How To Support Cannabis Plants Outdoors
Every grower wants to harvest big and dense buds, but that can be a problem when growing outdoors. Considering that you don’t have walls or a structure to tie a SCROG net as you would indoors, you’ll have to come up with a way of supporting the extra weight.
1. Why Support Plants Outdoors?
Sometimes when growing indoors, our plants can grow too much in a limited growing space and their buds end up extra heavy, for this reason, growers use techniques to support the branches.
This can also happen outdoors, although then the problem is not the lack of space but heavy buds of your plant.
When growing outdoors growers usually plant in bigger pots, that is because they aren’t limited by space like they would when growing indoors. This allows the plant to grow to its maximum, it will usually take more to flower but the buds will be denser.
A very common problem growers have when growing plants in bigger pots is that the branches can’t support the weight of the extra dense buds. Growing indoors this can be avoided by tying the branches to the sides or top of the growing tent, but outside we don’t have a structure like that.
Cannabis outdoors isn’t limited by space and can grow huge. If you’re growing a high yielder, the branches may not be strong enough to support the buds and snap, this is why you need to provide support, either with bamboo stakes, a trellis net or tomato cages.
Fortunately, there are several ways to support our plants outdoors, this allows us to have bigger yields and harvest extra dense buds.
2. Bamboo Stakes
Bamboo stakes are what growers usually use to support branches. Even though this is a cheap and effective method, be aware that bamboo sticks can rot, that’s why several growers avoid using them.
You can still use bamboo stakes if you’re letting your plants grow for a short time but because they’re exposed to rain and are in the soil, they can rot.
When bamboo rots, it can spread to your plants and they can suffer from mold (like powdery mildew) which can damage your plants and can easily spread to other plants nearby.
3. Trellis Net
Trellising consists of basically Scrogging outdoors, although it can be harder because you lack the structure to do it properly, so you’ll have to build that structure yourself. Even though it sounds hard, preparing the structure for a trellis net is quite simple, and consists only of placing 4 stakes around the plant.
You can use bamboo stakes but if you have a little bit of cash to spend, we recommend using metal stakes, not only they won’t rot but can be reused in your other growing cycles. Depending on the space you have available, you can place the net horizontally or vertically around your plants.
These two methods will support your plant, although when placing it around your plant you won’t be able to control its size like you would with a trellis placed on top of your plant.
When you place the net horizontally (on top of your plants) this will not only support the extra weight but it will also allow you to train your plants like you would in a SCROG.
4. Tomato Wire Cages
Tomato wire cages are pretty similar to placing a trellis around your plant. They will support your plant from every side but won’t allow you to control the height your plant reaches. On the other hand, some growers don’t want to restrict their plant’s height so this is not really a disadvantage.
Wire cages can also be used as a structure to tie the branches to, using string or other materials that won’t damage your plant, you can easily tie the branches to the wire cage, giving the branches extra support.
You can easily find wire cages in hardware stores and they’re fairly cheap, going for around $1.50 each, they can be reused so you won’t have to buy more for your next growing cycle. If you don’t feel like spending money, you can make your own cage, you’ll just need metal wire and you can easily find how to make them on the internet.
5. In Conclusion
Supporting your plants is definitely important when growing outdoors. When growing in bigger pots, your plant will consequently grow more and develop denser buds. If you fail to give support, the extra weight may be too much for your plant and the branches can snap.
Every grower wants to harvest big and dense buds, but that can be a problem when growing outdoors. Considering that you don’t have walls or a structure to
Outdoor Cannabis Growing Basics by LuckyAcres
by LuckyAcres (Check out his Instagram and Youtube for more!)
Are you ready to start growing cannabis outdoors? If you’re a wannabe grower looking for a quick and basic tutorial on how to grow weed outside, this is it. Check out these plants and learn how to grow plants just like them yourself!
Plants grown outdoors can get huge if you care for them properly
Growing auto-flowering strains can help keep plants from getting so big. This is Night Queen Auto by Dutch Passion not long before harvest.
What you need to get started growing outdoors:
Here’s a complete list of supplies you need to grow plants outdoors.
Seeds (or clones)
- You need to get your plants somewhere. If you can’t get plants locally, here’s a list of online seed sources that deliver anywhere.
Root Riot Plugs
- Seedlings get germinated in RootRiot Plugs (the extra michoryzae is nice!)
Container(s) – Air pots or Nursery Pots
After 20 years of being around black “nursery pots”, airpots have become my number one choice. Better root growth, better access to air, massive root terminals…. day and night to what I was accustomed to. Grow bags can retain salts and pests if not dealt with properly between grows. My access to sun changes thru the season so I must be able to move my ladies as needed.
- Fox Farm Ocean Forest soil does the job. There are better ones out there but I’m happy with the results for the price.
Nutrient companies seem to have reached a status quo imo. They all seem to sell different variations and packagings of the same ingredients. Buy what you can afford. Keep it simple. The sun brings the food, nutes are the vitamins. When it comes to nutrients, you can use just the “base nutrients” or you can get the whole line (which also includes additional supplements that are nice but not necessary).
I’ve had similar results using at different times the full lines of nutes by Emerald Harvest (you can use just the base nutrients or the whole line), Roots Organics (base nutrients are Buddha Grow and Bloom, and they offer the whole line in a kit) and Fox Farm (soil base nutrients or whole line)…
I swear by Foliar Essence foliar spray weekly. Mammoth P is great to lubricate the nutes highways. I use Mad Farmer Detox right before harvest, which is a cleaning/flushing solution.
PH and PPM Tester
To test the pH, I use a Bluelab PH Pen. I also use a PPM meter to measure the strength of nutrient solutions.
I use old hydrogen peroxide bottles(quart size) that I cut at the top for a wider neck. 3 or 4 rounds of these will feed one auto.
How to Start Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Follow these steps and you will be harvesting your plants in a few months:
1.) Find a growing location
When growing cannabis outdoors, it’s important to find a private spot with easy access to water and 6+ hours of direct sun each day.
I built my backyard for privacy long before growing cannabis outdoors so it was canna-ready, but if fence height and privacy are an issue I’d recommend growing autos or scrogging photos. Have a dog to keep away cats and rodents as much as possible. Be nice to your neighbors, and a little sharing goes a long way! Sunlight availability is my number one challenge. 2-3 hrs in the morning and 3-4 hrs in the afternoon. The more the better!
A private, secluded area with plenty of sunlight is perfect for growing cannabis. Make sure you have access to water!
2.) Set up your containers with soil
Nursery pots are straight forward. Fill with loose soil to the rim, bang the pot lightly 2-3 times on the ground, add soil up to the rim again and that’s it.
In airpots the soil has to be pushed lightly into the holes on the sides as it’s poured in but same tapping and refilling method works great afterward.
3.) Germinate your seeds and place in containers
I germinate seeds in RootRiot plugs (the extra michoryzae is nice!) I drop the seed in water(shot glass in a dark spot for a day or two usually) until the tap root pops out and is about half an inch long.
I move autos in their final pot as soon as they’ve germinated (5-gallon container(= #7 Airpot USA), though 10 gallons is better for the longer cycle strains and super autos.)
Photoperiod plants go to a 1-gallon pot first then 5 or 7-gallon then to their final pot. I use 15 or 20-gallon nursery pots for photos.
4.) Water plants regularly
Cannabis plants like when the root environment is slightly acidic. The optimal ph is 6-7 for cannabis plants grown in soil. It’s important to check the pH of your water because plants get nutrient deficiencies if it’s too high or too low. The city water where I live has a 6.5 ph so on plain-water days it comes out straight out of the hose.
If it’s a day I give nutrients, I mix nutrients then take ppm readings. Once everything looks good I ph the water. Nutrients tend to lower the ph, so on feeding days I usually have to adjust the ph up before giving it to the plants. Your experience may vary depending on the ph of your water source. Here’s a tutorial on how to test the ph of your water.
How often do you water the plants?
- Every other day to every 3 days
How often do you water seedlings?
- I make sure they stay moist until I know the root growth is sufficient to allow for the top to dry out between watering.
How often do you water bigger plants?
- Bigger plants, especially later in the summer get watered every day in between feedings, not a full round of water but enough to sustain them thru the heat. And it helps them use up whatever nutes leftovers were there…
How much water do you give at a time?
- Full pressure on the hose wand, set on shower, and I count until 3 or 5 seconds while I release water.
5.) Plant care
Make sure photoperiod plants don’t get light at night. A privacy fence or a hedge will block street lights pollution enough. No direct bright light at night is the ticket!
A young outdoor marijuana plant
Watch for bugs or nutrient deficiencies and react quickly to problems
- Every day, twice a day I survey my plants, if something is spotted I make sure to treat it as soon as possible. Once a week I spray a pesticide and make sure to rotate between them, spinosad, neem oil, insecticidal soaps etc… to keep any kind of invasion from happening.
- Diagnose some common plant bugs and other plant problems with this cannabis plant doctor.
Do you do any plant training like LST, supercropping, topping, etc?
- All of it! Depending on the plant or my mood I might top one and not the other but supercropping is a constant for sure.
How to deal with caterpillars
Caterpillars are one of the most common cannabis pests for outdoor growers. They will eat leaves and may even tunnel through the middle of your buds.
There’s a worm in there, that’s what this leaf tells me… Now I must remove the whole bud.
“B.T.” is an organic and OMRI certified insecticide that kills caterpillars but won’t hurt people, bees, animals or plants. It is safe to use on your plant up until the week of harvest. Get Monterey B.T. Ready-to-Use Spray on Amazon.
Anything else major to keep an eye on?
- The tip of the leaves, if they remain green you’re good, but watch for that yellowing tip, every day! Too much food! When it happens, it’s time to flush!
6.) Harvest plants when ready
When to Harvest
Plants are getting close when most trichomes are cloudy(autos and photos). At that point, I start flushing with mad farmer detox. I chop when the first ambers show up at about 10% max. Learn more about trichomes and when to harvest.
Autoflowering plants are ready to harvest on their own schedule as determined by the breeder.
For photoperiod plants the exact timing depends on your local latitude, but are typically ready to harvest in mid to late fall. Harvest here runs from mid-September to early November for those late sativas.
How to Dry and Cure Buds
My methods remain the same for autos and photos. (Here’s an alternative guide)
- Hang for 10 days at 70F and 60% humidity
- Dry trim
- Store in brown paper bags for another 7-10 days
- Store in glass jars with a 62% humidity pack
That’s it! A quick and dirty tutorial that will get you all the way to your first outdoor cannabis harvest!
More from LuckyAcres
Check out more pictures and videos by LuckyAcres on Instagram and Youtube.
Are you ready to start growing cannabis outdoors? If you're a new grower looking for a quick and basic tutorial on how to grow weed outside, this is it!