the paper towel method is effective at germinating your seeds, it isn’t the most recommended. Aside from the risk of hurting the initial root when you want to check if the seeds have sprouted, the paper towel could also dry out and kill the seeds. If you choose to germinate your seeds with this method, be sure to keep the paper towel moist and relatively undisturbed until the roots begin to grow.
Transplanting Your Marijuana Outdoors
The germination and seedling phase of marijuana will typically last between 1 and 4 weeks, depending on the strain chosen, and it is the time the plant is most vulnerable to the elements. It’s important to make sure the plant has the proper water and light combinations. The soil should be kept moist, but not excessively watered. Once the cotyledons (the first leaves that develop from the seed of a plant) have developed fully within the 1 to 4 week period of indoor growth, your plant can be successfully transplanted outdoors to continue its journey to maturity. For outdoor cultivation, growers should choose areas that receive at least 12 hours or more of sunlight per day.
When you are transplanting your marijuana plants outdoors, there are several actions you should avoid, and some that you should be sure to do. Here are several tips to remember when transplanting your marijuana plants outdoors.
- Reduce the amount of water given to your plants a day before you intend to transplant them and make sure to water them after you plant them outdoors.
- Be mindful of the plant’s roots and try not to touch them. Disturbing them during the transplant phase can make it more difficult for them to adapt to their new environment.
- If you are using a nutrient mix in your water, make sure it is only at half its usual strength when you first water your plants after moving them outdoors. This will prevent your plant’s roots from going into shock and not taking root in the outdoor soil.
- Avoid exposing your plant to intense outdoor sunlight for the first few days after transplanting. This is easier if you are moving it into a pot, but may not be an option if planting directly into a soil patch.
With careful handling and patience, your marijuana plants will successfully take root outdoors and grow into a healthy, productive crop.
How to Properly Trim or Prune Your Weed Plants
When your plants begin to mature and grow more leaves, known as entering their vegetative phase, you will want to consider pruning and trimming them. Pruning is the process of cutting and removing stunted or dying leaves, while trimming can involve the removal of healthy leaves that could prevent the more desirable parts of the plant from absorbing sunlight and nutrients.
The time to prune or trim your outdoor marijuana plants varies with strain, but you generally want to do it before flowering. Cutting off leaves during this particular stage of growth can help your plants to generate the energy it needs to produce successful buds. You will want to start cutting off the growing tips after approximately 4 to 5 weeks of growth in order to help your plants develop its lower branches. Pruning and trimming marijuana plants also prevent them from growing too tall and not developing their buds efficiently.
Identifying Male from Female Cannabis Plants
Un-pollinated female plants are highly coveted because they produce the most potent buds for smoking or medical use. The ideal growing environment created by proper outdoor placement, water, and nutrients can encourage marijuana plants to procreate and produce seeds. For most outdoor marijuana growers, keeping male and female plants separated is an important step because it prevents cross-pollination and contamination of your crop.
During the pre-flowering stage up until the 2nd week of flowering, you can identify the sex of your cannabis plants by looking at where the leaf stems join the main stem, called the internode. You may need to look at the internode very closely, possible with a magnifier, in order to get a better view. If you see the calyx, or the pear-shaped ball that may or may not have white hairs called pistils, then the plant is female. Male plants will not have calyces or pistils, but instead have growths that look like tiny balls along their internodes and should be eliminated as soon as you identify them.
Cultivating Your Outdoor Marijuana Crop
Harvesting your outdoor marijuana will be an exciting time, but you should take care not to be so eager to harvest that you don’t take the proper measures to do it correctly. Proper harvesting practices can help maximize the effectiveness of your crop.
Be sure to cut down your marijuana plants at the base of the stalk. Remove all extraneous leaves from the branches so that only the flowers (buds) remain. All of the big leaves and pointy leaf tips protruding from the main stalk should be trimmed off, as they do not contains the THC level to be desirable. When you have completed the trimming process, hang the plants upside down in an indoor room with a low level light or even in darkness.
Humidity levels in the curing room should be between 40-60%, but also be aware that fungi and bacteria thrive in this environment, so make sure to disinfect the area first. Using anti-bacterial sprays, or even rubbing alcohol, for cleaning the surfaces of the room will be adequate. The longer the curing process takes place, the better the taste and potency of the marijuana will be.
Depending on how well you control humidity, it will take 3-to-15 days before the flowers are dried out and ready to be smoked or consumed. You can even put a few of your buds in an oven overnight with only the pilot light on to provide warmth, and by morning they will be ready to consume. Be aware, that if you used a fast-curing process, the smoke may be harsh. After the flowers are cured, gently snip off the dead branches and seal the flowers in a baggie or, best yet, a vacuum-sealed jar.
With proper planning and discipline, growing your marijuana outdoors can be a fun and successful process. It can produce huge yields of a very profitable plant, or provide you with the medical marijuana that helps you live a better quality of life. The trend of legal medical marijuana and decriminalization has continued, as more states vote to reduce the restrictions on this incredible plant. With future looking bright for both recreational and medical outdoor marijuana can be a prosperous venture for any motivated farmer.