Growing marijuana outdoors can be as simple as putting seeds or seedlings into the ground and only coming back for the harvest. Nevertheless, using autoflower outdoor nutrients can turn even an average producer into a xxl strain. We’ll show you what nutrients to feed your autoflower plants outdoors.
Often, it’s Best to Go Organic
We personally have achieved great results by simply growing autoflowers next to tomatoes and giving both the same treatment.
If the soil is rich enough for a regular vegetable garden, just amend it with some organic supplements, like wood ash, a few handfuls of compost from your compost pile, or some composted manure. Then, throughout the season, just add grass clippings or heaps of weeds. They will serve as both the mulch and the source of nutrients that will slowly seep into the ground.
You can further increase the availability of organic nutrients to your autoflower plants by inoculating the soil with beneficial microbes. There are lots of inoculants on the market today. These ones are most often used for cannabis:
Advanced NutrientsVoodoo Juice – 5 billion beneficial bacteria in every liter,
Advanced NutrientsTarantula – 10 million viable beneficial bacteria per gram,
Advanced NutrientsPiranha – a special combination of ecto and endo mycorrhizae,
Bush DoctorMicrobe Brew – concentrated fungi and bacteria + nutrients.
You Can Use Cheap Generic Nutes
Nothing is easier than going to the nearest gardening center and buying a bottle of nutrients that was designed for other crops, but can as well serve an autoflower grower.
As always, make sure that for the vegetative growth you use a fertilizer that contains more N (nitrogen) than P (phosphorus) and K (potassium). And when your cannabis starts to flower, switch to a fertilizer that shows more P and K in its N-P-K numbers. Read the instructions on the label carefully and try not to give your autoflowers more than ¼ to ½ of what’s recommended. Hungry weed is always healthier than overfed weed.
If there’s a choice between organic and synthetic nutrients, we suggest that you choose organic ones. This way it’s easier to avoid overfeeding and nutrient burn, and the smoke will be cleaner, healthier, and more flavorful.
Autoflower Outdoor Nutrients Specifically Designed for Cannabis
Today, there is a big, thriving, and rapidly growing industry that caters to weed growers. So there are many exciting and even miraculous products on the market. Let’s look at some of them.
Fox Farm Nutrients
FoxFarm produces a wide range of products for different crops. Some of them are quite effective as autoflower outdoor nutrients. It’s arguably more convenient to choose some of their dry fertilizers for an outdoor grow, including slow-release formulas. Another good option would be soluble products because they are cheaper than liquid ones.
Here are three examples:
Marine Cuisine (NPK – 10-7-7) is a slow-release organic nutrient; it’s a mix of sea plants that you’ll only have to apply once at the beginning of the season.
Open Sesame (NPK – 5-45-19) is a high-phosphorus fertilizer that will stimulate the formation of flowers at the start of the budding stage.
Beastie Bloomz (NPK – 0-50-30) contains high amounts of phosphorus and potassium which will boost the swelling of your buds.
Fox Farm’s Open Sesame & Beastie Bloomz: Both worked well. I misjudged how long my plant was gonna flower for so I didnt get to use these at the exact moments I had wanted to but everything turned out beautiful.
Earth Juice’s Bloom Original Formula & Catalyst: I added this at the end in hopes to increase potency or resin production but once again I misjudged my plants bloom cycle so it wasn’t as effective as it could have been
Green Buzz Liquids offer 100% organic fertilizers which are fine tuned to the needs of cannabis plants at the different stages of their development. You can purchase not only well-balanced formulas of macronutrients (NPK), but also a lot of amendments, boosters, and enhancers.
Organic Grow & Bloom (NPK – 4-2-6 and 2-3-4), for veg and flower phases, respectively,
Organic More PK (NPK – 4-6-10), to really boost the budding,
More Roots, to increase the root mass,
Humic Acid Plus, to stimulate nutrient uptake,
Fast Buds, for faster transition to flowering,
Big Fruits, for up to 25% bigger buds,
Living Organics, another great inoculant to make plant food more available and protect cannabis from environmental stress.
Green Buzz Liquids: they went along nice with this grow,mutated my buds into hard rock solid ones,as to expect from good nutes
CANNA make their products specifically for marijuana growers, that’s why any of them can be used as autoflower outdoor nutrients. Even those that are meant for a totally different medium and setup, like an indoor grow on coco coir.
CANNA is what the grower quoted below used (along with many Advanced Nutrients supplements). The fertilizer formula that he chose is CANNA Coco A+B. It consists of two bottles. You add both one after another and together they have the NPK of 5-4-3. Besides, they contain all necessary micronutrients.
Canna: Easy to use, does what it says on the bottle.
Advanced Nutrients: I have been impressed by the results I have seen with this brand. I may change my base nutrition to the connoisseur range on my next grows.
This company is very popular with cannabis growers and for a reason. BioBizz products are reliable and easy to use. The staple of their line are Bio-Grow (nutrients for veg), Bio-Bloom (nutrients for flower), and Top-Max (blooming stimulator). However, for their Outdoor Try-Pack BioBizz have chosen a different set:
Bio-Bloom, the perfect ratio of NPK + enzymes & amino acids,
Fish-Mix, fish emulsion + Dutch sugar beet extract to feed beneficial bacteria in the root zone,
Top-Max, a mix of of humic and fulvic acids.
In the grow cited below, the gardener used another two supplements:
Alg-A-Mic, seaweed extracts to prevent or overcome stress,
Acti-Vera, an aloe vera extract to make plants stronger and healthier.
BioBizz: Excellent product worth the extra money compared to Flora Series
When looking for autoflower outdoor nutrients, never ever forget about Advanced Nutrients. We have already mentioned their two inoculants—Tarantula and Piranha. But this company offers a very long list of exciting nutrients and supplements. Below are just a few of them:
Big Bud, a careful blend of P, K, and amino acids,
Bud Factor X, boosts the production of resin and terpenes like no other,
Bud Ignitor, for faster onset of flowering and more numerous bud sites,
Bud Candy, sugars, aminos, and vitamins for huge and sweet-tasting buds,
B-52, a source of vitamin B for stress & heat resistance and better nutrient uptake,
Flawless Finish, to flush your buds for cleaner and tastier smoke.
Advanced Nutrients: Maybe I used too much nutrients, next time I will try and find a balance… | Bud Ignitor: Incredible boosting Flawless Finish: From now on i will always use this Advanced Nutrients product. I’m in real love with this one
B.A.C.: I have nothing bad or good to say, just a good nutrient brand.
Atami: It’s a 10. Essential #1, this product has been, is and will be the best.
An outdoor cannabis grow shouldn’t be complicated or expensive. Odds are that any weedy patch will turn into a great garden and bring you enough bud to live through the winter. But if you decide to spend some money on nutrients, the result can be even better. And we have got you acquainted with a few reputable producers whose products won’t let you down.
And maybe you already have some outdoor growing experience—good or bad—with a specific line of nutrients. Please feel free to share it with your fellow-gardeners in the comments section.
Outdoor vs Greenhouse vs Indoor Weed Guide
The very fact that we compare outdoor vs greenhouse vs indoor weed is the relic of the prohibition era. Because you don’t grow your own papayas and mangos. You import them from countries where they are produced naturally and cheaply. However, odds are that some grower in your area cultivates a Mango strain or a Papaya strain. And more often than not they’re doing it under artificial lights.
50 years from now, we’ll all be smoking Thai weed, and Moroccan hash, and maybe Colombian or Jamaican genetics. In short, landraces that baby boomers used to enjoy back in the day. Of course, we’ll be smoking local weed, too — the way we often eat locally grown tomatoes. But let’s be honest: nobody in their right mind sets up their tomato gardens in warehouses, basements, and garages. Any future cannabis grow-op will be using the power of the sun.
But we have a very different legal landscape at the moment, so let’s see what this means for the quality of the weed that we smoke and grow.
Indoor vs Outdoor Nugs
The main difference between outdoor farming vs indoor farming is that we make use of sunlight in the former case and artificial light — in the latter. The sun produces light of a broader spectrum. This naturally leads to the production of a broader range of cannabinoids and terpenes in the buds and a different kind of high.
Outdoor vs Indoor Weed High
Most smokers know about THC which is the main chemical in marijuana responsible for making you high. Recently, another substance called CBD has been making headlines, thanks to its many health benefits and its huge healing potential. However, weed contains dozens of other cannabinoids and also many aromatic terpenes, and all of them have a potential to influence the high. It’s called the entourage effect. So, with its greater number of cannabinoids and terpenes, outdoor cannabis influences users in a less bland and more nuanced way.
Okay, the experience is richer, but what about the potency?
Outdoor Weed THC Content
The THC level of a particular weed strain depends mostly on the underlying genetics. And it so happens that many of the most potent modern varieties aren’t adapted to outdoor cultivation in all but a handful of climates.
If you live in California, or in a Mediterranean country like Spain and Italy, or possibly in some New England state, you can probably grow a highest-THC variety. Meaning you have a good chance of bringing it to full potential before it gets too cold and rainy. But in most other climates (like Canada or the UK), you’ll have to choose some faster-flowering outdoor varieties, and those are bred for their speed and not necessarily for their high THC percentage. And the harsher your climate, the more the cannabis genetics that you can hope to bring to full maturity will resemble hemp rather than medical marijuana. This is the reason why outdoor THC content is on average significantly lower.
To recap, natural light is good for outdoor marijuana trichomes and THC levels, but often there’s simply not enough sun when it matters most, that is in the final weeks before the harvest.
So what should you do if you’re not blessed with a warm and sunny climate? Well, one option will be using a greenhouse (more of it below), another — to choose outdoor autoflower marijuana seeds. With autos, you don’t need a full-term growing cycle ending in October or November. They can finish in 2-3 months from sprouts and during the period when the sun is at the peak of its activity and thus conducive to the maximum THC percentage a strain is capable of.
Other Aspects of Bud Quality in Outdoor vs Indoor Plants
We have said it once and we shall repeat it just one more time and be done with it. Under subpar conditions in colder climates, it will be difficult to grow high-potency stuff consistently, if at all.
So let’s compare only those cases where it’s totally possible to grow the same strain both indoors and out. What can one expect?
Indoors, artificial lights together with the complete control of temperature & humidity and other environmental variables like CO2 levels allow for more consistent results because… well you are in control of everything. Outdoors, very little depends on you and anything can happen. So, you risk not only some variance in bud quality, but also losing your crop altogether. Possible culprits — hail, heavy rain, strong winds, cold spells, early frosts, and heawaves/draughts.
But suppose nothing bad has happened. How will outdoor and indoor nugs compare then? There are still other risks in an outdoor grow operation.
Wat Can be Wrong with Outdoor Buds
Pests. In an indoor grow-op, a pest attack can be devastating. However, a sealed-off environment with lab-grade hygiene routines can prevent an infestation in the first place. Outdoors, the plants are usually too big to actually die because of pests or even suffer too much damage. Nevertheless, some growers don’t put up even with a slightest infestation. So, if you buy outdoor-grown buds, there’s a possibility that there are trace amounts of pesticides in them, as well as eggs, larvae, and grown-up insects. Microscopes sometimes reveal very nasty stuff.
Mold/Spores. This is another thing that you don’t want to see when you admire trichomes under a microscope. Of course, mold, bud rot, and fungi can affect crops in any setup. But outdoors there are humid days, and rains, and cold nights, and all this exacerbates the problem.
Dust/Dirt/Fine Sand. It’s definitely not as bad, but still something to avoid. And indoor buds are cleaner in this respect, too.
In short, if you grow outdoor weed yourself, be aware of these issues and try to prevent them. And if you buy buds from someone else, you better trust their integrity, especially if the farm is an outdoor one.
Size and Texture of Buds
Grow lights, especially weaker ones, have a notoriously limited effective range. Here’s the inverse-square law in action: if you double the distance from light, its intensity reduces 4 times! This means that buds in the upper portion of an indoor plant can be huge and solid. At the same time, the lowers that are just a dozen inches down the branch are smaller and spongier, less mature and with fewer trichomes. It’s a good practice to trim away those popcorn buds in the earlier stages of flowering (a technique called lollipopping).
In contrast, you can say that the distance from the sun to upper buds and lower buds is exactly the same. (What’s a couple of feet compared to 93 million miles?) So, outdoor nuggets have a potential to be of the same quality throughout the whole height of the plant. And the intensity of the sunlight makes them really dense and heavy.
Outdoor vs Indoor Yield
Indoor growers usually estimate their yields in grams per square meter. This is the figure that you see when you look at the features of a particular strain in a seed shop. Let’s say they promise 500-550 g/m².
These numbers are what you can hope to achieve under most favorable conditions and using powerful enough lights. Most of the time, this means a 600W HPS per each square meter. However, there’s no universal convention here. So, when you see numbers like 800 g/m², it probably means that you have to use a 1000W HPS per square meter to achieve such results.
When comparing their achievements, growers often use another metrics — gram per watt. With an old-fashioned HPS, 1.0 g/W is probably the highest that you can get. And only you work hard enough and know what you’re doing. Modern LED quantum boards can be much more energy efficient and let you overshoot the 1 g/W mark easily. Nevertheless, there’s only so much watts that you can cram into your grow room without burning your plant tops or making them foxtail. So take the grams-per-square-meter numbers seriously: it’s probably the very best you can hope for.
What are the Yileds Outdoors?
As for outdoor weed plants, their yields are expressed as grams per plant. For some smaller, Indica-dominant varieties, the indoor and outdoor figures are very close, say 550-600 g/m² and 700 g/plant. For other genetics, the difference is huge, and some strains are supposed to bring in as much as 10 pounds from each of the tree-like monsters.
You’ve probably seen photos of those massive outdoor marijuana plants: they are started inside at the end of winter, undergo several toppings, acquire a lot of girth, and become so tall that you need a stepladder to reach their uppermost tops. Big plants like these require chicken-wire cages for support, but let you harvest much more than their indoor counterparts. Though they can easily cover 3 m² of surface area each, their per-square-meter production would still be greater than indoors.
Outdoor vs Indoor Growing: Drawbacks and Benefits of Each
Now let’s quickly recap the advantages and disadvantages of both methods of cultivation and also include those that we haven’t mentioned yet (because they are too obvious):
Greenhouse: The Best of Both Worlds
A greenhouse is a perfect option for when you want to combine the free energy of the sun with the ability to control other variables of the growing environment.
It can be as simple as having a transparent roof and walls around your garden because this alone can extend your growing season by a full month in spring and as much in fall. It can also level out too wide swings in temperature and humidity and protect your plants from rain, hail, and wind. It’s basically outdoor growing on steroids.
Or you can use a greenhouse the other way around: create an enclosed and sealed-off space, like a full-fledged indoor grow with all its bells and whistles, but with the sun serving as the source of light (either sole, or primary).
In this case, people usually use the light deprivation technique. It means that you never wait for the fall with its equal duration of days and nights, but use an opaque tarp to cover your greenhouse in the evening and thus create 12 hours of uninterrupted and complete darkness. This way, you can make your weed plants flower at any time of year.
With a light dep greenhouse (which are often fully automated), you can have multiple harvests per year, or even a year-round growing operation, or simply choose the sunniest part of summer to have the flowering period for your buds to make them as huge and meaty as possible.
Cost of Greenhose Weed Compared to Indoor or Outdoor Buds
As for the question of costs, greenhouses fall somewhere in between outdoor and indoor farming, and, the more complicated the setup, the more expensive your buds will be. It’s very hard to find any research with reliable figures, but here are some rough estimates*:
indoor production – $300 per pound
greenhouse production – $150 per pound
outdoor farms – $30 per pound
As you have probably guessed, we personally prefer the production of marijuana in greenhouses. Simply because it seems to be the most responsible way to use Nature’s resources while having enough control over the quality of the final product. But everybody’s circumstances are different, and we hope that now you have enough information to make an informed choice. Please tell us what you think in the comments!
Outdoor Marijuana Temperature Range: Ideal, Okay, Extreme
If your climate is too cold (like mine), or too hot, and you think that the only option for you is indoor cultivation, think again. The acceptable outdoor marijuana temperature range is quite wide, and marijuana plants, at least mature ones, can be surprisingly hardy. As a result, they can take a lot of bad weather and still reward you with enough high-quality buds.
Ideal Outdoor Marijuana Temperature
Well, ideal outdoor marijuana temperature is actually the same for any type of grow. It’s because indoors we simply try to recreate artificially the natural environment that cannabis plants have best adapted to. The only difference is that, in an indoor setup, we have more control in maintaining the perfect conditions. And they are:
77-86°F (25-30°C) during the day, or when the lights are on.
At least these are the figures that are the most conducive to photosynthesis and gas/water exchange processes, according to research1. And, in case you’re wondering, the ideal level of light intensity (PPFD) would be ~1500 μmol/m2/s.
All this may guarantee the fastest rate of growth for cannabis plants. However, our goal is a bit different — we grow for the highest possible production of THC and other cannabinoids, as well as terpenes that make the smoke so aromatic and flavorful. So, with that in mind, growers have gradually come up with the following empirical figures:
Seedling and vegetative stage. Young weed plants prefer a little milder conditions than the flowering ones, with day temperature between 70 and 85°F (20-30°C).
Flowering stage. When plants start to form buds and then all the way to harvest, the temps should be a little lower — 65 to 80°F (18-26°C). The reason is that higher temperatures burn terpenes and cannabinoids making the buds less aromatic and potent.
During any stage of growth, the night temperatures should be 10°F (8°C) lower than during the day. This gives marijuana plants a chance to shift to a lower gear and have a rest. However, too radical a change between day and night temperatures can lead to even more stress, and should be avoided.
That Was Ideal, But What is Acceptable?
Outdoors, we work with what we have. Even in climates that give us the luxury of the perfect outdoor marijuana temperature range there are spells of too cold and too hot weather. So the question is: what is okay for outdoor weed and what is not?
Just like a dashing bachelor in a Jane Austin novel who chooses himself a wife, anything from 15 to 30 would do just fine. (Sorry for this potentially offensive remark, but in my experience they are the most memorable.) These figures are in Celsius btw, and in Fahrenheit it’s 59° to 86°.
At higher temps, no irreparable damage is done, although the photosynthesis slows down. And so does the THC production, while terpenes evaporate from buds at a faster rate, robbing them of flavor. The texture of buds deteriorates as well, and they become less compact and more airy.
So if you live in a really hot climate, like Arizona or Nevada, try to mitigate the effects of heat stress. Make sure that trees, walls or other structures provide some shade for your marijuana during the hottest hours in the afternoon. Or stretch some shade cloth over your garden (60% transparency should be just fine). Anyway, if higher temps may hurt weed plants, they can’t kill them. Drought can though.
The effects of cold temps are much worse. When the daytime temperatures drop below 15°C (59°F), all processes slow down to a crawl or are put on pause. And at 13°C (55°F), more delicate strains may experience a shock. It means that once the temps are back within the acceptable range, the plants will need some time to recover before they resume bud production.
The Effects of Frost and Snow
Below freezing air temperatures don’t kill marijuana overnight, but they can do a lot of damage to leaves, flowers, and even branches. They wilt and get brown and mushy in places, so if there’s a chance of snow or even a couple of frosty nights in a row, it’s best to harvest your buds before that.
I myself once harvested a couple of bushes after a heavy snowfall. They started to flower extremely late, so I had to push the limits with them. When I was cutting the branches, I had to shake them very hard to free them from snow. Only a minor percentage of buds were spoilt beyond being usable, but the rest turned out okay. I don’t recommend this to anyone, though. It’s safer to use a faster-flowering variety or an auto.
How to Protect Cannabis from Cold
1. Choose Genetics Wisely
Start with choosing a strain that is fast enough to finish flowering before the end of the growing season. The only sure thing are autoflowers because in practically any climate there are a couple of warm months in the middle of summer, and it’s all an auto needs. Besides being very quick to finish, autoflowers are more resilient to cold weather: they have Cannabis ruderalis genetics in them, and ruderalis is a subspecies that originated in places like Siberia and is very tolerant of cold.
If you prefer to grow a photoperiod variety, look for strains with words ‘fast’, ‘early’ or ‘quick’ in their names. They are the result of crossing a true photoperiod strain with an autoflowering one. These plants still wait for the days to become short enough before they start flowering, but this happens much earlier.
Important! When shopping for an outdoor photoperiod strain, take with a grain of salt the harvest times that a breeder promises. If, for example, they say late September, they probably mean places like Spain or Southern France, not Scotland or Denmark. The farther up north, the longer the summer days, and the later the flowering begins (and finishes). That’s a ‘perk’ of living at higher latitudes.
2. Find a Good Spot
The second most important thing is finding a spot that receives as much sunlight as possible and is sheltered from wind. It also helps to plant your cannabis near a wall (preferably a stone wall) that shelters it on the north side and is warmed by the sun. And by all means avoid planting your cannabis in a low spot. The thing is that cold air tends to ‘roll down’ from higher places into depressions in the ground, and then stays there. A south-facing slope makes for an ideal spot for your outdoor garden.
3. Using Pots Increases Mobility
Another trick that’ll help you make the best of your cold climate is growing your outdoor marijuana in pots rather than in the ground. In this case, you can move the pots around, always choosing the sunniest and warmest spot and even take the plants inside if their very survival is under threat.
4. Start Seedlings Indoors
Keep in mind that, while mature plants don’t mind some cold weather, young seedlings do. They may be shocked or killed if the temps are outside the acceptable range. So make sure that summer weather has come for good—no ground frosts in the early morning and at least 15°C (59°F) during the day—before taking the seedlings outside. Also, it’s recommended not to sow cannabis seeds directly into the ground. It’s best to grow them for 2 weeks inside, then harden them a bit by taking outside for a couple of hours every day, and finally place them permanently outdoors.
Outdoor Marijuana Temperature: Focus on the Root Zone
One thing that is overlooked by most growers is that the temperature of the air plays a far less important role than that of the medium. The air may be as cold as 5°C (41°F), but marijuana plants will thrive if the temp in the root zone is at a comfortable level2. It’s like when you are neck-deep in a hot spring, you don’t mind that your head is exposed to a chilling breeze, right?
Remember all those numbers we’ve given above? They all apply to the root zone.
This really gives you a lot of freedom. The most obvious choice is to use a really thick layer of mulch to insulate the ground from the air. It works both ways, by the way: by keeping the ground cooler in hot climates, or keeping it warmer in cold ones.
Or you can go high-tech. A pump, a water tank with a heater/cooler and some clever piping laid in the ground or through the containers/grow bags will allow you to circulate water with a set temperature to warm up or cool down the medium. (And mind you we’re not talking about watering here, right? Watering is a different story. This is only about heat exchange.)
Also google ‘geothermal greenhouse’. This is basically an underground (or partially underground) greenhouse with a glass roof that is generally made sloping and facing south. A geothermal greenhouse makes use of the fact that deep below the ground surface the temperature remains stable throughout the year. It’s much cooler in summer, and much warmer in winter compared to above ground. For such a greenhouse to really work its magic the depth must be 10-12’ (~ 3 meters).
Outdoor Winter Grow
Wanna try and grow marijuana in winter? First check if your climate supports this idea. Again, the temperature, especially in the root zone, should be above 15°C (59°F) most of the time. Short periods of colder weather are unwelcome, but acceptable. Opt for cold-resistant strains, like Indica autoflowers. Also, use all the tips and tricks of protecting your plants from cold that we’ve shared above. And again don’t forget about the importance of the root zone).
Also keep in mind one more thing about marijuana winter grows: the days in winter are short, and the nights long. This will make any photoperiod variety start flowering after just a few weeks from sprouts. It’s not unlike the ‘12/12 from seed’ method. This usually results in much smaller plants, so if you want them bigger, think about auxiliary lighting to make the days longer.
Conversely, if your winter cannabis doesn’t finish before spring, or more specifically before the spring equinox (March 20), days will gradually become long enough to disrupt the flowering. So make sure you plan your winter grow accordingly.
Outdoor Marijuana Temperature Range is Quite Inclusive
Outdoor horticulture of medical marijuana is feasible even in colder climates. Just learn to make the best of the most adverse conditions and choose a strain that is quick to finish and is tolerant of low temperature. And now, after the arrival of autoflowers, almost anybody can grow top-shelf buds outdoors.
Is guerilla growing a sound idea? Suppose one day your friend appeared on your doorstep in hiking gear and with a spade on his shoulder and told you that he was going to make himself a vegetable garden somewhere on the public land and, by fall, grow the best vegetables anyone has ever seen. You’d probably tell him that he was wasting his time and that the result would be pure crap.
In contrast, guerilla growing weed may seem like a smart business move (there’s even a book called ‘Guerilla Growing Trade Secrets’), but only because marijuana is illegal. In fact, a clandestine operation like this requires much work and involves even more risk — the risk of losing your crop in perhaps dozens of different scenarios.
As an amateur grower, I have three seasons worth of guerilla growing under my belt. The first one was meticulously planned and expertly executed. It was very uphill work, but the results were amazing. The second time around, I was sure to do even better, but with much less effort. It was a total disaster. The third time was a last minute decision—I had some extra seeds and a good spot to plant them—and the results were surprisingly good, mostly because of the favorable weather. It all comes down to luck really.
So, if you are set on guerilla growing weed, at least don’t plan anything large-scale and don’t depend on the results financially, or else you may be severely disappointed.
Choosing the Right Spot for Your Guerilla Growing
They say that you need three things for a successful retail business: location, location, and location. The same is true of best guerilla grow spots: they are what sets apart success from failure. So, long before the planned grow, go location scouting and be very serious about it. The best time to do it is in fall.
Let’s list all the requirements a good guerilla grow spot should meet:
Deserted. The place should be as far from usual haunts of people as possible, be it hikers, hunters, birdwatchers, or whatever. If you find what you think is a great spot and inspect it more closely and then realize that someone is rubbernecking you from afar, don’t say to yourself: “Well, it’s perfect, except for this one guy doing God knows what in the middle of nowhere. But when I come back in spring with the tools and the plants, he won’t be here to get on my nerve. So it’s all good”. No, it’s not, and you’ll either have to come work here at night, or you’ll be bumping into someone every time. A good spot should have that desolate feel when it doesn’t even occur to you to look over your shoulder.
Dense shrub. It’s best to surround your secret garden with some thick and tall vegetation. Or, at least, plant your cannabis on the edge of it so that other plants can serve as a backdrop and make your patch less conspicuous. Nettles are your best bet because they are tall enough to hide weed plants, and people usually stay away from nettles. Any kind of brambles will do just fine, too.
Fertile soil. Odds are that you won’t be able to bring enough store-bought soil mix to make a difference, so you’ll depend on the quality of the local soil. In forests (even in a clearing), the topsoil is usually very thin and poor. On wastelands, a good indicator is the height of grass. If it’s just knee-deep or lower, the soil’s not very good, and your marijuana will grow small and sickly. If the weeds are tall, the soil here can probably support quite big and high-yielding bushes.
Nearby stream/lake. If your climate is dry, you’ll have to water your plants regularly. Hauling enough water from the city is not an option. The only thing that’s feasible is having a natural source of water and a bucket stashed near your patch. Or you can make your garden near the edge of a stream or lake where the roots can reach groundwater. Spots like this also often have good soil and are overgrown with impenetrable vegetation to hide your plants in.
Sunlight. Cannabis needs plenty of sun, especially in flower. So, make sure your chosen spot is exposed to sunlight, meaning that nothing is blocking it from the south. From the north, it may well be sheltered by trees or a hill. The ideal scenario is to plant your seedlings in the bottom portion of a south-facing slope, with a stream of water running at the foot of it.
Guerilla Growing in the City
If it’s not some form of political activism and your goal is to grow marijuana for yields, doing it within city limits is very tricky. But is it possible? Yes, it is.
I personally know people living in a populated residential area of a major city who managed to find a vacant lot for a small hidden garden of a few plants. The drawback is that you’ll probably have to visit your plants only at night. In my first (and very successful) guerilla grow, I did all my work at night. It’s inconvenient and risky, but it can be done.
A much more serious disadvantage of growing weed in the city guerilla-style are street lights which will disrupt the flowering of any photoperiod variety. Of course, autoflowers don’t have this problem.
Guerilla Growing in Trees
This issue is related to the question of what works best for an outdoor marijuana grow: pots or ground. Obviously, if you have this brilliant idea of hiding your weed plants almost in plain sight in the canopy of a tree, they will have to be in some sort of containers. I strongly advise you against planting marijuana in pots in any guerilla-style operation. Pots require a much more frequent irrigation which can be very time-consuming even in a normal garden. Imagine yourself climbing a tree with a watering can every morning before work!
This can make for a very entertaining story, but I’d prefer to entertain my friends with a well-packed bowl instead. And growing in trees is not the most direct path to this goal.
Guerrilla Growing in Swamps
In my scouting trips, I have often come across a very attractive and promising spot that is very low and swampy and overgrown with rushes that are tall enough to hide my plants. I had this idea to use big plastic containers that would stand in shallow water the way they sometimes stay in trays (indoors) and are watered and fed through the drainage holes in the bottom. I’ve always managed to find a better spot in the end, so I don’t know if this idea would work, but I think that for a medium-sized plant in a very big pot it can be done.
Let’s Get Our Hands Dirty!
Okay, you’ve found the ideal spot for your guerilla grow. It’s where no one will see your comings and goings, or find your hidden patch, and where your plants will be provided with good soil, enough water, and plenty of sunshine. What to do next?
Brace yourself for several trips, even before the day (or night) when you’ll plant your seedlings.
Preparation of Guerilla Growing Garden
Get right in the center of a thicket and start digging. Your goal is to remove all weeds along with their roots. Make the shape of the patch irregular. A square/circle/triangle etc. would be conspicuous from a helicopter. You’ll need at least a 3ft (1m) distance from plant to plant and to the edge of the scrub. You’ll probably want to top the closest surrounding bushes so that they don’t block sunlight. Don’t try to take all this plant material anywhere else. Leave it right there on the ground as mulch and a source of organics. You may manage to do the digging and the planting in one go. Or not. It all depends on the number of plants.
Even larger autoflowers may need some kind of support to prevent their side branches from breaking under the weight of buds. And it’s an absolute must for photoperiod varieties, especially in case of an extended vegetative period. As a bare minimum, you’ll need to connect individual branches with pieces of string, so that they lend support to each other, or to tie up each of them to the main stalk. But it’s not really effective and wouldn’t prevent the whole plant from toppling over (for example, during a thunderstorm).
Better find or make some long and sturdy stakes and drive them into the ground during the initial preparation of your patch. Then you can plant your seedlings each near its stake and later tie up the main stalk to it.
Of course, you can also build chicken-wire cages around your plants, but this may prove too difficult to do far into the wilderness.
It’s always best to start your seedlings inside and then take them to the great outdoors at the age of 2-3 weeks from seeds at least. Slide them (together with their containers) inside tubes made of cardboard or plastic bottles for safe and discreet transportation. Don’t forget to take some bottles of water with you because it’s best to water your seedlings right after the transplant.
Make sure that the weather is warm enough and there are no ground frosts in the morning anymore. In the UK, for example, it could be the end of May or early June. We recommend planting in the evening if the weather is hot and sunny, and in the morning if the nights are cold and the days overcast. This way, the plants will get more time to adapt to harsh conditions.
Useful tip: Never leave your freshly planted seedlings on the weeded bare ground. This attracts birds who are very curious to check out these new bright green spots. You can lose every single seedling this way. Been there. So pluck a lot of weeds and cover your whole patch with them for the seedlings not to stick out.
Weeding Your Guerilla Growing Spot
I prefer to weed my patch every other week, or once a month. In the beginning, this will prevent other plants from successfully competing with cannabis, and later it will combat stale air and mold near the ground. Leave the grass where you’ve plucked it because it will serve as mulch and organic fertilizer.
In guerilla setups, no special growing techniques are necessary. Except maybe topping — to give your plants less height and more girth.
However, it’s always advisable to cut one or two pairs of branches at the very bottom of the plant because they seldom amount to anything, can droop and actually touch the dirt with their buds. If the canopy is too dense, it’s probably a good idea to also remove some secondary side branches in the deep shadow inside the bush. Do all this pruning when the flowering begins.
And when the buds start to fatten, you can remove larger and older fan leaves, especially those that block the sun and hinder air movement.
If your climate is dry and the plants have only you to rely on for their irrigation, it can be very uphill work. So guerilla farming is much more practical in an area with regular rains. However, even in this case, there may be dry spells when cannabis will be severely stunted or killed if you don’t help it with an emergency watering at least once or twice.
Watering is a good occasion to mix in some liquid nutrients: with a lot of nitrogen (N) in veg, and with raised levels of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in flower. Another way to feed your guerilla garden is to mix some slow release fertilizer into the soil or simply scatter some granules on the surface. During rains, these ferts will slowly dissolve and seep into the earth.
Even if you choose feminized seeds (we recommend that you do), some stray male is possible. And male flowers sometimes appear in female buds because of stress. So, whenever you visit your flowering plants, perform a quick check. It wouldn’t hurt.
Photoperiod marijuana strains are ready for harvest sometime in late September or early October, at least in higher latitude countries like the UK. Farther south, some faster flowering genetics can be harvested even earlier.
UK outdoor growers know that you don’t chop your plants based solely on the calendar. Sometimes, you’ll have to harvest your buds before their peak maturity simply because there’s a cold spell coming, or a long period of rains with no chance of sunshine later. This is another thing that makes guerilla growing so unreliable. So watch forecasts closely and if you expect the cold and humid weather till the end of the growing season, harvest your buds before that and not during or after. Bud rot and mold are more than real and no fun at all.
Please remember that harvest time is probably the only moment when a guerilla grower can get in trouble with the law. The rest of the activities associated with tending your secret garden never lead to repercussions*. So be extra careful during the harvest.
For safety reasons, never transport your buds home after dark, even if you’ve harvested them after dark. A lonely vehicle in the middle of the night causes suspicions. Better be on the road during morning rush hours when there’s less chance of a traffic stop. I once did just that: spent a night outdoors, cutting and trimming buds, put them into a big garbage bag, and hid it in a roadside ditch. Then I went home for a nap, a shower, and a breakfast, and then returned for a quick pick up. It’s much safer this way.
Okay, it was an unexpectedly long list of jobs. You may skip all of them except two: the planting and the harvesting, but then don’t be surprised by very mediocre or non-existing rewards. And if you decide to visit your plants frequently, take some precautions:
always have some innocent and plausible explanation of what you’re doing there,
dress like a hiker, not like a rastafarian,
never leave a beaten path to your patch, come and go in circles, smooth over your traces,
don’t leave your vehicle in plain sight, or at least don’t park it in the same spot many times over,
in case you’re caught tending your plants, they’re not yours, you’ve just followed a smell and found them.
Even More Risks (Sorry to be a Buzzkill)
There’s good news ahead, but for now I feel obliged to warn you of more dangers. Like there’s a number of animals that might think you planted cannabis for them to feast upon.
Rabbits. Can be dangerous for young weed plants. Build cages from chicken wire or some metal mesh and don’t forget that rabbits like to burrow.
Deer. Can hurt even bigger plants, including those in flower. Hide your garden in thick shrubs and surround it with a fishing line to discourage the deer from going inside.
You can also scare away intruders by using predator urine or even feces (they are sometimes sold in garden centers).
In contrast, bugs are never such a big problem in guerilla gardens. They are dangerous in the earlier stages, but when the plants get big, no pest will do them any irreparable damage. So, if you’re not raising your plants for a beauty contest, just ignore an eaten leaf or two, or even a dozen.
And Finally the Good News (Called Autoflowers)
The existence of autos allows us to end our guerilla grow guide on a more optimistic note. Autos are really a blessing.
First of all, they are of a discrete height and can be concealed even behind some low vegetation. Second, the longer your weed grows unsupervised, the bigger the risks of losing it, and autoflowers are very fast. Third, you can eliminate every danger associated with bad weather in fall. Simply time your planting in such a way that your autos are mature by the end of summer.
Moreover, you can have two or more consecutive grows in one season (depends on your climate), or plant your autoflowers in small batches and have a continuous harvest for a couple of months. Guerilla growing autoflower plants can be less like a lottery and more like a solid business plan.
We hope you enjoyed the reading. Maybe you have some tips and interesting stories for other wannabe guerilla growers? Please share them in the comments!
Cannabis Seedling Care: Tips and Optimal Conditions
If you want great results come harvest time, start to build your success early — with the proper cannabis seedling care. This includes creating ideal conditions for your seeds when they still germinate and following our tips for the best practices during the seedling stage. It will save you time growing your sprouts and ensure that they move to the next stage (the vegetative one) full of vigour and in the best possible shape.
Medical marijuana is mostly grown indoors. And even if you keep your adult plants outside, you’d want to start them inside. The reason is that the seedling stage is the most delicate and vulnerable in the cannabis plant’s life. So most of what follows deals with indoor growing: a grow tent, a growbox, a special marijuana seedling starter kit, or even a window sill. And if you are willing to risk starting your sprouts outdoors, scroll to the bottom part of this article.
Cannabis seedling care is a very easy thing. Young plants don’t require much light, water and nutrients, and there’s very little that you can do in the way of plant care. Instead, focus on creating the best possible conditions and then simply sit on your hands.
Marijuana Seedling Temp and Humidity
Temperature and humidity are of utmost importance. Moisture is what sets off marijuana germination, and the correct/ideal temperature range allows sprouts to grow vigorously from day 1. For marijuana in general, 70-90° F (20-30° C) temps during the day (when lights are on) is acceptable. But it’s better to aim at 73-82° F (23-28° C). Seedlings prefer the upper part of this range. Let’s say 80-82° F (26-28° C). The night temps should be about 5° lower.
5° lower than day temperature
The correct humidity range for cannabis is the same as is recommended for human dwellings: 40-60%. It’s very convenient for those who grow at home. Seedlings prefer a bit more humid conditions than vegging or flowering plants. So aim at 60 to 70 percent, and you’ll be alright. If the air in your grow room is drier than recommended, you can use a humidity dome to cover your sprouts. Better still, buy a starter kit for seedlings which comes not only with a dome, but also with a heat mat. This allows for easier temperature control as well.
Weed plants need light throughout their life cycle, but during the seedling stage not really so much. And if you wonder how much light is ideal, we recommend to err on the side of caution.
It’s hardly the best option to keep your cannabis seedlings under HPS grow lights. Use weaker lights, instead, like CFLs, T5s, or LED lights. This will not only allow you to save on electricity, but spare your sprouts from shock. And if you insist on using HPS or other high intensity discharge (HID) lamps, raise them high, probably as high as your grow room allows.
Still, under light of this type, seedlings can show signs of stress, slow down their growth, and demonstrate various worrying symptoms. In this case, though it may seem counterintuitive to you, you’ll see better results if you temporarily keep your weed in the window — until it’s mature enough to handle strong light.
Some growers do it even before their sprouts emerge from the medium. Others wait first for the germination to complete. So, when the seeds break the surface, put them under light. Before that, it’s completely optional.
Distance from Light
If you follow our recommendations and use weaker types of light, like CFL, there’s a question of CFL light distance. The optimal light height is at least 4 inches (10 cm) for the first couple of days, even for such weak bulbs as 20W or so. Let the seedlings stretch toward light instead of being pounded by it. If you see that your seedling stays short and its leaves won’t grow or worse—turn yellow and dry—the light is too close.
The same goes for young plants that grow under T5 or under LED lights — keep a comfortable distance. Nobody likes stretchy plants and especially stretchy seedlings, but 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) in the first few days is healthy and desirable. Unless the stem bends over, it’s okay. So start far away and move the light closer, if your plants start to stretch too much. If you use LED and can measure PPFD, start with a conservative level of 200, although you can get away with 300-400, too.
Is Ventilation Important for Cannabis Seedling Care?
Very small plants obviously need very small amounts of light and water for photosynthesis, and, correspondingly, very little CO2. And one of the main reasons to use ventilation in your grow room is to provide plants with the fresh supply of CO2. The bottom line is you don’t really need any extractor fan for seedlings. But the other reason to use ventilation is to control temperature. If you need fans for that, by all means use them.
There is another type of fan that growers use in their grow tents — the one that blows air in the vicinity of plants and helps to mix air inside the grow space, to prevent mold issues, and to cause the plants to sway a little and thus make stems and branches stronger. You can use a fan on seedlings for this purpose, but be sure that it doesn’t blow directly on them. Otherwise, you might experience the cannabis seedling wind burn.
Marijuana Seedling Light Schedule
Even novice growers understand that cannabis needs light to transform its energy into plant matter. And the more light hours a seedling gets, the more energy it has a chance to absorb. So the question is: do marijuana seedlings need 24 hours of light?
They can certainly take it, no problem, but they hardly really need so many light hours. Many experienced growers argue that nighttime is important for plants because it gives them some rest which protects them from overstress. Besides, there is this theory that the root system grows more actively during dark and cool hours, so think about it when you decide not to turn off lights in the evening, or decide to give your plants a good watering before the lights-off. Either action won’t do your plants any good (probably).
So we suggest that you experiment with more conservative light schedules: 18/6 or 20/4. However, in our personal experience, the 24 hour light schedule works fine, too. Just don’t forget to change it to 18 hours of day and 6 hours of night when the seedling turns into a young plant, i.e. it enters the vegetative stage and starts to grow very rapidly.
Weed Seedlings Can be Grown in Various Mediums
The choice of the medium really depends on where you plan to keep your plants after the seedling stage is over and you are ready to transplant. It’s very convenient to put sprouts into rockwool for a DWC grow. When you grow in coco, it’s best to start in coco.
If your grow medium of choice is potting soil, use small pots or party cups filled with soil. As far as pot size is concerned, 8-10 fl oz (250-500 ml) containers should be enough for the first 2 weeks. Alternatively. you can grow seedlings in jiffy pellets or jiffy cups. Some growers look down upon them, but they are definitely convenient when you need to transplant without stress. Especially if you start your seedlings indoors but plan to move them outside.
Marijuana Seedling Transfer
You should never forget that repotting marijuana seedling is a risky and potentially stressful procedure that can slow down or even stop growth, and this is especially dangerous for autoflowers. If you don’t want to see your cannabis seedling drooping or wilting after transplant, you should do it as quickly as possible and give the root zone the least disturbance.
Don’t Fuss Too Much over Cannabis Seedling Care!
There’s only so much that you can do when your medical marijuana is still small. Apart from watering and maybe occasional feeding, sprouts hardly need any love and care. So let’s look at what you actually can do.
Watering (Obligatory, Duh)
This is the single most important thing of cannabis seedling care.
How much water do your seedlings need and when is best to give it to them? Well, if you keep your young plants in party cups or very small containers, it’s pretty straightforward: when the surface of the soil is dry and the cup or container feels light, it’s time to water. For a 8 fl oz cup (250 ml), 2 fl oz (50 ml) of water should be enough. For bigger pots, adjust the water amount accordingly.
It’s not recommended to put your seeds or sprouts into final size containers (where the plants will spend all their life, till harvest). This makes it very difficult to come up with the right watering schedule and calculate the ideal amount of water.
Watering Autoflower Seedlings
Autoflowers don’t like being transplanted, and it’s best to grow autos in the same container from seed to harvest. So, if you put your seedling in a big pot, you’ll probably need to water the whole container lightly once and then pour only very small amounts and only near the seedling, gradually widening this area and increasing the water amount. It’s difficult for a newbie and is best reserved for growers with some experience.
The Best Time of Day for Watering
Always try to water your plants in the morning, that is at the very start of the period when water is needed the most: for photosynthesis and perspiration. During the night, photosynthesis is nonexistent, and perspiration slows down. Besides, roots which supposedly grow most actively during the dark hours don’t need water for this, and an excess will suffocate them.
Feeding (Optional in Many Cases)
Grow your weed seedlings in soil and you’ll probably never need to feed them until they enter the vegging stage sometime after two weeks. It’s because a soil mix that you can buy in a store is pre-loaded with plant food. You can still try and boost the growth by giving your seedlings a very light dose of nutrients. Start with about a quarter of what a fertilizer manufacturer recommends. And even in this case, make your first feeding when the plant is at least 2 weeks old (1 week for risk takers and rule breakers).
Of course, in hydro or coco, there are no nutrients in the medium whatsoever. So, you’ll have to add some to your solution from the very beginning. We recommend 100 PPM for a start, with up to 400 PPM as you progress. It’s better to underfeed and increase the dosage as needed than overfeed and flush. Cannabis seedling and flushing are two things that don’t go well together
Marijuana seedlings need the same pH level as mature plants. pH is a constant throughout the plant’s life cycle. It’s 6.0-6.5 in soil and 5.5-6.0 in hydroponics.
Growing a Marijuana Seedling Outdoors
Believe it or not, cannabis does grow outdoors in the wild, but you’ve probably paid a pretty penny for seeds and aren’t eager to expose your precious seedlings to elements too early. We can only commend you for that. It’s best to start inside and put marijuana seedlings outside when they’re healthy, robust, and growing rapidly, and not younger than two weeks from sprout. At this stage, they can take pretty much any weather and not only survive, but continue to get bigger and stronger. If they are just a couple of days old, a heavy rain, let alone hail, can kill them.
However, we admit that some growers simply can’t start their seedlings inside. So when is it more or less safe to start your outdoor grow? Look at the weather forecast and choose a period when there can be no early morning frosts anymore, and the outside temperature during the day is at least 60° F (15° C). Mind you that at this temperature your seedlings will be in the survival mode. Look above for the correct and ideal temperature range.
As for sunlight—which can also be deadly for very young plants—you can provide some shade for them in the afternoon to protect them from full sun. The same principle applies when you start indoors and want to make your young plants get accustomed to the sun. We used to believe that marijuana seedlings shouldn’t be in direct sunlight for a whole day, but some experiments have shown that in spring this rule can be ignored. In summer, it’s best to expose your seedlings to direct sunlight only for a couple of hours in the morning and the evening when the air is cool enough, but never around noon.
Cannabis Seedling Care: Take Things Easy!
First-time growers tend to get nervous at the slightest sign of trouble, real or imaginary, especially during the germination and the seedling stage. But there’s no need to panic. Keep it simple, and you and your plant will be just fine!