How Much Sunlight Do Outdoor Cannabis Plants Need To Grow?
Cannabis is a sun-loving plant. But just how much sunlight do weed plants need in order to grow and flower properly?
Find out how much sun your cannabis plant needs, and how to best take advantage of it.
The more sunlight, the better; that’s the golden rule for growing weed outdoors. Unfortunately, we don’t all have access to a terrace, balcony, patio, or garden that receives full sun all throughout the day. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at weed’s passionate relationship with the sun, and show you just how much sunlight your outdoor plants need to produce a great harvest.
Why Does Cannabis Need Sunlight?
Through the power of photosynthesis, cannabis plants transform light energy from the sun into chemical energy to fuel their growth. Your weed plants use the energy they soak up from the sun to convert the water, carbon dioxide, and minerals they get from their environment into oxygen and energy-rich sugars to develop healthy roots, branches, and foliage.
What’s the Difference Between Sunlight and Artificial Light From Grow Lamps?
Whether sunlight “beats” artificial grow lights is an age-old debate in the cannabis community, with proud, loyal legions on either side. At RQS, we’re firm believers that there’s no replacement for Mother Nature, but we understand that growing indoors under artificial lights also has a lot of benefits.
We personally love growing under the sun because it’s free and there’s simply no industrial lamp capable of replicating the sun’s power. However, providing cannabis plants with 10–12 hours of unobstructed sunlight can be challenging for the average home grower, especially when you’re trying to keep your plants out of sight from prying eyes.
That’s where indoor growing really shines; not only does it allow you to run really private grows, but growing under lights also has the added benefit of giving you a lot more control over your plant’s environment and light cycle.
How Much Sunlight Do Outdoor Cannabis Plants Need?
Cannabis plants are happiest when they get between 10–12 hours of direct sunlight per day. As you’ll likely have witnessed with your own eyes, weed plants grow really vigorously, and hence need a ton of solar energy to fuel their growth.
However, it is possible to grow healthy cannabis plants outdoors with a minimum of 6 hours of uninterrupted sunlight. Just keep in mind that these plants will grow slower and therefore may produce lighter and lower-quality yields than plants getting optimal amounts of sun.
Can You Grow Cannabis With Indirect Sunlight Outdoors?
Read through a few grow forums and you’ll find plenty of growers who swear they’ve made it to harvest with just 1 or 2 hours of direct sunlight per day. Cannabis is, after all, a hardy plant that can withstand some pretty rough conditions when growing in the wild.
However, when growing weed at home, you’ll want to provide optimal conditions to maximise the size and quality of your yields. If they’re growing in the shade, your plants will reach for the sun and develop long, lanky branches, few bud sites, and light, airy buds with less resin.
When Do Cannabis Plants Flower Outdoors?
Outdoors, photoperiod cannabis plants will flower after the summer solstice, when the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer. In the Northern Hemisphere, this happens gradually after the June solstice, which usually occurs on June 20th or 21st, depending on the year. In the Southern Hemisphere, cannabis plants will gradually start flowering after the December solstice, which takes place on December 20th or 21st.
Keep in mind that outdoor plants will start flowering gradually, as the daytime hours will diminish much more gradually than indoors, where you will flip your plants from veg to bloom with the flick of a switch.
Is There a Difference Between Sunlight in the Equator vs in the Hemispheres?
Yes, there is a very big difference between sunlight in the hemispheres and the equator (or intertropical zones between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn).
Given the Earth’s orbit, its poles tilt toward the sun during different times of the year; the Northern Hemisphere is closest to the sun on the June solstice, while the Southern Hemisphere is closest to the sun during the December solstice. The closer a pole is to the sun, the more direct sunlight it receives, and the longer the days in the corresponding hemisphere.
The equator, however, continually remains at the same distance from the sun. Hence, it gets a constant 12 hours of sunlight all year round.
When to Grow and Harvest Cannabis in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres
Outdoor growers in the Northern Hemisphere will typically germinate their seeds in between spring and early summer, depending on their location. Along the Iberian Peninsula, for example, growers might start in early March and manage to grow two full crops of autos by August. Further north, however, growers will have to start a little later to avoid facing frosts, rain, hail, or other unfavourable conditions.
Growers in the Southern Hemisphere, on the other hand, might kick off their grows as early as September, and will typically harvest between March or May, although some sativas might be ready by early June (depending on the genetics and the local climate).
When growing outdoors, it’s important to know what genetics you’re working with and how they’ll respond to being planted during different times of the season. If you’re growing big sativas, for example, you may want to start your grow a little later to avoid the plants getting too large. If you’re working with fast autos, on the other hand, try to get your seeds in the ground as early as possible to squeeze two harvests into one growing season.
How to Grow Weed Outdoors Along the Equator and in the Tropics
As mentioned earlier, areas along the equator receive a steady 12 hours of sunlight throughout the year. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area sitting on the equator, you might be able to grow cannabis outdoors all year round (weather permitting, of course). In these areas, photoperiod strains might behave similarly to autoflowers, flowering automatically once they reach maturity.
The Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, on the other hand, receive up to 10.5 and 13.5 hours of sunlight per day following the summer and winter solstices (respectively). In these areas, you might also be able to grow cannabis all year round, depending on the weather, and might find your photoperiod strains to flower based on age rather than a change in light cycle.
Understanding Tropical Cannabis Strains
While cannabis may have its roots in Asia, the plant has managed to spread and adapt (thanks to the help of humans) to almost every corner of the globe. Varieties that have adapted to the unique climate and light cycle of the tropics and equator typically germinate much earlier than those adapted to grow further north or south. They may also stay in veg much longer, and even continue developing foliage as they flower, leading them to produce elongated and airy buds.
Just remember that, although equatorial photoperiod strains might behave similarly to autoflowers, they aren’t true autos. Autoflowering strains contain specific genes from Cannabis ruderalis that cause them to flower based on hormonal changes triggered by age. Photoperiod equatorial strains don’t have this gene, and thus their flowering might still be triggered by light changes (as minimal as they might be along the equator or in the tropics).
Wondering how much direct sunlight cannabis needs to grow properly outdoors? Unsure when to harvest in your hemisphere? Find out the answers inside.
How To Grow Weed On A Budget, Both Indoors And Outdoors
Growing your own cannabis is one of the most gratifying experiences a stoner can have. But so many of us are limited by the high-cost the whole operation can entail. But recent developments in the industry have brought this price down! Here is how to grow your weed very inexpensively, both indoors and out.
Growing weed has been associated with costly procedures for a long time. When many people think of cultivating cannabis, they automatically imagine expensive lighting setups, nutrients, humidity and temperature controllers, as well as €50 for a cannabis seed. But fear not, this is far from what the current market has to offer.
Nowadays, you’ll find machines that grow cannabis from start to finish without you even knowing it’s there. And with the appearance of such advancements in growing technology, this brings down the price and boosts the availability of more conventional growing methods.
There are several factors that go into growing cannabis. We’ll be examining how you can save the most money on your grow operation without sacrificing quality. Because if you’re looking to grow shitty weed, it will be super easy to do on a budget. The hard thing is growing cannabis you actually feel proud of when smoking with your friends. Let’s explore each of these essential variables, and see where we can save some money.
One might be inclined to think that the first step to saving money is to acquire cheap seeds. But one would be wrong. This is actually where you should invest the most. Making sure you have quality genetics will go a long way in keeping your plants healthy, even if you use lower-quality products during the later stages of growth.
Automatic genetics are also something that will help you save. In many cases, autos begin flowering just 2-3 weeks after germination. What’s more, the flowering cycle is not dependent on hours of light like photoperiod strains. Ultimately, your auto will rush from seed to harvest in an impressive amount of time, saving indoor growers some hard-earned cash. We currently offer over 20 different autoflowering strains in our store. These will ensure you get your desired yield within an appropriate timeframe.
Within our autoflowering seed catalogue, we feature our great, award-winning Royal Dwarf strain. Not only is this an inexpensive strain, costing you €5.00 per seed, it will also be very easy to grow. Easy in the sense that you won’t need a very big space. It’s called “Dwarf” for a reason. It’s a very compact and short strain, but will still produce up to 200g/m² indoors.
GROW ROOM ESSENTIALS
Now that we have our seed taken care of, we need to set up our grow space to properly receive and nourish it. Growing indoors will always be more expensive than growing outside, so we’ll mainly be looking into what an indoor grow room needs.
Lights are one of the most important variables when growing cannabis. Without light, your plant will not grow, period. Indoor lighting setups have to mimic the energy produced by the sun, so they can be quite expensive, especially when growing multiple plants. But there are still ways you can save on these. One of the best options is to buy used lamps, they’ll do just fine. You’ll only need new bulbs. Lamps and reflectors can be found on eBay and similar sites, and will likely perform as well as newer models.
LED lights will be a great choice if you want to save on electric bills. These, however, will probably be the most expensive option outright. Fluorescent bulbs, on the other hand, are cheaper. But they’ll consume much more energy and you’ll have to change bulb types when moving from the vegetative cycle to flowering. You can get the EnviroGro 4, which will cost you anywhere between €90-120. This is definitely a great option for the vegetative cycle.
HPS lights will be your third option. These have a full UV spectrum but don’t last very long. And on top of that, they release a lot of heat. This means you’ll need more fans to cool down your room. iPower Digital Dimmable System is a great choice as it comes with a cooling hood. This will help reduce the heat it emits, but with the extra cost of purchasing the inline fan. These systems cost anywhere between €130-250.
AIR CIRCULATION AND HEAT
Air circulation is essential to maintain a healthy environment. Your lights are constantly releasing heat. On top of that, your plants will transpire on a daily basis. So it’s important you keep bringing fresh air into your grow room, and stale air out. This means you need both intake and exhaust fans. You can buy cheap second-hand fans on eBay for as little as €10, and you can make your own carbon filter to keep the smell to a minimum.
When you simulate night time, your room or closet will begin to cool down. For this, you’ll need extra heating. During the day, your lights might produce enough heat, but at night, the grow room cools down drastically. So much so, it can be very unhealthy for your plants. Purchasing extra heating equipment may seem like a lot, but you’ll realise how beneficial it can be when it’s needed.
You want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your lights. Reflective walls will help light bounce around the room and get to every part of your plant. This will probably give you greater yields while using the same number of lamps.
The easiest solution for this is to buy a grow tent. You can get one for as little as €100, like the Apollo Horticulture grow tent. These are all usually airtight and water-sealed. They are extremely practical setups and can fit discreetly in almost every household.
We’ve covered the necessities of your plant’s environment. Now let’s go through what your plant needs directly. You’ll obviously require a dedicated space. You can use a closet, an entire room, or purchase a grow tent. This will depend on your budget and what you currently have at your disposal.
Being that you want to save money when selecting a medium, soil will be the best option. This is the cheapest and simplest option. You might not even need a lot of extra nutrients depending on the type and quality of your soil. You can also make your own manure or worm castings at almost no extra cost.
But if you still find yourself needing extra nutrient supplements, try to use ones made specifically for cannabis. This is important as you’ll be consuming the plant’s yields. If buds are grown with harmful chemicals, your cannabis can end up really hurting your body. In case you find yourself using a generic fertilizer, make sure it’s intended for edible products like vegetables or fruit. This will inform you that it’s ok to light up your bud after feeding it the product.
Vertafort has some great options that are super cheap. You dissolve a tablet in 3-5 litres of water to create the booster mix. This will feed as many plants as you can with the water. They have tablets both for the vegetative and the flower stage. Don’t be fooled by the marketing of other expensive brands who claim only their products can do the job. As long as you understand what you’re looking for, you’ll find cheap options. Don’t start before doing all the necessary research.
SETTING UP A BUDGET OUTDOOR GROW-OP
When growing outdoors, there are few factors you can actually control. Therefore, make sure you don’t underspend and buy poor-quality soil. Even if you have perfect genetics and the ideal nutrient supplements, if your soil is too cheap, your seed will not grow. You won’t be spending more than €100 on soil and considering what’s in question, this isn’t a whole lot.
When it comes to water, the cost will depend on where you live, but this shouldn’t be too excessive. Making sure you’re using quality soil will also guarantee the proper amount of water is being both absorbed and drained.
If you decide to use an external nutrient supply, the cost will depend on how informed you are. If you can make your own worm castings, you probably won’t need any extra macronutrients, but it will depend on your time, resources, and quality of soil.
But when it comes to growing indoors, there will be additional costs. As mentioned above, there are some materials that one cannot go without when growing indoors. The closet/tent you use, paired with lighting, heating, and air circulation equipment are integral to your crop’s success.
Once you make that initial investment, growing more plants will only become cheaper. If you can grow outside, do it. You’ll save money. However, many argue that indoor weed is of a higher quality. While proponents of each method with argue their side, indoor grow-ops allow more much more control over your plants’ environment than the great outdoors.
But hey, at a low-cost or not, you’re growing cannabis. So have fun and remember to learn from your mistakes. Learning means that your next crop will be cheaper; and the next one, hopefully, cheaper than that. Good luck with your next harvest!
Growing cannabis isn't reserved for the rich ones. Everyone can do it! Learn how you can start growing your own flower for much less than you thought.