A lot of new growers might plant some clones outside, only to come back a couple weeks later to find them already flowering. At first you might think you've struck gold.
After all, if you could grow a mature plant in half the time and still have it produce flowers, why wouldn’t you?
But that’s not really how it works.
Growing clones outdoors and early flowering
Here’s how it usually goes: You take the clone out in May. Two weeks later you notice flower development. Two weeks after that, you get small buds. But then the plant stalls for two weeks to a month and begins to grow weird shaped leaves out of the buds.
That is the plant reverting back to vegetative growth.
At this point however, it is already the middle of July. Your plant only has two or three more weeks before it goes into flower again under the natural light of the sun. In the end, you end up with less harvestable flower that doesn’t look as good.
There are a few things you can do to ensure that growing clones outside goes well. There’s also plenty of things to avoid.
1. Know your clones
This applies to choosing your genetics from the beginning. Certain clones just don’t perform well outdoors. If they come from a strain that was bred indoors and is mostly cultivated indoors, you’re more likely to encounter problems.
Before you just buy any clone from your local nursery, do some research into its growth patterns and traits, so you can be sure to avoid strains more prone to problems.
2. Know your light cycles
Different areas of the United States have shorter and longer light cycles throughout the year. You can easily look up the light cycles of where you live to determine when you should plant your outdoor cannabis clones.
In Oklahoma for example, May 1 has 13 and a half hours of daylight. By June 1, there is 14 hours and 23 min of daylight. Then by June 21, the longest day of the year, Oklahoma gets over 14 and half hours of sunlight. Most clones will want to flower at this point, which you don’t want.
3. Always have backup clones
It is always good to keep some backup clones on hand that you don’t plant outside right away. Especially if it is your first time growing clones outdoors.
Start with planting half to two-thirds of your clones outdoors after ensuring they aren’t prone to problems. Should they flower early by chance, you’ll at least have some plants you can salvage and continue to grow.
4. Transition your clones
This one is important. Use a shade cloth or a greenhouse to acclimate your plants to the sun. As they adjust to natural light you can wane them off of supplemental lights until they are ready to transplant.
If you want to keep it as simple as possible, you can keep your plants under tree cover and shade. Then move them out into the sun when they are ready. With this method you most likely won’t have any supplemental lighting.
5. Keep an eye on them!
Clones are extremely sensitive to transplants. It is common for outdoor clones to have issues when they are transplanted from a controlled indoor or greenhouse environment.
Check on your clones regularly to ensure none of them are suffering from transplant shock or other problems. While it may seem simple enough, there’s also some things you need to avoid to increase your chances of successfully growing clones outdoors.
6. Don't put your clones outdoors too early
Unless you are using supplemental lighting outdoors, you need to keep your clones in a greenhouse where you can control their light schedule to help them adjust to natural light over time.
When the longest days in late May and early June only have 13-14 hours of light, your clones will begin flowering if not adjusted.
7. Don't let your clones become root-bound
The last thing you want is for your clones to become comfortable in their nursery pots with roots wrapped around its base, only to strain those roots when you transplant them. If you transplant outdoors before your clones have rooted, it will be easier for them to adjust and root into their new medium.
This may take some time to learn how developed your plants' root systems are without taking them out of the pot to check every time.
8. Don't stress your clones out
Clones are delicate. They are raised in a controlled environment, with a specific temperature, humidity and lighting. If you’re keeping your clones at a steady temperature 72-74 degrees Fahrenheit indoors, you don’t want to transplant them on a 95 degree day.
While it is important to keep your keep your clones wet for the first few days after transplanting, you don’t want to stress them by overwatering either.
This list of do’s and don’ts might seem long, but making sure your outdoor cannabis clones don’t flower early isn’t difficult to avoid. You can simply keep them in an indoor or greenhouse environment and slowly adjust the lights. When you put them outside around solstice when the day is around 15 hours, your plants will be adjusted, and will transition to flower more naturally.
You can always send us a message to get help with any of your grow questions or problems!