You can definitely start marijuana plants indoors and move them outdoors at a later time. Doing so can make sense when you want to start your plants in a safe and controlled environment first and then, for example for flowering, would like them outside so they can enjoy the power of the sun for optimal yield. Moving plants outdoors can also be an option if you were to run out of growing space but want to grow your plants to their full potential outdoors.

However, moving cannabis plants outdoors, such as when the plants are in the growing (vegetative) phase and you want to flower them or in case you want them to keep growing outside comes with caveats that you need to know about. Let us talk about what you need to know about safely moving your plants outside.

THE CAVEATS OF MOVING MARIJUANA PLANTS OUTDOORS

Unless you are growing autoflowering strains which don’t care about daylight hours and light schedules, the big caveat with moving your marijuana plants outdoors has to do with the natural daylight hours. Unlike indoors where you have control over your lighting duration, you don’t have this control outdoors. Since non-autoflowering strains are depending on light cycles to determine whether to grow or whether to flower, the natural outdoor daylight must be taken into consideration.

There are possible scenarios where you would want to move your plants outside and each scenario would need that you know about how the natural light outdoors could possibly influence your grow.

SCENARIO: VEGGING INDOORS AND MOVING PLANTS OUTDOORS FOR FLOWERING

Let’s for the sake of easiness assume a typical indoor growing environment where you grow under artificial light on a 18/6 light schedule, such as in a grow tent or green house with your light on a timer.

cannabis indoor vegging moving outdoorsFor vegging, your plants can in theory stay under the 18/6 light schedule indefinitely. As long as the light cycle doesn’t change, your plants will grow and nothing shall really keep them from happily doing so.

In this case, a typical scenario where you might want to move your vegging plants outdoors for flowering could be once the plants reached a certain height, say when they reached 50 cm or so.

The caveat here is that you want to put the plants outside so they start to flower and would do so uninterrupted until harvest time which would typically take around 7-8 weeks. For your plants to flower, you want the daylight hours short enough so the plants won’t go into what’s called “re-vegging” which would negatively influence your plant’s growth and yield.

Now, from June 21st on, the daylight duration outdoors will steadily decrease until the Winter solstice on December 21st. Available daylight hours will again slowly increase after December with the maximum of daylight hours again available around June 21st.

You have several options for flowering cannabis outdoors after you grew them indoors:

  • You move our plants outdoors in late summer or early fall where the daylight hours are already short enough to initiate flowering right away.
  • You move your plants outdoors early in spring. Even if at this time daylight is already gradually increasing again, it will still be short enough for your plants to flower without the risk of re-vegging. (The right timing here is important! Put them out too late in spring and your plants would re-veg before harvest!)

When you put your plants outdoors for flowering, for example in spring, you want to avoid that your plants flower first but then stop doing so and go into a re-vegetative phase. (Because the daylight duration may become too long as spring progresses). When your plants go into re-vegging, it would negatively affect your yield!

For this reason you want to put our plants for flowering outdoors early enough in the year so they can finish flowering and are ready to harvest about mid-May. This would be the critical date otherwise they re-veg which you want to avoid.You wait until the end of June to move your plants outdoors. At the end of June, your plants will still spend some weeks growing but then begin to flower as summer comes to an end and autumn with its shorter days comes along.

outdoors indoor moving cannabisSCENARIO: GROWING INDOORS AND MOVING PLANTS OUTDOORS FOR FURTHER GROWTH

  • If you want to continue to “veg” your plants outdoors, there are similar caveats as described above except that now you want to move your plants outdoors so they continue growing without premature flowering.

In this case, you need to make sure that the outside daylight hours are long enough to allow for the vegetative phase of your plants.

  • Many growers who move vegging plants outside wait until the end of June to do so. At the end of June, shortly after the spring equinox, available daylight hours outdoors are the year’s longest which means there is no risk for premature flowering when you move plants from a 18/6 light schedule.

Know that should you move your vegging plants outside at another date, say in early spring or later in fall, they would start to flower, rather than continue growing.

  • Yet another option for putting your plants outside can be if you adjust your indoor lighting schedule to prepare them for the move to the outdoors. This means you would start growing indoors but follow the natural outdoor photoperiod. Let’s say there are currently 14 hours of natural light per day, then you would adjust your indoor light schedule accordingly and also set it to 14 hours. You would gradually adjust your indoor light duration every few days for a few minutes to keep the two light cycles (indoors and outdoors) in sync. This would then allow you to put your plants outside without the negative effects of a sudden difference in light duration.

There can be many reasons why you would want to start cannabis plants indoors and move them outdoors at a later time. You could for example start seedlings indoors so that they are sound and safe and protected from the cold in fall and winter. In the spring, your plants may be ready and eager to go outside so they can soak-in the sun and grow to their max potential. If you know about the natural light cycles and how they can influence the growth of your plants, you can move them outdoors without any negative surprises!

 

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