Now is last chance to start outdoor growing this year.

We are now in May, and it's the time to take those last little cannabis sprouts and plant them outside. But do you know how to grow the best cannabis for your climate zone? What about pests, do you know how to keep them at bay?

The biggest factor to consider when growing marijuana outdoors is climatic zone. Zones are how scientists and farmers determine when and where to begin planting. The different climate zones are: moist tropical, Mediterranean, humid subtropical, arid or semiarid, maritime, hot summer continental and subarctic zones.

Marijuana grows in several zones from all over the world. From the various tropical regions in the U.S., to the cold tundras of Russia, weed can grow just about anywhere. But not all strains grow equally well in all zones. Most will still grow but extra care is needed to prevent issues.

The Emerald Triangle in California can support cultivating strains that take advantage of the high humidity of the humid subtropical rainforest and thin mountain air. The high humidity can lead to mold and fungus in overly dense canopies so farmers should stay aware.

Mountain cannabis strains are usually cross-bred seeds that perform best in arid or semiarid areas. 

They tend to take advantage of the ability to be top crop and grow incredibly tall. Snow Bud and White Widow are strains that thrive in the mountains and avoid being overly sensitive to frost. For those who live in tropical areas, mountain strains struggle to stay cool.

Many strains grow best in sun-blasted climates. These strains thrive in regions where frost is rare and sun is everywhere. Some have a slight drought resistance that keeps them healthy when other strains begin to wilt. Strains that grow well in hot summer continental and arid zones are Northern Light and Amnesia Haze.

Many dispensaries sell clones that are ready to plant and well suited to your climate in addition to seeds. And even plants that are not ideal for your climate can still be grown. The plants just take more attention or care to ensure they don't struggle. You can use the Cannafo Dispensary Finder to learn what is offered in your area.

Now that I have my seedlings, can I just plant them in the dirt?

Yes, you can plant clones in mother nature's dirt. But without good fertilizer and nutrients they won't grow to produce award winning buds. To grow the tastiest, stoniest, densest nugs, you're going to need to dedicate yourself to it. Using high quality nutrients and soil like those offered by Dakine 420 will give your plants the tools of greatness.

And it does come down to the plant and how well its needs are met. Feeding your cannabis good fertilizer and nutrients is important because they quickly consume what is found in the soil. Think of trying to live for a year from what is in your fridge right now. The soil around a plant is like its fridge and must be restocked regularly.

Marijuana requires a variety of nutrients during the different grow phases. And they consume those nutrients at different rates depending on their environment. Many growers mix their own nutrients and try to save a penny but lose pounds. I like Dakine 420. Mostly because they offer specialized products designed to meet the special needs of cannabis.

The Nitro Nutrients Bloom easy to use and concentrated for easy storage. The Atomic Root Powder makes cloning a breeze and while I'm at it I grab some top notch organic soil. Dakine's nutrient Sampler Box is great if you want to test it out on a small grow. But you don't HAVE to use Dakine 420, even if it is my favorite. Basically, if the plant gets what it needs to grow when it needs it, you're ok.

There are some important things to consider with your soil as well.

Some soil is simply bad for your plants. Native soil from various regions are either too sandy, have too much clay or too acidic for a cannabis plant to be happy. Many experienced outdoor growers amend their soil (mix in) with high grade soil and grow mediums to improve what they start with. One of the biggest reasons to do this is to improve soil aeration and moisture retention.

Coco Coir Lite: Aeration Formula from Dakine is a great example of how to amend. Or you could grow in your pot in just the coco and simply add nutrients as needed. For commercial marijuana projects, industrial sized units are the way to go. In that case, the Coco Coir Lite 2 Yard Super-Sack is where you will want to look first. It's made with premium buffered, high-pith coconut coir fiber so it's renewable, sustainable and nutrient neutral.

Manufactured soils offer the right balance of nutrients, moisture retention and scale for any cannabis farmer. But finding the right soil isn't enough. Outdoor growers also need to control pests in ways that indoor growers don't. You can't just release a million ladybugs into your garden and expect them to stay put. In the outdoors, you need to get more creative.

How do I stop bugs from eating my cannabis plants?!

Pests can ruin thousands of dollars of marijuana overnight. They come in all different shapes and sizes. Aphids, fungus gnats, thrips, green flies, spider mites, caterpillars and inchworms are just a few examples of invasive bugs. But the most common pests are spider mites, aphids, thrips and fungus gnats.

Most pests, if detected early, can be destroyed and cannabis plants can be saved. Spider mites can generally be found underside of leaves before they entomb buds in their webs. They love high humidity and warmth so using constant drip systems can increase crop susceptibility. Spider mites aren't the only pests that love a humid environment. Thrips will also seek out moist cannabis so preventing spider mites is likely to minimize the threat of thips as well.

Thrips are tiny flying pests and love chlorophyll. They can be seen in grazing herds like tiny cattle mowing across a leaf. Not only do they damage the leaves, they'll lay eggs on top of them. You can use natural predators or chemical treatments to clear out an infestation after it starts. Treating for thips once isn't enough, multiple treatments are needed to ensure adults, juvenile and eggs are killed off.

But not all pests love leaves like thrips do. 

Fungus Gnats are mostly see-through pests that are usually found on the upper roots. Fungus Gnats, if left unchecked, can spread throughout the root system. If allowed to progress far enough, these pests can easily destroy thousands of dollars of product.

Once a crop is destroyed by fungus gnats, the nightmare isn't over. Their larva and other pests like to hibernate while there is no weed for them to eat. This makes it crucial for growers to deep clean an area (indoors and outdoors) after an infestation. Especially before the next grow season.

Pests can quickly overwhelm natural predators and being outdoors makes plants especially susceptible to insects. If the war gets out of control, Dakine 420 and many other companies also sell organic pest control to help growers from all different sizes keep their product healthy. For example, Flat Line Natural Insect Repellant is an all-natural product that fights off mites and aphids.

In the end, making sure that your outdoor garden is stock full of healthy plants can be a challenge. But savvy growers know the tricks to minimizing their struggles. First, getting strains that can thrive in the climate. Second, making sure there are plenty of nutrients available in high quality soil. And lastly, making their garden less appealing to pests and eradicating them once detected.

So get out there and grow some killer outdoor marijuana! 

Adam Rhodes

An adventure seeking nerd, nothing too serious but people seem to like him, Adam is also the creator and writer for The Strain Domain

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