On this site, we’ve covered various topics related to growing cannabis plants, including:
- How long does weed take to grow;
- How long does it take for marijuana seeds to sprout;
- What’s the appropriate amount of light a weed plant needs;
- How to plant seeds and grow them in a greenhouse;
- Which soil you should use for planting weed;
- How long should you germinate weed seeds;
- When should you transplant the cannabis seedlings, and many others.
While most of our previous articles are focused on growing indoors, this article is for outdoor growing. The following paragraphs will be especially beneficial to first-time growers who need a detailed overview for growing marijuana plants out in the open.
Tips for Growing Marijuana Outdoors
There are a few general rules that every outdoor grower who’s planning on growing cannabis plants should follow, and they’re related to the growing conditions of the marijuana plants.
Adequate Light for Your Photoperiod or Autoflowering Strains
Depending on where you plan to grow your cannabis plants, you can choose to grow either photoperiod or autoflowering strains. Photoperiods and autoflowers differ in more ways than one. Autoflowers grow very fast and are fairly easy to cultivate, while photoperiods have larger yields but are harder to grow.
Because the cannabis plant has a life cycle of one year, choosing which ones to cultivate is very important as photoperiods will take a longer time to reach the flowering phase compared to autoflowers.
Adequate Amount of Nutrients
The next essential step is choosing the growing medium and planning out how much additional nutrients your outdoor plants will need. You could grow in coco, hydroponics, or soil, depending on your personal preference. Apart from the growing medium, you’ll also need to provide your plant with additional macronutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium) and micronutrients (Calcium, Magnesium, Sulphur, Manganese, Boron, Zinc, Copper) to ensure the growth of healthy marijuana plants.
Adequate Water and Humidity Levels
The Life Cycle of Outdoor Cannabis Plants
No matter where you decide to grow your cannabis plants, their life cycle consists of several growth stages, so after you’ve purchased your high-quality cannabis seeds from a seed bank and chosen your preferred cannabis strain (Sativa strain, Indica strain, Ruderalis, or hybrid), you can start growing your cannabis plants.
The different growing stages are:
- Germination stage;
- Seedling stage;
- Vegetative stage;
- Flowering stage.
The growing season in the northern hemisphere starts at the beginning of spring, and the harvesting period is early autumn. Keep in mind that only feminized seeds grow into female plants that produce psychoactive cannabis buds, while male plants pollinate the female plants in order to produce more cannabis seeds, which is why you should keep male and female plants separated.
The first stage in the cannabis growth cycle can last anywhere between 3 and 10 days which is sufficient time for the marijuana seeds to sprout or pop. Germinating happens after a minimum of 24 hours of soaking your plants in water. During this stage, the seeds increase in size as a result of absorbing water, breaking the shell open, and forming taproots.
The seedling stage lasts between 2 and 3 weeks during which the initial leaves appear. Your cannabis plants are considered seedlings until they develop their first leaves with an adequate number of blades on them. This is the stage during which your cannabis plant will be the most vulnerable, therefore you should make sure it has enough light, humidity, and nutrients. Some outdoor growers even start their seeds under a grow light to ensure their plants have enough light (about 16 hours of light).
The vegetative phase is when your plants get taller and grow stems and leaves (but not buds), and can last between 3 to 16 weeks. For outdoor growing, your plants will need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and a few more hours of indirect sunlight during the vegetative stage.
The flowering stage is the final stage in the cannabis growth cycle. But how long is flowering stage outdoors?
Well, the flowering stage can last between 8 and 16 weeks, depending on which type of cannabis strain you’ve planted. Sativas flower much slower than Indicas, so if you’d like to get your cannabis plants to go through the flowering period faster, go for Indica strains or hybrid strains.
Once your female plants reach this stage, you need to switch them to a 12-12 light cycle (12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness) so they can start growing even faster. A few weeks into the flowering stage, your plants will start producing budlets. You’ll also see the trichomes starting to appear, and your cannabis flowers will have a distinctive smell which is a sign that the plant is nearing the end of its growing time.
Between weeks 4 and 6, the buds will get denser and white pistils will start to appear. During the next weeks, the plants will focus on growing buds instead of growing new leaves, and the pistils will also get darker. During the last weeks of the flowering stage, some growers decide to flush their plants in order to improve the quality of their buds before they start with the harvest.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Cannabis Outdoors?
Growing a cannabis plant from seedling to harvest time can take between 5 and 8 months, depending on the strain you’re growing. After your cannabis plants have gone through all the growth stages, it’s time for harvesting the fruits of your labor.
The harvest and post-harvest stage can last between 2-8 weeks, depending on whether you decide to cure the buds or not. During this period, you need to dry and cure your cannabis plants to improve their flavor profile and enable them to be kept mold-free for longer periods of time.
Drying takes between 7 and 14 days. This ensures the preservation of the plant’s terpenes and gives you weed of superior quality. Curing, on the other hand, takes between 2-8 weeks, but some growers choose to cure their weed for longer. It helps the moisture draw from the center of the bud to the outside, preserves the terpene content even more, and allows you to store your weed for longer without risking losing the potency of weed.
Whether you’re growing cannabis for its therapeutic cannabinoid CBD or its psychoactive cannabinoid THC, there are certain steps each grower needs to follow in order to have a thriving cannabis plant.
Throughout their life cycle, cannabis plants go through the germination stage, the seedling stage, the vegetative stage, and the flowering stage, which are followed by harvesting, drying, and curing.
Different cannabis strains can take different time intervals while going through these stages, but generally, your plant will take anywhere between 5 and 8 months together with the post-harvest phase.
Finally, newbie growers should pay extra attention to the specific needs of the cannabis plant and provide them with enough light, nutrients, water, and humidity in order to grow thriving plants.