Starting Plants Indoors/Then Moving Them Outdoors

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There’s an old cliché that says one can’t have his cake and eat it too. The idea is that you cannot have two incompatible things or have more than what is reasonable for one person.

After all, once you eat your cake, it’s gone. Right?

Fortunately, weed-growers don’t listen to such nonsense! If there are benefits to be had from growing cannabis indoors, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the benefits of growing those same plants outdoors as well. Right?

Here’s how to do it.

Starting Cannabis Plants Indoors

If you want to produce a high-yield outdoor weed crop, it’s perfectly acceptable to let your tender young plants take their first breaths inside. Don’t worry. We won’t tell.

Besides, there’s plenty of good reason to start them off that way.

Can You Start Your Outdoor Cannabis Plants Indoors?

Grow lights fill a critical need for indoor plants, but no matter how good the quality, none can match the broad spectrum of light your plants can get from natural sunlight. It’s why so many growers who want to produce colossal plants with super-sized buds prefer to grow outdoor cannabis plants.

Marijuana seedling medical indica hybrid with green leaves in a pot on a black background, beautiful wallpaper background

That being said, we don’t all have the luxury of living in climates perfectly suited to growing outdoor marijuana.

Marijuana plants grow under certain ideal temperatures, and for those who live in areas with short-growing seasons but who want to grow their weed au naturel, starting plants inside is a fair compromise that allows plants to not only get a healthy start but also much-needed extra veg time.

Why Bother Moving Your Indoor Cannabis Plants Outside?

For some growers, if they’re going to spend so much time with their plants, they figure they might as well get a healthy tan doing it. But there are other, better reasons for moving plants outdoors too:

  • To Force Flowering: Some growers prefer to control the vegetative stage indoors and, when the time is right, move their plants outdoors for the flowering stage.
  • To Provide Added Space: After all, there’s only so much room in your grow tent. Moving your plants outdoors will give them plenty of extra room to grow.
  • To Address Equipment Failures: Growing plants inside allows you to have better control of your plants’ environment, but that puts a premium on the reliability of the grow equipment you use. If your grow lights or your ventilation equipment fails, moving your plants outside will allow you to make the necessary repairs without sacrificing your crop.
  • To Deal With Pest Problems: A serious pest outbreak can reduce yield and quality and in some cases destroy an entire crop. In these situations, it can make sense to move your plants outdoors while you sanitize your grow room.

How to Safely Move Plants Outdoors

Are you moving your plants outside so they can continue vegging? Or is the goal to get them to flower? Whichever your plans, keep in mind that timing is everything.

How to Move Indoor Plants Outdoors to Continue Vegging

If you want your plants to remain in the vegetative stage for a while longer, you’ll need to ensure the hours of light they begin receiving outdoors is not less than what they were receiving inside your grow room. Neglect this task, and your cannabis will begin to flower prematurely.

It’s important here to monitor the number of daylight hours in your area, as you don’t want to move your plants outside if they will be getting any less than 14 hours of daylight. If you live in the northern hemisphere, the best time to move them will be just after the first day of spring in late March.

Industrial hemp cannabis plant growing from the soil

Don’t worry if you aren’t awake to log what time the sun rises each day. There are a number of handy online apps that keep track of this information around the globe.

A too sudden change in sunlight and other environmental conditions can stress your plants and cause them harm, so it’s important that you don’t just pick up and move them when you see your first robin. You’ll need to prepare or “harden” them for the new photoperiod they’ll be exposed to when they make this big transition.

This is done by slowly reducing the light hours they receive indoors each day for a period of one to two weeks. Once your plants’ indoor light cycle matches the natural light outdoors, you can make the move.

How to Bring Indoor Plants Outdoors to Flower

If your reason for moving your plants outdoors is to stimulate flowering, take them out after the summer solstice when the days begin to get shorter. Not an astronomy major?

Summer solstice marks the day with the longest period of light, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. If you live in the northern hemisphere, take them out in late June. If you live in the southern hemisphere, do so in December.

Here again, you’ll want to harden your plants against a too sudden change to their photoperiod. You can help ensure an easy transition by slowly, over the course of about a week, dialing back the number of daylight hours your plants receive in your grow room.

Marijuana. Marijuana and Cannabis growing indoors. Marijuana Grow Tent with lights. Medical and Recreational Cannabis plants

Make the move when the artificial daylight hours you are providing inside match the natural daylight conditions outside.

During this transition period, you may notice your plants beginning to flower inside. This is normal and what you would expect to happen.

However, it will be especially important that you not move your plants outside if the hours of natural sunlight they will begin receiving outside exceed what they have been receiving inside. Otherwise, your plants will revert back to the vegetative stage.

How to Bring Cannabis Plants Outdoors Part-Time

Even if you prefer to grow your plants inside, there may be times you need to move them outdoors temporarily to make structural changes to your grow room, to repair equipment, or to sanitize.

If the plants you plan to move outside are young, you should prepare them for the change by setting them in partial shade for two to four days and keep an eye on them for signs of stress, such as upward curling leaves. If they appear to do well, slowly introduce them to increased amounts of direct sunlight.

You should start with just two to three hours of sunlight the first day and double that exposure over the course of a week. Be sure to check your plants regularly for pests and diseases and provide them extra protection against heavy wind and rain.

What Are the Risks of Moving Indoor Cannabis Plants Outside?

Marijuana growers can reap tremendous benefits from raising outdoor crops. In addition, the maintenance is generally easier and the start-up costs much less than indoor grow systems.

That being said, outdoor growing requires relinquishing some control to environmental factors. Growing outside requires paying special attention and adapting to environmental stressors like intense heat, heavy winds and rains, and UV rays.

Medical cannabis plant in growbox in orange light. Young flowers

Hours of sunlight can impact plant growth either pushing plants into early flowering or causing them to revert back to the vegetative stage, and special care must always be taken when deciding when and how to move photoperiod plants outdoors. A stressful environment can also cause plants to incur slowed growth or to turn undesirably hermaphroditic.

Diseases and pests will always be a problem when growing outside. However, the best defense is often a good offense. Starting your plants inside in optimum conditions should include starting them in high-quality, nutrient-rich soils with a good community of organisms that will strengthen your plants’ immune systems.

The stronger your plants, the easier it will be for them to stand up to pests, disease, and other environmental stresses.

What Other Precautions Should Be Taken When Moving Marijuana Plants Outdoors?

It’s important to remember that plants started indoors are a bit more coddled than their outdoor counterparts, and so they’ll need a little more attention outdoors while they acclimate to outdoor conditions. Indoor plants tend to have weaker stems, which makes it tougher for them to stand up against the wind, and they’ll need time to build up added cellulose.

The softer leaves of indoor-grown plants can also make them a target for pests and disease. Stems and leaves aren’t the only parts of your plants that need hardening.

Cannabis leaves in farmers hands. Growing Cannabis Sativa outdoors. Medical marijuana cultivation. Alternative herbal medicine, marijuana legalization. Cannabis farm

You can best protect the root mass of your indoor-grown plants by planting them directly in the soil out of the sun’s direct rays. If you prefer to keep them above ground, avoid hard-shell pots sitting directly in the sun as they are sure root killers.

White cloth pots of the 100 to 400-gallon variety will provide a better flow of oxygen.

The Key to Safely Moving Your Indoor Cannabis Plants Outdoors

The key to a safe move is to avoid subjecting your plants to a sudden change in temperature, humidity, or light. These are all environmental stressors that can seriously harm your plants and negatively impact their yields.


So there you have it. As it turns out, you CAN have your cake and eat it too. Or your batch of pot brownies if that’s your preference. Just follow our guidelines and you’ll be on your way to growing colossal cannabis plants that reach for the sky and are loaded with the biggest buds ever!