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Growing Cannabis Indoor vs Outdoor: Know the Differences

by Dan Thiessen August 06, 2018 0 Comments

Like most agricultural crops, cannabis plants have grown wild for thousands of years. Actually, not so long ago, cannabis growers cultivated the plant almost exclusively outside. Alas, the situation drastically changed because of marijuana prohibition, which created the need to grow weed low-profile in order to avoid detection by surveillance anti-drug units. Prohibition ultimately made growing marijuana indoors popular in the U.S.

Now, with the legalization of cannabis gaining pace throughout the States, growers gain the privilege of having a choice to grow either indoors or outdoors. Indoor growing techniques, like all aspects of life affected by technology, have undergone a series of tremendous changes allowing ‘in-house farmers’ to grow first-class marijuana all year long. All you need is a good-quality indoor growing system and a little knowledge about growing cannabis.

Which growing method produces better cannabis: indoor or sun-grown? In order to answer this question, we need to dig deeper into the differences between the two.

Growing Cannabis Indoors vs Outdoors: What’s the Difference?

This indoor vs outdoor debate will allow you to make your own decision on selecting the best growing method for your crop. As it is with any area of expertise, cannabis cultivation is seen from two radically opposing perspectives on this subject.

Let’s uncover the key differences between growing marijuana indoors and outdoors.


The most important difference between the methods is climate-dependency. Your outdoor crops are as good as the season allows. In other words, because the nature of elements determines essential environmental factors in the plant’s life cycle, outdoor growers are extremely climate-dependent.

Even if you live in a cannabis-friendly climate, chances are you will still encounter cloudy days, winds or rain, during which humidity levels tend to fluctuate. Add an early frost to this mix to complicate matters more.

On the other hand, a solid indoor garden can deliver the best quality of cannabis consistently, regardless of the season or weather. Even though the most-advanced indoor growing systems aren’t capable of reflecting the natural full spectrum of light, the very fact you can create ideal conditions for the crops to thrive and produce flavorful, pungent buds, makes indoor growing worth the effort. After all, the technology for cannabis cultivation has improved over time.

Price and Sustainability

Indoor growing is far more expensive than outdoor cultivation, especially initially. Novice growers should expect to spend $500 at a minimum for an optimal setup for 4-6 plants. A weed growing kit requires containers to grow the plants in, a set of grow lights and a grow tent or grow box if you want to be a serious indoor grower. In addition, indoor marijuana draws more energy. Generally, you need to supply crops with light for around 18 hours a day. That being said, don’t expect your first electricity bill after setting up a grow room to be pleasant.

When it comes to outdoor growing, it can be as cheap and easy as buying seeds and planting them in the soil. However, in most cases, you will need to spend a bit more, especially if you want to get the very best out of your crops. Thus, you may have to add soil, nutrients, fencing, and other supplies to your list of expenses.

Pest Control

Growing cannabis outdoors gives you an advantage over the indoor method in terms of pest control. In short, marijuana grown outdoors remains in its natural habitat, so if there are any potential pests near your crops, you can count on natural predators whose role is to keep pests and mites at bay.

Indoor growers aren’t as lucky because the aforementioned predators don’t occur in an artificially created environment. Pests and mites appearing in an indoor grow space can become a challenge to eliminate. Chemical pesticides are dangerous, especially on a crop which is intended to be ingested or inhaled, so most growers look for organic pest solutions like soap, essential oils and pyrethrin from the chrysanthemum plant.

Yields and Quality of Buds

Indoor growing makes you the master of the garden, which means you gain control over all the variables. As a dedicated indoor grower, you can produce great yields of the best quality, with frosty buds covered in a pristine layer of resin. Perfecting a delicious flavor, pungent aroma, and a high concentration of terpenes will be rewarding once you master growing marijuana indoors.

The biggest drawback to cannabis grown indoors is limited space. Yields can be limited to the height of your grow lights which can force growers to grow shorter indica strains over taller sativa strains.

Outdoor cultivators, who happen to live in the right climates, can expect incredible buds, too. Moreover, certain cannabis strains grown outdoors gain a unique woody or fruity flavor depending on their origin and the soil they’re grown in. Finally, as an outdoor grower, you are free to grow any marijuana strain you desire - the sky's the limit. In fact, growing the herb outdoors may be preferred by recreational users who appreciate sativa’s cerebral effects.

Outdoor growing is largely climate-dependent, so if the weather isn’t cooperative, your harvest quality can be compromised.

In conclusion, both indoor and outdoor growing methods have pros and cons. Living in cannabis-friendly climates creates a perfect opportunity to cultivate plants on the bounty of nature. Marijuana grown outdoors can produce fresh and pungent buds of green goodness, and there’s no need to spend a small fortune on a weed growing kit and professional literature. However, if your climate doesn’t allow for year-round cannabis cultivation, indoor growing is the obvious choice. Although growing marijuana indoors requires much more time and effort from cultivators, it leads to powerful payoffs. There are no nature-twists involved, meaning the quality of your buds depends on how you treat the plant.

Dan Thiessen
Dan Thiessen


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