When someone who has never previously cultivated cannabis embarks on the worthwhile journey of becoming an outdoor cannabis grower, they often have visions of grandeur swimming around in their heads. People who fit this description typically think that if they can just get some cannabis seeds or clones, some dirt, and provide water and outdoor sunlight, that they will inevitably grow big buds outdoors. And when it comes time to harvest, they imagine themselves rolling in huge piles of weed.
While it is perfectly fine to be ambitious, newbie cultivators need to temper their expectations and know that growing cannabis outdoors takes solid planning, a lot of work, and a predetermined strategy that’s been executed well.
Growing bigger buds outdoors is easier to do than it is indoors for various reasons. Growing indoors under grow lights has its advantages, not the least of which is benefitting from being able to control every aspect of the marijuana plant’s environment.
However, growing weed under the sun in a wide-open space allows the plants to grow large — much larger than in an indoor garden where space is usually limited. As long as sun-grown cannabis plants are provided the right nutrients, attention to detail, proper bracing, and other factors we’ll cover later in this article, the plants can yield several pounds each.
While it is rare, some of the best sun-grown cannabis cultivators in Southern Oregon and Northern California can regularly harvest 15-18 pounds of dried cannabis flower from one plant, in addition to all of the plant trimmings that can be used to make edibles, topicals, and concentrates.
Do you want to learn how to grow bigger buds outdoors? If the answer is yes, then you will want to consider the factors listed below.
Plan Your Grow Carefully
If there is one bit of advice that you should take away from this article, it is that you should plan ahead of time to help boost your chances of success. Before you even try to germinate a seed, you should have a strategy mapped out as much as reasonably possible.
Know ahead of time how long it will likely take to germinate the seed(s). Determine the best time to plant an outdoor cannabis plant where you live. Gather as much of the resources and materials you will need before you start planting.
So many factors will determine whether your garden produces a limited number of small buds, a large amount of potent buds, or something in between — or for that matter, any buds at all!
Knowing what factors are involved and what they entail before you start growing is vital to success. Rather than scrambling in the middle of the vegetative stage or flowering phase to try to incorporate strategies or mitigate disasters, when it is likely too late in the game, it’s best to plan ahead.
Picking The Right Cannabis Strain
Some cannabis strains do better growing outdoors under the sun than other strains. You will obviously be limited by what is available in your area, however, if you can find a strain in your area that is a notoriously solid outdoor strain to grow, go with it.
Be aware that seeds or clones of the same strain name may vary from breeder to breeder. Your best bet is to find someone you trust who has successfully cultivated a particular cannabis genetic in your area — see if you can replicate what they have already accomplished.
Purchasing seeds online, or acquiring seeds or clones from dispensaries — even the most reputable dispensaries — can be a bit like rolling the dice (and blatantly illegal in many instances), so be leery of any claims about particular cannabis strains. If what the seller is saying seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Soil, Containers, Sun, & Water
The foundation of a cannabis plant is its root base. The larger the root base, the larger the plant. The healthier the root base, the healthier the plant. How a cannabis plant grows and how healthy all of the parts of the plants in your garden will ultimately be determined by the plant’s root base. If you want to grow big, you need a solid base.
The quality of the soil and water a cannabis plant uses is vital. Many new growers think the soil in their yard is sufficient to grow a healthy cannabis plant, however, that’s rarely the case. It is a far better strategy to cultivate cannabis in a container.
The best cultivators in the Emerald Triangle cultivate cannabis in containers that are as large as 200 gallons, with the soil filling the containers carefully selected for its nutrients (often referred to as ‘super soil’). Fiber pots are better than plastic pots, however, having to use plastic pots is not the end of the world.
Identify where your plants will be located well before you plant them. It needs to be a place on your property that gets a lot of sun — preferably all-day sun exposure (sunrise to sunset). Obviously, you will need the plants to be in a secure area out of public view, and that will be a factor. Your main concern will be getting your plants as much sun as possible.
Test your water source ahead of time. Know what the pH level of the water is so that you know if it needs to be adjusted. Be aware that most city water has chlorine and other additives in it. Research what goes into your local water and take measures to mitigate what’s in it as much as possible.
Bracing Is Important
As a cannabis plant gets larger, especially during the flower stage, the surrounding branches of the plant will become heavy and start to lean and bend. Eventually, the entire plant will fall over — a true disaster when it happens.
As your plant is growing, start out with no bracing. Let the wind shake the branches a bit in order to make the branches stronger — often referred to as ‘low-stress training (LST).’ Use a fan to keep a constant breeze on the plant if at all possible.
As the plant gets larger, start bracing it up using bamboo sticks, fencing, tomato cages, or whatever else you can find. Cannabis plants can get really, really tall if they are a sativa-dominant strain, so keep that in mind when coming up with your bracing strategies. It is far better to have a plant that is braced in a not-so-pretty-fashion than it is to have a plant that falls over due to a gust of wind.
Prepare For Harvest Ahead Of Time
If you succeed at cultivating outdoor cannabis plants that yield big buds, which is obviously the goal, you will want to prepare ahead of time for harvesting and drying those buds. A massive outdoor cannabis plant is going to produce a massive amount of buds.
Find a dark, dry place with a consistently moderate temperature to dry your harvest. Keep in mind that you want to be able to have the hanging branches separated to avoid any mildew or mold issues. Also, keep in mind that it is going to smell a lot in that area and that the smell will likely linger long after the buds are gone.
Continue Your Education
When it comes to cultivating cannabis, the learning journey never ends. Even the most famous cannabis cultivators are still learning new things every day about the cannabis plant and how to cultivate it more effectively.
This article will provide you a great foundation from which to work, however, you will obviously want to take a deeper dive into learning about all things cultivation-related. One of the best ways to continue your education is via Green Flower’s Cultivation Certificate Program. The program is taught by the leading cannabis cultivators in the cannabis space. Sign up today and learn how to grow like the pros!