A Step By Step Guide to Growing Marijuana Outdoors in Colorado

growing-outdoor-By Soru Epotok
Photo By Soru Epotok/ shutterstock

Whether you are a state resident, a recent transplant, or just visiting, Colorado’s marijuana industry has brought more attention to the psychoactive (sometimes) crop. Carved by the constitutional amendment embraced by voters, adults 21 and older can legally possess up to one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana or marijuana products.

As excellent as this may be, the state has created a number of rules, laws, and regulations which further limit how much a dispensary may sell in one transaction.

The one-ounce purchase limit only truly applies to flower purchases, as the state limited recreational dispensaries to 800mg of edible products or eight (8) grams the limit for concentrates. These equivalences and a number of other limitations have increasingly made growing marijuana in CO a more common phenomenon, with outdoor marijuana grows in CO being the most natural option in the sunbathed summers.

Luckily, under Colorado’s marijuana laws, adults age 21 and older may grow as many as six (6) plants, with as many as three (3) mature and flowering at any time. There are three restrictions to be aware of:

  • Out of public view (i.e. in your backyard)
  • Within a secure, lockable environment (a gated fence, for instance)
  • No matter how many adults 21 and older live at a single residence, no more than twelve (12) plants can collectively be grown in a single residence

It should be noted these issues are addressed with different restrictions for the state’s medical marijuana patients.

Getting your outdoor marijuana grow started

The first choice you have to make is determining the strain. Not only that, this also forces you to confront whether to purchase a clone (or seedling) or purchase seeds – one requiring a bit more upfront start-up costs for the growing season. The next choice to make is regarding whether to plant the plants in the garden or keep them in pots or buckets.

Consider the Soil

portland medical marijuana, growing marijuana outdoors in ColoradoEnsuring the soil has a good base of nutrients while growing marijuana in CO allows the plant, from the time the seed or seedling is properly planted to the time of harvest, has broad access to the nutrients necessary for sappy trichomes ala buds come late summer.

On a broad, historical scale, Colorado has around five months where growing outdoor marijuana can easily be achieved.

From mid-April to late September, early October residents can reasonably assume weather which (a) falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, on average, fewer than four times and (b) will be longer days with more total hours of sunshine than other periods of the year. Though Colorado is well known for erratic weather, particularly when you get into the high mountain towns, the areas where most people live can broadly (and not always) rely on this.

Getting out into the garden and tilling the soil or crafting a soil mix with proper nutrients and soil pH for your potted pot is best began in late March.

Choosing the strain

Given Colorado’s limited growing season, with ideal harvest times in September or early October, plant genetics are going to be a driving force of proper, excellent flowers at harvest time. Underlying strain differences are three different genetic types of cannabis plant: indica, sativa, and ruderalis. Hybrid strains are a mix of these different types.

Technical complexity is further stressed by the differences in maturation time between indica, sativa, and hybrid strains. Ruderalis is more used for hemp production but has adapted to environments which are cold and have limited time to grow. Known as autoflower, some strains have had ruderalis genetics grafted or spliced in at some point to allow them better regional adaptability. In general, sativas grow tall and have wide sprawling limbs. In some cases, sativas require an amount of sunlight which exceeds the region’s growing season.

In contrast, indicas grow shorter and have more densely built limbs. They typically mature faster than sativa strains and produces a fully different effect range. In many cases, these differences in light or time requirements can be ignored in indoor grows, yet growing marijuana outdoors in CO requires careful consideration on the strain for new and expert growers.

Step One: Create a secure grow area

Ensure it is off limits to anyone who is (a) under 21 or (b) not supposed to be there. Ensure it is not in plain view to the neighbors. Remember, adults 21 and over can grow up to six plants BUT only three may be mature at any one time. Since we are depending on seasonal weather and other climate variables, this remains a legal sleight-of-hand, showing a governmental preference towards indoor personal cultivation. It is important to note any marijuana grown on your property in excess of the one-ounce limit must be kept in a secure place on the property and never in public.

Step Two: Plant your pot

Ideally, you are looking at about three to four months for the average plant to reach harvest. Before the three out of six mature limit bums you out too much, spend a few minutes considering how much you actually smoke or plan on using. If you are looking to maximize how many plants you can legally have mature, it will be rushed to try and legally accommodate more than three plants in the 5 month growing season.

Plant your pot in a rich soil, or, alternatively, you can have an outdoor hydroponic system. Of course, such a setup requires more start-up and maintenance costs.

Step Three: Nourish, trim, and love

Take care of the plant. Provide the right amount of water, shield the plant from hail storms, check for pests, mold, and other threats to your plant’s wellness, and address any suspected nutrients deficiencies as quickly as you notice them. Trim the plant to make sure the flowers get adequate sunlight as the plant comes to full maturity.

Remember to dry and cure the marijuana, as it helps to remove chlorophyll from the plant.

Step Four: Enjoy your cannabis

Your outdoor grow in CO can yield ounces to pounds depending on how big the plants ultimately become. The duration of the growing season makes bigger plants harder to achieve for beginning growers. At the end of the grow – the plant’s life cycle – you get to appreciate the smell and taste of the flowers long after the plant is no longer growing.

The ending strain effects are still the primary concern of most growers, yet homegrown marijuana also has the context of personal investment, ultimately making enjoying cannabis that much more of an experience.