Understand the pros and cons of indoor vs outdoor weed cultivation in this helpful guide. Learn more about purchasing quality, sun grown cannabis in Maryland.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Weed

Like many other states, Maryland's medical cannabis industry has been growing rapidly and is expected to top $1.5 billion in annual revenue. With that has come an influx of new cultivators eager to learn the ins and outs of growing cannabis.

Whether you’re a weed enthusiast looking to grow your own or you’re just curious about the process, you may be wondering: what’s the difference between indoor and outdoor cultivation? 

In this article, we'll dive deeper into what happens to cannabis when it’s cultivated outside compared to indoors, and we’ll offer some tips for getting the most out of either growing method.

What is Outdoor Cannabis?

Outdoor cannabis cultivation is exactly what it sounds like – growing cannabis plants outside in a natural setting like a garden or a field. Ah, but here’s a question: does weed from a greenhouse qualify as outdoor cannabis? In a way, yes, since they share some key benefits: namely, the advantageous growth effects and resource savings that come from using natural sunlight. In some cases, though, when people talk about outdoor cannabis, they’re referring to cultivation exclusively in an open-air setting.

The kind of light cannabis plants receive – and how much of it – has a major impact on flavor, yield, and therapeutic effects. That’s why at SunMed Growers we exclusively use greenhouses for sun-grown cannabis cultivation. This lets us take advantage of natural sunlight while still providing a controlled environment, ideal for growing high-quality cannabis for medicinal use.

What is Indoor Cannabis?

Indoor cannabis means growing cannabis plants in an artificial environment such as a grow tent or a hydroponic farm. This type of cultivation gives horticulturists greater control over their crops since they can adjust the temperature, humidity, and light levels to optimize growth.

The main advantage of growing weed indoors is that it can be done year-round, unlike outdoor, open-air cannabis which is subject to seasonal changes, weather, and pests. Additionally, some people often think that indoor cannabis is more potent due to the consistent environment. But is that really the case?

Is Indoor Cannabis Better than Outdoor?

For decades it’s been difficult for researchers to study cannabis cultivation, and that’s led to a lot of myths and best guesses about which methods do what. But as legalization sweeps across the country, it’s finally possible to conduct more serious research, and what we’re finding is that indoor growing methods are not inherently preferable to outdoor when it comes to potency or flavor. Each growing method has unique benefits and drawbacks; the right choice depends on your needs.

Pros and Cons of Outdoor Cannabis

There are several distinct pros to growing weed outdoors: 

  • Natural light produces more terpenes, which enhance the effects of cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds.

  • There’s more space for your plants to thrive by growing deeper and stronger root systems.

  • An organic, outdoor biome helps enrich your plants and make them heartier.

  • You don’t need artificial lighting so you spend less on electricity.

But there are some pitfalls to growing outdoors that you should keep in mind too.

  • It can be more difficult to manage pests and diseases.

  • Your plants are subject to fluctuations in weather conditions, which can affect the quality of the final product.

  • Not everyone has enough space to grow what they want outside in the right conditions, and outdoor plants could get stolen.

Pros and Cons of Indoor Cannabis

There are also some compelling reasons to try indoor cultivation as well: 

  • You can give your plants a more consistent environment, allowing for greater control over their growth.

  • Controlled lighting and environmental conditions can lead to more predictable outcomes.

  • It’s easier to protect crops from pests and diseases since you can monitor and adjust conditions.

Indoor growing has some drawbacks, too: 

 

  • Indoor growing has some high resource costs (including increased energy use for artificial lighting and heating) that are less environmentally sustainable at a macro level.

  • There’s potential for fewer terpenes and other beneficial compounds due to the lack of natural light.

When Should You Grow Cannabis Outdoors?

Outdoor cannabis cultivation is ideal if you’re looking to maximize yield and potency while reducing overhead costs. Growing outdoors lets cultivators take advantage of natural sunlight, and diligent care and planning will let you maximize other environmental benefits.

If you’re really committed to getting the benefits of natural light, a greenhouse will give you the best of both worlds by letting you utilize the natural heat and light of outdoor cultivation while maintaining the consistent, precise growing conditions of indoor cultivation. That’s how we do things at SunMed.

Does Outdoor Weed Get You Higher?

The effects of outdoor cannabis can vary significantly from those of weed grown indoors. Cannabis that’s exposed to sunlight and the elements generally produces a higher terpene content. Terpenes give cannabis its distinct flavor and aroma and enhance its medicinal benefits.

While THC and CBD play the starring role in the effects of cannabis, compounds like terpenes work together with cannabinoids to produce a variety of different psychoactive reactions. Moreover, THC and CBD are far more dependent on plant genetics than on environmental factors, making natural light a great way to influence the effects of your plants directly through growing methods.

Can You Bring Indoor Cannabis Plants Outside?

Yes, you can take indoor cannabis plants outside, but it requires careful preparation to make sure the plants get enough sunlight and nutrients while avoiding pests and diseases.

Here are a few steps you can take to help the process go smoothly.

  • First, make sure the plants have enough space between them so they don't compete for sunlight and nutrients. If possible, see if you can provide some shade during the hottest parts of the day.

  • Gradually expose your plants to more sunlight each day, allowing them to acclimate slowly.

  • Keep an eye out for any pests or diseases that may be present in the outdoor environment and take steps to protect your plants accordingly.

  • Finally, you can bring your plants indoors temporarily if you expect a cold snap. Just make sure to bring them back out early in the morning.

4 Tips for Cultivating Cannabis Outdoors

There’s just something a little magic about watching nature quietly do its work each day outside. It feels satisfying – even wholesome – to spend time outdoors learning more about the world around you while you tend to your plants.

Here are four tips to help you get the most out of your outdoor excursions.

1. Understand the Growing Cycle and Season

If you’re growing cannabis outdoors, you need to know the growing cycle and the seasons where you live. Learn the ins and outs of your local growing cycle by researching average temperatures, frost points, and hours of daylight for your region. (Even if you live in a warm state like California where you can grow all year round, the amount of light that your plants receive in the winter can affect yield and quality, so be prepared.) Decide how much you want to plant, and pick a spot that gets enough light. Learn what kinds of pests are common in your area.

2. Learn How to Test Your Soil

Soil testing offers valuable insights into nutrient levels, which will help you determine how best to fertilize your soil to ensure a healthy crop. Cannabis grows best in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. To change the pH level of your soil, you can choose from a variety of compounds like ground limestone (for raising pH) or aluminum sulfate (for lowering pH). It’s also possible to raise pH with natural products like wood ash, baking soda, or crushed eggs.

3. Deal with Pests Naturally

Pests are a common problem when you’re growing weed outdoors. For instance, if you're in the Maryland area, you'll want to learn about the infamous tomato hornworm. But there are natural solutions that can help you overcome outdoor pests without resorting to chemical treatments. One way to do that is by encouraging beneficial insects, such as ladybugs. 

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has a great guide on natural pest control and beneficial insects.

4. Take Advantage of Companion Planting

Companion planting helps attract beneficial insects and improve soil health so you get better yields. Certain plants, such as marigolds, nasturtiums, and oregano, can help deter pests and promote healthy microbial activity in the soil. The Vegetarian Times has a helpful list of companion plants for cannabis.

The Best Sun-Grown Cannabis Near You

If you're looking for sun-grown, lab-tested cannabis in the Maryland area, SunMed is your go-to source. Voted "Maryland's Best Grower" two years in a row, we're proud to offer top-notch sun-grown cannabis products at a great price. Visit a dispensary today to find the right cannabis for you!