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Pros and Cons of Growing Cannabis Outside

Updated September 8, 2022

Many people choose to grow cannabis by themselves, as this allows them to ensure that the plant is grown in their preferred conditions.

Assuming it's legal in your area to grow cannabis and you meet all legal restrictions, such as limits to the number of plants you can have, growing cannabis can be very rewarding with a high (yield and otherwise) pay-off.

One of the most important decisions you will make is whether to grow cannabis inside or outside. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so there‘s no wrong answer. To help you make up your mind, explore the pros and cons of growing cannabis outside. Keep in mind that the pros and cons are in comparison to growing indoors, as that is the alternative.

Pro: No Artificial Conditions Required

One of the biggest advantages of growing your cannabis outside is that you are exposing it to the natural conditions that it would grow in. As such, you do not need to waste time or resources trying to recreate the perfect conditions.


One of the critical elements of this is that you will not need to play around with artificial lighting at all. If you were to grow the cannabis inside, you would have to get a full spectrum of lights and a control system so you could mimic the natural light that the plant needs to grow. Outside, nature already takes care of all this for you.


A related benefit is that you do not have to worry about providing the cannabis plant with proper airflow or ventilation since nature will take care of it. Being exposed to the fresh air will be enough for this when growing outside. By contrast, growing inside requires you to ensure that the plant receives enough ventilation and that you control factors like humidity.

Pro: More Affordable to Start and Grow

Because outdoor growing of cannabis plants lets you take advantage of natural conditions, there are also lower startup costs associated with beginning your cultivation than there are with indoor growing. You do not have to invest in lighting, ventilation, growing controls, extra soil, or even pots unless you want. You could get away with just buying the plants and some nutrients for your existing soil, although purchasing high-quality soil would likely produce better results.

You will also notice that it is more affordable after the initial set-up to grow cannabis outdoors than growing it inside. After all, there is no need to run ventilation systems or a range of lights. Of course, this depends on the type of indoor growing you will use, as specifically-designed greenhouses can be more affordable in terms of running costs but will cost more to set up.

Ongoing costs for outdoor growing of cannabis will be water and nutrients.

Pro: Reduced Carbon Footprint

Those who want to make their decision based on the health of the environment may also wonder about the carbon footprint of indoor versus outdoor growing. It should come as no surprise that growing cannabis outdoors has a much smaller carbon footprint than doing so inside. This comes from the same factors that reduce costs, mainly the use of electricity to control lights, ventilation, and humidity.

Pro: Reduced Care Required

It is also worth noting that choosing to grow cannabis plants outdoors requires less ongoing care and attention than growing it inside. When growing indoors, you need to check things like soil quality, water amount, and humidity. Growing outside, however, lets you leave most of these elements up to nature, so there is less effort required from you.

Con: Timing Matters

Many people who grow cannabis inside do so because of the flexibility that comes in terms of timing. When growing indoors, you could start the growth cycle at any time of the year that you want since you control the growing conditions fully.

By contrast, if you choose to grow cannabis outside, you will have to time it properly to work with nature. You will have to limit yourself to the natural growing cycle of marijuana in most cases. At the very least, you need to consider factors such as sunlight and temperature at the current time of year. This will also depend on where you live. If, for example, you live in a cold area or one with a harsher climate, you may find yourself with a somewhat limited growing season for cannabis outside.

This aspect of timing also means that in many areas of the world, those who choose to grow cannabis outdoors will only be able to produce one cycle of crops each year.

Pro: Autoflowering Plants Can Minimize Timing Issues to an Extent

The good news is that even those issues related to the timing of growing marijuana plants can be minimized in some ways when you grow outdoors. To reduce the effects of sunlight on the plants, consider an autoflowering strain. These strains will automatically flower after a certain amount of time has passed instead of relying on lighting cues.

Autoflowering seeds can even increase the number of growth cycles you can have within a given year, in some cases.

This provides more flexibility in terms of when to grow your cannabis plants, at least in terms of lighting. Of course, you will still have to think about other weather conditions, like cold winters.

Pro: No Space Limits

One of the biggest disadvantages of growing cannabis inside is that you will have to deal with limited space, but this is rarely a problem when growing outside. You should not let your marijuana grow off in your property, but other than this, you will not have concerns. The plants can grow as tall as they want, and you will have minimal limitations in terms of breadth either.

More Plants to Choose From

To start with, this lack of limitation in terms of space for growing your cannabis means that you will be able to choose from more plants. Sativa strains, for example, tend to grow wide and large, making them hard to grow inside. You can easily, however, grow them outside due to the abundance of space.

Fewer Concerns About Health and Pruning

The amount of space outside also means that there will be fewer preoccupations during the growing process related to things like running out of space. Because of that, you will also likely find yourself with less need to prune plants in areas that are not necessary for their health. Of course, growing any plant should always involve pruning off unhealthy leaves. When growing indoors, however, you will also likely have to prune to some extent to keep the plant from overgrowing its space, which could lead to weakness if done incorrectly. None of this is a concern when growing outdoors, making it easier to get healthier cannabis plants.

Pro: Likely to Experience Increased Yields and Fullness

Although it is not always the case, those with experience growing cannabis have noticed a trend with fuller plants and higher yields when growing outside compared to inside. As mentioned, this is not a guaranteed fact, but it often happens enough that many people take it as a given.

Con: Potential Pests and Inclement Weather

When you grow your cannabis outdoors, you will be exposing it to a range of potential dangers, from inclement weather to pests. If a strong storm occurs, you can find your cannabis plants severely damaged despite the hard work you put into growing them. There is also an increased chance of pests, from animals to bugs, invading your plants and causing them to get sick or weaker. An animal may not even be interested in cannabis but might trample it because it is in their way. There is also an increased chance of someone stealing your plants.

Of course, you can reduce these risks somewhat by choosing your outdoor location for growing cannabis carefully. If you are concerned about animals or thieves, consider growing it within a fenced-in area that is inaccessible without a key.

Potential Con: Legality

Before you choose to grow your cannabis plants outside, you should always do your research to ensure that this is legal. Even if possessing and growing cannabis is legal in your area, there may be some restrictions as to where you can grow it. Specifically, many jurisdictions make it illegal to grow marijuana outside, except in particular situations, which are unlikely to apply to you. As such, it may not be legal for you to grow marijuana outdoors, depending on where you live. Assuming that you live somewhere that you can legally grow it at all, you will be allowed to grow it inside.

Of course, this will not apply to everyone, but it is something essential to consider. You do not want to break the law by growing cannabis outside when you could legally grow it inside.

Con: Discretion

Even if you live in an area where it is legal to grow cannabis outdoors, many growers will want to be discrete with their plants. This can decrease the risk of theft as well as negative attention. Additionally, if you live in an area where growing cannabis is legal but popular opinion is still mixed, you may face criticism from neighbors if they can tell that you are growing cannabis.

In these respects, growing cannabis indoors makes it much easier to be discrete. After all, no one will be able to see your plants like they would when you grow outdoors.

Tips for Growing Cannabis Outside

If you have decided to grow cannabis outside, then you can maximize your results and minimize your expenditures with a few key pieces of advice.

Choosing the Right Location

You do not want to choose just any location for your cannabis plants to grow. Opt for a somewhat secluded area, as this will deter humans and animals from intentionally or unintentionally causing damage to the plants.

The ideal location should get about eight hours of sunlight every day. It should also be close to a water source, or at least close enough for you to easily water the plants regularly. Of course, you should also choose an area with quality outdoor soil.

Spacing of Plants Outside

It is typically safe to plant as many as four cannabis plants in a single square meter of land when outdoors. This should give them enough room to grow. Keep in mind, however, that this depends on the strain you choose. If you are growing a large sativa, for example, you should limit yourself to two plants in every square meter.

Choose Autoflowering Seeds

As mentioned earlier, autoflowering seeds overcome some of the obstacles associated with growing cannabis outside, such as the lack of control over lighting. Consider using autoflowering seeds so that they will flower regardless of the sunlight and other conditions.

Choosing Between Pots and in the Ground

Once you know that you want to grow your cannabis outside, you will still have to decide whether you want to plant it directly into the soil or use pots. Growing in the ground is the more popular option, as it gives your plant enough room to flourish, including at the root level. It also gives your plant direct access to the natural soil, including its nutrients, resulting in less effort on your part.

Growing in a pot, however, gives you the versatility to move the plant around. If a strong storm is coming, for example, you could temporarily move it indoors. You could also find another spot for the cannabis if it gets unwanted attention, such as from thieves. Additionally, there is no concern about potted outdoor cannabis growing out of control, which would be possible if you grow it in the ground. Finally, growing in a pot lets you ensure the soil quality precisely, but that control comes with extra effort on your part.

The Takeaway

When it comes down to it, you can experience great results in growing cannabis outside or inside. You will need to weigh the pros and cons of outdoor growing before making a decision, and you should always confirm that it is legal to grow cannabis outdoors in your area.

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