Cannabis connoisseurs know the difference between outdoor and indoor-grown weed all too well. First-time or novice cannabis consumers may not immediately notice any difference between buds from the two cultivation methods. Marijuana growers choose different cultivation methods based on the local climate and state regulations. Some cities ban outdoor cultivation forcing growers into climate-controlled buildings. Regardless of how its grown, indoor and outdoor cannabis has unique pros and cons for growers and consumers.
Outdoor-grown cannabis uses natural sunlight to grow instead of high-intensity light bulbs used by indoor grows. The sun’s broad spectrum of light provides the necessary lighting in a biodiverse ecosystem. Sun-grown cannabis plants co-exist in its natural habitat with other plants, pests, and animals. Natural predators and climate can ward off infestations of pests like aphids or mites. That means that outdoor grows don’t require as much fertilizer or pesticides to produce high yields.
The soil contains an abundance of micro and macronutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, iron, and copper needed to grow cannabis. Outdoor cannabis done well produces a lower carbon footprint than indoor cannabis by eliminating electricity and HVAC use. Sungrown cannabis can face harsh environmental factors like wind, rain, pollen in the air, and more. Growers can’t control these variables leaving them vulnerable to crop damage. If the climate and growing conditions are right, sun-grown cannabis can produce tall weed plants with a distinct earthy aroma.
Indoor weed growing can be cultivated anytime because growers can control environmental factors more precisely. Everything from light to airflow to nutrient intake can be modified in an indoor setting to produce desired traits from a strain. The relative sterile indoor environment produces tightly-packed and dense flower buds. Indoor cannabis is often marked at a higher price than its sun-grown counterpart because of the high overhead costs on electricity and energy use from dehumidifiers and air conditioning units.
A revealing study by climate change scientist Evan Mills uncovered the surprising energy use from indoor cannabis. The indoor cannabis industry consumes 1% of the nation’s energy supply. That electricity use is the equivalent of running 7 power plants. Many indoor growing operations can’t afford the high energy costs and turn to greenhouse or outdoor alternatives. In spite of its large carbon footprint, indoor-grown cannabis can have excellent bag appeal, tons of trichomes, high potency, and plenty of flavors.
Each cultivation method has its advantages and disadvantages, but both can produce potent and flavorful flower buds. Some growers prefer to be outside and grow cannabis like most plants are grown. Others favor the trichome content and aesthetics offered by indoor-grown cannabis. Greenhouse growing operations are a third cultivation option that uses sunlight and climate control to grow in any location.
Contrary to popular belief, sun-grown cannabis isn’t inferior to indoor weed. While it may have a grassy aroma, outdoor cannabis can produce buds with just as much trichome and terpenes as indoor weed. Indoor cannabis may require more fertilizer and nutrients than outdoor weed, but with the right soil mixtures, indoor weed can deliver off-the-charts THC levels. Luckily, no one has to choose between sun-grown or indoor cannabis. It’s easier than ever to score a wide selection of outdoor and indoor buds and concentrates for any type of cannabis consumer.