Tips for planning your outdoor cannabis garden

The outdoor season is already kicking off so it’s time to lay out a solid plan for your outdoor cannabis garden. In California outdoor growing generally runs March through November depending on where your garden is located and if your grow is full sun or light deprivation. Below we have compiled some tips for you to make the most of this year’s harvest.



Cannabis plants go through two cycles in their lifetime, the vegetative cycle and the flowering cycle. In an outdoor grow, the vegetative cycle occurs when there is more sunlight than darkness in a 24 hour day, which is why planting your cannabis plant around mid-May is best. Once you understand the time-frame for starting an outdoor cannabis garden in your area, the next step is to analyze the area where you intend to create your garden.


Before making any decisions on garden layout, survey your property and get a better understanding of a few factors. Walk your yard/property at different times of the day. Figure out where the sun is when it rises, where the sun is hitting your yard at its lowest point, and where the shade is going to be. Become familiar with these lighting conditions. This will allow you to decide the best locations for your plant placement.

If there is a spot on your property that stays shady for the majority of the day, don’t put your plant(s) there. 

Next, you’ll need to decide how you will be growing: in soil directly outdoors or in pots/beds outdoors. Keep in mind that attempting to grow directly into the dirt on your property can present a series of problems for the roots, especially if the base of your property is clay. If you plan on planting directly into the ground, it is important to find a flat area to do so, that will allow for good drainage. 

If you decided to go with soil beds or pots, you will need to make some decisions on your soil selection. What do you want in your soil? The most important thing is that your soil has good aeration (perlite white balls are a good example) because with no aeration your soil will compact too much when watered. Clay and hard-packed soil will stunt your roots, preventing them from growing, and absorbing water and nutrients. 

There are many soil amenities that can add benefits to your soil in pots or in the ground. Examples are coco coir, worm castings, seabird guano (poop), so you’ll want to consult your local “grow store” for suggestions on soil mixtures. 



GG4 (Formerly known as Gorilla Glue #4)

When selecting cannabis strains for your outdoor garden there are some things to consider. How big will your plants get? If you have a low fence or nosy neighbors you may not want to grow a Sativa as it can stretch to be fairly tall.  

Support: Some plant need trellising- knowing the average and max strain height ahead of time will help determine if your plant will need support with trellises and/or stakes.

Smell: If you have nosy neighbors or a city ordinance against odor you may not want to grow a strong smelling or “skunky” cannabis plant such as Dream Queen.

Water: How thirsty are your plants based on strain? How much water do you have access to?

End use: What is the end goal for your crop? Are you making concentrates? Producing the best flowers? What affects you are seeking?

Processing: How will it be processed once finished? Some strains need more attention when it comes to trimming and others can just be put through a trim machine like the tumbler.   

Most Sativas and hybrids strains do great outdoors because they stretch during their vegetative cycle and have the ability to grow larger in a given time frame, as compared to Indica-Dominant strains.

Some strains we recommend in the category of tall/stretchy plants that do well outdoors are Royal Highness bred by The Humboldt Seed Company, Sour Diesel, Chocolate Grape Diesel bred by Purple Caper Seeds, Sour Diesel Lemon Kush, Chemdawg 4, Black Jack and any of our OG strains (Hades OG, Fire OG, SFV OG, Venom OG). Keep in mind these are very tall if you have height restrictions.

If you are going for a cannabis strain that has a heavy yield we recommend the following: 4G bred by Purple Caper Seeds, Blue Dream, Romulan Grapefruit, Dream Queen, GG4, Fire OG, Hades OG bred by The Humboldt Seed Company, and Venom OG bred by The Humboldt Seed Company. Keep in mind that Dream Queen and OG’s tend to be stickier plants, so if your garden smelling is a concern of yours, proceed with caution on those strains.

Strains that are high in terpenes often make for excellent concentrates, so if that is your end goal, you may want to focus on strains such as Sour Tangie, Strawberry Banana, Zkittlez, Sherbet, Dream Queen, White Buffalo and Blueberry Muffin bred by The Humboldt Seed Company. Many of the previously mentioned strains also produce high terpene profiles and high THC in finished flower form. Our friends at The Humboldt Seed Company have shared with us that the terpene profiles on the Venom OG and Hades OG are not only unique, but these strains were also bred to function well in an outdoor garden setting.

To view our entire strain catalog click here. Now that you have selected the strains you need for your garden, it’s time to purchase some cannabis clones!



Dark Heart carries two different clone types; Heartlet clones and Premium clones. Both types are the same genetics and equal in quality, but differ slightly in size. Click here for more information on our clone types.

Growing from seed is an option, but using cannabis clones in your outdoor garden will likely produce a better outcome. Dark Heart clones specifically will save you time and will offer consistency in your garden. We put our clones through a “hardening off” process within our nursery so that they are more successful immediately after transplant than other clones on the market. It could still be wise to do some hardening off on your own when you first introduce them to the direct sunlight in your garden, but it is not required with our clones.

Our clones save you roughly 3-4 weeks of time spent over seeds because that would be about how long it would take for your seedling to become the size of one of our clones, and for it to be ready to begin its vegetative cycle.

The biggest difference between growing from a clone and growing from seed is the consistency of the phenotype. A phenotype, according to Leafly, is the physical expression of the plant that the environment it’s growing in pulls out of this plant’s genetic code. This would include smell, shape, color and resin production. Seeds will all have slightly different phenotypes even if they are coming from a single strain. Clones, assuming that they are pulled from the same strain genetic, will all be the same phenotype.

The benefit of growing from a single phenotype is that all clones from that strain will grow the same way and produce the same characteristics with only very slight variation. Also, you will have knowledge about these strains if you choose to grow them again. Our strain catalog includes grow-tips generated from farmers who have grown our strains to offer first-hand knowledge on what to expect from our strain phenotypes.



Being aware of your property and your surroundings when selecting the right strains to grow is important, but you will also want to check in with the regulations that exist within your city or county. Before making any garden decisions, check in with your local government to ensure that your garden is compliant with all local ordinances. The state of California made it the choice of local government to include additional rules beyond just CA state compliance regulations so it is crucial to be familiar with both your state and local regulations.

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