Whilst growing cannabis outdoors can be more unpredictable with not being able to control the weather, wind, temperature, etc, it can also be a much simpler way of growing. Plus, you will be able to save money on grow lights, ventilation, and electricity costs.
You do not have to worry about all the equipment you will need for an indoor grow room and working outdoors can have great effects for your mental health and feeling more relaxed. Growing your cannabis outdoors, under the sun and other natural elements, is a much more organic and traditional way to garden.
Plus, growing outdoors, you will have fewer restrictions on how big your plants can get, compared to a grow room. You will be able to get larger yields, particularly when growing vertically. It can double, triple or even quadruple your yields!
Using the sun not only saves money on grow lights and electricity but it is also environmentally friendly. You can better grow your plants organically when growing cannabis outdoors. The rain can help water your plants, and the wind can help to keep them ventilated.
So, now you have decided you will be growing cannabis outdoors, here are some tips to help you get the best out of your grow space.
Pick a sunny spot for growing cannabis outdoors
Cannabis plants need as much direct sunlight as possible, and a minimum of 6 hours a day. If your garden or balcony does not have an openly sunny spot, you may find it hard to grow your cannabis. Luckily, living in Australia, you are likely to have somewhere to put them!
As summer changes to autumn, the shorter days will naturally tell your plant to start flowering.
Privacy for your plants
Ok, the privacy is more for your benefit. Whether you simply want to conceal the fact you are growing cannabis, or you are worried that it may get stolen, you might want to put it in a spot that is not easily visible. You should check the laws in your area too, as some state that your cannabis plants should not be seen from the street. You may want to plant a few taller plants close by or install a taller fence.
Know how much space you will need
Before you start growing, it is worth considering how many plants you intend to grow and how big you want them to be. If you only have a small space, like a balcony, you may only be able to grow a small number of plants. You might want to plant your cannabis plant in a pot, which can be easily moved about or hidden. Or you may want to plant it in the soil, next to other plants in your garden, which could also be an inconspicuous way to conceal them.
Watch for wind
As it gets hot in Australia, a nice breeze will be welcomed by your plants. However, too much wind can damage them. If you live in a really windy area, you might want to put up a windbreak or find something to put your cannabis plants behind, so they are more sheltered.
The rain may help to water your plants but to ensure they are getting enough they need, always water when the top inch of your soil is dry. If growing vertically you can set up an automated watering system which is on a timer. This is great if you often forget to water your plants, or you simply do not have much time.
Street lights may alter growth
If you live in an urban area where your plants are close to street lights that are on throughout the night, it may make them remain in the vegetative stage. Generally, as the nights get shorter, and the plant is exposed to longer bouts of darkness, it will create a signal to start the flowering stage. If the lights from the street are always on, the flowering stage might not start properly.
You could buy an auto-flowering cannabis plant to help with this problem.
Garden pests like slugs and snails can destroy your plants. Try introducing some predatory insects into your garden to help eliminate pests. Or you could try using some natural methods such as planting things like basil and lemon balm to help deter pests. Adding mycorrhizal fungi to your soil is a great way to help kill off pests, as in making your own organic pesticides.
Use the right soil
For growing cannabis outdoors, you will need a good quality soil, which is rich in organic matter and drains well.
If you want to grow your cannabis plant in the soil already in your garden, it is a good idea to get your soil tested beforehand. This way, you will be able to know what it needs to create the perfect soil mix. For example, if you discover your soil does not drain well, you might want to add some perlite or sand to it, to help with drainage. Test your soil every so often, and ensure it stays between a pH range of 6 to 7, which is the optimal range to absorb nutrients.
We have a page on growing mediums if you want to learn more.
You will want to ensure your soil or growing medium has the right consistency, texture, drainage, pH level, water retentions and nutrients.
If you do not have good soil in your garden, you may want to consider growing in a pot. Growing your cannabis in a pot can have added benefits like being able to move it into sunny spots during the day or put it in a shady spot if the sun is too intense. If you do grow in a pot, your plant will likely be smaller than growing outdoors.
Around 18 litres is good for a small to medium plant and for large plants, try a 37 litre pot.
Use the right nutrients
As well as getting your soil or growing mediums right, your plant will also need the correct nutrients. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are essential for any plant to grow, and cannabis is no different. For each stage of growth your plant will need different ratios of each nutrient.
Whilst this may be easier when growing indoors and hydroponically, you can still give your plant everything it needs when growing cannabis outdoors. Powdered fertilisers can be easily bought from your local garden centre or online store and can be mixed with your pre-existing soil.
For nitrogen, fish meal and blood meal are great to add to your soil. For potassium, try adding kelp meal or wood ash. And for phosphorus, bone meal or bat guano are great organic matter.
Your plant will also need other nutrients such as magnesium, sulphur and calcium. Try adding some Epsom salts to your soil, as well as dolomite lime. For beginners, there are many pre-mixes you can buy which makes it much easier for first-time gardeners.
Avoid using nutrient packets specifically for indoor growing as they are created differently and may affect your soil. Also avoid slow-releasing fertilisers as this can affect the stages of growth and need a bit of a deeper understanding go get right.
For more articles about growing your own cannabis, take a read of our ‘Grow Your Own’ news page.