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How To Support Cannabis Plants Outdoors

31 March 2023
Plants outdoors grow taller and can produce more buds, the extra weight can be a problem if you don’t provide support.
31 March 2023
10 min read
How To Support Cannabis Plants Outdoors

Contents:
Read more
  • 1. Why support plants outdoors?
  • 2. Bamboo stakes
  • 3. Trellis net (aka trellising)
  • 4. Tomato wire cages
  • 5. Pvc “bird cages”
  • 6. How to support cannabis plants outdoors - faqs
  • 7. In conclusion

Every grower wants to know how to grow cannabis seeds outdoors and harvest big dense buds, but that can be a problem when growing outdoors. Considering that you don’t have walls or a structure to tie a SCROG net as you would indoors, you’ll have to come up with a way of supporting the extra weight. Obviously, you're not obligated to do it but why risk those beautiful buds at the end of the flowering period? As you progress along your growing journey you will hopefully find that the buds your ladies produce become stickier, danker, larger, and denser. Just like any other hobby or skill, practice and patience should make a huge difference to the final outcome in terms of yield and quality. The only downside to this (when it comes to outdoor marijuana cultivation) is that there is a tipping point. Depending on the strain you are growing, at some point, the colas can become so heavy and dense that branches themselves will just not be able to support them. Sagging can lead to a few issues, but the major problem is the chance of these crazy heavy buds actually snapping the branches under the strain. If this happens before you are ready to harvest then you may have just wasted a huge amount of work and effort.

 

Another thing to consider is airflow and humidity levels. Bushy outdoor beasts with huge buds are what we all strive for, but the increased weight can lead to severely restricted air movement and higher humidity within the canopy of the plant itself. There are a few ways to combat this (all discussed below), but just remember to keep a super close eye on your ladies during the flowering cycle to make sure airflow is at a decent level. If you find that the airflow is not up to standard, even with bud management and support, you may have to get a few fans in place to boost. One of the most heartbreaking things that can happen to a grow is mold issues during the last few weeks of flowering. It can be hard to spot, as the mold usually takes hold of the center of the bud itself. If this happens, by the time you finally see the signs it can be a case of too little too late, and you may have to say goodbye to your precious bounty and start again next growing season.

1. Why Support Plants Outdoors?

Sometimes, when growing indoors, our cannabis plants can grow too much in a limited growing space and their buds end up extra heavy, for this reason, growers use techniques to support the branches. This can also happen outdoors, although then the problem is not the lack of space but the heavy buds of your cannabis plant.

 

Support cannabis plants outdoors: why support plants

Cannabis plants can grow very big and with the support they can produce extra heavy buds.
 

When growing outdoors growers usually plant in bigger pots, that is because they aren’t limited by space like they would when growing indoors. This allows the plant to grow to its maximum, it will usually take more to flower but the buds will be denser. A very common problem growers have when growing cannabis plants in bigger pots is that the branches can’t support the weight of the extra dense buds. When growing indoors, this can be avoided by tying the branches to the sides or top of the growing tent, but outside we don’t have a structure like that. Cannabis outdoors isn’t limited by space and can grow huge. If you’re growing a high yielder, the branches may not be strong enough to support the buds and snap, this is why you need to provide support, with either bamboo stakes, a trellis net, or tomato cages.

 

Pros and Cons By Method
Method Pros Cons
Bamboo stakes Cheap Bamboo can rot
Trellising Control vertical and horizontal growth Hard for beginners
Wire cages Easier to move each pot individually Can be expensive

 

Fortunately, there are several ways of heavy buds outdoors, this allows us to have bigger yields and harvest extra dense buds. Now, all of the methods you’ll read will definitely support your extra heavy buds but, before reading about the recommended methods, let’s take a look at their pros and cons.

2. Bamboo Stakes 

Bamboo stakes are what growers usually use to grow marijuana outdoors. Even though this is a cheap and effective method, be aware that bamboo sticks can rot, that's why several growers avoid using them. Actually, several may be a slight understatement. In general, it's not really recommended to use bamboo stakes around flowering cannabis plants. The risk of them rotting, and transferring that to the roots or buds is high, especially in humid and hot climates. Why take the chance when other options are still very budget-friendly?

 

 

Support cannabis plants outdoors: bamboo stakes

Bamboo stakes can help support your plants, although watch out because they can rot.
 

You can still use bamboo stakes if you’re letting your cannabis plants grow for a short time but because they’re exposed to rain and are in the soil, they can rot. When bamboo rots, it can spread to your cannabis plants and they can suffer from mold (like powdery mildew) which can damage your plants and can easily spread to other plants nearby.

3. Trellis Net (aka Trellising)

Trellising consists of basically Scrogging outdoors, although it can be harder because you lack the structure to do it properly, so you’ll have to build that structure yourself. Even though it sounds hard, preparing the structure for a trellis net (or trellising) is quite simple, and consists only of placing 4 stakes around the plant.

You can use bamboo stakes but if you have a little bit of cash to spend, we recommend using metal stakes, not only they won’t rot but can be reused in your other growing cycles. Depending on the space you have available, you can place the net horizontally or vertically around your plants.

 

Support cannabis plants outdoors: trellis net

Trellis nets can be placed on top of the plants or around them, depending on the space you have available.
 

These two methods can be used to support your cannabis plant when you grow weed outdoors, although when placing it around your plant you won’t be able to control its size like you would with a trellis placed on top of your plant. When you place the net horizontally (on top of your plants) this will not only support the extra weight but it will also allow you to train your cannabis plants like you would in a SCROG.

“Avoid using a thin net because it can end up cutting into the branches!”

4. Tomato Wire Cages

Tomato wire cages are pretty similar to placing a trellis around your cannabis plant. They will support your plant from every side but won't allow you to control the height your plant reaches. On the other hand, some growers don’t want to restrict their plant’s height so this is not really a disadvantage.

 

Support cannabis plants outdoors: tomato cage

Using tomato cages is a good way to support cannabis plants, they are fairly cheap and can even be made at home.
 

Wire cages can also be used as a structure to tie the branches to, using string or other materials that won’t damage your cannabis plant, you can easily tie the branches to the wire cage, giving the branches extra support. You can easily find wire cages in hardware stores and they’re fairly cheap, going for around $1.50 each, they can be reused so you won’t have to buy more for your next growing cycle. If you don’t feel like spending money, you can make your own cage, you’ll just need metal wire and you can easily find how to make them on the internet.

5. PVC “Bird Cages”

PVC bird cages are a popular method of supporting large outdoor plants, although the idea can be scaled to any sized plant. The reason why these are more often used for really big girls is that they can support more weight than the other options, are super cheap to set up en mass, and are pretty easy to implement. To set up a PVC bird cage, you're only going to need a couple of things:

 

  • Lengths of PVC piping. The actual length will depend on the size of your plant, but as these will be bent to create the bird cage, they need to be at least double the height of your plants.
  • A pipe bender of some sort. You grab one of these very cheaply from your local big-box hardware store. 
  • A shovel.

 

Now, one downside to this system is that it really needs to be setup before the plants get too big. It can be done later on, but it's just so much easier when the plants are small (or not there at all). First up, you are going to bend the pipes at the center point. You are going for an almost teardrop shape when finished. Think of an acutely angled semi-circle. Does that make sense? For each bird cage, you are going to want a minimum of 4 bent pipes, but 6 is even better. The larger the cage, the more pipes - to a certain extent. You should never need more than 10 for each plant.

 

Support cannabis plants outdoors: PVC cage

DIY PVC cage for plant support.
 

Once the pipes are bent, use the shovel to dig holes for each end, and slowly build that cage. I would also suggest using some twine, zip ties, or duct tape to secure it all together. Then all you have to do is wait for that bad dawg to go on up and fill the cage. Once the branches start to look like they could use a hand, tie them off onto the bird cage for support.

6. How to Support Cannabis Plants Outdoors - FAQs

What is the Best System for Supporting Outdoor Cannabis Crops?

This really depends on a number of factors, including the weather, the type of soil, the size of the plant, the strain you are growing, and how much money you are willing to spend. SCROGS are great for most hobby growers and work really well in any situation with a bit of planning. They also offer better overall growth and increase yields. The bird cage system is best for large outdoor crops, and even the simple bamboo stick job can work wonders for home growers. Assess your setup before making a decision.

How Should I go About Supporting my Outdoor Cannabis Plants?

There are a few different ways you can do this, and the best method will depend on the materials you are using. If you are using bamboo sticks, you can simply tie them to the main stem of the plant. If you are using chicken wire, you will need to build a frame around the plant and then attach the chicken wire to it. Trellis netting can be draped over the top of the plants and then attached to the ground with stakes or weights.

What Are the Advantages of Supporting Outdoor Cannabis Plants?

There are a few different advantages to supporting outdoor cannabis plants. First, it can help to increase yields by allowing the plant to grow larger and fuller. Second, it can help to protect the plant from bad weather or strong winds. Third, it can keep the plant from getting too tall and falling over. Lastly, it can help to improve the overall quality of the buds and save branches from potentially snapping.

What are the Disadvantages of Supporting Outdoor Cannabis Plants?

There are no pressing disadvantages other than that it can be time-consuming and difficult to do properly. If not done correctly, the support can actually do more harm than good (by cutting into the flowering sites and reducing growth). Also, if the plant gets too big and heavy, the supports can break, which can cause damage to the plant. Lastly, if you are using chicken wire or other sharp materials, it is important to be careful so that you do not cut or scrape the plant.

7. In Conclusion

If you're wondering how to grow outdoor weed and the basics, have in mind that supporting your plants is definitely important when growing outdoors. When growing cannabis in bigger pots, your plant will consequently grow more and develop denser buds. If you fail to give support, the extra weight may be too much for your plant and the branches can snap. It really doesn't matter what you use to support your plants, you can use either:

  • Bamboo stakes;
  • Trellis net;
  • Plant yo-yos;
  • Tomato cage.

When you grow cannabis outdoors you cannot control the light cycle so usually, plants vegetate for a long period and then flower for even longer, this is why you should definitely provide support to all the branches to avoid snapping. When a branch breaks, it is definitely possible to fix it but it’s also easier for bugs and mold to attack your plant because there’s an open wound and, due to being weaker, it will be harder for your plant to fight against the attack. 

 

So make sure you have everything planned out before starting your grow cycle, meaning that you should know approximately for how long your plant will grow, how tall, and, if possible, the size of the buds. Keep in mind that supporting the branches isn’t always needed; If you’re not planning on growing a huge plant then it most likely isn’t needed but, depending on when you start the cycle, your plant may reach up to 300 cm in height and this is when you definitely need a way to support the branches. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it at the right time and correctly, you avoid any kind of problems.

 

Feel free to help fellow growers by sharing your tips and tricks on how to support heavy buds outdoors by leaving a comment in the comment section below!