Growing your own cannabis is something new and unfamiliar to most of us.

Until recently, the idea of sowing some pot seeds in your backyard seemed like the recipe for unwanted attention (and potential legal problems). Now that it’s legal, it’s natural to be curious what growing your own is all about.

This guide has been meticulously crafted for first-time outdoor growers. Outdoor cannabis growing is a great way to try things out and explore a new relationship with the plant without the expense of investing in an indoor grow. 

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know:

  • Why many choose to grow outside 
  • What supplies you’ll need 
  • The steps you’ll follow 
  • Some legal precautions
  • How long the journey will take you

Why Grow Cannabis Outdoors?

For many, growing cannabis outdoors is about more than the smokable harvest it yields. Unlike indoors, outdoor growing requires a relationship with nature—sun, weather, and living things. Growers are more akin to farmers, working with the environment they’ve got. 

There are a few big advantages to outdoors, namely:

  • Cheaper Startup Cost: You don’t need to buy any expensive grow lights (you use the sun)
  • Less Energy Use: You don’t need to pay for electricity to run those lights (and other conditioning equipment like HVAC, humidifiers, CO2, etc.)
  • Sustainable: Outdoor growing is one of the most sustainable ways to grow (no reliance on power plants to fuel your pot pursuits as well as increased efficiency)

In many cases, sunlight has been found to bring out an amplified difference in the profiles of outdoor vs indoor grows of the same genetics, like the sun steps in and turns up the volume.

What It Takes to Grow Cannabis Under the Sun

Growing cannabis outdoors is even more straightforward than setting up indoors. All you need is:

  • Nutrient-rich soil: The more rich the soil, the less food you’ll need to feed. Keep in mind that baby plants may struggle with “hot” soils (soils with high concentrations of nutrients) and may prefer to start with a lighter mix, and be transplanted into full strength. 
  • A suitable growing container: Personally, I’d go with fabric pots or raised beds. These are great options that allow you to control the soil mix from the start. If transplanting, you may want a smaller pot (2-4” pots are great) that can be replanted into your larger final container. 
  • Cannabis seeds for Outdoor Grows: Note the emphasis here. Not every cannabis strain is cut out for the unpredictability of outdoor life. Select seeds known for their resilience to pests, diseases, and their ability to withstand the elements. If you’re considering new genetics, look to the lineage to see if the parents did well outdoors. The better-suited the seeds are for the grow you’ll have, the better your experience will be.
  • Basic care: Water, occasional feeding, and some TLC go a long way under the sun’s watchful eye. Your biggest concerns will be keeping an eye out for pests, pathogens, and predators (like squirrels, rabbits and caterpillars!), and making sure your plant stays happy from start to finish.

How to Grow Outdoor Cannabis in 6 steps:

  • 1. Germinate: Once you’ve gotten your seeds, you’ll need to germinate them. This is a nice way to say “pre-plant” them. What you’re doing is encouraging the seed to sprout before you bury it. Now, some growers plant the seeds like any other crop, ¼” into the soil and gently covered and watered. But many like myself prefer to germinate in a paper towel or a sterilized rock wool cube to allow the seedling a stronger start. 
  • 2. Planting: Sow your seed into its first or final pot. If you have the space and your weather cooperates, starting your seeds in their final pots gives them the least chance of being disturbed. If you don’t, transplanting is a great option that lets you you want to start your seeds indoors before moving them into the backyard. 
  • 3. Nurture: Daily care involves spending time with your plants. Regular watering, occasional feeding of teas, microbials, or mineral inputs, as well as light training, clean-up, and defoliation will be key to your plant’s success. Remember, they are also called “Weed” plants for a reason: you can give them water only and you’ll still end up with a plant. It just may be begging for food by the time you reach the finish line. 
  • 4. Protection: All grows are potential victims of pests and pathogens but outdoor grows have threats that indoor grows don’t, like:
    1. Pollen contamination from neighboring crops
    2. Weather (wind, hail, snow, rain)
    3. Smoke (wildfires)
    4. Neighborhood Kids
    5. Pets & Wild Animals
    6. Strangers & Thieves

Take precautions and have a game plan, whether that’s a deer that’s chomping on your buds, or a stranger that caught a whiff of what you’re growing. Things like locked fences or greenhouses are great deterrents.

  • 5. Harvest: Chop those plants down and dry them somewhere! It’s best to have an idea of where you will dry your plants before you chop them down. Spare bedrooms, grow tents, garages, and barns are all great options. Just choose the most clean and least likely to be disturbed option you’ve got.
  • 6. Dry & Cure: The final step before you enjoy the fruits of your labor is drying your plants (typically 7-21 days) and then curing the buds (typically 2-4+ weeks). This helps with flavor, smoothness of smoke, and overall maturation of the plant’s compounds. If you’re impatient like me, you can always pull a sample jar while the rest finishes up!

3 Precautions for Staying Legal when Growing Outdoors

Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean you can plant your seeds next to your mailbox and show them off to every neighbor. 

Legalization comes with a few rules. While this isn’t legal advice, most of these rules are also “good neighbor” guidelines that growers have followed for years. 

Keep your grow:

  1. Locked
  2. Out of sight
  3. Out of smell

“Out of sight, out of mind” goes a long way to avoiding issues with neighbors, kids, and the law.

Timeline: How long does it take to grow cannabis outdoors?

How long does it take to grow cannabis outdoors? ~4-5 months.

Outdoor grows follow the seasons, which typically means planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall. For much of North America, outdoor season starts around May or June, and goes until sometime around September or October. Specific timing varies by climate and strain.

Expect 4-5 months from seed to harvest for photoperiod plants, which are plants that transition to flower based on light and the length of day. However, you could shorten that to 2-4 months by growing autoflowers, which are plants that automatically transition to flower when ready.

Growing cannabis outdoors is simpler and more rewarding than many first-time growers imagine. If you’ve been waiting for a sign to start your outdoor cannabis garden, consider this it.

Ready to take the next step? It all begins with a seed. 

Selecting genetics suited for outdoor growth ensures your cultivation journey starts on the right foot. Explore our collection, designed for growers like you who value resilience, vigor, and the unparalleled satisfaction of growing their own cannabis.

Explore Feminized Autoflower and Photoperiod Seeds today!