Refresh Checked Unchecked Menu Search Shopping bag Geolocation Person Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube Info Icon CBC Icon CBC Shape CBD Icon CBD Shape CBG Icon CBG Shape THC Icon THC Shape THCV Icon THCV Shape
Advertise on Leafly

5 Major Myths About Outdoor Grown Cannabis Plants

This article is sponsored by Marley Naturalthe official Bob Marley cannabis brand, which is crafted with deep respect for Bob’s legacy and belief in the positive potential of the herb to heal and inspire us. Marley Natural offers a premium line of cannabis flower, oil, accessories, and body care products that are all responsibly sourced and integrity-driven.


Before we begin dispelling some of the most common myths associated with outdoor cannabis plants, let’s confirm one factual statement: outdoor-grown cannabis differs in important ways from indoor-grown cannabis. Indoor and outdoor flower can diverge in appearance, aroma, flavor, and effects, even when comparing two clones of the same strain. That said, over the past several decades the idea that indoor flower is objectively better than outdoor flower – a misconception derived from outdoor growing practices long necessitated by federal cannabis prohibition – has proliferated.

For thousands of years, cannabis was exclusively an outdoor-grown plant, and exceptional flower was cultivated successfully under the sun in places as diverse as Afghanistan, Jamaica, Panama, and Malawi. Unfortunately, the advent of cannabis’s Schedule I classification forced growers to either adopt substandard outdoor growing conditions or move their grows indoors altogether to avoid being discovered. Outdoor-grown cannabis has been dogged ever since by negative stereotypes resulting from these growing conditions.

Yet today, as outdoor-grown cannabis comes out of the shadows in legal states and outdoor flower can again be grown in ideal conditions, it’s about time the following five myths about outdoor flower were dispelled.

Myth #1: Outdoor Growing Conditions Can’t Produce Top-Shelf Cannabis

Small cannabis (hemp, Cannabis sativa) sprout growing from soil

The idea that outdoor growers can’t produce top-shelf product is patently untrue. This myth sprouted when outdoor cannabis, vulnerable to law enforcement efforts, had to be harvested, cured, and shipped in sub-optimal circumstances to avoid discovery. Outdoor grows, more difficult to hide than their indoor counterparts, were frequently harvested early for fear of raids; the curing process was often cut similarly short; and buds were packed tightly into shipping containers or car trunks for surreptitious transport. Thus, the sad, squashed outdoor buds that made their way to end consumers earned a bad reputation.

These same constraints do not apply to legally grown flower sold by licensed producers in the cannabis industry today. With the right genetics, expertise, and attention to detail, outdoor and indoor growers alike can produce top-shelf products.

Myth #2: Outdoor-Grown Cannabis is Less Flavorful

Outdoor flower can be as terpene-rich as indoor, if not more so. Furthermore, indoor flower is incapable of demonstrating the unique aroma and flavor profiles imparted by cannabis terroir – the culmination of various factors specific to a growing location, including soil, elevation, climate, and more. With the rise of the “cannassieur,” terroir is becoming more and more important to consumers selecting flavorful top-shelf bud, and the unique nuances of flavor imparted by the earth can only be detected in outdoor-grown herb.

Myth #3: Outdoor-Grown Flower is Likely to Be Marred by Pests, Molds, and Mildews

Detail of a growing marijuana.

If you’re buying from a reputable dispensary, contamination by pests, chemicals, molds, and mildew shouldn’t concern you as it might with cannabis sold on the black market. States have developed testing requirements to avoid these issues, and many dispensaries implement their own testing on top of those rules. Oregon, for instance, requires that cannabis products are tested extensively for microbiological contaminants, solvents, and a wide range of pesticides (59 in all) before they ever approach dispensary shelves. Marley Natural, for one, ensures compliance with Oregon’s regulations through strict growing practices that avoid introducing any fertilizers, pesticides, or chemicals whatsoever to their all-natural, outdoor-grown plants throughout the cultivation process.

Myth #4: There’s Nothing Special About Outdoor-Grown Cannabis Plants

cannabis for industrial purposes

Over the centuries, cannabis as a plant evolved to work synergistically with its outdoor growing environments, and many tend strains to do best outside, especially landraces. It’s impossible for indoor grow systems to completely recreate the immensely complex ecosystems that influence outdoor-grown flower. Indoor grow lights – which also consume excessive energy as they operate – do not produce the full spectrum present in the sun’s rays, and helpful outdoor influences like fragrant coastal breezes, the insects that help control mites, and more are not present at all in indoor grows. Indeed, many argue that outdoor flower is a more “authentic” product, and some people shop exclusively for outdoor-grown.

Myth #5: Cannabis Grown Outdoors is Less Potent

marijuana plant growing outdoors

This myth stems from a time when outdoor farmers would situate grows beneath shade trees to reduce the possibility of being spotted from above during DEA flyovers. This practice reduced plants’ stature and potency, which earned outdoor-grown herb a bad rap as “ditch weed.”

Farmers growing cannabis outdoors in compliance with the law no longer need to hide their grows: as such, their plants can be exposed to full sunlight, allowing them to reach full potential in terms of stature, bud formation, and cannabinoid and terpene content. Knowing this, it’s no wonder that the availability and popularity of high-quality, sun-grown cannabis is swiftly and steadily on the rise.

Want to experience high-quality, outdoor-grown cannabis for yourself? Check out Marley Natural’s flower line, available in California and newly launched in Oregon.

  • Bongstar420

    If outdoor growers were good enough to claim indoor quality, they would.

    …and yes, you can get outdoor plants to be like an indoor plants…and in those cases, people simply assume its indoor. So any outdoor grower pulling indoor quality simply keeps their mouth shut and lets the buyer decide.

    Terps are not dependent on out or in. Its about the microbes and the cultivar. I readily test in the 5-7% Terps range. UV does do stuff (the thing that makes elevation matter), but its not worth paying for. I quit it because it causes cosmetic decline.

    Sorry to break it to you, but most anything that would make an outdoor grow special can be replicated indoors…For the same price, well thats not likely since the only cost of outdoors is land and luck.

    Marley can easily lie. Many of the standards are passable even if you did use the “evil spray.” Also, the labs do not have uniform standards till after Oct 1 2016. Many labs omitted the most likely pesticides from their screening procedures.

    Finally, outdoor quality is mostly about being in the right place at the right time with the right cultivar. We do indoor to insure consistent results. Also, there are plants that are only good outdoors. If you take em inside, they turn to crap and do not produce quality. Same goes for lots of indoor cultivar types. Take em out and they under perform.

    Ultimately outdoor is a loosing game on quality due to mounting pest pressures that will never be properly controlled. You find me a hops field that meets your flower standard and we can talk. Currently all hops are covered in spray including “organic”

    • wyt.bread

      Excellent post full of accurate and valuable information. Another falisy in the article above is the notion that grow lights are defficient because they do not produce the full spectrum of light produced by the sun. The writer fails to mention that the plant doesn’t make efficient use of the entire specturm, making the point moot. Also, while grow lights don’t produce the entire spectrum of light produced by the sun, they concentrate the most applicable parts of the spectrum.

      • Bongstar420

        You bet cha! Plants waste 30% of the sun spectrum as emitted IR (mostly from excess green and yellow spectra)..at least

    • Boxcar Willie

      Spoken like a true (millennial) competitor …

      BTW, the “dawn of man” was NOT the year YOU were born.

    • alacrity

      pfff… with all due respect, you simply don’t have a relevant point of reference. You’ve probably never seen- let alone sampled- the strains that many of us revere: True Thai of Cambodia, it’s yellow hues caked in resin wrapped around thin bamboo skewers and tied in place by the strands of fiber still attached to the flower and the smell of honey that erupted when broken. Oaxacan buds the size of your thumb, cured to orange and red and yellow, the flavor of over-ripened cantaloupe and coffee toffee oozing from the end of the hand-roll after the first few draws. The pressed bricks of Colombian Gold, smelling of chocolate and spice…

      All of which were sungrown, and as potent as most all of current top-shelf flower (I remember enough to compare the effects) although the experience was indeed much different- and that’s another story for later.

      What indoor can not reproduce are the actual determinate factors: The organic compounds in the soil and fertilizer used, the zenith of the sun from the region they were grown, the mineral content and pH of the water that fed these, the very air that circulated the geographic areas where they were farmed. The structures, temperatures and air-flow of the curing sheds. All of these factors are unique to the examples cited- and to every other legacy strain that you are simply too inexperienced to reference.

      Sure- indoor hydro-grows are pretty damned good to awesome.

      But son- you ain’t got shit on grandpa’s stash.

      • Bongstar420

        I wouldn’t grow a True Thai. Not worth it

        Sorry. You’re not going to beat 29%THC and 7% Terps with that old school stuff

        • alacrity

          Thanks, kid- you proved my point. The THC of the Thai of old was in the 20’s, and while I can’t address the terp level I can assure you (as can anyone over 40 who recalls it) was spectacular.

          You can’t grow it- you simply don’t have the environment required, and dismissing the legacy speaks volumes about your knowledge and experience.

          “Not worth it”?

          Sure. Let’s go with that.

          • Bongstar420

            Your saying it doesn’t take 14 weeks to flower?

            That is what I meant

            And yes I can grow it…better than it was. Its just not worth it to grow 20% THC for 14 weeks when you can bump 29% THC in 8 weeks…or are you going to pay me 3.2x higher prices so I don’t waste time on less profitable cuts?

          • alacrity

            Oh. Yep-14 weeks to flower is about right, and that’s one of the determinate factors that makes it so good- time.

            Sure, you can brew up a batch of moonshine in a few days, and it’ll get you drunk, too- but it ain’t gonna compare to a 21 year old Irish whiskey.

            The difference is something you’ll probably never understand.

          • Bongstar420

            I’d breed it to flower in 8. Also, I’d breed some Kush flower structure in to it so it sells better.

            Then it wouldn’t be ‘Original Thai’

            Never grown Thai or seen it. Why do I know its 14 weeks off the top of my head? I’m just a dumb kid, right?

          • alacrity

            You think microwave ovens take too long, too- right?

            Thai was/is already a kush pheno, originating from Hindu Kush and adapted to the geographical details in Cambodia- so “breeding in some kush” is kinda redundant. The flower structure was dense, with calyxes that were 3-5mm long and 2-4mm thick, covered in amber tricholmes. Pfff- this is like describing the color blue to a blind person.

            As to the profitability of growing the strain- dude, that’s not what we’re discussing here, and you know it.

            That you know sungrown typically takes 12-14 weeks to flower when grown organically isn’t that impressive, really.

            We’ve already estaished you have no working knowledge or experience with said strain, due to the limitations of your youth and your enthusiasm for knocking stuff you have no clue about sets the tone.

            But hey, bonus points for owning it.

          • Bongstar420

            Original Thai is not a hybrid of Kush. This is not up for debate.

          • alacrity

            Aw, you’re cute. Now go play outside.

          • E.L. Bl/Du

            I have a Thai plant in my greenhouse and yes it takes 14 weeks to flower. (minimum, with all things going right) Not good for indoor, OR outdoor if you live in a place where winter starts in OCT! Still have 6 weeks left of flower time, hence the greenhouse. Here it is NOV and its STILL not ready!!!!!! I can only pray it doesnt mold before its done.

          • Susan Rogan

            You are all about the money. That’s not what people are talking about here. You’re idea of good and great is totally different from the sentiments of people who don’t care how much money they are going to make. Sorry, but you do not seem to get it. Congratulations on your factory farming knowledge, and I do recognize that you are very knowledgeable, but this discussion is over your head as you only have a feel for your wallet.

        • David Murray

          Haha. That statement shows your age. I use to equal or beat that every season.

        • Turt Turtleton

          The only thing you care about in the end is your wallet and getting high. So as soon as someone else has a higher amount of THC they will be gone because there was no substance to begin with. Nature has been growing plants since the dawn of time kid your ass has not done or improved upon anything. Why beat 29% when others can have a full spectrum of cannabinoids that is way better medicine. Indoors only purpose is standardized medicine because you can control as many variables as possible to get consistency remember people are moving away from standardized pharmaceuticals because in the end they don’t work.

    • Thomas Lee DuDash

      #1 in volume and the yearly winner of the best shops in the Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak area is Maggie’s Farm, they are the ONLY outdoor grower in the region. The cannabis consumers in Central Colorado have voted with their wallets which is best, indoor or outdoor.

      • Bongstar420

        I’d have to see their work. I am usually disappointed in these “award winning” enterprises….at the prices their menus show, I can tell you this- I would almost certainly be very disappointed with their work….because, guess what. I pump out indoor that is equal or better for lower prices. That is the measure.

        • David Murray

          The mere fact that you have to pay for electricity for indoor, negates the whole debate. When you can grow inside for free, let me know.

          • Bill421

            glass green house

    • Thomas Lee DuDash

      Maggie’s Farm’s #1 rating was from consumers, not a magazine or a couple people.

      • Bongstar420

        Thats what I mean. Consumers commonly over value things due to branding

        • Thomas Lee DuDash

          It’s the quality of their product, branding hasn’t much to do with their #1 rating, and they win it every year, the indoor growers can’t produce their quality.

  • Another advantage of outdoor-grown pot is cost. It’s virtually free for the home grower–and commercial, field-grown marijuana is much less costly than indoor. There will be a need for both the more expensive, carefully controlled, consistent indoor product, especially medical strains, and field-grown strains that will be very inexpensive. After all, one of the wonderful aspects of marijuana is that it need not be super potent to enjoyable. Milder strains are preferred by many and will have a market, too.

    • E.L. Bl/Du

      it is NOT inexpensive to grow outdoors if you do it correctly. Figure $250 per hole in dirt alone! Thats not including all your nutrients and pest deterrents. I respectfully disagree as a grower myself, cheap has NOT been part of the equation. DOn’t forget you have to have permits and fencing (8 ft minimum by law), not to mention a surveillance system required by OLCC. Tack on a few grand! Cheap has NOT been in my vocabulary setting up outdoor grows. I wish it were that easy, but the laws are preventing that in our state anyway. EVERYBODY wants a cut. CHEAP outdoor? For a superior product? NA, that hasn’t been my experience.

      • Susan Rogan

        “$250 per hole in dirt alone”? What are you planting them in? That seems seriously excessive.

        • E.L. Bl/Du

          if you figure 300 gal grow bags or raised beds, and fill them with dirt, you can count on spending close to that much unless you buy cheap dirt with clay balls in it needing much amending. (which also can cost, and difficult to get right just before planting) Im sure one could get by with cheaper dirt, but the results will be disappointing. You can pour all the nutrients you want to on cheap dirt and it wont do that much. (Number one mistake allot of new growers make) Of course one can re-use the soil (organic grows) and resupply all the microbes with compost etc so the next yr is not quite as expensive. However, I totally disagree that its virtually free to grow outdoors. Esp if you are going for 5-8LB plants. ANd if you add in all the costs of fencing permit(all fences over 6 ft require a permit and its required to have an 8ft fence) security, fertilizers and organic bug sprays, not to mention water, irrigation, timers, all of it is very expensive and adds up very quickly. In addition, in states where its legal, its very difficult to sell your product b/c EVERYbody has it. ITs allot harder to make up your costs, as dispensary stock moves very slow. (and most are NOT grown organically) BUt…if you want a great organic product and want to know whats in your medicine, its well worth ALL of the expense and hard work. Ive been doing this for about17 yrs and have learned so much each year I grow. (indoor and outdoor) It keeps getting more expensive with all the govt wanting their cuts now, and placing many of those fees on the growers. it didnt used to be this way, so I highly recommend in states that havent become legal yet, to stick to MEDICAL ONLY!!!!! Recreational has ruined Oregon with all the idiots who have never grown a tomato think they can move here and just start growing for free. LMAO! not quite! If you want to stay out of jail its a good idea to follow the law to the letter, which costs allot of money. Of course Susan, if you just want to keep your plants small (i-2 lbs) you can cut your costs by using 50-100gal grow bags or beds, and greatly reduce the cost. Its more of a personal choice, as with many things, Most ppl want to get as much as they can out of each grow, but I wish you all the best of luck and happy growing. BTW, outdoor is far superior to indoor in taste and THC content, which I have lab results to show anyone who thinks indoor is better. (big MYTH made up by ppl trying to sell their shitty indoor weed that cost a fortune to grow and tastes like shit b/c they forgot to flush or think its not important) Once you taste and experience the difference you will want no other.

  • Sunnie Day Sanchez

    What a pleasant article. 🙂

  • Mendomann

    Bongstar,
    Wow, thinking that you can replicate mother nature and even improve upon it with indoor growing is complete crap, indoor cannabis is inferior to naturally grown outdoor cannabis. Mendocino County grows some of the best outdoor cannabis in the world,
    8 to 10 weeks under artificial light is in no way comparable to 4 to 6 months of outdoor growing in the sun,flavor, duration of effect and overall quality.
    Healthy soil is the key to pest-control and quality,biologically active soil takes longer than 8 to 10 weeks

    • E.L. Bl/Du

      I agree with you 100%, glad leafly is dispelling the myth. I’ve ALWAYS preferred outdoor with a good flush over ANY indoor forced grow. Smell, color, taste, SIZE and effect cannot be reproduced with artificial light. We who are lucky enough to live in or near the Emerald triangle KNOW BETTER! Outdoor ROCKS when done right. ANd also agree that the key is in the soil! First things first, get your soil right and your plants turn out right. Thats true with growing anything, but funny how ppl who have NEVER grown anything in their life come up with these myths and procedures that make you scratch your head.

    • P.J. Rafter

      Latitude is a kinda big key, too! Being on the wrong side of 54° is a pita…

      Especially when you find yourself turning your nose up at anything that isn’t buds of equatorial sativa?

  • Robert Gerus

    Yada yada yada I really don’t care how you all grew it I grew it my way and I grew some pretty good stuff for many years back in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s but now I have to rely on others and it’s not home grown I have a green thumb lol

  • David Murray

    I don’t know who started these myths, but would never assume that a man made light bulb could do a better job than the sun. Every one of these myths were started by someone too young and inexperienced to make these claims.

    • E.L. Bl/Du

      I cant agree more

  • Trevor Tenpenny

    You guys are crying over spilled milk. I have grown up in a State where Bud is still & has always been illegal. Tennessee. Still, per capita the # of smokers is high. Outdoor grown has been the norm in these parts for close to 50 yrs, & some of the Best Bud ever grown has/& always will be grown right here in The Volunteer State. Indoor isn’t alien & many of the more progressive farmers did start indoor grows in the late ’70’s with knowledge located in Amsterdam & several indoor Strains originated here. Yet the Outdoor crops flourish. I grew indoors before the mass media blitz of info & hydroponics, self contained complete grow boxes, smart phone apps etc. Always knew if phototrons worked that an enclosed hidden box in the closet should. & in my College yrs I built a 4×4 foot 2ftdeep box out of plywood in my closet of an attic appt. I set and exhaust fan in the back wall a floor fan for circulation, painted the walls white , placed white linoleum over the carpet & hung two dbl bulb 4 ft fluorescents w/plant bulbs over the top. & ran three smaller lights on the side walls. Hps was available but my cabinet was small. Starting out w/ Just knowledge i picked up in books or from growers I started 20 plants in 20 oz cups in dirt with a cpl of shallow trays to catch debris, water etc & I kept them about half full, sprayed the plants too & let em get healthy. About 8 wks into it i had 16healthy plants so i kicked the lights back to sex them. Amazingly it wasnt long b/4 I ripped all but 5 out & had some decent females. Well I reset the light let em go another 4 wks then put em in flower. Patiently i wantched as all but 1 died & close to six mos from set up to harvest and i got 2 buds i was not proud of. Then I started over & kept weeding the weak and feeding strong and starting more & more. Finally after 3mos the floor was hidden by nearly 100 Eight inch tall plants. I went to thinning only only using size, strength & appearance as factors. Soon i was down to 40 healthy 12 in plants overflowing my little garden. I left em tight and sexed em. Twenty beautiful ladies appeared as i rid the males over the next 3 wks. Amazed i had a full garden I had to call in help. My area couldnt bear the fruit. So i got two small hps lights, 8 traded a buddy a 40o watt hps with a ballast so hot it would burn my house down. So ten for me & ten for him plus the lights and it was on. I had totlal 4ft height, he had an 8×8 by 10 closet. So my babies grew short and fat while his were tall and spread out.
    All in all i got 3 oz of fire ass bud and an oz or so of ok. He was able to only truly get one plant that really turned her lights on while the others did so so. Well two yrs ago i put some seeds in my garden and after seeing the response to natural environment I was amazed. Only had a few all male bubba kush seeds so i let em grow the axed aferr the got tall. Then last yr i put out some sativas late. Watched em pitifully come up then die off except for two. Compared to the kush these grew so slow i almost gave up. Put them in the dirt july 7th. Yes late start means short mature & not as noticeable. Well a cpl weeks passed then all of a sudden it was boom. Aug 3rd at 18 inches purple calyxs showed. I thought my dirt was off so mixed fresh batch w/bloom building nutrients & boy howdy. The whole top turned into a narly 13-16 ” tall 6-8
    In wide bud and side branches were blowing up too. Sept 1 i cut 1 small nug and tried a cpl days later. Damn good. The nugs thickened and grew and really showed more purple so guess it was good. Oct 1st I got the magnifiers out & really checked it out. Then flushed it two days w/just water & chopped down a 2ft tall plant with close to 3 wet ozs & 2 & 1/4 oz dry and cured. Now i am truly a firm believer that outdoors is the way to go but here its a gamble, and a crime, yet worth the result https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/08e5c4ab6485699e8a64d5cfe1e1d762e310f9bf24c8a79956be613e25d25717.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eff8b0847cc6eaab6dace99a868c3b1f6d5f640f6bd14999590f828e7648dc1a.jpg

  • briteleaf

    I’m an outdoor-auto fan. They grow so fast there’s little pest damage and I don’t use chemicals so the flowers are ORGANICALLY GROWN. They can be grown in relatively small pots that can be moved easily. The buds can be left to mature fully before the fall rains and they are as potent as anything grown indoors. My costs are organic compost and auto seeds and I can make the compost myself. Just a handful of plants is more than enough for my use. The new autos are amazing in taste and effects and I’m harvesting before worms and mold can begin.