Grow Cannabis Outside: Your First Grow

The easiest grow: Grow cannabis outside

Is it between March and June? Great! We can grow cannabis outside (assuming you are allowed to. Check local laws.)

You can expect a single plant to produce quite a bit if left to grow naturally and subject to good growing conditions. A successful plant in a 5-gallon pot left out from April-Oct and properly watered and fertilized can easily produce 6+ Oz of cured bud.

Did you notice all the weasel words in that? Yeah, you did. Because outdoor grows are subject to mother nature: bugs, disease, rot, mold, angry cats, drunk roommates, and many other factors that can affect the grow. Growing outside will require you to take a look every couple of days to make sure that your plants are healthy and take action if they are not. This isn’t super hard, but if people keep giving you cacti and telling you “oh it doesn’t require any work”, well, let this be your notification that you definitely need to look after your plants.

OK, ready? Let’s grow us a starter plant!

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What you need

Acquire the following (including our recommendations):grow cannabis outside in 5-gallon fabric pots

  • 5 Gallon fabric pot
  • 1 cubic foot of a good potting soil
  • Some fertilizer
  • Optional: If your plant needs some support, you will need a trellis you can deploy around it. Get this when it starts to get big
  • Optional: Neem oil and castile soap to deal with pests. This can wait until you need it

Setting up

  • Fill your pot 2/3 of the way with potting soil.
  • Gently take your seedling out of the cup, massage the roots to break up the ball a bit, and put it in the pot.
  • slowly fill in potting mix around the plant until it comes up to above the line where it was previously covered with potting mix.
  • Water generously

Now, if you’re in spring and the weather is nice, put your plant outside. If the weather is less temperate, you’ll need to put your plant outside during the better parts of the days for a few hours, and bring them inside. Make sure your plant is getting 16+ hours of light per day or you might kick off flowering early!

Growth Care

  • Check your plants every day or every other day. Check under the leaves for slugs, bugs, and something else that rhymes. Remove or spray down with either Neem Oil or a castile soap solution if needed.
  • Water as needed for the first couple of months. Make sure the potting mix is moist an inch bellow the surface. If you underwater, your plant will droop, you will tickle the soil a bit, feel it’s dry, and you will say “Oops, I need to water it” and all will be right in the world. If you overwater, your plant will stop growing and droop and you’ll water it more and kill it. So, like, don’t overwater it. (OK, you probably won’t kill it, but please don’t over water)
  • When your plant gets to be about 3′ high, time to fertilize. Your potting mix probably still has nutrients left in it, so use your fertilizer once a week at half dose.
  • Watch your plant and when you notice no flowers, but slower growth, it’s time to up the feeding to a full recommended dose.
  • Some time in August or September, your plant will begin to flower. You should adjust your feeding dosage according to manufacturer’s directions. As time goes on you will be adding a lot more fertilizer
  • The general rule of thumb is that if your plant starts to get pale and yellow, you need more fertilizer. If you plant is a deep, rich green, back off. If you get rust spots, necrosis, or black patches, your soil pH is off, which is a topic for another article. Light, white-ish spots and streaks indicate pest damage.
  • Check for mold and rot towards the end of the season. Cut off any affected parts and keep away from the rest of the plant.


  • Make sure you provide support for the plant if it starts to get tippy. You can use a triangular trellis around it, stakes + garden tape, or tie it off with some rope.
  • Put some mulch over the potting mix to keep bugs out. Grubs are notorious and icky.
  • White powder mold and bird poop look the same from a distance. One is fuzzy up close.

When should you harvest

When you grow cannabis outside, definitely harvest before the first frost, or before the plant falls over on the weight of its buds. The real indication of harvest is trichome development. Trichomes are the little “hairs” on the plant. Check the ones coming off the buds (not the sugar leaves). If you have an inspection microscope, you can take a peek at them on the buds to see if it’s time.

Look for milky trichomes and a little amber


Buds on the bottom screen and the light rack doing double duty as a drying line

There are two schools of thought on this. You can either take the plant down, dry it, and then trim it, or pre-trim and dry. Both work acceptably. I’ve found that pre-trimming is best if humidity is high during drying. In either case, I would highly recommend a quick trim of fan leaves before you hang your plant to dry. The fan leaves and stems are not very useful after harvest and can be discarded or composted.

Chop your plant down in the largest portions your drying system will accept. You are going to want to hang the branches in a dark place with airflow and about 50% humidity. Alternatively, you can use hanging nets designed for drying to do this part. In this case, Cut the plant into handful-sized pieces to dry and spread them out on the net.

After 4-days to a week, they will be dry and you can then begin the final trim. Get yourself a good movie or some tunes, rubber gloves, comfortable scissors, and relax while you cut off every sugar leaf to the best of your ability. This is easy, but time consuming. Make sure to trim over a bin to catch it. Those leaves are covered in trichomes and therefore THC. You can make extracts from that pretty easily. Also, all the residue on your gloves and scissors is basically hash, so… feel free to dip it all in grain alcohol to extract it and do what you will with it.


The last part is to cure your crop. Now that you trimmed everything, break them in to smaller pieces and put them in sealed jars. You want smaller jars so that if a jar gets mold or goes bad, you don’t lose the whole crop.

You will let them sit in these jars for about a month. Open them once every few days to release moisture. If you’re in a dry place, you might want to had some humidification packets to the jars. They prevent the buds from getting too dry.



6 years ago

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