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How To Protect Cannabis Plants Outdoors

Created by
JoshuaHolt JoshuaHolt
Added 29 October 2020

Cannabis Protected In Greenhouse

The outside world presents many challenges, especially when it comes to growing cannabis. Protecting your outdoor garden from the harsh conditions of nature comes with experience and knowing your region well. This article helps you understand how to maintain a safe environment for your plants so you can sleep better at night.

Growing Outdoors: The Risks

Growing cannabis outdoors is a wonderful experience but there are some pretty big risks involved. First and foremost, it is important to consider whether growing weed is permitted in your area. Depending on where you live (or if you're a medical user), cannabis plants may or may not be allowed.

Your safety is a priority and we don't want to see anyone getting involved in legal issues. That means if you do decide to grow outside, it is your responsibility to check the laws and if necessary, keep the grow as hidden as possible.

Fencing Around Cannabis Garden

Unfortunately, in most parts of the world we need to be careful about where we grow weed. Remember, not everyone likes cannabis and even the smell might be enough to irritate your neighbour. On top of that, there are plenty of untrustworthy people out there who will decide it's okay to help themselves to your plants if they notice them over the garden fence. Not cool when you've spent the whole year putting care into your buds.

Aside from keeping your plants protected from people, we have the weather to worry about.

You may have already considered the fact that growing outside means your plants might have to deal with some relatively intense conditions. Maybe you live in an area where storms are common, or the summers are particularly hot and dry.

There are plenty of environmental factors which can disturb or damage your cannabis plants, and if they are not well protected you could be asking for trouble. Planning in advance allows you to prevent many of the possible difficulties presented by the outdoors.

Cannabis Plants Can Suffer Moisture Problems From Too Much Rain

How To Protect Your Outdoor Plants

If you are planning to grow outdoors, it is a good idea to get into the habit of regularly checking the weather forecast so you can make adjustments to your grow space ahead of time. Studying the climate patterns in your region will give you a good indication of what you're dealing with, helping you to prepare.

The level of protection your cannabis plants require also depends on their size and the stage of growth. It is much easier to protect a plant in the vegetative stage than a monster tree full of big buds. In order to avoid any problems we must keep a close eye and be ready just in case.

Nature does a good job of taking care of itself, but sometimes it simply becomes too much for your cannabis plants to handle. Outdoor growing still needs your full attention if it is to be a successful process. 

Pots

Pot Placed In the Ground For Insulation

Cannabis plants that are not in pots can be slightly harder to manage because they cannot be moved around, which helps a lot when it comes to strong sun, temperatures, rain, or wind. However, potted plants tend to experience higher fluctuations in temperature because heat escapes more easily than if the plant is rooted directly in the ground.

One way of solving this inconvenience is to plant in pots and dig holes in the ground big enough for them to sit in comfortably. Having the option of extra insulation can be useful for protection when nights get cold. The ground generally maintains temperature and moisture more efficiently than pots do.

The size of your pots also determine how big your cannabis plants can grow:

Pot Size (litres)Plant Height (in)
712
1524
2536
5048
<5060

Overheating

Hot summers can bring intense heat waves that may be problematic for your cannabis plants. If you're plants are facing temperatures that exceed 30-35°C, they may be in danger. Remember, some strains can handle higher heat than others can. 

Cannabis Plants Face Hot Sun

Protecting your plants against extreme heat can be achieved by:

  • Watering in the evening as the sun goes down or early in the morning.
  • Providing shade with netting for the hottest hours of the day. 
  • Planting in white pots or in the ground.
  • Do not feed cold water to 'cool' your plants down. This may shock plants, especially during a hot day.

Drought

High temperatures often come with dry conditions. There are countries that barely receive any rain during the summer, which can lead to periods of drought. To prevent your cannabis plants drying out from lack of water, it is important your irrigation schedule is in check.

Dry Soil

Avoid drought completely with these techniques:

  • Pruning can help to conserve water by reducing the amount of leaves to lose moisture from.
  • Manually water plants when they need it.
  • Water less, but more frequently. 
  • Add algae or silicon rich nutrients to your soil.
  • Cover soil with mulch or straw to retain moisture.

Tip: Low humidity can cause plants to transpire at a faster rate than they can absorb, which can lead to some serious root problems.

Low Temperatures

The cold can be a challenge when growing outdoors. Just as cannabis does not like being too hot, low temperatures can be equally as detrimental. The night time is the period we generally have to watch out for, as temperatures naturally drop. Temperatures that decrease below 15-16°C create a risk for your plants.

It is common to see humidity rise when temperatures are low, and that usually means higher potential for mold and pests. We want to avoid this at all costs by keeping the temperature above the comfortable level.

Protecting your outdoor plants from cold conditions requires:

  • Choosing strains that can deal with colder temperatures.
  • Covering plants during the night.
  • Bring potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area like a greenhouse.
  • Place pots snug in a hole in the ground.
  • Cover soil with mulch or straw.

Wind and Storms

Cannabis plants like a breeze or a bit of rain and it helps to keep them cool but if the storms get too intense they can be quite destructive, both in the vegetative stage when plants are still 'weak' and in the flowering stage with all the extra weight from buds.

Strong gusts of wind and heavy rain can cause branches and leaves to snap, which could slow growth depending on how severe the damage is. Prevention is the key, so let's discuss how to protect outdoor plants from intense storms.

  • Build a fence around your growing area.
  • Setup a wind cover.
  • Cover plants with plastic sheeting for heavy rains.
  • Use sticks in the pots to provide support.
  • Move plants to a greenhouse.
  • Apply training techniques during the vegetative stage to strengthen plants and increase airflow, and keep them short.

HST (High Stress Training) Helps To Strengthen Cannabis Plants

Pests

One of the main difficulties when it comes to growing outdoors is the amount of living organisms plants are exposed to. These pests range in size, from tiny fungal spores to birds. Either way, we need to make sure our garden is protected so our precious plants don't unexpectadly get attacked.

  • Remove any weeds from the garden and designate an area for your cannabis plants.
  • Plant companion plants nearby, such as basil, peppermint or lavender.
  • For specific problems you can introduce insects such as ladybirds or a praying mantis.
  • Sterilise your soil.
  • Netting and fencing around your garden.

Predators In A Cannabis Garden For Pest Control

Stealth 

Keeping your plants protected usually means having to prevent anyone from seeing or knowing your doings. That involves smell, sight and word of mouth. As we mentioned earlier, there can be people that have a problem with weed. Make sure you are safe before diving into outdoor growing, and consider your neighbours.

If you do grow outdoors, consider the repercussions and keep your garden stealthy with these tips:

  • Choose strains that do not have a strong odor.
  • Grow small plants with short cycles such as autoflowers.
  • Build high fencing around your garden so no one can see it.
  • Don't tell anybody that you don't trust.
  • Plant plenty of flowers around to mask the smell. 
  • Grow in a greenhouse.

Greenhouse grow by Growlecule from GrowDiaries.

Choosing the Right Strains

Growers that live in extremely hot or cold climates may want to be careful about which strains they grow, as some deal with heat much better than others. Sativa dominant strains, for example, seem to enjoy higher heat than a lot of Indica cultivars because they originate from regions that have hot climates. Protecting your cannabis plants starts right from the moment you choose your seeds.

If you found this article helpful, why not leave a comment down below? We'd love to hear about your experience growing outdoors and what you've done to protect your plants. 

External References

Pot size matters. - Poorter, Hendrik. (2012). 

This article was updated October 2020.






Comments

Taito
Taito

A highly recommended item for those who plant outdoors. Good advice :ok_hand:

Thank you very much for the article!