growing outdoor cannabis in southern california

Trellising/staking
Modern cannabis strains have been bred for heavy flower (“bud”) production, often to the point where the branches will break under the weight if not supported. As the branches grow out, gently tying them to thin bamboo stakes with plant tie wire (available at garden stores) will keep them from breaking off later during flowering phase.

Pest Control
Cannabis is relatively pest-free, but there are a few that can ruin your entire crop, particularly mites and molds. Detailed pest control descriptions are available online, in books and through cannabis-centered grow shops. Below is a quick overview of what to look for. We recommend getting a 100x pocket microscope and checking your plants regularly, especially the undersides of the leaves where mites live. These are available at most grow shops for about $20.

Where can I grow my plants?
The best place is outdoors in sunshine and fresh air, where plants are happiest. Plant them in the spring or summer and harvest in the fall. However, if you don’t have access to garden space or your local jurisdiction doesn’t allow outdoor cannabis growing, you can grow them indoors under high-powered “grow” lights. Check with your local city or county officials to see if there are specific limits on where you can grow.

We recommend outdoor growing in the normal gardening season, so most of what follows is somewhat specific to outdoor cannabis gardening.

Russet mites are microscopic, but visible with a 100x pocket microscope. The reason they are so feared among growers is that by the time damage becomes visible, the crop is often irrecoverable. That is why it’s important to do preventative pest control and maintain constant vigilance. Don’t wait till your plants look sick! Russet mites look like tiny milky colored maggots with four legs in front. They are much harder to spot at first and, unlike spider mites, are literally microscopic and can only be seen with a 100x pocket microscope. Growers are still struggling with organic control methods. Natural insecticides based on essential oils, neem and yeast enzymes all seem to work to varying degrees. Check with your local grow shop. We recommend doing routine preventative control even if you don’t see russet mites with your microscope. The good news is that anything you do to control russets will also control spider mites, thrips, fungus gnats and most other cannabis pests.

Detailed pest control is beyond the scope of this page, but you’ll need a small hand-pump sprayer and some organic pesticide. Any good grow shop can advise you. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to do basic preventative control. At the nursery, we use various organic pest control sprays preventatively about twice/week, but most home growers won’t need near that often of a spray schedule. If you are diligent with your microscope inspections, you may not need to do much at all if you don’t see any mites.

Seed-grown or clone?
Plant Humboldt is one of the very few cannabis nurseries to offer female plants grown from seed. This is the original Humboldt grow-your-own tradition. Many cannabis farmers—old-timers and first-timers, medical users and commercial growers—still prefer seed-grown starts.

Container
The bigger the roots, the bigger the plant. You can dig a large hole and fill it with commercial potting soil or use a plastic pot or fabric grow-bag above ground. The bigger, the better. Many Humboldt commercial cannabis farmers use 200 gallon (or bigger) fabric grow bags, but these are expensive and require a lot of expensive soil to fill. For a personal-use amount of finished marijuana, a 20-gallon pot will be manageable and can be put on a patio or deck. In the ground, dig a hole at least 30” across and 18” deep and fill it with commercial potting soil.

Growing outdoor cannabis in southern california

Since you’re growing outdoors, you’re going to want to think about the sunlight. If you’re growing in Southern California, your plants will likely have no shortage of access to direct sunlight. That simply means that they can get a combination of direct sunlight and indirect sunlight (shade) without having any negative effects. In fact, it could even be better, so they don’t get overheated and lose too much water.

Grow with the Sun

Of course, how much sun your plants are getting determines how much water they should get as well. If they are getting tons of direct sunlight and the weather is quite warm, you’re probably going to water them more frequently. However, it’s important not to overwater marijuana plants, as that can lead to problems with mildew or mold development.

Related: We Love Auto-flowering Strains

In general, you’re probably going to want to plant your pot at the beginning of May if you are growing a really big plant. The latest you should plant your pot is late August.

If you’re growing in Northern California, you might want to take better advantage of the direct sunlight when you have it. Keep your plants out in a spot where they can make full use of the sunlight that they get.

Seasons in California

How much sunlight is ideal for growing Marijuana plants outdoors?

If you are growing in California, you may be wondering when the perfect time to plant your marijuana outside is. Of course, the answer is never exactly simple – there are a variety of different factors that you should consider before deciding. Or you could always do a trial and error method… But we’ll leave that up to you to decide.