5 Main Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation

By Dylan O.
The differences can be night and day...

5 Main Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation

It is debated throughout blogs and forums and put under the knife by enthusiasts and researchers alike, “Which method of cannabis cultivation is better?” 

Let’s put it under the knife ourselves and excise the differences between the two to get a clearer picture of the cannabis conglomerate and how the different facets compare to one another in the big picture. 


1. Variable Control

Within the realm of cannabis growth and production, there are many variables to be taken into consideration which affect the potency, fragrance, and aesthetic appeal of the blossoming buds and overall health of the plant itself. 

Those who choose to cultivate their ganja indoors have complete control over the vast array of variables at play. Soil amendments, lighting, air flow, CO2 production, temperature monitoring and humidity control are a number of the wide variety of aspects that the grower has the ability to manipulate through indoor cultivation. With such outright control over the plant throughout its life cycle, the overseer of the botanical operation has more freedom in the realms of research and development and experimental genetics, as well product-standardization for the consumer’s market and medicinal hub. 

Outdoor production, though it provides the grower with less control over the many factors afoot in the cultivation procedure, gives the grow-master more freedom to relax within the process itself. Things such as lighting, air flow, temperature, humidity and soil are naturally regulated by mother earth, however, this doesn’t mean that there is ultimately less for the caretakers to do! 

Horticultural techniques underneath the umbrella of companion planting are widely available in order to protect the plants from various predators and infestations, as well as containing water and various nutrients. Such techniques include intercropping and ground cover, which create a healthy ecosystem that introduces beneficial bugs to prey on pests and other botanical compounds that have complementary domains to that of cannabis. 


2. Year-Round vs.Seasonal Cultivation

Photo Credit

One of the most obvious differences between the two methods of cannabis cultivation is the time in which it can be grown and harvested. 

With indoor cannabis, the grower has no limit on the time frame with which he/she can grow and harvest their crop, nor the location where they must grow it, because of the controlled environment. An indoor grow operation is not contained by the seasonal whims of mother nature, and as such can produce a more consistent yield with less climatic fluctuation and interruption. 

Since outdoor cultivation is seasonal, it is completely reliant on weather conditions and consistency of the elements to produce a bountiful and potent harvest. While for the horticultural traditionalist and outdoor hippie this is a preferable method in terms of natural growth and minimal tampering by that of human-kind, it is much more contained within the specificities of time and geographical location than that of cannabis cultivated indoors. 


3. Cost of Grow Operation

Outdoor growth of cannabis is much less arduous — not only in terms of attention required, but also in terms of money spent! Most of the cost in an outdoor operation occurs at the startup of the operation itself, however, once the operation has been planted, as little as four individuals are needed to look over the crop during the growing season until the harvest comes. 

Indoor is another story. With indoor cannabis farming there is always work to be done — pruning, watering, feeding, observing, variable-monitoring, and harvesting are tasks that are constantly underway with the continuous yields of indoor production. However, labor is not the only cost that is lingering amidst these operations. The soil, fertilizers, lighting, water, energy bills and systemic maintenance are all factors that play into the continuously high cost of indoor cultivation. 

Yet, because of these high costs they are able to maintain specific conditions that allow for the growth of high quality, beautiful, bodacious cannabis that can be sold to dispensaries for a pretty penny. 


This brings us to number 4. 


4. Quality of Cannabis

Photo Credit

Now, to pick up where we left off: indoor cannabis is commonly renowned for its THC-potency and floral kick-to-the-nose. In fact, most people nowadays are quite infatuated with indoor-grown green because it looks beautiful, smells like the cologne of an angel, and...well...gets the job done if you ask me. 

Considering the fickle variants within the outdoor side of the cannabis coin, consistency of THC-potency and sensory beauty of the flowers are more difficult to reproduce. This doesn’t mean they aren’t possible to achieve, but rather, said factors are less likely to be regularly reproduced within the realm of outdoor cultivation. 

While the quality of the cannabis is a quantifiably measurable factor through the scientific analysis of THC levels, comparative aesthetics and aromatic vigor, preference is an immeasurable quality that relies on the consumers themselves and is the last and final difference between the two methods of cultivation. 


5. Consumer Demand and “Bag Appeal”

When it comes to the legal distribution of cannabis through the means of dispensaries, consumers are quite particular in their sense of “bag appeal”. 

“Bag appeal” is the term that refers to the beauty of the flowers, the names of the strains, and the scent that accompanies them. Just like any other product, humans like to purchase pretty, high-quality products that look high-quality before they buy them. 

As it was mentioned in the last point, indoor cultivation is a much more efficient method in producing consistent products with little variation. Factors such as larger bud size, deeper color, richer Terpenes, higher Trichome density, more cannabinoids and a better haircut (trim job) are commonly found within indoor grown cannabis. This makes indoor ideal for the consumer’s market, especially with it’s growing legality and popularity as it becomes more acceptable within the mainstream population. 

Photo Credit

Though it is extremely plausible to produce similar high-quality cannabis through outdoor cultivation, it is less than likely that the same quality product will be repeatedly nurtured and delivered from season to season. 


Which One is for You?

Considering all of these differences that range from the processes themselves to the end-product under scrutiny, I believe it all comes down to preference. Both are, and will remain, valid methods of cultivation in times to come, and you have the freedom to choose what you will in terms of the cannabis you consume. So, instead of asking which is better, ask yourself, “Which do I prefer?”

Thumb 20180120 img 9457

About the author: Dylan O.

Dylan O. is a freelance writer, musician, speaker, and spiritual healer. He has ample experience in the cannabis industry and is an advocate for the many healing properties of cannabis. He strives to educate others about cannabis and to assist in diminishing the stigmas that surround it with his sophisticated writing style and personal approach.