Many growers prefer to sow their marijuana seeds outdoors because it’s supposed to provide a better smoke and there is certainly nothing more natural than growing your plants outside. Most of the environmental factors outlined above will be provided to the plant via natural resources that you won’t have to provide yourself. While indoor growing gives you a lot of control, outdoor growing allows to the plants to flourish to their fullest capacity. The main problem with outdoor growing, however, is that the plants are visible to anyone who happens to have prying eyes.

If you live in a residential neighborhood, you might be able to get away with growing your plants in your backyard, but you’ll likely need to be rather paranoid about keeping the operation under wraps. Even then, you could still be caught and the penalties for that are potentially very serious.

If you live in a secluded or wooded area and you own a lot of land, then it might be a little easier to grow your own smoke on your own property. For instance, if you live on ranchland (or you have access to a friend’s ranchland), then you might be able to successfully grow outdoors with minimal interruptions. This is really the ideal way to go about it because you can inspect the plants whenever you want without the fear of being caught. You can also avoid the hassle of having to deal with thieves looking to score your homemade bud. Unfortunately, many people don’t have access to secluded private land that wouldn’t incite suspicion from law enforcement or other individuals. Thus, if they want the best bud, they will have to employ Outdoor Growing a system known as “guerrilla farming.” This means that you’ll have to go to public lands that are sort of off the beaten path in order to grow your garden to the best of your ability. There are obvious dangers to doing this because anyone could happen upon your garden and alert the proper authorities. It’s also not uncommon for law enforcement to survey many public lands using helicopters or slow-flying planes. The police are equipped with infrared devices that can point out any irregularities in foliage. If the spot you planted your garden is in an open space, then the plants will likely be clearly visible to anyone flying by. But, if you plant underneath some dense foliage, it might just blend in with the rest of the trees and shrubs in the area.

Soil

Regardless of where you’re growing outside, a good soil is imperative. But, not every kind of dirt will be ideal for growing your marijuana. It’s always a good idea to test the ground soil that you’re planning to grow in prior to actually using it. This is to ensure that it won’t be too alkaline or acidic when the plants start extending their roots even farther into the ground. If the pH test shifts too far in either direction, then you might want to consider a new location, or infuse the soil with some nutrients and fertilizers. Many growers like to use composted material as a natural fertilizer. Anything that once was organic can be used as compost. This means that you can gather leaves, banana peels, and even dog droppings, and, in a few months, you’ll have a nice, nutrient-rich fertilizer. Obviously, you can’t just take the leaves or shrubs or banana peels and use them as a fertilizer if they haven’t decayed. But, virtually any decayed organic material makes for a cheap fertilizer. If you want to get the pH to an acceptable level, use some of the techniques outlines in the “Soil Control” section above.

You can also buy other fertilizers from the store. A fertilizer with an NPK ratio of around 5:1:1 (just like before) will be the best option. Any fertilizer that has more nitrogen than the other two nutrients will be ideal for most of the plant’s life, up until flowering when more phosphorous is ideal. Of course, if guerrilla farming is your preferred method of growing, then you won’t really have these options at your disposal. In fact, unless you have a definitive location picked out months ahead of time, you won’t really have the option of creating a more workable soil. You’ll just have to go with what you can find, as hiking in your own fertilizer could make it exceedingly obvious that you’re growing something out there.

Sowing the Seeds

Many growers like to start out their seeds with rows that are fashioned into the soil. You don’t really need to bury the seeds that deep into the soil. In fact, some growers have been known to just scatter their seeds on top of the soil to get them to germinate. This random seeding is called broadcast seeding. Maybe a more effective way to get the plants sown is by using hills or mounds. You essentially sow the seeds on the tops of small mounds in the soil. This certainly gives you the freedom to plant outdoors even when the soil is somewhat wet. This is because the water is naturally going to drain off the mound so that the seed (and, later, the plant) won’t be inundated. In either the hill or row option, try to ensure that the seeds have some adequate soil coverage so that they can stay moist. 

Most guerilla farmers employ broadcast seeding to limit any suspicion and because it’s a lot easier. If you spend hours building the rows or mounds there is a strong likelihood that someone could happen upon you. It’s also rare to see any uniformity in nature. If your plants are ordered in perfect rows or they are all sitting atop a small mound of some kind, then any passersby (whether on the ground or in the air) are probably going to take notice of the anomaly. Scattering the seeds around definitely gives the area a look of complete arbitrariness the way nature might have intended. The plants will blend in with all of the other scattered trees and/or shrubs and won’t be easily noticed by anyone else. Unfortunately, broadcast seeding isn’t the best way to ensure that your plants will germinate. If you place a layer of soil over your seeds and gently press them down into the soil with your foot, then there’s a better chance that the seeds will germinate. Many seeds, however, will never germinate or will just simply die after becoming seedlings if you try to grow in this fashion. That’s why using a large amount of seeds for broadcast seeding is crucial so that you are at least guaranteed some growth by the time they start germinating.

Germination

Just like with indoor germination, outdoor seeds require moisture to germinate properly. Adding too much water can be detrimental, but as long as the seeds are relatively encompassed by some slight moisture, they should start to germinate. Of course, this is easier if you built mounds or rows for the seeds to really maintain moisture. Sometimes, the conditions outside are not conducive to germination or the resultant seedling stage. If you live in an area where the temperatures remain relatively low well into spring, then you may need to germinate the seeds indoors. To do this, just follow the instructions laid out in the indoor growing section on germination above. Then you can transplant the seedlings when the weather starts to improve.

Again, transplanting to a secluded location on public land is pointless at best and dangerous at worst. There’s a strong likelihood that the plants won’t survive the transplant because of all the stress they would be under. There is also a strong likelihood that you could be caught, because it would probably take more than one trip to get all of your plants in the right position. The whole germination process is difficult for guerrilla farmers especially if there isn’t a reliable source of water nearby. Hiking in your own water could difficult and but the soil will still need to be moist for the seeds to germinate. If you’re interested, read more about guerrilla marijuana farming.

Weeding

As your plants start to germinate, it’s important to keep the area free from weeds. Avoid using any weed killers like Round-Up that might also affect your marijuana plants. It should be noted that weeds will end up taking a lot of the water and nutrients meant for your plants if you don’t stamp them out quickly. But, the best way to get rid of weeds is simply by pulling them by hand. Trying to kill them with any chemicals will only be bad for the plants that you want to grow to be nice and strong. Obviously, before planting in an area, you should pull out any weeds that happen to be there.

Light

The benefit of being in the great outdoors is that you don’t really need to worry about light too much. The sun will provide all the light a plant could need and much more. There is no way to duplicate the sun’s intensity and it’s just a better light source than anything you could produce artificially. If you transplant your plants from indoor artificial light to outdoor sunlight, they could be shocked by the intensity. This would certainly not be an ideal way to start your outdoor growing experience as you might see the plants lose vigor and ultimately die. If you sowed the seeds outdoors in the bright sunlight, then your plants will be acclimated to the sun for the rest of their lives. Even so, when transplanting from indoors to outdoors, place the plants in a location that is shaded for part of the day to begin with to ensure that the sun’s rays hit them directly but for a shorter period of time. This is assuming that you will leave them in portable pots rather than planting them directly into the ground. As they start to get used to the sun’s rays, gradually move them more into the direct sunlight until they are receiving light all day. This process shouldn’t take more than 7 or 10 days to get the plants acclimated to the sunlight.

Light can also be a problem if there is something blocking it from getting to your plants. For instance, if you live in a cloudy area, the plants might not be receiving enough light from the sun. You may have to bring the plants indoors at night and put them under some lamps so they get a full complement of light for the day. If you are guerrilla farming in a forested area, then your plants might be at risk of having the light blocked out by the taller trees in the area. Although the trees provide security and cover from any potential onlookers, they may also limit the amount of light that your plants receive. It will be difficult to transplant them once they are in the ground so you may just have to deal with the limited amount of light. When planting on the slope of a mountain, make sure that you plant on the south side of the mountain (if you’re in the northern hemisphere). This is because the sun will go from east to west, but it will be in the southern half of the sky. If the plants are on the southern slope of the mountain, they will receive the most sunlight possible throughout the day.

Watering

Watering your outdoor plants can be kind of tricky, especially if they are located in a relatively dry and arid place. If your plants aren’t close to a hose, then you’ll have to devise a plan to get your plants as much water as possible. Obviously, early on, the plants won’t need a lot in the way of H2O, but as they enter into vegetative growth and start to get much larger, they will need more water. Large adult plants can consume up to a gallon of water per day. This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to water the plants with a gallon of water every day because the soil should retain some of the water from previous waterings (or even rains). If your plants are on private land that you have access to, then there is no shortage of unique techniques that you can employ to get water to your plants. For instance, you can fill buckets up with water and transport them with a truck to the grow site. Try to avoid dumping the water on a single plant and inundating it. Other growers have set up a drip method of watering that acts almost like a squeeze bottle that has a permanent drip. This method allows the growers to avoid having to water the plants every day while also keeping the soil moist on a continuous basis. Although it is gradual by nature, the drip method keeps the plants relatively healthy and doesn’t flood them with water.  

Of course, you might live in an area where cannabis can grow naturally without the use of any extra water on your end. This is ideal for guerrilla farmers who likely won’t be able to check on their plants on a daily basis. If you are a guerrilla farmer and you live in an area where the weather is often hot and dry, then you might need to keep a firm watch on the plants. Hiking in your own water will be difficult on a number of levels, and it’s better if you can find a nearby lake or stream that can provide water for you naturally.

If your plants are underwatered, then it is likely that they will start wilting. Just be aware that plants will naturally start wilting in the summer as a response to the heat of the sun. The best way to check if your plants are getting enough water is to dig about 6 inches into the soil, making sure not to cut any major roots on the way down. If the soil there is still cool and moist, then the plants should be fine. Many soils are adept at maintaining water for long periods of time so that there is essentially a reservoir of water stored up there. If at all possible, you might want to water your plants with a nutrient solution about once every couple of weeks. As long as the nutrient solution has a higher concentration of nitrogen, than phosphorous and potassium, then it will be good for vegetative growth. For flowering, use a solution that is higher in phosphorous than either of the other two nutrients. This should be done during the time at which you water the plants.

Temperature, Weather, and Air

Obviously, temperature is one of the major issues when planting outdoors. There’s not a lot you can do to keep your plants warm enough or cool enough to suit their needs if there should be some weather problems. If your plants or still in pots, then you can move them indoors to avoid any excessive cold at night. When the temperature is particularly hot outside, the roots can start to sort of “boil” in the soil. Keeping them cool with extra water will help ensure that the plants don’t start to lose vigor. Of course, being outdoors leaves your plants open for a large variety of other weather problems. Wind, rain, and snow (depending on where you live and when you plant) can all be problems that will hurt your plants. For the most part, high winds won’t have much effect on healthy cannabis plants. They generally grow firm stalks that won’t need any exterior support to stay standing. Indeed, most high winds will cause some miniature cracks in the plants’ stalks, but, if they are healthy, they will heal themselves quite easily. If the plants are suffering from nutrient deficiencies, however, they may have a hard time recuperating. This is also true if they are top heavy and susceptible to more angled bends of the stalk. In this case, you might think about staking the plants so that they don’t experience any irreparable damage. If you know of a storm that is coming, it’s best to find your weakest plants and make sure they have some exterior support to mitigate the damage that the storm might do.

To do this, simply place a stake about six inches from the base of the plant, and then tie the plant and the stake together with wire twists or string. For guerrilla farmers, it’s a good idea to not plant your crop on a slope known to experience mud slides. But, not every slope is going to be an obvious mudslide area. A good indication that the area won’t be adequate for your plants is if there aren’t any other small plants growing in the area. If all you see is sturdy trees or shrubs, then the slope likely does not support small vegetation. This could wipe out your entire crop over the course of a freak summer storm. In terms of the air quality that your plants will experience, there’s nothing better than the great outdoors. Your plants will get all the fresh air they need and plenty of CO2 to stay healthy.

Outdoor Flowering

For the most part, flowering outdoors will require no input from the grower. Most plants will start adjusting to the changes in the daylight hours and begin the flowering process. The days will naturally start to get shorter which will trigger the plants into flowering organically. For some growers, however, this will not be the ideal circumstance. Sometimes you don’t want the plants to enter flowering and sometimes you want them to enter it earlier. For instance, if the weather is still nice and you want to eke out all the vegetative growth you can with your plants, then you’ll want to delay flowering as long as possible. By that same token, if you know that the weather will soon become exceptionally cold or at least too cold for the plants to survive, then try to make sure that they start flowering sooner than they might have naturally. For growers that have access to their plants, both of these options are possible. If you want to delay the onset of flowering, then it merely takes a little light during the night. You can accomplish this with a high-powered flashlight shining on the plants once every couple of hours or so for about 10 minutes during the night. This will adequately mess with the natural inclination for the plants to start flowering and they will stay in vegetative growth for the time being. 

Outdoor Marijuana Flowers

Obviously, if the weather starts to get cold early where you live, try to ensure that your plants start flowering as soon as possible. But, outdoor plants offer certain challenges to this goal. If the light to darkness period isn’t yet 12 hours to 12 hours, then you’ll need to make that happen on your own. Using a polyethylene sheet will help block out any sunrise or sunset light so that you can get the required 12 hours of darkness. For instance, if you know that your area is going to get exactly 13 hours of sunlight during the day and that sunset is at 7 PM, then place the sheet over the plants at 6 PM and remove it at 6 AM when the sun rises. After doing this for about 1 to 2 weeks, the plants should start to flower and you can begin harvesting. When it comes to manipulating the flowering period, guerrilla farmers are kind of out of luck. They will be at the mercy of the local weather in the area and won’t have a lot of say in the matter. Just trust that nature will work its magic and find a way to give you some excellent smoke.

Pests, Predators, and other Problems

You might expect plants that are grown outdoors to fare much worse than plants grown indoors when it comes to pests. That’s true but because the ecosystem is often self-regulating, there are many tricks to get rid of unwelcome visitors. For instance, even if a few bugs start munching on the leaves of your cannabis plants, it’s likely that they will be held in check by any of their natural predators. Spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, and mealy bugs are all common pests that many growers have to deal with both inside and out. The plants are in the most danger when they are young and not well-developed. A single meal for a group of mites when the plant is a seedling could cause some irreparable damage to the plant. 

As the plant ages, however, it will start to become less susceptible to enervation via the bites of a small insect. This is largely because these insects will be taken care of by natural predators before the plant incurs much damage. If pests are a problem there are a few options you can try to get them away from your plants.

Companion Planting

Although the THC that marijuana produces is supposed to act as a natural repellent, it is sometimes not very helpful for getting rid of certain insects. Many outdoor growers have taken to planting companion plants that work to repel any pests. In general, you must plant the companion plants near the actual marijuana plants. The most effective repellent plants are those that have strong scents like spices, herbs, and mints.

Garlic cloves are probably the best repellents because they ensure that a wide range of pests stays away from your garden. Aphids, spider mites, potato bugs, many types of beetles, and a wide range of other pests will be repelled by garlic cloves. Even rabbits and some deer will be put off by the scent that garlic cloves produce.

Mints are particularly effective at controlling flea beetles if you’ve got a particularly large infestation of them. They also repel a wide variety of other insects and even mice. Geraniums and marigolds can also be interspersed in between your garden to provide an even larger range of protection. Geraniums can even be placed outside in pots so that you don’t have to go through the hassle of actually planting them in the soil. Marigolds are some of the fastest growing flowers and they will produce a strong scent within a matter of a few days.

Natural Predators

It’s also possible to buy the natural predators of these pests and place them in your garden. Other insects like ladybugs have no interest in eating the marijuana plant, but they do have quite an appetite for aphids and insect eggs. Both praying mantises and lacewings also provide you with a natural way to rid yourself of any unwanted predators. All of these are sold commercially.  Several birds, including blue jays, robins, martins, chickadees and others, are adept predators when it comes to killing off marijuana pests. To attract these birds, some growers have installed bird houses, feeders, and pools of water. It’s also not a bad idea to let a few chickens, ducks, or geese run through the garden every once in a while as the plants grow larger. These birds will take out many pests along with a number of different weeds and you won’t have to do any work in that regard. Other insect predators include frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, and lizards which all should be encouraged to take up residence in your garden.

Other Repellent Methods

Many gardeners employ the use of some ingenious homemade sprays or other solutions that are remarkably effective. It’s possible to use a concoction composed of liquid garlic extract and regular soap. You can also add cayenne peppers, onions, or almost anything that is safe for the marijuana plant and also pungent enough to repel many different kinds of pests. If you really want a cheap solution, you can literally just stomp on the bugs or squeeze them to death. It’s best to do this in the early morning when the bugs are moving much slower in general. If anything, it gives you something to do in the morning before you head off to work or do whatever else you have to do for the day. Many growers like to place barriers around their garden. This is particularly effective for guerrilla growers because it’s hard to notice and doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare. All you have to do is create a barrier about 6 feet away from the plant using powdered potash (wood ash). You can even sprinkle some of the wood ash onto the leaves to keep flying bugs at bay as well. 

But, insects aren’t the only pests that can cause problems. This is particularly true if you live in an area that has a large quantity of omnivorous or herbivorous mammals or birds. Deer, rats, rabbits, cows, and other mammals are prone to finding ways to get to your marijuana plants. When the plants are young, it’s common for deer to come by and virtually decimate the crop. As the plants age, however, the ruminants are not that attracted to it. For large mammals, the best repellent is an equally large fence, but many growers don’t have the luxury of being able to build a fence. Thus, other methods are required to force those mammals away.

Many growers have started purchasing the urine of certain predators. For instance, if a group of deer is constantly messing with your garden, then you might think about purchasing some bear urine and placing a perimeter of the stuff around the plants. When the deer catch the scent, they will inherently want to avoid the area from here on out because they recognize the smell as something predatory. This can work for smaller mammals as well. As long as you purchase the urine of one of the mammal’s main predators, they will stay away. A rabbit might be repelled by the scent of fox or wolf urine. You can find these repellents at many outdoor shops. In general, birds don’t represent much of a threat to any marijuana garden. When you have just sown the seeds, however, crows, sparrows, and starlings can be potentially harmful to your crop because they like to pilfer the seeds. They may be a risk in that regard up until the plant germinates and becomes a seedling. To avoid any of your seeds being taken prematurely, you could use plastic netting or even a scarecrow to get the birds off your back. After the seeds have germinated, you really won’t have any problems with birds. They don’t really like the taste of the leafy marijuana plant. As mentioned previously, the birds should be encouraged to nest in your garden because they are natural predators to other insect pests.

Some Notes about Outdoor Security

Obviously, the difference between growing outdoors and indoors is that your plants are basically wide open to any onlookers who happen to pass by. If you’re on public land (or even private land), there’s always a chance that your plants could be found by either law enforcement or thieves. The only way to really prevent yourself from being caught is to meticulously cover your tracks. If you’re growing on public land, be sure to find a place that will be difficult to discover by land or by air. Try to find an area where you know that fly-bys are rare or non-existent. Also, don’t plant your garden in an area that is visible from any trails or walking paths. Even a random citizen could report your crop to the police and, even if you don’t caught, you’ll still lose your garden. It’s always a good idea to be as clandestine as possible and remain out of the sight of any onlookers (for instance, a park ranger) when you go to the garden. If you can find a place that is secluded but not hard to reach, then you will be much better off when taking care of your plants and ultimately harvesting them. If you have to make a relatively long hike to a place like a clearing in the forest, then it’s vital to take 3 or 4 different routes to the place. Even an amateur tracker will start to notice the path you make when walking to your garden if you only have one entry point. This path will be obvious to any thieves or other people who know what they’re looking for. You should always try to leave your garden in a different way than you came in. For instance, if you are planting in a park with a number of different trails, it could be prudent to enter the park on one trail, leave that trail to tend to your garden, and then leave the garden to get on another trail altogether. Always keep a map of the land handy in the event that you get lost. If it’s possible, try entering the public land from inconspicuous places (for instance, areas that don’t have trails). 

If growing on private land, make sure you do everything in your power to keep the plants from being seen. This includes pruning and trimming them so that they don’t incite any suspicion from passersby or neighbors. Plants grown outdoors can often reach incredible heights that will make them relatively obvious to anyone looking. For instance, if you’re growing in your backyard, a six-foot monster plant is going to catch the eye of any neighbors relatively quickly. Keeping the plant pruned will limit its size and detectability and might also produce a higher yield in the end. Some growers have considered growing their crop on land adjacent to their own that is owned by someone else. For example, if you live next to a cornfield, you might think it would be advantageous to grow out there. Unfortunately, it’s hard to predict how frequently the landowner inspects their land or if any flybys are performed in the area. If you get caught, expect to be hit with more than a trespassing charge. It should also be reiterated that you should never talk to anyone about growing marijuana. Even if your plants are heavily secluded and almost impossible to find, don’t tell anyone.