With an increasing amount of cannabis options available to users every day, it’s important to know where your flower comes from and how it’s grown. Many factors impact growing cannabis, but the differences in indoor vs. outdoor cannabis’ quality, potency, and environmental impact vary exponentially.
One of the most important questions you can ask your local dispensary is whether the flower you want to purchase was grown indoors or outdoor.
What Are the Differences in Indoor vs Outdoor Cannabis?
The differences between indoor and outdoor cannabis come down to three areas: technique, environment, and end product.
The outdoor technique for growing cannabis is significantly cheaper and more accessible because the sun does most of the work. This method requires less feeding with less dialed-in nutrients.
Outdoor plants get fed once or twice a week, depending on the soil and the specific plants. The nutrients that the plants have access to are dependent on the soil and the water, without additional supplementation. This means outdoor plants receive less precise nutrients than plants grown indoors.
There are many more factors to consider when growing cannabis indoors, such as multiple harvests and more detailed daily feedings. Growers must monitor the feed’s PH levels and parts per million (PPM) of specific nutrients.
The feed for indoor plants must not be too acidic or have too much alkaline. The plants require their food to have a specific PH for maximum absorption.
The PPM is a good indicator of the specific amount of nutrients going into the plant. Too many nutrients can cause the plants to “lock out” and stop feeding, while too little may underfeed the plants.
Indoor growers use specific nutrients to ensure plants get proper amounts of the essentials. The nutrient mix is made fresh with each daily feeding to ensure vigorous growth. The mixture can also be tailored to a specific point in the plant’s flower cycle for optimal performance.
The outdoor environment, especially in Nevada, is variable, with no consistency or ways to control heat, humidity, air movement, or other factors.
When indoors, the environment can be monitored and completely controlled. The air is kept clean and debris-free, which results in an unpolluted and pristine dried flower.
The final product of outdoor-grown cannabis will appear rougher with fewer detailed buds. This is due to the buds being handled harshly and having their trichomes knocked off.
A massive harvest of the outdoor product also often means the cannabis could be machine trimmed or poorly hand-trimmed, which reduces quality even further.
How Does Nevada’s Climate Impact Crops?
Nevada is a very different growing environment than California or Oregon. The desert is harsh and unforgiving with year-round sun exposure, extreme heat, severe winds, and little to no humidity. The product is at the mercy of nature.
Contaminants, pest infestation, microbial issues, weather, and climate, can make successfully growing and harvesting a good batch of outdoor cannabis more luck than skill.
What Is the Environmental Impact of Indoor vs. Outdoor Cannabis?
While indoor-grown cannabis faces scrutiny for using more energy, this method can control chemical runoff and waste products associated with all crop growing.
Many outdoor crops may save energy but pollute the environment with contaminants like:
- Chemical runoff
- Other mechanical farm equipment
Often exposed to bugs and other contaminants, the flower often requires the above-listed chemical agents to treat the problem. These deterrents and pest management products wash into the soil and are spread by rainwater, risking contamination of surrounding water sources.
Massive outdoor crops also lead to more water consumption and lower yields, making outdoor growing less efficient. In a state like Nevada, with a challenging climate and low water availability, outdoor cannabis crops will significantly increase this struggle.
Indoor cultivations grow smaller plants that require less water. Indoor growers can recycle water for the crops. Thus, indoor cannabis needs up to 10 times less water than outdoor.
Is Greenhouse Cannabis the Same as Indoor Cannabis?
Greenhouse cannabis is a slight step up from outdoor product, allowing for multiple harvests per year, but it is still a cheaper, lower-quality alternative to indoor growing. It pushes the boundaries of seasonal growing while not having the sustainable benefits of indoor crops.
Without proper walls and expensive upgrades, the plants are still at the mercy of temperature, climate, and sunlight. Greenhouses require supplemental lighting or shade to account for the sunlight cycle.
The heat and light from the harsh Nevada sun filtering through the greenhouses’ glass roofs also means the plants require more water than an indoor crop. To combat the intensity and drying effect of the sun, plants are often fed more water more frequently.
In some cases, humidity introduced inside the greenhouse can provide a sanctuary – protection from the elements – for pest infestation and create the ideal situation for contaminants to thrive. Greenhouses are nearly impossible to sterilize because of their dirt floors. The exposed ground lets pests and contaminants slip in and nutrient run-off drains out into the soil below.
Why Would Growers Choose Outdoor Over Indoor Cannabis?
Outdoor cannabis growing is significantly cheaper, requires less attention and less meticulous care, and is easier to scale. The major downside is that the plants are at the mercy of the elements.
While it might seem as though outdoor growing would result in organic or more natural cannabis, Nevada has a lot of air, soil, and water contaminants. Nevada winds carry alkaline dirt, which can cover cannabis flowers. The water is full of minerals absorbed from the desert ground and, if not properly filtered, can be toxic to plants.
Outdoor crops are also usually only harvested once a year.
Why Would Growers Choose Indoor Over Outdoor Cannabis?
With indoor cannabis, cultivators have maximum control. The end product is often better looking and smelling than its outdoor counterpart, and indoor growing means the potential for more frequent, year-round harvesting. Cultivators can also dial in recipes and climates for specific strains.
FloraVega harvests a crop from one indoor room per week, providing more than 50 times the data to analyze to achieve an even better end product.
Indoor product is predominantly recognized as higher quality. However, despite all the control available indoors, not all indoor cannabis is good, and not all outdoor is bad.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Cannabis: Which Is Better?
Dispensaries and consumers used to base measurements of flower quality on “bag appeal” – the smell, taste, and look of the cannabis. However, with chemical testing, now the THC percentage is usually the primary thing people look for.
Terpene profiles are also arguably more important when determining the effects you’ll experience. Cannabis terpenes are best protected when grown indoors. If you opt for lower-quality products, you will need more to get where you want to be.
FloraVega has a community-centered mindset. We want the cannabis we provide to be reliable, clean, and consistent, so we take great care in the growing process.
Visit a local dispensary today and learn more about our indoor-grown strains. Try it for yourself. You can compare the taste and overall experience with your next purchase. You can also sign up for more of the latest news about cannabis in Nevada.