As the days get shorter, most cannabis growers will be planning on bringing their setups indoor for winter.
But if you’re unable to buy a full-indoor setup, you’ll be wanting to make a plan to grow your supply outdoors.
While it’s not perfect conditions, our South African winter climate is far from being out of the question for cannabis to grow.
Like, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban aren’t exactly the Arctic tundra. There are a few sneaky tips and tricks to help you keep your bud growing, even in the chilly months.
But first, select the right seeds.
With longer nights, lower temperatures, and general bad weather ahead you will need a plant to flower quickly.
Autoflowering strains will deliver a fast grow with the entire grow cycle completed within 10-11 weeks.
While you might be tempted to grab all the seeds off the shelf. Just wait!
There’s more information! While we’ve all discussed the differences between Indicas and Sativas, there’s a third “variant”, cannabis ruderalis.
The botany world is still trying to decide if this should be classified as a third strain or just a subspecies.
What makes ruderalis interesting is that it can grow in harsh cold climates like Russia and can begin to flower in 21 – 30 days. And just a nice little fact, the word ruderal in the plant world means it is a plant that grow despite the environmental conditions.
Many believe that the ruderalis is a descendant of indica genetics, and was introduced to the harsh frigid north by humans. The plant just decided to survive.
Anyway! What does this have to do with autoflowering seeds? Well, most autoflowering seeds come from a plant that has some ruderalis genetic makeup in it.
So, your autoflowering strain should be good for the South African winter. And if you want to be doubly sure, select a hardy Indica.
Now that we’ve decided what seed you’re going to use, time to talk about rain and the cold.
Winter Rain and the cold!
Depending where you are in the country your winter’s rainfall will differ as well as the general temperature.
In Cape Town winters you can expect an average of 93mm of rainfall during the wettest month of June. This means you’ll need to make sure that the cannabis baby has a little cover.
If you can, during its early grow stages, make sure to cover it with a cut-in-half cool drink bottle. This does come with a few drawbacks, like humidity, but it is a cheap option.
Or, it you can place it under a clear plastic shelter… like a greenhouse… that would be even better.
We’re beating around the bush, you should get a greenhouse. Like the one in the free stock image below. You can pick one up at any garden centre.
If you want to buy it at Zootly you’ll need to beg Chris to stock one. And we’re sure he’ll just tell you to buy an indoor grow setup… As growing indoors during the winter has a whole bunch of benefits (that’s for another blog).
Then, with Johannesburg, the frigid temperatures and potential for frost will be a challenge to overcome.
Cannabis, and especially indica autoflowers, are pretty hardy plants. But this being said, one cold snap and they could die.
In June, the average high temperature is 16°C and average low is 4°C. When soil temperatures drop below 16°C it can affect the plants’ health, root systems, and lead to stunted growth.
Above ground, frost will kill off even the healthiest vegetation. A tip is to make sure your plant is in a smallish pot that you can easily move around.
So, when the temperatures are dropping you can bring that little baby inside.
Beware of the light!
This movement out and indoors will cause strain on your plant – we know you love it but it’s hard being a plant on the move.
And if you have an indoor light to help it out during the dark days, it could trigger a “light stress condition” of revegetation.
Revegetation occurs when your plant has started to flower outdoors and after you’ve brought it inside you’ve now given it more indoor light (think long cold snap on the high-veld). This blast of light will send the plant back to a vegetative state and put more stress on the plant.
There are many things to consider when growing outdoors during winter.
But make sure you understand that you should lower your expectations.
No plant will produce the best outdoor buds during this period.
But you can grow outdoors – AND – we’d strongly suggest making a greenhouse structure with some sort of heating element.
Words by: Andrew Macfarlane
z00tly says: “I’m not sure what I’m going to do this winter… outdoors in my tree! Get me a bird greenhouse Chris!”