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.
There are also commercially available soil blends that already contain the proper mix of these types of ingredients.
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.
Buying the right soil for an outdoor cannabis grow
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.
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.
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.
What size pot do I need?
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.
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.
Plants grown from seeds are typically heartier and more vigorous than clones, as they produce a sturdier taproot that clones are not able to replicate. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
For a small garden, hand-watering is the easiest, cheapest way to go. It also allows you to get familiar with each cultivar’s needs, and gives each plant the exact amount of water it requires. Irrigation systems can be convenient for a large number of plants or for times when you cannot be in your garden.
Planning your garden
Greenhouses can be a great middle ground between the complexities of an indoor setup and the uncertainty of growing outdoors. They provide ample protection from the elements and use far fewer resources than an indoor grow. Greenhouses can be more costly than an outdoor garden and require more planning, but they also allow you to extend the growing season considerably.
While cultivars may vary, here are some general rules that will be useful no matter which one you choose.
Even if it is legal to grow cannabis outdoors where you live, you should still take some precautions to hide the plants from public view. And it’s often required by law. You can grow your cannabis plants among other plants in your garden to hide them in plain sight. Cannabis can easily grow taller than your average fence, though. Training techniques can help keep your plants shorter. The fewer people who know you are growing cannabis, the better. The ideal situation is to have your grow tucked away on a piece of land where your plants can truly flourish away from prying eyes and nosy neighbors.
18 hours a day/6 hours off is best. Some folks light their young plants 24 hours a day, which is fine, but I like to give them a few hours a day where they aren’t photosynthesizing. It’s really about paying attention to your seedling/clone and seeing how it responds. The main thing about lighting is to keep your lights relatively cool (i.e., with a higher Kelvin). A 6500 Kelvin T5 bulb is inexpensive and puts out a lot of light on the blue spectrum, which will help your plant develop dense, compact nodes and bud structures.
Remember, you never want to stress a young plant. Putting your plant outside in mid-May when it’s still cool at night is not going to give it the healthy jump-start it needs. The best practice for transitioning to outdoors is to gently “harden off” your plants. Bring it outside a couple of hours at a time (start on an overcast day) to gently get it used to the extreme sunlight it’s going to experience outdoors.
3. Lighting cycles .
Do you feel prepared to get started with your cannabis? Seth has even more to share. Join him next Wednesday, March 17th, at 3 pm, for our Virtual MYMM 101: Cultivation Edition – Getting Started with Your Outdoor Home Grow. Every attendee will be entered in a raffle for a Goldleaf Grow Planner , a journal designed specifically for cannabis cultivation to track your home grow. All attending CVD/SVW patients will receive 30 BlackBird Rewards Points.
You just got home from the dispensary with your new clone. Now what? How much should you water it? How much light should it get? When should you transplant it? What about the seeds that you have? What the heck do you do with those?! Our Senior Cultivation Manager, Seth Gillim, has 20 years of agriculture experience under his belt and has spent two years with CVD, perfecting our successful cultivars’ growing method. Let’s start things off easy: here are seven tips from Seth to help you get started on your outdoor home grow.
6. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to put your plant outside.
If it’s your first time, identify a good spot for the plant in your garden. Is there enough sun? Cannabis loves the sun, so that area of your yard that’s in the shade by one in the afternoon isn’t going to work. Do you have a water source readily available? If you plan on growing in a pot, make sure it’s going to be somewhere that can be easily brought inside or covered in the event of an early frost.