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Growing Cannabis Outdoors vs Indoors

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Growing Cannabis Outdoors vs Indoors

Outdoor growing is the most natural way to grow, you utilize the sun’s light and in most cases will plant directly into the soil.Growing cannabis outdoors is typically more difficult than growing it indoors, as you will in most cases have to deal with pests and weather conditions which may hamper your growing efforts.

Indoor grows are more controlled and allow for a better environment for growing, with the ability to control things like temperatures and humidity. High humidity can lead to bud rot and powdery mildew forming on the plant, while temperatures that are too cold can stunt the plant growth or in some cases even kill it.

Indoor sounds great right? Well it is, but there are some areas of indoor growing that make it quite a challenge. Firstly, indoor growing is by no means cheap.A sufficient lighting setup for a 4×4 ft grow tent can cost in excess of R5000, with high-end options running more than R10 000 for the same area. There is also the cost of electricity to run these high powered lights, and even in cases where highly efficient lighting is used, you’re still likely to see a big rise in your electricity bill. Add to that the cost of air conditioning and dehumidifiers and you’ll realize that a moderate scale indoor setup can set you back as much as R30 000.

Outdoor grows are a challenge, but when done right can be extremely rewarding.The sun is by far the best light for growing, it offers a full spectrum which helps cannabis thrive. Indoor grow lights do their best job to mirror the natural light one receives outside.

One area where indoor growing takes a massive lead over outdoor though, is in the ability to grow multiple harvests a year indoors, as opposed to a single annual harvest outdoors.

Cannabis requires 12 hours of darkness a day in order to flower, in nature this occurs with the changing of summer into autumn, meaning you get one flowering season a year.With indoor grows, you can control the light and choose to flower your plants when you want to. Because of this, it’s common for indoor growers to have several harvests a year, as many as 4 when growing fast flowering or auto flowering strains.

To make things simple, let’s compare the most prominent pros and cons for both indoor and outdoor grows.

Growing Marijuana Outdoors

  • Ony one harvest per year unless you live near the equator
  • Grow area must avoid detection for several months by potential thieves, you must secure your plants from animals and/or thieves
  • You should have easy access to grow area and should be able to visit once every 1-2 weeks
  • There needs to be a convenient source of water nearby
  • Area should be well lit by the sun and optimally have direct sunlight from at least 10am-4pm (more is better)
  • The climate should have a warm growing season, the longer the better
  • Plants must be planted at a certain time of the year and often there can only be one crop a year
  • Longer Grow Time
  • Potential interference from bugs, animals, flooding, and other uncontrollable factors


  • Easiest method since marijuana plants need less tending in their natural environment; if you live in an area with the right growing environment you can pretty much let mother nature do her thing
  • Cheapest start-up costs since there is free light and ventilation
  • Often have bigger yields than indoor crops, since outdoor plants usually have plenty of room to grow and unlimited sunshine
  • Many people feel that outdoor growing produces the most flavorful buds (this is likely due to the light from the sun, though there's some evidence that certain lights like LEDs may be able to mimic the sun in ways that cause buds to grow with increased scent and lavor).

Biggest Cons

  • Impractical for most city-dwellers, who would have to travel to a remote grow site
  • At the mercy of mother nature, so a drought, torrential downpour, bug infestation, early frost, or even a hungry family of deer can destroy your whole crop, which means you lose your entire crop for the year
  • Must be close to a water source, or must lug water to and from the grow spot

Growing Marijuana Indoors

  • Ability to produce perpetual harvests
  • Must have enough room to grow indoors and be able to avoid detection
  • Start-up costs can be pretty high depending on grow system
  • You can control all aspects of growing environment, which means you will be able to produce a more consistent quality of buds, but also means…
  • You must produce entire growing environment, including light, growing medium, nutrients, air conditions, etc
  • You pay for electricity to run lights, which can get expensive if you’re using many lights. A single 600W HPS light uses about as much electricity as a refrigerator
  • If you get caught growing, then there’s no way out since the plants are inside your house


  • Shorter grow time
  • Easier to be discreet about growing
  • Ability to control all aspects of environment to produce a consistent high-quality bud
  • Can have many crops a year (perpetual harvest is possible)
  • Many growers believe that indoor buds are the highest quality buds. In medical states, indoor buds are sold at much higher prices than outdoor buds

Biggest Cons

  • High start-up costs 
  • Maintenance cost (electricity) can get expensive depending on the grow system and number of plants
  • More upkeep than an outdoor grow
  • Must keep good ventilation and maintain clean grow area

Differences Between Growing Marijuana Indoors vs. Outdoors

Controlled and Natural Climates

When cannabis was first cultivated thousands of years ago, it was grown outdoors in natural sunlight that allowed Mother Nature to do her thing. For centuries things stayed the same. Plant a seed and watch it grow. When cannabis was criminalized however, prohibition meant people had to take their pot growing indoors. Out of sight, out of mind became the motto for those who still wanted to grow weed.

Grow lights replaced natural sunlight, and basements, attics, spare bedrooms, and closets across the country became the land cannabis had grown freely on for years. Growing indoors allowed for cannabis farmers to manipulate their environment. They were able to give their plants the best possible environment, rather than rely on ever-changing outdoor conditions.

When you grow marijuana indoors you have complete control over the environment. An indoor garden allows for control over light, temperature, humidity, CO2 production, and protection from harsh elements. Growers that cultivate indoors will harvest pristinely perfected pot plants that are high in THC.

No matter how perfect plants turn out, there is a drawback to indoor cultivation. There isn’t anything as powerful as natural sunlight to make plants produce high yields. Indoor gardens are notorious for producing immaculate plants. Yields, however, are typically much lower than they are from outdoor grows.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cannabis Quality

There’s a long-held notion that indoor product is far more superior to anything grown outside. Remember, growing indoors allows for complete control of the environment and often results in immaculate marijuana plants. There’s no rain, hail, snow, or wind that can possibly do any damage to cannabis plants when they’re grown inside. This results in gorgeous ganja plants that are visually pleasing with strong flavor and aroma profiles.

Because of this, indoor cannabis is typically believed to be of higher quality than bud grown outside. Outdoor plants must contend with the natural environment, compensating for the elements that are uncontrollable. This can cause plants not to look as “pretty” as their indoor counterparts. The effects, however, should be very much the same if plants are given the nutrients and attention they need. Flavor and aroma should also remain similar to indoor plants, especially when growers take the time to properly cure their final product.

Something else to consider with indoor growing quality is the industrial pesticides and fertilizers that are required to keep pests at bay. While indoor growing does offer a pristine environment for plants to flourish, it also allows for unwanted pests to flourish. Without the natural predators of ants, ladybugs, and wasps you’d find in an outdoor environment that keep mites away, these pests can flourish in an indoor space. With many consumers looking for organic products cultivated without the use of harmful pesticides, several growers choose to grow outside and let nature do its thing. 

The Cost of Growing Indoors vs. Outdoors

While growing indoors might seem like a viable option to many would-be cannabis farmers, the costs of growing indoors can be atrocious. Startup costs for both ventures can become expensive, but the costs of indoor growing far outweigh those associated with an outdoor grow.

For an indoor grow setup, the cost to set up a 6×6 foot space can run close to $2000 depending on the equipment you purchase. Then there is the cost of electricity to run your electricity. This can cost up to $1000 or more depending on utility costs in your area.

If you’re looking at a smaller space to set up, a grow tent kit can help get you on your way. A 2x2ft grow tent kit will allow you to have 2-4 plants grown in 1-3-gallon pots. Utilities would be less expensive than a larger indoor grow however you’ll end up harvesting less cannabis in the end. Grow tent kits cost less than $1000 and are an investment you can take with you wherever you go.

Outdoor grows also require a substantial start-up cost but won’t cost much to maintain. The natural sun replaces the electricity you pay for. Higher yields replace smaller indoor harvests.

all in all

No matter where you grow it, indoors under lights or outside with plenty of fresh sunshine, weed is still weed. There are some major differences regarding an indoor and outdoor product, but what works for one grower won’t always work for the next. Not everyone who wants to grow weed has the outdoor space to do so. And not everyone has the means to invest in an indoor setup.

Each style of cultivation has its pros and cons. As a producer of cannabis, it’s important to keep yourself educated and informed. Knowing the difference between indoor and outdoor cannabis is a step towards understanding what works for you personally, whether growing for commercial production or cultivating for personal use.

In the end, it’s not so much about either one being better than the other, they both have the opportunity to provide you with high quality flower. However, for newer growers who have the budget and don’t feel like dealing with the pains of pests and mildew, indoor growing will be able to provide you with higher quality flower with less hassle.

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