Best Time to Start Growing Cannabis Outdoors?

When trying to determine the best time to start growing cannabis outdoors you need to consider your growing goals:

  • Are you trying to grow the largest plants?
  • Are you trying to grow smaller stealthy plants?
  • Are you trying to maximize the number of crops to grow?

We will review the 3 scenarios above but the common answer for all-the-above would be: Start growing cannabis as soon as your season is warm enough to allow proper growth.  Start when the average nighttime temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  You want the temperature to be warm enough to give your plants a better chance of survival.

In New York City it gets warm enough in May for me to not worry as much.  May is when I start.  You have 2 general options when starting your cannabis seeds.

  • Start cannabis seeds outdoors when your outdoor average temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Start cannabis seeds indoors 14 -21 days prior to your target outdoor date

There is a difference between “Starting your cannabis outdoors” and “Growing your cannabis outdoors”.  You can “Start” your cannabis either inside or outside.  “Starting” just refers to germinating your seeds and getting the plants adjusted to being alive 😊. “Growing” your cannabis refers to the rest of the growing process. 

Starting your cannabis indoors gives you safety and timing flexibility for the grow.   Safety in the sense that since you are starting your plants indoors you have a very hospitable environment that helps provide optimum conditions for seedlings.  These conditions make starting your grow easier and provides better odds for a strong start.

Referring to the goals we mentioned in the beginning of this article, starting cannabis grows inside:

  • Are you trying to grow the largest plants?  You will be on target with this goal because since you are starting indoors, you can start the plants 2-3 weeks prior to your target outdoor date.  This gives the plants 2-3 weeks of good head start while waiting for it to get warm enough to grow outdoors.

Giving cannabis plants 1-3 additional weeks of growing time almost guarantees that your plants will be larger.  Larger plants will produce more flower.  If you are looking to have the largest plants, this additional grow time will help for sure!

  • Are you trying to grow smaller stealthy plants? Starting cannabis indoors may not seem like an obvious benefit when trying to achieve this goal, but one technique for growing smaller plants outdoors is to shorten the vegetative grow cycle before the plant begins to flower. 

To achieve a shorter vegetative cycle simply start your plants LATER in the season. Cannabis plants started later in the season will be smaller because they had less time to grow.  Starting indoors in this scenario just gives you the usual benefits of starting indoors, a strong healthy start.

In New York City for example, If I wanted smaller plants, I would start them indoors mid to late June.  Let them start growing inside for 1-3 weeks then move them outdoors.

  • Are you trying to maximize the number of crops to grow? –  There is a limited amount of time in the outdoor growing season in most areas.  Traditionally you would grow one crop of plants each season.

Traditional cannabis plants are photoperiod plants.  This means that while they grow, they keep track of how much light they receive.  When the shorter days of late summer are detected, the plants begin to flower and fruit, finishing in the Fall season. 

In New York City if I start a photoperiod period plant in May, it will finish in late September or early October.  Larger plants take 5-6 months from start to finish.

In recent years, a new type of cannabis plant has become popular, this type of plant is labeled an auto-flowering plant.  Unlike the photoperiod plant that detects shorter length of daylight to begin flowering, an auto-flowering plant will start to flower regardless of the day length.

Typically, an auto-flowering plant will start to flower 30-45 days after germination and will finish flowering 60 days after it starts to flower.  90 days total from start to finish.

In New York City if I start an auto-flowering plant in May it will finish around the end of July.

You now have a lot of options regarding what types of plants you can grow and are no longer limited to large plants that take 5-6 months to grow.

  • You can grow 1 crop of photoperiod plants in 5-6 months
  • You can grow 2 crops of auto-flowering plants in about 6 months

Having the ability to start your autoflower cannabis indoors is extremely beneficial because although you can certainly grow 2 crops of autoflowers outdoors in NYC.  The flexibility of starting your plants indoors will greatly increase your chances of timing your grow more accurately.

A solid start indoors will make sure your first crop of autoflowers gets outside well established ONTIME and will also do the same for your second crop.  You are cutting it close in some areas trying to fit 2 crops in to the outdoor season.

Starting autoflowers indoors is a great insurance policy for finishing 2 crops outdoors!

We spent most of this article discussing the timing and benefits of starting your cannabis indoors and when to move your plants outdoors, but you can also start your cannabis outdoors too 😊

Timing in general is the same for staring your cannabis outdoors.

Start growing cannabis as soon as your season is warm enough to allow proper growth.  Start when the average nighttime temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is sometimes tricky with timing because you never really KNOW when the cold weather has wrapped up for the season.  As with weather in general, you can also have heavy rains that are also detrimental to cannabis seedlings.

If you are starting and growing cannabis outdoors then the best advise would be to start your outdoor seedlings in small containers.

Starting your seedlings in small containers will make it possible to move them temporarily indoors if very cold weather is expected.  This helps if ANY inclement weather is expected.  You now have the ability to protect your plants more effectively!

Once the seedlings are well established you can transplant them into their final outdoor location.

Thanks for reading and please submit any feedback using the form below!

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