Top Outdoor Cannabis Growing Tips

October 5, 2021

Need some tips for growing cannabis outdoors? The GreenSeal team has you covered!

In Canada, the Victoria Day long weekend (aka “May Two-Four”) traditionally kicks off the season for camping, cottaging, fishing, and other forms of outdoor fun.

It also signifies the beginning of the outdoor cannabis growing season.

Although it’s not a 100% guarantee, in many places in Canada the risk of overnight frost is minimal once the end of May arrives (for those who live further north, it’s a good idea to wait until after June 1st).

All Canadian households (note the distinction households, not individuals) have been given an allowance of 4 plants they can legally grow themselves, and many have taken advantage of this opportunity to “grow their own” for the very first time.

Whether you’re growing for the first time or not, the knowledgeable members of the GreenSeal production team have some invaluable tips to help outdoor cannabis growers maximize the potential of their four plants.

Even if you’re a seasoned veteran of outdoor cannabis cultivation, we bet you’ll be able to apply a few of these golden nuggets to further hone your skill and craft.

Our team is super-excited to share their extensive knowledge with Canadian home-growers “For the Greener Good!”

Let the growing begin: Starting your plants

Start seeds as early as possible. It’s best to start seed indoors in January or February at the latest. If growing from clones, get them going indoors no later then April.

Ideally, you want to put out a plant ranging from 16 to 24 inches by June 1st, allowing the plant another 8 weeks of vertical growth before flowering. 

Choose your strains wisely. We Canadians enjoy a beautiful summer, but once September and October arrive it’s usually wet and cold.

That means the growing season is often cut a little shorter compared to other growing hotspots like California.

If possible, you should find yourself a strain that has minimal mould and disease problems (since these problems flourish under wet, cold conditions).

You should also try to source a strain specified as “Outdoor” by the supplier, with instructions to harvest in “Late September” or “Early October.”

Harden-off your plants before they go into the ground. When introducing the plants you started inside to the outdoor environment, it’s important they are “hardened off” first.

To do this, move the plants outside in their pots and place them in a shaded area for a day or two, then slowly move them into the sun a few hours more each day. When the plants seem OK in full sun then it’s time to get them in the ground! 

Location, location, location: Picking and prepping your site

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Look out for dandelions! When you’re scouting potential spots in the spring, keep away from areas where there are a lot of yellow dandelions.

By the fall, those yellow flowers will be white, airborne fluff-balls, and they’ll annoyingly stick to your buds! 

Check the lay of the land. Look around for areas where plants already grow well.

For example, if you are growing on a lawn and one patch always seems to grow higher than the rest, it probably means it will have more available groundwater for your plants (and less watering for you!).

Plant in pots for portability. If you don’t have a secluded spot to put your plants, consider growing them in large pots or containers.  

When necessary, you can move them out of sight for security or privacy (for example, when the in-laws are coming over for a backyard BBQ!).

Nothing beats planting directly into the ground. Plants that aren’t limited by the boundaries of a pot grow much larger, need to be watered less and get all the benefits of growing in the earth (for example worms, soil microbes, etc.). Since you’re only allowed 4 plants, your goal is probably to grow them as big as possible! 

Full sun is key. When looking for a good location for your plants, choose a spot with a southern-facing location that receives full (i.e. all-day) sun. The more sun, the better your crop will turn out.

Pick an irrigation-friendly site. When you’re choosing where to grow, find a spot that is protected from the elements, is in an area that is easy to water, and has good drainage.

Think your hole is big enough? Keep digging! The bigger the hole, the more room your plants have to send out roots.

Deep root systems translate into bigger, healthier, happier plants, so dig a hole as big as possible for each plant! 

Got clay? Add perlite! If the soil you’re starting with is heavy in clay, then try adding some perlite to the mix to help with aeration, absorbency, and drainage.

Loosely fill your hole with your growing mix without over-packing the soil so the roots can easily penetrate through and there are ample air spaces.

TLC: Care & maintenance

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Good cannabis gardeners are just good gardeners. They often start by restoring the life in the soil and protecting the plant from disease with good compost; they understand that they need to feed the soil, not the plant.

They make sure the plants have a wide bed with good air and water circulation and use a mulch to create a temperature and humidity buffer and discourage weeds.

Finally, good gardeners tend to act like good scientists: They monitor their plants regularly, keep notes, and get better every harvest. 

Don’t cheap-out on nutrients. Quality fertilizer is expensive but well worth the extra cost.

A good fertilizer will produce a healthy plant with big flowers and enhance the flowers’ flavour profile.

Blue powders available at big box stores are not designed for marijuana and will not provide your plants with a balanced diet. Visit the local indoor grow shop and buy a medium- to high-end nutrients product. 

Dry pots wait for no one. If you’re growing on a patio using containers, be vigilant and don’t let them dry out.

If the pots are starting to feel light, give your plants a good drink.

Don’t wait for them to show signs of dehydration (e.g. wilting) before you water, and don’t fool yourself into thinking they can last a weekend without watering if you’re going away for a couple of days.

Less is more. Don’t mess around too much with the plants. Constant babying doesn’t make the plants produce better flowers – in fact, my personal observation has been the opposite.

Only water when they need it. In soil they should only need water once a week. And plants in patio pots should only be watered when the pots become dry or light in weight. 

Make scents! Friends of mine who used to grow deep in the forest once told me their biggest problem was deer munching on their plants.

They managed to successfully deter the deer by spraying coyote pee around their site (which you can buy at Canadian Tire), but I’m sure human urine would also do the trick!

Trim the bottoms. Get rid of the plants’ undergrowth by cutting away the bottom 3rd of the plant at the end of the first week of August.

The small bottom branches use more energy than they can produce in dry flower.

Cut them away and force the energy up to the top of the plant. This will help produce big flowers. It will also help increase airflow in the plants’ canopy. 

Reap what you’ve sown: Harvest

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Don’t chop your plants down too soon. Plants develop most of their weight in the final stages of life. If you cut down too early, you could be missing out on an extra third in weight (and the same cannabinoid levels).

Research your strain. If the producer says harvest early to mid-October, then you know September is too early.

Look for hairs changing to red. If you see 40% of your hairs are still white, let the plant go until its closer to 15% white before considering cutting your plants down. Ideally you should allow the plant’s hairs to change completely. 

Frosty mornings = frosty nugs. Allowing your plants to experience a light frost can enhance the final look of the flower and increase cannabinoid levels and yields.

Frost can bring out colours like purples and reds and causes the plant to increase cannabinoid production by making it think it’s dying.

The plant will drive energy into protecting its non-existent seed and by default produce more cannabinoid content in the plant.

Hang-dry with the leaf on. Cut the plant down, remove the fan leaves (the large, hand-sized leaves that don’t surround the flowers), and hang the plant on a line.

The remaining leaves curl over the flowers like a shroud and protect the crystals from light and air movement, and also help the plant dry a little more evenly.

Dry in the dark for a week or until the stalk snaps but doesn’t break in two.

Remove all the dry leaf then remove the flower and cure in glass jars by opening the lids once a day for 30 minutes for 10 days. Your flower will be smelling beautiful and looking pristine. 

Grow like the pros!

Whether you’re trying to grow cannabis outdoors for the very first time, or are a seasoned veteran, these tips represent a treasure trove of knowledge and information from some of the best in the business.

Four plants don’t seem like a lot, but if you grow them properly your next challenge might be figuring out what to do with your abundant harvest!

If you have a top tip to share, we’d love to hear it! Please leave it in the comments below.

Or if you have a specific question you think our grow team can help you with, leave it in the comments and we will do our best to help you solve your problem!

Happy growing everyone!

21 Comments

  1. Hi Fave! Our Master Grower says that it all depends on genetics. Most sativa strains are no longer pure and rest somewhere between sativa and indica. So depending on the different seeds you have, you may see different maturation speeds. You’re welcome to email us at info@greensealcannabis.com if you’d like some more guidance!

  2. Have you guys had any experience with phytoplasma ? Seems to be an increasing problem around here , for me anyway .. At least that is what I believe it is that causes the dark , purple ish / black , distorted new growth tips .. I have had ignorant growers in the past suggesting that I simply did not know that I had purple fire O.o .. For years I had asked about it ,, didn`t see it a whole lot back then but now it seems to affect most of the plants .. It seems it has been discovered that it is some kind of disease spread by leaf hoppers .. I hate to spray my plants with anything but is the used of pesticides the only solution to preventing this ? I end up cutting off many stems trying to stop the spread in the plants. Sometimes it looks like the plants grow through it and heal themselves but the little buds are distorted and often rotten ..

  3. Afternoon Dad! Our Master Grower hasn’t had any experience with phytoplasma specifically, but it sounds like your environment may be the issue. He’s recommending you move the plants to a new space, as that’s the only way to guarantee the pests don’t carry over. Feel free to email us at info@greensealcannabis.com if you’d like more guidance!

  4. I have to transplant 6′ tall plants growing in the ground into pots The haven’t flowered yet-they are still vegetative. What is the best practice to not kill them?

  5. Hi Ally

    With your situation, it’s best to disturb the roots as little as possible in the transfer. We recommend cutting around the root bulb to avoid damaging the roots if possible, and then lift them straight up and move them over as quick as you can. Once you get them into their new pots, cover the roots with soil and water them well so the catch hold right away. Best of luck!

  6. Hi ally and greenseal cannibus. July 17 mine are 6 feet in pots but im leaving them to control growth. Too much to harvest by myself. Good idea or bad idea?

  7. Hello D, great question. There isn’t anything wrong with leaving your plant in its pot. if you’re satisfied with it staying smaller. Without a connection to the soil, you will need to give it plenty of extra water to ensure it stays healthy. We would also recommend stripping out as much of the undergrowth as possible so that your prime flowers have plenty of room to grow.

  8. Hi Theresa,

    In our Master Grower’s opinion, topping plants is a smart move for increasing yield and minimizing mold.

  9. Hi,
    Bought, from a professional grow shop, what was supposed to be a top medicinal indica plant that produces high THC and CBD levels. I also purchased their recommended soil, fertilizer, bud enhancer and soil additives. As of the beginning of August, from planting after May 24 th weekend they have grown from about 8” to only about 18” to 24”. They get full southern sun, are about 3’ out from the foundation and are watered often. The leaves only have 3 points, which I’ve never seen before. What can I do to help them?

  10. Hello thanks in advance for the help!
    I’ve got some plants that are reaching 8’ tall, they are outdoor in 20 gallon pots. I’m thinking about digging holes and planting directly in the ground. Being the beginning of August is it to late to transplant them into the earth? Or should I leave them in their pots? They look to me like they want more room. Please help!

  11. Ell maybe your plants are to wet. Be sure to let them dry a bit before the next watering. The pots should feel light when you go to move them. You could also be either over or under feeding. But I have found that if the roots are always wet this will create uptake issues

  12. Good morning Ell,

    Based on the information you’ve provided, it sounds like you’re growing in ideal conditions. There’s nothing that sticks out to us as the obvious issue, aside from perhaps overwatering. Our Master Grower waits until the plants just barely start drooping before he adds more water to give the roots a chance to search for moisture and spread out, which should result in a larger plant.

    As for the three points on the leaves, we don’t see that as a real issue. Sometimes plants produce more or fewer leaves, but it shouldn’t affect your flowers. If you’d be willing to send us some photos to info@greensealcannabis.com, we may be able to give you more directed advice.

  13. Hello Erik,

    It sounds like you’ve got the right idea. We would recommend getting those transplanted in the earth right away so they can reach their full potential over the next few weeks

  14. Hi,gh… When you say trim away the bottom 3rd of the plant, do you mean right at the stalk or just the small growth, leaving the ends to flower. Some of my plants, the bottom growth is sticking out absorbing sun energy…

  15. Hi Bear,

    We mean that you should trim right at the stalk. Those small bottom branches will waste energy that could be going towards the top of the plant for bigger, better flowers.

  16. Hi Vicki,

    Yes, we would recommend ensuring your plants are in total darkness 12 hours on, 12 hours off for proper flower growth.

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