How to start weed seeds outdoors

Kickstart Your Outdoor Grow!

Each year, when February tips over into March, we see the first signs of spring emerging. That’s a breath of relief for us all after the grim realities of a harsh winter, but spring is especially heart-warming for cannabis growers! Now is the time to start planning new grow adventures, starting with picking the best cannabis seeds to work with. Of course, we are here to help you make the most of every last ray of sunlight once this year’s outdoor grow season kicks off!

The Outdoor Grow Season: Cannabis Gardening

No matter how fancy and high tech grow rooms or tents may be, most growers agree that nothing beats weed raised on the pure, raw power of nature itself. On top of that, cannabis as a species has evolved out in the open for millions of years. Obviously, every last shred of cannabis genetics is meant to thrive in its original habitat, which makes the case for growing weed outdoors perfectly clear. Less sun in the season? Choose an Autoflowering strain. Perfect climate? Feminized is the right choice. With prime genetics like Amsterdam Genetics cannabis seeds, anyone can prepare for a great kickoff to the outdoor grow season!

We’re all aching to catch a bit of a tan and soak up some much-needed vitamin D under the prevailing lockdown conditions. Gardening is a great way to do just that – including cannabis gardening, obviously. As the spring equinox approaches, it’s time to pick that perfect strain and start preparing to germinate and grow some plants!

When Does The Outdoor Cannabis Grow Season Start?

Several factors determine the perfect timing for the start of the outdoor grow season. Geographic location matters, as spring doesn’t bring warmth and sunlight to all regions simultaneously, or in equal measure. Still, from a global perspective, the spring equinox is an important point on any grower’s calendar. The spring equinox officially marks the first day of spring; in the Northern Hemisphere at least. Every year, around March 20, the Sun crosses the equator parallel, promising more hours of daylight and warmer weather to come. For the southern half of the planet, the March equinox hails the start of autumn, as the annual seasonal cycle proceeds in the exact opposite direction.

The Outdoor Grow Season, Step By Step

Let’s see how you can best prepare for the oncoming grow season. If you know what to do and when to do it for perfect timing, you can spend all spring and summer dreaming of that glorious harvest time as you watch your grass grow. Here’s our month-by-month guide to the ultimate outdoor grow season!

Late February Through March: Planning For Planting

Picking An Outdoor Grow Location

By late February, as the first brave snowdrops and crocuses burst from the soil, it’s time to stock up on seeds and pick the cannabis genetics that best match your taste and grow goals. This is the time for planning ahead – don’t forget that the time for planting is drawing closer every day now…

It all starts with great seeds…

Try to decide on the best spot to plant or pot cannabis plants after germination. Our outdoor grow locations blog helps weigh all the relevant factors and pick the prime weed growing spot in any garden. Aim for the optimal combination of sunlight, shelter from bad weather, and a stealthy spot to avoid unwanted detection. Growers who have found found that sweet weed spot are good to go. Start by loosening up the soil and add some organic fertilizer to optimize your natural open-air grow medium. Read up on the best soil for growing weed here.

Find The Perfect Match In Outdoor Cannabis Seeds

Picking the right cannabis seeds is possibly the most important step on the road to the harvest of your dreams. There are many things to consider here. Are you looking for specific genetics, such as sativa seeds or indica-dominant strains? Are you growing for specific effects, or a favourite flavour? Perhaps you want to grow medicinal cannabis for stress relief, to combat depression, or to treat (chronic) pain issues? You’ll find all of this and more among the thirty-plus world-class strains in our online seeds catalogue.

Growing Weed In Warmer And Cooler Areas

In the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including Canada, US states up north and Northern Europe, summers tend to be rainier, cooler, and shorter than those in more southern regions. That is why southern growers can start germinating and pregrowing their seeds in March, planting them once the April sunshine comes. In northern areas, May is the best month to plant germinated seedlings outside. Growers could can decide to pregrow seedlings indoors as early as late February to give their weed a head start for when spring arrives.

The start of the outdoor season varies between regions.

Feminized, Autoflower, Or Regular Seeds?

Then there’s the choice between photoperiod seeds or autoflower strains that start flowering automatically. Regular seeds can grow into male or female plants, giving you extra options and flexibility, but feminized seeds maximize your grow efficiency by yielding 99% feminine plants with harvestable flower buds. That’s a lot of choices to make – better start picking the best feminized, regular, or autoflower seeds to order. Give the delivery guy or girl enough time to ship them over, because once you see the first signs of spring, April is just around the corner!

April: Germination And Pregrow Time

Come April, even northern outdoor growers can start growing seeds. As the days lengthen and the sun gains strength, this is a good moment to germinate your seeds. If you still haven’t decided, order your cannabis seeds now to make sure they arrive in time. Germination, as this blog explains, is the moment when a tiny weed seedling emerges from its protective seed shell. The first root and leaves peep out, ready for their first drink of water and touch of sunshine.

Germination: a special moment both indoors and outdoors.

Growers working in Mediterranean climates can start planting seedlings and pregrown cannabis plants outside in April. For the northern parts of the US, Canada, and Northern Europe, this is the time to start germinating the seeds you bought. Once they pop, put them in small flower pots in the window sill where they get lots of early sun. Another option is to set seedlings off in a (pregrow) tent under artificial lighting. That way, your young plants are stronger once you take them outside in May. Having a little greenhouse available makes it safer to plant outdoors in late April, but even then, the option to bring fragile sprouts back inside if a late frost spell hits is a safe bet.

May: Time To Plant Your Outdoor Cannabis Grow!

Yay – you’ve made it to May! This is when spring peaks all over the northern half of the world, ready to tip over into summer warmth. June and July are the most prolific growing months of the year, so planting young plants in May lets them make the most of the summer throughout the vegetative stage of their life cycle. By now, your pregrow should be past its infancy, with the first real branches and characteristic weed plant leaves starting to shoot upwards to the heavens. If you haven’t germinated your seeds yet, you’ll want to do so now, preferably planting them outside as soon as they pop without further delay.

Useful Tips For Your Outdoor Grow Season

If you’re not sure which seeds to pick for this year’s outdoor grow season, we have a few suggestions to help you on your way.

Outdoor Indicas & Indica Dominant Strains

Our seeds catalogue indicates the average flowering times of every strain we have. As a rule of thumb, cannabis with more indica-dominant genetics tends to flower faster. They evolved in mountainous Asian regions where they had to flower quickly before the cold weather returned. That makes them great for northern climes and their shorter summers. Added benefit: indica strains tend to grow short and bushy, making them easier to hide and manage in gardens with limited space. Pineapple Kush is a good example of a heavily indica-leaning strain, as are Strawberry Glue and our sweet-tasting Chocolato. Broadly speaking, these same considerations also apply to hybrids with dominant indica genetics.

Strawberry Glue is a nice indica-heavy outdoor strain.

Outdoor Sativas & Sativa Dominant Strains

Sativa genetics evolved in warmer equatorial regions, enabling them to enjoy long, hot summers and loads of sunshine. That is why sativa strains tend to have longer flowering times than indicas, making them more suited for sunny, southern areas closer to the Mediterranean, or the southern coastal areas of the US. If you are growing weed up north and you’re after typical sativa highs and their cerebral, energizing head buzz effect, try finding a strain with a nice balance of indica and sativa genetics. Cannabis seeds such as White Choco, Tangerine G13, or Choco Cheesecake are good examples. Sativa genetics tend towards tall plant growth, which can make stealthy growing tricky. On the other hand, sativa strains usually feature open, airy bud structure. That can help prevent mold damage from culprits like bud rot or mildew. Indicas tend to have more compact buds that can prove risky during the cool, damp conditions associated with harvest time up north.

White Choco: legendary hybrid outdoor genetics.

Autoflowers Make The Most Of The Cannabis Grow Season

Autoflower strains are a brand apart when it comes to outdoor growing. These plants carry cannabis ruderalis genetics in the mix, which enables them to start flowering at their own preferred time rather than waiting for the days to grow shorter around midsummer. If you play your cards right, planting autoflower strains early in the season (preferably pregrown indoors for a solid start outside), you could squeeze in two or even three grows into a single cannabis grow season. Depending on your location and the weather conditions, you could take autoflower plants outside in April (if there’s no chance of late frost).

Choco Kush Autoflower in full bloom.

Pick an autoflower with a very short flowering and grow phases and you should be able to harvest in late June or July. That gives you enough time to get another grow going before it gets too cold – even if you don’t have much space. Do keep in mind, though, that the speed at which the automated beauties develop limits your options to guide them or correct your mistakes. Try to pick a robust, rugged strain with high resistance to pests and fungi. Milkshake Kush Auto and the hugely popular White Choco Autoflower strain are our prime suggestions for your automated outdoor grows. Autoflowers are usually vulnerable to overfeeding, so go easy on the nutrients and keep them close for daily inspection.

Time To Start Picking Those Seeds!

As you can see, there’s plenty to consider before getting that fresh outdoor grow season started. Whichever approach fits your location, taste, and garden options best, now is the time to start shopping for seeds that will make the most out of your grow. The better you’re prepared, the more time you’ll have to soak up that spring and summer sunshine while your crops shoot up around you…

Better get that hammock ready – enjoy watching that grass grow!

You now know all you need to kickstart your outdoor grow season. Remember: summer is approaching fast… Grab those seeds and enjoy your outdoor grow season!

How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors

Growing marijuana plants outdoors is generally easier than growing them indoors because Mother Nature chips in to do some of the work. Even so, you have to lay the groundwork for a successful grow to ensure that your plants receive the nutrients they need. Here, we lead you through the process of preparing a site for outdoor cultivation.

As long as you have a sunny location in an area where you get at least eight to ten weeks of relatively sunny weather and temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow cannabis outdoors. If your growing season is short, you can get a jump on things by starting your plants indoors and then transplanting your seedlings (after a brief hardening period). If you live in a warmer climate, you can simply plant your seeds outside after the threat of frost passes.

How to choose a cannabis grow site

  • Compliance: Your grow site must comply with all local rules and regulations. It must be private property owned by you. In most locations, your garden must be secure with a privacy fence and plants no taller than the fence. Any gates must be locked to prevent kids from getting to the plants and to discourage theft.
  • Space: The amount of space you need depends on the number and types of plants you want to and are legally permitted to grow. Your plants will need to be spaced at least three to five feet apart, so they all get plenty of sun and breeze.

Think ahead. Will each plant have enough space when fully grown? Will plants shade other plants from the sun?

  • Soil: Cannabis can grow in a wide variety of soil types, as long as the soil has sufficient drainage. If it doesn’t, you can amend the soil or plant in containers.
  • Sunlight and darkness: Cannabis plants need at least five hours of direct sunlight plus at least five hours of indirect sun daily. They’ll reward you for more sun with a bountiful harvest. Also, don’t plant a photoperiod strain under or near a bright street lamp; otherwise, it may not flower properly.

Consider surrounding objects such as buildings and trees and how the angle of the sun changes over the course of the growing season. As a result, an area that gets full sun all day long during one part of the growing season may be shaded part or all of the day during another part of the growing season. Ideally, your grow site will get sun all day long throughout the growing season.

  • Convenient access: You’ll be tending to your plants regularly and be eager to watch them grow, so pick a location with easy access. A backyard garden may be ideal.
  • Access to water: Unless it rains every few days, you’ll need to water your plants regularly, so pick a site that has easy access to water.

Cannabis must be grown on private property, so you must own the land. Growing on public land, such as a national park or forest, is illegal.

Evaluate the soil

  • Loamy: Loam soil is a combination of approximately equal parts of sand and silt along with relatively little clay. It retains moisture, but it also drains well, so plants aren’t sitting in saturated soil in which they’re susceptible to root rot and other diseases. Loam soil crumbles easily in your hands. If the soil is rock hard when dry, it contains too much clay. If it doesn’t hold together at all when you squeeze it into a ball, it may be too sandy.
  • Fertile: Healthy soil also contains organic matter, such as decomposing wood and other plant matter. You can mix mulch and other amendments into the soil to increase its fertility, if necessary.
  • Slightly acidic: You can use a pH meter to test the soil’s pH, which should be in a range of 5.5 to 6.5. Anything lower is too acidic, and anything higher is too alkaline.
  • Alive: Good soil is home to many critters, including earthworms and beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. If you don’t see anything crawling around in your soil, it’s probably lacking in organic matter.

Take a soup can of soil from several areas around your grow site to your local nursery or university extension office to have your soil tested. Test results show pH levels; levels of key nutrients, including potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen; concentrations of organic matter; and so on. You may also receive specific recommendations on amendments needed to improve soil quality.

For a more thorough guide to evaluating outdoor soil, check out the free Willamette Valley Soil Quality Card Guide published by Oregon State University.

Decide whether to grow in-ground or in containers

  • Planting in-ground is generally easier and more forgiving. With quality soil, you don’t have to worry so much about plants becoming root bound or developing root rot, and you may not have to water as frequently.
  • Containers add height which may make your plants taller than allowed by law or taller than the privacy fence you built.
  • If containers are too small, plants can get root bound, preventing them from absorbing the water and nutrients they need. In containers, plants may also be more susceptible to root rot if the plants don’t drain properly.
  • You can move containers around if the sunny locations in your space change over the course of the growing season.
  • If you have poor quality soil, you need to amend the soil prior to planting, which adds to the cost and work involved.
  • In a container, you can easily customize your soil mix to create the perfect grow medium for your plants.

Harden off your marijuana plants

If you start your plants inside (in a grow room or on a windowsill), harden them off before transplanting them to an outdoor location. Hardening off is a process in which plants gradually become acclimated to the outside environment over a period of seven to ten days.

Take your plants outside for 30 minutes or so on the first day and place them in a sheltered area where they receive indirect sunlight and perhaps a gentle breeze. Continue to increase this time by 30 minutes or so each day, gradually increasing their exposure to more direct sun. Watch your plants carefully for signs of heavy stress such as burning or wilting. Light stress is good, and it will accelerate the hardening off process, but heavy stress can kill a plant or severely impact its ability to flourish.

You should also harden off your plants against the cold. If frost is possible, keep the plants inside at night. Otherwise, gradually expose them to the cold nights. You may want to place them in a cold frame or under a box or bucket at first to provide some shelter from the cold without having to bring them inside, just be sure to uncover them the next day or they may overheat. Over the course of seven to ten days, they should be able to make it through a cool and frost-free night.

Support and protect your plants

When growing plants outside, you may need to provide them with support and protection from the elements, especially cold and frost as the summer growing season ends.

First, focus on providing your plant with structural support throughout its growth cycle especially in the flower stage. The idea is to provide your plant’s branches the support they need to grow big fat buds without becoming too heavy and breaking off from the main stalk. Bamboo stakes, along with twine or Velcro plant straps, are great and provide a variety of ways to stake your plants, such as the following:

  • Place a stake alongside the stalk, and tie the stalk to the stake.
  • Place three or four stakes around the periphery of the plant, and tie branches that need support to the stakes. You can also wrap twine around the stakes to create your own “cage.”
  • Place a row of stakes in front of or behind several plants, and then tie stakes horizontally to the vertical stakes (or weave them together) to create a trellis. You can then tie branches to the trellis.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Kim Ronkin Casey has been a communications professional for more than 20 years and recently took a year-long leap into the world of cannabis as the communications manager for one of the leading dispensaries in North America. She now consults for companies in the industry on internal and external communications. Joe Kraynak is a professional writer who has contributed to numerous For Dummies books.