Basics to Growing Outdoor Cannabis For Solventless Extraction 101


Todde Philips

🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.

Spring is here, and it’s time to start thinking about getting plants into the ground! Growing cannabis outdoors can be a great way to produce high-quality buds while enjoying the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. However, outdoor cultivation requires careful planning and attention to environmental factors. In this article, we’ll look at the basics of growing cannabis outdoors, including climate considerations, strain selection, soil and nutrient requirements, planting and care, and harvesting and curing.

One of the most significant advantages of growing cannabis outdoors is the lower cost of production compared to indoor cultivation. With natural sunlight and soil nutrients, outdoor cannabis plants can reach their full potential without the need for expensive equipment such as grow lights, fans, and air conditioning. Furthermore, outdoor-grown cannabis is often considered to have a more complex and diverse terpene profile, resulting in a richer flavor and aroma. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, growing cannabis outdoors can be a rewarding experience that yields high-quality buds and a deeper connection to nature.

Benefits of Growing Outdoors

Although the best of the best quality flowers are generally thought to come from indoor gardens, where all the environmental variables can be precisely dialed-in, growing cannabis outdoors has several advantages. Let’s look at a few of them:

1. Cost-effectiveness: Growing cannabis outdoors can be much more cost-effective than growing it indoors. There is no need to invest in expensive lighting, ventilation, and other equipment necessary for indoor cultivation.

2. Larger yields: Cannabis plants grown outdoors can potentially yield larger harvests due to the ample natural sunlight, fresh air, and space available for the plants to grow.

3. Natural flavor and potency: Outdoor-grown cannabis plants can have a unique flavor and aroma that is difficult to replicate with indoor cultivation. They can also have a higher potency due to exposure to natural sunlight and other outdoor elements.

4. Eco-friendly: Growing cannabis outdoors is an eco-friendly choice because it doesn't require the use of electricity, which can have a negative impact on the environment.

5. Healthier plants: Outdoor-grown cannabis plants tend to be healthier than indoor plants because they have access to natural sunlight and fresh air, which can help prevent mold, pests, and other issues that can arise with indoor cultivation.

Where Can You Grow Cannabis Outdoors?

Cannabis is a versatile plant that can grow in a range of climates, but there are certain conditions that are optimal for outdoor cultivation. The ideal climate for growing cannabis outdoors is one that provides warm temperatures, ample sunlight, and moderate humidity, with at least 12 hours of darkness during the flowering cycle. Here are some of the key climate factors to consider:


Temperature: Cannabis plants thrive in temperatures between 70-85°F (21-29°C) during the day and 60-70°F (15-21°C) at night. Temperatures that are too hot or toold can cause stress and slow plant growth.

Sunlight: Cannabis plants need a lot of sunlight to grow and produce a good yield. They require at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, but ideally, they should be exposed to 12 hours of direct sunlight or more. Cannabis plants will start flowering when they receive 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness every day. As the growing season progresses and late summer turns to autumn, the days continue to shorten and the resin approaches peak ripeness. 

Humidity: Cannabis plants prefer moderate humidity levels of around 40-60%. High humidity can lead to mold and mildew, while low humidity can cause stress and slow plant growth.

Rainfall: Cannabis plants require a consistent supply of water, but too much rainfall can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot. The optimal amount of rainfall depends on the specific strain and local climate, but in general, it's best to avoid heavy rainfall or to use well-draining soil. If the growing season doesn’t offer much rain, supplementing with hand-watering or irrigation is key. 

Wind: Cannabis plants benefit from a gentle breeze, which helps to strengthen the stems and prevent mold and pests. However, strong winds can damage the plants and reduce yields. Cannabis plants are hardy, so it takes a lot of wind to damage them. The natural breeze and fresh air outside is a great advantage for outdoor gardens. 

In summary, the optimal climate for growing cannabis outdoors is one that provides warm temperatures, ample sunlight, moderate humidity, and a consistent supply of water.

Which Cultivars are Best for Growing Cannabis Outdoors for Solventless Extraction?

The two main considerations here are selecting cultivars that are hardy and resilient enough to thrive in the outdoors, while also producing premium resin that stands out in the lab. When it comes to growing cannabis outdoors, certain strains may perform better than others. Here are some qualities to look for when choosing a cannabis strain for outdoor cultivation:


Resilience: Outdoor-grown cannabis plants are exposed to a range of environmental factors, such as wind, rain, pests, and fluctuations in temperature and humidity. A resilient strain can withstand these challenges and continue to grow and produce a good yield.

Size and structure: Outdoor-grown cannabis plants have more space to grow, so a strain with a tall, sturdy structure can take full advantage of the available space and light. However, strains that are too bushy or dense may be more prone to mold and other issues.

Resistance to pests and disease: Outdoor-grown cannabis plants are more vulnerable to pests and disease than indoor plants, so a strain that is naturally resistant to these issues can be beneficial. Look for strains that have a reputation for being pest- and disease-resistant.

Flowering time: Outdoor cannabis plants typically have a longer growth cycle than indoor plants, so strains that mature earlier in the season can be a good choice. This can help to ensure that the plants are ready to harvest before the weather turns cold and damp.

Climate compatibility: Different cultivars may perform better in different climates, so it's important to choose a strain that is well-suited to the local climate. For example, a strain that is adapted to a hot and dry climate may not do well in a cool and damp environment.

Premium resin production: Look for cultivars known to produce a copious amount of trichomes that are full of terpene-rich resin that’s protected by a tough outer membrane that can withstand the rigors of ice water extraction. We’re not growing for the flowers themselves, but for the resin they produce. Think of outdoor growing as farming for trichomes. 

Soil and Nutrients 

Growing cannabis outdoors requires suitable soil and nutrient conditions for healthy plant growth. Most backyards don’t have the ideal topsoil to grow the best resin. Therefore, amending the existing soil is a great option. If you don’t have high quality soil in the ground to begin with, you can dig holes and fill them with the right soil, or build raised beds and fill them with the type of soil best-suited for growing cannabis. 


It's essential to test your soil before planting to determine its nutrient content and pH level. You can then amend the soil to optimize growing conditions.

Here are the main soil and nutrient requirements for growing cannabis outdoors:

Soil pH:  Soil pH affects nutrient availability and plant growth. Most soil is naturally in the correct range for cannabis, but it should still be tested before planting and then monitored after adding nutrients, which can impact pH levels. Cannabis thrives in slightly acidic soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. You can use pH Up and pH Down, products that are readily available at grow shops, to adjust your pH levels. 

Nutrient-rich soil: Cannabis requires soil with high nutrient content, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are essential for growth and flower development. Adding compost, manure, or organic fertilizers can increase soil nutrient content. Keep in mind that the feeding programs used to grow the heaviest and most robust flowers are not necessarily the same as those for growing premium resin. 

In addition to soil amendments, you may need to supplement nutrients during the growing season, depending on your soil's nutrient content and the stage of plant growth. Learn more in Cultivating Cannabis Specifically for Resin Production.

Good drainage: Cannabis prefers well-draining soil that allows water to flow freely through the soil, preventing waterlogged roots that can cause root rot. Cannabis grows best in loamy soil that provides good drainage, moisture retention, and nutrient availability. Soil with a high organic matter content helps retain moisture, improves soil structure, and increases nutrient availability.

Overall, cannabis requires soil with high nutrient content, good drainage, and a slightly acidic pH. With proper soil preparation and nutrient management, you can grow healthy, robust cannabis that generates exceptional resin outdoors.




Planting and Care Overview and Timeline

Spring (March - May): Start preparing your soil in early spring, ensuring it has the necessary nutrients and amendments. Once the weather is warm enough, start germinating your cannabis seeds indoors or directly sow them in the soil outdoors. Keep an eye on the weather and avoid planting if there is a risk of frost. Working with clones can save a few weeks that you’d otherwise spend starting seeds, however plants grown from seeds tend to display the rigor that lets them outperform cloned plants outdoors. 

Read more about clones in How To Take Cuttings to Clone Cannabis Plants.

When you move plants from indoors to outdoors, it’s good to “harden them off” with gradual acclimation to full outdoor exposure. Throwing plants from artificial light into full sunlight all day long can create some counterproductive shock.

Summer (June - August): As the days get warmer and longer, your cannabis plants will start to grow quickly. Ensure that they receive plenty of water and nutrients, and keep an eye out for any pests or diseases. You may need to provide support to the plants to prevent them from falling over as they grow taller.

Fall (September - November): As the days start to get shorter, your cannabis plants will begin to flower. Ensure that they receive enough water and nutrients, and continue to monitor for pests and diseases. You may need to prune or trim your plants to increase airflow and prevent mold growth. Keep an eye on the weather, as a heavy rain or frost can damage or kill your plants.

Harvest (October - November): When the flowers on your plants have reached maturity, it's time to harvest. This typically occurs in late September or early October, but can vary depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. 


After a long growing season complete with maximum effort to grow the finest resin possible, it’s finally time to harvest the plants. A sloppy or haphazard process for harvesting can damage the resin you’ve worked hard to farm, making this phase of production one of the most critical.  


Deciding when to harvest is the first consideration, and it’s all about the resin. When the trichomes start to take on that nice amber hue, you’re in the right zone. The aim is to capture resin when it contains peak trichome and cannabinoid levels. Read more in How To Harvest Cannabis for Peak Trichome Ripeness.

The next consideration is whether you’ll be washing fresh frozen hash or drying and curing the flowers. 

Traditionally, cannabis plants were cut down and hung to dry, but now fresh frozen preparations are actually preferred in solventless extractions. Rather than drying and curing flowers, growers seal flowers in air-tight bags and freeze them immediately after harvest. Learn more in Top 10 Tips on How To Prepare Your Harvest for Fresh Frozen.

The next consideration is whether you’ll be washing fresh frozen hash or drying and curing the flowers. 

Drying and curing flowers is still a viable route to producing exceptional solventless extracts. Learn how to properly dry flowers postharvest in What Is the Best Environment for Hang Drying Cannabis Flowers?

For more details on how to harvest cannabis, check out Croptober Series Part 1: How To Harvest Your Cannabis Crop and Top 10 Harvesting Tips for Cannabis Growers.


Growing cannabis outdoors is a cost-effective way to produce high-quality solventless extracts. It starts with selecting cultivars that are suitable for outdoor growing and have a high resin content. Short flowering periods and a high terpene profile offer advantages for solventless extraction. Positioning the garden for maximum sunlight exposure and providing adequate nutrients and water can increase resin production and improve the quality of the final extract.

Harvesting and processing cannabis at the right time maximizes the yield and quality of solventless extracts. Harvesting when the trichomes are mature can result in a higher concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes in the final product. Fresh-frozen material, which involves freezing the freshly harvested plant material before extracting the resin, preserves the terpenes and prevents oxidation. By following these best practices, extractors can produce high-quality, flavorful, and potent solventless extracts from their outdoor-grown cannabis.

Want more? Check out our article Indoor vs Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation.

Thoughts? Let us know by joining our secret Facebook group. Hang out with a community of like-minded solventless heads like yourself. Ask our head extractor questions, share your latest press and learn from hobbyists and experts in the industry.


Where can you grow cannabis outdoors?
The ideal climate for growing cannabis outdoors is one that provides warm temperatures, ample sunlight, and moderate humidity, with at least 12 hours of darkness during the flowering cycle.

What are some benefits to growing cannabis outdoors?
Cost-effectiveness, larger yields, natural flavor and potency, eco-friendliness, and potentially healthier plants are some advantages to growing outdoors.

What is the ideal pH for growing cannabis in soil outdoors?
Cannabis thrives in slightly acidic soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. You can use pH Up and pH Down, products that are readily available at grow shops, to adjust your pH levels.

When is cannabis normally harvested in the US?
Plants are generally ready to harvest in October or November, but it all depends on the ripeness of the trichomes. When the resin inside starts to take on an amber hue, the resin is close to peak ripeness.

Can you grow cannabis in the ground anywhere?
Cannabis is a hardy plant that can grow in most soil, but amending existing topsoil is generally better than planting directly into existing topsoil. Many cannabis growers opt to build raised beds and fill the beds with high-quality soil formulated specifically for cannabis. 


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