How much sunlight for outdoor marijuana plants

Of all the elements that marijuana will need to be successful, light is by far the trickiest one to control. You might be asking – do plants need direct sunlight or just light?

This is especially tricky with marijuana that is grown outdoors, as we cannot control the sunlight ourselves.

The best way to make sure your cannabis plants receive the proper amount of light at the correct times is to choose a great location in the beginning.

Picking this site is something that can only be done successfully with a careful understanding of how light and other elements will affect your marijuana plant, and why they have these effects.

The importance of sunlight

Cannabis can grow to great heights if treated correctly. This usually involves plenty of sunlight, but it is also possible to grow it using just a skylight. This is possible because of the durability and hardiness of marijuana plants. The size of the plant and buds will be much less though.

Marijuana plant growing outdoor in the sun
Essential sunlight for marijuana plants

So why is sunlight so important? It is essential for marijuana plants to produce their stems and leaves, which are important for taking in even more sunlight – and this helps them gain more energy that is used for further growth.

When you maximize your plants’ growth, you maximize your yield and quality of weed.

There is no better way for your plants to grow than to make sure that it is receiving the proper amount of sunlight. Soil and water are also necessary, but they won’t make as much of a difference as sunlight will. The more sunlight, the higher the yield.

Also read Increase Your Marijuana Yield

Aside from getting enough sunlight, there are many other factors that can lead to successful yields that every grower should know to maximize their crop.

Increase marijuana yield by growing outdoor in the sun
Increase marijuana yield

Contrary to what may seem logical, it is the darkness after daytime that starts up the flowering in cannabis plants.

This, of course, is a crucial part of maximizing your weed yield. After a certain amount of consistent darkness, a mature plant will receive the message to start diverting its energy from being used for flowering instead of growing.

For this reason, it’s important to start growing the marijuana plants as early as you can in the spring, so they can absorb the most sunlight and use the most of their life cycle for growing.

Outdoor cannabis seeds

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Choose a sunny growing site

Because of this natural process, it’s important to choose a growing spot in a place where it can get the most sun exposure possible.

The days are the longest during the middle of the growing season – the sun could shine for longer than 12 hours a day during this time of year.

You need to find a location that is free from objects or other plants that might block your plants from receiving the most amount of light possible. Never forget: your plants need as much sunlight as possible, so they grow as much as possible.

Great location for growing cannabis outdoor in the sun
Great location for growing cannabis

Also read this article The Best Places To Grow Marijuana Outdoors

If you live in the northern hemisphere (United States, Canada Europe), the best location is most likely a spot that is facing the south. The opposite is true for people living in the southern hemisphere (Australia). Because of water access and concerns about security, however, this may not be doable for everyone.

How much darkness for outdoor plants

At the bare minimum, make sure your marijuana plants are receiving five hours of direct sunlight, as well as five additional hours of indirect sunlight.

If you must make a decision of whether to use mainly morning sun or afternoon sun, it is generally better to choose the morning sunlight, as it will stimulate growth more effectively.

If you live in the north, you will probably have some problems to deal with that southern growers will not. For instance, darkness makes a big difference in regions that are further north.

Proper sunlight and darkness for outdoor marijuana plants
Proper sunlight for outdoor marijuana

During the growing season, nights are short. This means that cannabis might not get enough time to flower before the first fall frost occurs.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible for northern growers to get a good yield from their crop. It simply means that they will probably need to simulate a longer night in order to get the plants to start flowering earlier.

This is tricky because even the briefest amount of light will make plants start growing again and put off flowering. Therefore, it needs to be a complete, uninterrupted darkness.

Marijuana plants are happiest when they get between 5-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Download our FREE marijuana grow bible to get step by step guide to grow marijuana outdoors

The opposite problem occurs in the south, near the Equator: they have very long periods of darkness. Nighttime will last more than 10 hours. When this happens, marijuana plants can flower too early. While this is something that needs to be dealt with, it is much easier to give a plant more light than to try and reduce the amount of daytime it is exposed to.

In both cases, remember to look at a plant’s relationship with light in terms of its full life cycle. Light is integral to everything from germinating to growth, to flowering so it cannot be taken lightly. Because marijuana fares so well outdoors, it should be fairly simple once you’ve successfully gotten them started. All that is required is picking the perfect place to grow them, and then the changing amounts of sunlight and the turning seasons should take it from there.

Growing your first plant? Check out the all-in-one solutions by a Pot for Pot

How much sunlight for marijuana plants

The final thing to consider is the amount of light your planting location is going to be exposed to. This isn’t to say it’s impossible to understand: you just need a place with as much sun exposure as possible. The more sun, the more successful your harvest will be.

Proper sunlight for weed strain
Proper sunlight for marijuana strain

People who don’t know what they are doing often choose to plant their cannabis plants in the middle of a forest. For people who have a good understanding of the importance of light to their harvest, this is clearly not the best choice. Your marijuana plants would need to fight for light, competing with tall, mature trees.

You need to find a place that gets not only morning sun, but also further sunlight as the day continues on. This can be the most challenging part of finding a location for your plants since areas that receive good lighting are also more noticeable or vulnerable to be discovered.

Looking to buy seeds? Visit my seed bank

Cannabis seeds for sunny climate

Buy seeds for sunny climate

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Just remember that without a minimum of five hours of direct sunlight (and quite a bit more hours of indirect sunlight), you will not be happy with the result of your marijuana harvest. Find more than one site to plant your marijuana plants so you can figure out which one of these sites is best for cultivating cannabis of large sizes and quantities. It will also help you more efficiently care for your plants in the future since they will all be in one superior location.

All in all, do not rush through these important details about light for your cannabis. It is a steep learning curve and takes a lot of careful planning, but in the end you will be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the result of all your hard work. It will definitely be worth the effort.

FAQ for Outdoor Marijuana Plants

What Is The Highest Yielding Outdoor Strain?

Gold Leaf is the highest yielding outdoor strain, mainly known for its huge colas, its incredibly high yield, and THC level. This strain also gives you an ecstatic, relaxing high, making it ideal for treating anxiety, ADD or ADHD, stress, and even insomnia.

Can You Grow Indoor Strains Outdoors?

You can grow any indoor strain outdoors and vice versa, achieving incredible results all the same. All this thanks to research efforts, plant modification, and the amount of data that is readily available when it comes to cannabis strains.

How Tall Do Indica Plants Grow Outdoors?

Indica plants grow to about 3-6 feet tall. They are short, fat, and ideal for growing indoors. Because Indicas have a shorter flowering period of about 6-8 weeks, indoor growers can have more annual growth cycles, and outdoor growers can confidently cultivate in climates where fall quickly turns to winter.

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or questions below and don’t forget to download my free grow bible


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Mr Robert Bergman PhD


Robert Bergman is an Amsterdam-based marijuana grow expert who has years of experience from small grows to massive operations ... See profile

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87 comments on “How much sunlight for outdoor marijuana plants”

  1. I have a question. My plants were started inside, when ready Im moved the outside, still in small pots. They grew fine, then slowed, I transfered to bigger pot. Did good again. Yet that pot Wasnt big enough either. So in the garden they went. Everything was going fine. But then had some storms With major rain. So I built a frame and enclosed them in poly plastic. So now they are in a greenhouse style environment. The Sides are still ipen For airflow. I do get alot of sun facing south. So what Im asking is, how do you think my plants will do with the indirect sunlight now? They have all the white hairs flowering, trying to bud up. Im in NY and its September. With this greenhouse effect I think I can make through Most of October, I’ll close the sides up for warmth. Of course Im not sure being This late if I will achieve full buds.

  2. Hi robert
    Im down in New Zealand & have 2 plants in buckets, its summer here & basically they are growing crazy as i move them around my section following the sun for atleast 12 hours every day & uninterrupted sunlight. Because they are preflowering should i keep giving them this much light or should i start moving them into the dark sooner?? We only have around 8 hrs of darkness at this time of year. Cheers

  3. How much sun should seedlings get per day, as it looks like they bend over too much if exposed to the sun too much? they are still very small about 5-10 cm. And at what size should they go into the ground to prevent stunting their growth.

  4. I have my three plants in five gallon buckets, my plants are in the sun for 15-18hrs a day is it to long,in the dark for 6-8hrs is it to much ?….

  5. I’m worried because my plant is fairly young , no buds yet, and it’s in a big black urn the sun makes the whole thing hot and I don’t want the pot to get cooked

  6. I put my plants outside in the morning about 7 to 8 am. They stay out there all day till about 7 at night. Which is roughly 12 hours. Can they sit n dark for 12 hours until morning comes or do I need to take them inside for a while with bulb lights till morning.

  7. hi
    please help me
    I am growing sativa marijuana out door, but my location weather is too hot( 37 degree of Centigrade)

    what i can do to prevent of heating problems?!?

  8. Hi there,
    Thanks for the info on Sun lighting I’m in the middle of the Pacific Ocean living here in beautiful Hawaii the island paradise stay safe,healthy,& always stay happy peace-out & Aloha

  9. I live Southern California. There comes a time in June were it becomes mostly cloudy. We call it June Gloom. During this time it makes my plant flower slowly then back in July when the Sun is fully out. With no cloudy day’s it reverts back to vegetative growth. Then at the end it finally flowers then blooms and is ready in early October. Is there a way in June i can make my plant’s stay in vegative growth. Maybe taking them indoors using a strong light to imitate sunligh during June.

  10. I’m just growing one plant and move it to the Morning sun and after sun. Then i move it to the garage for night time. 12/12. It’s in a terracotta pot. First plant ever. I’m excited to grow it.

  11. I’ve Grew for 30 years back in TN. I’ve been in the PNW for over 2 years now and this is the 1st outdoor grow out here. The sun is making my plants droopy when exposed to direct sunlight. The sun is not like tn, it seem to have mostly a blue/white spectrum. Any advice? It’s not over/under Watering and the humidity is great aswell. It Seems to be the sun.

  12. Does it matter if my plants are only 3 week old and they’re recieving sun light all day? Would it burn my plant
    I live in puerto rico ( tropical weather)

  13. If I grow my plants in a pot outdoors how big of a pot do I need to plant them in

  14. Huge note is that if you are nOt planting directly in the ground you will need to make sure that your pots/bags are not gett too hot. 18° celsius for my opinion is max temperAture for the soil and Roots to reach. Warm when they are babies and cool when they are growing up until the finish

  15. I live In norhtern Nevada and indirect sunlight is my biggest problem cause their is no shade unless I build it and then it causes problems I have the best access to sunlight but is there a things as to much direct sunlight my plants were started in doors in a bay window that gets direct sunlight all day and most of the late afternoon and now I’m moving Them outside cause they are getting bigger but one plant is showing burnt Tips and that concerns me I don’t use nutrients I believe in all natural stuff so what am I doing wrong

  16. i had a great harvest last year with the seeds i purchased. learned so much from your website. looking forward to another great year.

  17. Very well written and Easy to understand. thank you! not everyone can explain the right ways to garden.

  18. jermaine,

    You need air circulation or you promote mold and other environmental issues. Join our forum and get tips from our friendly members and expert staff. 🙂

  19. Hi there
    I have a seedling with 3 sets of leafs already
    Iit started spring here in south Africa
    What I want to know is I’m keeping my seedling in a white cupboard under two lights which makes a 26w just to give it a head start.. With no breeze
    I want to grow it outdoors
    Is it a bad thing to leave it in there with just lights for a few weeks before takinher out?

  20. Caledonia,

    Not sure of your location. Naming it would help others know where in the world you are talking about. 🙂
    Without knowing how long your photo period is; I cannot really advise you. If you ahve a few pitils then you have 2-3 month before harvest, depending on strain.
    I suggest you join our forum and share your story with our many friendly members and expert staff. See you there!

  21. greenthumbjambam,
    You are talking about re-vegging. The only part you got off on was using a 24/0 photo period. Never use 24/0. Maximum photo period should be no longer than 18/6, and some would stretch that to 10/4 for vegging clones and/or re-vegging.
    IN order for new roots to occur, we need darkness to allow for proper photosynthesis. Happy growing.

  22. I live at latitude 55n and my plants still her to g too much light n it’s mid August a few white pistils but no buds any suggestions?

  23. now if you was indoors any where from 90-120 days you can start cutting light just as long as they are strong enough to hold the weight

  24. personally i have actually found out that after harvest you can leave the root ball attached and leave a few bottom limbs on as well. spread the roots and repot move inside and go to a 24 hr light cycle for a couple months and the same plant will kick back over into a veggie stage and grow back and be ready to rebud in just a few months. once i cycled the same plant 6 times and got 6 different harvest good luck guys

  25. billy,

    I would go with feminized Sativa strains because Sativa is also derived from genetics in equatorial regions such as yours. Good Luck and Happy growing

  26. Gary,

    Where you place your plants is a decision you need to make in order to follow the grow plan that you come up with. I suggest nice cloth containers in a greenhouse but, if you take all the necessary steps, you could place them in a hole in the ground. Both option are different and you need to research and decide your course of action.

    I like pots above ground for ease of resetting plants, or moving them.

  27. OK – I live in Cambodia and am thinking of an outdoor crop. Done plenty indoors but this is all new to me. We have 12 hours light and 12 hours dark – ALL YEAR ROUND. I was thinking of autoflowering seeds. Any advice would be helpful.

  28. I have a some plants in pots is it best to put in greenhouse or the ground .
    Also when we go away what is best way to water them as I have no to water them.

  29. Waylon,

    Topping plants in flower creates a stress and can cause hermaphroditic traits to show. Plants should only be topped in the vegetative cycle. Cannabis is a very adaptive species. Only time will give you the answer to your question, and some experience on the matter. Good Luck

  30. chad,

    To keep plants from budding; You need to limit the dark period to 10 hours or less per 24 hour period.

  31. hi im just trying couple clones outdoor they are starting to flower way to early so i prob did the wrong thing but i trimmed the tops as i did not do this in vegeing as i have only really started reading up about good growing techniques and max yield i was also told plants will go back to vegeing have i screwed this up by topping my plants lol hope not

  32. i live in N/W Australia where the weather is very hot,how do i stop my plants going into the budding stage when my plants are still very early in growing stage.sunlight isn’t a problem.cheers

  33. Sonya,

    I can only advise you to join our forum, where we can all share the necessary info to get you an informed answer.

  34. Well this is probably the 10th year we’ve tried growing our own pot (every other year as soon as the plants start budding someone stole them right from the back yard) we currently have 2 very large plants outback with tons of buds… They have been budding for awhile now but the buds are not getting any bigger, there seems to be lots of new buds starting as well, after reading the page on growing huge buds I clicked over here and I’m hoping that we have not missed the harvest period, and trying to figure out what we’re doing wrong.

    Any advice?

  35. BEN H.,

    I suggest you join us at for a better discussion of your issues. The blog here is not set up for the lengthy support you need to get going.

    All I can say from what little info you provided is: Make sure you place them in a spot that has a longer period of direct Sunlight. Transplanting little plants into 45 gallon pots might be the issue too. Again; Vague info. See you at the forum where we can provide so much more information after you fill out an “ILGM Support Ticket. See you there.

  36. They were transplanted into 45gal fabric pots around the end of July and they were already 2-3 weeks old. They are around 7-8 weeks old now.

  37. What can I do if my outdoor plants don’t get enough sunlight throughout the day? I thought they would receive enough but they are growing very slowly and it’s getting towards the end of the season. They are grown organically with FF big bloom fertilizer (4tbsp/1gal every other watering).

  38. I would like to know the same thing that Jenna is asking. I’m in mid-Michigan. I have my card. The date is August 17, 2017. My plants are beautiful and healthy but they aren’t flowering yet. What do I need to do?

  39. Sandra,

    I am surprised you are not seeing buds. If I read your post correctly, you are 5 months growing…

    May I invite you to join our forum ar and I, among other friendly growers will help you figure it all out. Bring a couple pictures, 😀

  40. Sandra my kush ladies were transplanted in late April/early May into the ground and also 10 gal containers. Theey are now 4 ft up to 5 ft now in height and width in a So Cal (33 Latitude) climate. To answer your Q one needs more details such as size at transplant, strain, latitude, hours of direct sunlight, nutrition, watering etc. These are all variables that can be usefully researched before you plant next time.

  41. I have been growing my babies since February, I have moved them outside in 5 gallon buckets. They get morning and evening sun with shade throughout the day. When can I expect to see buds?

  42. The longest day of the year is summer solstice, the 21st of June in the northern hemisphere, and 21st of December in the southern hemisphere, and the further away from the equator you are, the longer that day will be. You can look up your specifics here: The plant is an annual, and flowering is triggered by decreasing sunlight (aka short-day plant:, usually around the 12h mark. Daylight at the equator is 12h year-round, so without a change in light, it won’t trigger flowering. The day length will drop below 12h in the northern hemisphere after the Fall Equinox, September 22: Given that your last frost date is around the beginning of November, you should be ok.

  43. I love this site! I have my first grow from seeds (Wonder Woman) going now in about the 5th week of veg. I’ve learned so much from this site and Robert’s grow bible. I started my seeds in seedling soil and after a few weeks started to get yellow leaves! After researching on this site realized that it was time to get my girls in some Fox Farms soil and into a bigger pot. That solved my yellowing leaf problems, but then I started getting brown spots on the leaves. More research led me to realize that because I’m using RO water, that I had a magnesium deficiency. Got some epsom salts and that did the trick OVERNIGHT! My plants are now growing like weeds and seem very happy indeed!

  44. Marcie Myers,

    Outdoors you do not control the photo period. 12 occurs approximately at the Summer Solstice in June. I live in the Hell Hole Swamp. 🙂 Go Tigers.

    I recommend you join our support forum. We will be glad to help you learn to grow successfully.

    Happy growing 🙂

  45. Enjoying the read as I begin with my feminized seeds. One question which may be in another area but if you start you plants outdoors early, maximize as instructed, WHEN do you begin to put them in 12 hours of darkness? How will I know? Hey, y’all, from SC.

  46. to prevent white powdery mold use a little 3 percent hydrogine peroxide in ur water if u grow out in pots it kills all the harmful bacteria in ur soil as well as good I mix wiyh my nutes wen I do this because it stimulates the roots with oxgen boost and y get better nute intake through them plus it keeps ur plants healthy and deters insects but cant be used with organic nutes because it kills them such as pro bloom so I use very little synthetic nutes so my plant still gets them and had great results ive been growing outdoors in pots 50 yrs I like clones and seed one tablespoon per gallon of water I use half tablespoon it goes a long way the peroxide goes away quickly so organic nutes boticare next watering nothing else in veg or flower sometimes imist my plants im morning with same solution of peroxide 3 percent one tablespoon per gallon of water I leave cap of jug 24 hrs to kill all clorine hope this helps

  47. dude pls, weed needs sunlight but not as much as possible, u make people do mistakes, cannabis needs a gentle caring.

  48. I started many years ago and decided to get back into it about 3 years ago. Had trouble finding good seeds so I took a chance and ordered from ILGM. I am in Florida and I have had good results with Northern lights. Easy grow and starts budding in July. I bred two females and they are producing great. Very good genetics at ILGM.

  49. Eww…you don’t want your crop to fail at this time…be careful at this time, because extra cold and moisture can easily develop mold on your buds in the fall. Mold on your buds is worse than waking up and having no genitals at all anymore…almost. I’d bring them inside at this point…or plan an early harvest. Once you discover moldy buds, your game plan changes.

  50. I’d only be concerned about that pesty night light once you start flowering. While it’s in vegetative state, a light at night like that will do no harm…although, once you start cutting the light/dark schedule to 12 & 12 hours per day, that extra bit of light could mss up your flowering plans…either try to move the flowering spot, or get rid of the balcony lights. It’s either lights on your balcony or some nice nuggs in the fall…your choice my friend.

  51. Hi, I live in Georgia.I have my plants outside.I get plenty of sunlight,but was wondering about the night.I have an outdoor light and where I have my plant,the light hits it.Is that going to mess anything up?Do I have to move it? This is my first time growing any plants.

  52. Ropyce,

    In June we have the Summer Solstice. Days start getting shorter each day after that.

    You might want to join our support forum, and download our free grow bible to giver you more confidence

  53. Madman
    Generally plants finish in 4-5 months. You in month 5; What do you think?

    There is nothing you can do now; You are committed. The days should not get too long to revert your plants. However; There are no guarantees when growing Cannabis. Monitor the trichomes and hope you get them finished in the next month. After the “solstice” in June; Days will shorten again. You may be able to go on into August.

    I would hope for a harvest before it gets too damn hot 🙂

  54. Is June 1st safe to turn off the lights and still have enough natural sunlight, for the plants not to flower? I’m in northern California. Any advice would be very helpful. Thanks R

  55. I started female clones in December, indoors. They moved outside in early April and are now flowering like mad. Is it too soon? Will the long days cause them to go to veg.state again? They are all 3-4 ft tall and very bushy. Super cropped.

  56. It is much safer to start plants indoors and control environment It is highly uncommon to start plants outdoors with the plan to bring them indoors to mature and finish.

  57. This my first time growing anything and I only use the seeds from batch buds I’ve smoked they seem to be growing okay but I want to know is it okay to start growing outside and then bring them indoors

  58. Mediterranean ,

    IN the “Med” and on a mountain. That presents a lot of variables. My advice to you is to research the grow methods of local fruit and vegetable farmers. This will give you a sound base on which to start growing your Cannabis. 🙂

  59. I live somewhere in the Mediterranean on top of a mountain,and am about to start my first ever grow outside so sunlight isn’t much of a problem,could you give me any tips for growing in the med? I’m growing w widow.

  60. I’ve had plants growing outside in pots and they are about 5 ft tall and 12 weeks old. They look very healthy, but I’m concerned that I won’t have enough time for flowering before it gets to cold because they just now entered into the phase where the white hairs are increasing but still no actual buds starting? Is it normal for plants to take this long to even begin budding?

  61. Hi I’ve been growing plants outside in ireland and IRS been a great summer but now the weather is quite cold I’m wondering if I could take my plants indoors and leave them under a skylight? As they are in 5 th week of flo. Will they stop growing ? Will this shock them thanks

  62. Hey there
    Just a quick question. I grew outdoors this year my plants are around 8 ft tall in pots and budding good I made a 3ft by 3ft skylight in my shed and have 2 big doors on the west side of it and 2 small windows on the north side and I put my plants in there cuz last year someone ripped off plants about 3 wks before they were ready and I dont dare to leave them out this year just incase.the raller of my plants is almost at the skylight and I dont want to stress th3m by moving of course the are not getting as much sunlight as if they were outside but is it enough or will I screw them up.
    Hope to hear from ya soon

  63. Hi Keith,

    Polly tunnels, great. You can get really good results with those. I always recommend to use a fluorescent light for your marijuana seedlings. You can control the temperature (20-25 C) and hours of light (18-24). In your window it can become very hot during the day and very cold during the night. The more light your marijuana seedlings get, the stronger they will be. They also tend to stretch if there’s not enough light.

    Good luck growing and I’m always available for questions. Oh, and next week my new website, with forum, will be ready. Would be nice if you could post some pictures…


  64. Hi some great advice just waitin on my first seeds built a Polly tunnel and I was wondering can I start my plants indoors in a window with out lights to get it hardy before I put it out side i bought some short rider feminized seeds it’s my first grow and my summer is short as in Ireland lol. Would love to know what u think about this. Thanks