Where you plant your outdoor cannabis can have a big impact on your success or failure as a new gardener, especially if you’re planting in the ground or using large, difficult-to-move pots. There are more factors to consider than you may think. Exposure to heavy wind, torrential rain, excessive heat or freezing cold can damage or kill your crop before you can react.
Know your climate zone. Depending on which resource you use, California has anywhere from 14 to 24 climate zones. From the cold mountainous region around Lake Tahoe to the hot, Central Valley, your zone can impact when you plant outdoors and predict what weather challenges you may face.
You can find your climate zone on one of these maps:
Know how many hours of direct daylight you receive. Residents of Southern California receives almost an hour less of sunlight on the longest day of the year than Northern California residents. It’s important that your plants receive at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight during the growing season, ideally during midday when sunlight is most intense. Knowing how and when the sun travels around your property will make sure you don’t place plants in areas that receive little direct light throughout the day.
Beware of excessive heat, wind, rain and cold. If you live in an area where the average daily temperature is above 86°f, it’s important to protect your plants from high heat or your plants will stop growing. In this case, you most likely want to place your plants so that they receive direct sunlight in the mornings and/or late afternoons and shade or filtered light when the heat is most intense.
A nice breeze will help keep your plants cool, although you’ll need to water more often. If you live in an area where strong afternoon winds are common, placing them behind a windbreak will offer some protection. In cold climate zones, early morning and overnight temperatures can still get quite low. Anything below 40°f will damage most cannabis strains. Placing your plants near a feature that retains heat like a south-facing brick or concrete wall can give them a little temperature boost. Avoid planting in these areas if heat is a problem!
Rain is nice for no-hassle watering of your cannabis, but too much rain can be a bad thing. Heavy rains can break delicate branches or stalks as well as cause mildew and mold issues. If your plants are immobile, you can put up a temporary shelter using a tarp. Use cages to help support branches if summer storms are common.
Privacy is your friend. Remember that some outdoor cannabis plants can reach up to 15’ tall! They are also very aromatic. If you live in a residential area with close neighbors, you may wish to select shorter, bushier indica strains with low-aroma. Keeping your plants behind a tall fence, shrubbery or other sight-block will help prevent unwelcome visitors like sticky-fingered thieves or nosy, complaining neighbors.
It’s a shame to lose a beloved plant due to a weather event or improper placement during planting. Taking a little time to consider your plant’s growth cycle and your climate before starting your garden can result in more robust and high-yielding plants.