Growing Cannabis Outdoors: When To Harvest

Growing cannabis outdoors can be one of the most rewarding ways to grow.

Plus, it just feels so much more natural.

Choosing the right location for your plants and knowing exactly when to harvest them are two very important keys a successful grow project.

So, let's take a look at them.


How to Choose the Right Outdoor Location for Your Cannabis Plants

The Soil

As with any plant, cannabis needs sun, water and good soil.

Check the area for other green plants.

If they're growing well, then your cannabis should do well, too.

Ideally, the top few inches of soil should look and feel dark and rich.

Worms and bugs in the soil is a sign that the soil is healthy and free of poisonous chemicals.

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Amount of Sun

The amount of sun an area gets is a consideration.

Your plants will love a southern exposure since they will receive sunlight throughout the day.

However, if a northern exposure is your only option, that location will work.

If there is other green vegetation on that slope, your plants should do well.

Amount of Water

Water is a big consideration for any plant.

If you can find a suitable location near a stream or other water source, you are in luck.

There are solar pumps on the market that can help you irrigate your plants, thereby reducing a lot of manual water hauling.

If you're just growing outside of your house you can use you're water hose water, but it might be to hard for your plants so make sure to test the pH.


If vegetation is present, it will need to be cleared to make way for your plants.

Determine how far apart your plants will be and you'll know how much area you need to clear.

If you can, plan ahead by watching the area from early spring to late fall.

Consider placing some regular annual plants there.

Do they thrive?

How much water is available in the hottest part of the summer?

Knowing these conditions will give you and your cannabis plants a greater chance for success.

Advantages to Growing Cannabis Outdoors Rather Than Indoors

The Space

Growing indoors can be confining.

Space is limited and living space may have to be sacrificed for the sake of the plants.

Outdoor plants have room to grow, and more than one location can be used.

The Costs on Indoor Grows Can be Expensive

The cost of grow lights and other growing equipment can be expensive.

To see just how expensive grow lights can be, check out this buying guide.

Electric bills can increase significantly.

The cost of plastic, trays, lights, soil and other growing equipment can mount up.

Nature, on the other hand, provides everything but the plants, water and fertilizer.

If you live in a rainy area, nature will provide the water, too!

Although plants will grow under grow lights, plants love real sunlight.

A disadvantage to growing outdoors may be the security of your plants.

It's best to grow your cannabis plants in a secluded location and keep the news about your grow project to yourself.

People on both sides of the issue are interested in where cannabis is being grown.


With a smaller space indoors, growing can be continual around the year.

Pruning, trellising, feeding, watering and harvesting can seem never ending.

Outdoors, one large crop can be grown during the summer with a rest period in the off season.

Fertilizing Your Cannabis Plants

As with any vegetable or herb garden, there is the endless debate over organic versus chemical fertilizers.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.

Advantages of the organic fertilizer are the slow release of nutrients and protection from burning the plants.

Advantages of chemical fertilizer is the exact nutrient ration and increased growth and THC production.

If just starting out, chemical fertilizer is easier to obtain and readily available at grow shops or online.

Although the goal is to produce a nice high yield, care must be taken when using chemical fertilizers with the soil to preserve nature's balance in order to have good yields year after year.

How to Determine When to Harvest Your Outdoor Cannabis Crop

The signs for when to harvest the cannabis can different slightly with each strain of plant.

There can even be subtle differences between two different plants of the same species.

However, one common sign that a cannabis plant is nearing harvest time is when it develops white hairs.

Shortly after, some of the white hairs will begin to turn orange.

As the plant gets closer to maturity, the head of the plant will become more defined.

At this point, it will develop a milky color which will then turn to amber.

When 50% to 60% of the balls on the head are amber, it is time to start harvesting.

50-60% Amber Trichomes

If you wait until too many balls on the top of the plant turn amber, you have waited too long to harvest the plant at the right time.

The resin production has begun to wane and the flower quality has begun to decrease.

And cannabis with a higher amber THC count is known to give you a more couch-lock high.

The true tell-tale sign that the plant is nearing harvest is when trichomes develop on the leaves.

When the heads on the trichomes begin to turn amber, it is harvest time.

The plant is now in its prime.

Trichomes are resin glands found on the cannabis plant.

It's the trichomes that contain the THC, CBD and other medicinal compounds.

Therefore, it is important to harvest the plants just as the trichomes reach maturity.

Trichomes are not easy to see without a microscope.

It's recommended that you purchase an inexpensive microscope to be more accurate when determining the proper day of harvest.

You Can Harvest a Plant in Stages

When the top of the plant is ready to harvest, the rest of the plant may need a bit more time.

Although you don't want to touch the live plant any more than necessary, another sign of a harvest-ready plant is when the top—or cola—of the plant feels dense.

You can cut the part that feels solid and leave the rest of the plant to mature longer as it receives more sun.


If your growing out doors, when to harvest can seem a bit tricky.

When you're growing indoors you're completely in control of the life cycle of a cannabis plant, outdoor plants, however, look to the sun to be shown how to behave.

Make sure to harvest based off the colors of the trichomes (40-60% amber) to harvest at the plants peak.

You can also harvest when most of the white hairs have turned orange and the bugs have gotten dense.

When do you harvest when growing outdoors? Do you just wait till October and start cutting or are you paying more attention to the trichomes?

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