Growing Indoor Strains Outdoors

Will my indoor cannabis strains grow OK outside?

Growing indoor strains outdoors is something we get asked about.  Believe it or not, there can be important differences that will affect what makes one cannabis strain great indoors versus what makes another strain great outdoors. The cannabis seed genetics can cross over and work well in both types of grows too, but that’s not always the case.

Here are some points you might like to consider when deciding about staking your crop of buds with growing indoor strains outdoors.

Are you working with landrace genetics and true breeding strains–or growing the popular strain of the day that may not have much diversity in the genetic pool, for contrast.

What’s important to note here is that landrace cannabis strains originated from outdoors–it’s in their genetic code to take full on sun, stand up to strong winds and send out strong root systems to search out water and nutrients way down below when things get hot and dry.

old school ba rmg cambodian germans

Some notable landrace strains, for reference include Lambsbread, Hash Plant and South East Asian

Some of the more popular strains of today, while highly potent and sporting some really incredible flavors and aromas you may not have thought possible only years ago, are many generations removed from outdoor plants. 

Consider when one indoor star gets crossed to another, then another, then another…well you get the idea–some of those outdoor strengths and attributes may be lost or omitted through the indoor selection process and compounded with each generation.

Does that mean you shouldn’t choose indoor strains to grow outdoors?

No, not necessarily. Of course the answer largely depends on your climate and flowering time–if you have a short growing season and choose a long flowering strain it likely won’t ripen in time; not to say you may not get any buds though.  However, for short season selection if your indoor strain finishes in six weeks or less, there’s a good bet it will mature in time for a nice harvest of buds outdoors.  A nine week flowering indoor strain will likely not.

Another important thing to note about growing indoor strains outdoors is their tolerance to strong light as well as heat tolerance. Some indoor strains, developed for many generations under artificial lighting, may not be able to take full sun and hot or dry outdoor conditions. The solution can be to use 25 to 40% shade cloth or plant the crop so it gets mostly morning sun. Gradually acclimating indoor strains to full sunlight can help too versus exposing them to strong natural light right away, improving their chances of acclimating better to the great outdoors.

regular cannabis seeds versus feminized seeds

A strong root system is important for outdoor crops. Having a drip irrigation system or easy access to water as needed can make life easier for growing indoor strains outdoors.  However, without an easy and consistent water source, indoor strains may not do very well standing up to drought conditions.  Strains developed in and selected for outdoor growing environments tend to show better drought resistance.  Part of the reason for their success in this regards is having deep and robust root growth.  Aggressive root systems can drive through even hard soils and go deep to find water and minerals if otherwise scarce. However, if you started indoor strains for growing outdoors from seed they will have a tap root–clones do not.  A tap root gives your cannabis plant more aggressive root capabilities outdoors versus fibrous root systems that tend to grow shallow from clones.