The Differences between Indoor and Outdoor Cannabis

by Brad P
Indoor grown cannabis

What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor cannabis?

With more cities and states legalizing medical and recreational, some excited users have begun celebrating with “pot”lucks.  Instead of store-bought potato salad, everyone brings whatever delicious strain of cannabis, edibles, or vape they’ve been enjoying to share with the group. Weed buffet? Sign us up.

There’s just one problem. You roll up to the table and notice your contribution doesn’t look like the other flower on the table. The buds are less dense and looser compared to the tight and bright nugs your friends brought.

You start to sweat and plan an escape route. But, then you hesitate. You’ve personally sampled your product, you know it tastes good and serves a body high for days.

So, should you listen to your social anxiety, stash your sack and slink away? Not so fast. Sounds like you’ve just discovered some of the differences between the indoor and outdoor cannabis.

Does growing weed indoors vs. outdoors affect potency?

Now that you know that there’s a notable difference between their indoor and your outdoor weed, your first question is probably how this difference impacts potency. The good news is there doesn’t seem to be a lot of impact. 

While growing indoors allows for more control and consistency, it doesn’t necessarily mean buds will be more potent. Indoor growers generally produce higher THC strains, including man-made hybrids, because that’s what sells best. But weed has been growing outdoors since before humans knew it was cool, and it’s possible to grow dank bud in either environment.

Which is better, indoor or outdoor weed?

That’s like asking whether smoking from a bowl or a joint is better. For the most part, it’s a matter of personal preference.

Mass Producers

For companies growing large quantities of weed, growing outdoors is definitely more economical and eco-friendly. But, growing outdoors is also much more variable and uncontrollable.

With considerable upfront cost in lights, exhaust, cool/heating systems, etc you gain a great deal more control in an indoor grow. You can control how much light and water plants receive during each stage of growth with no worries about weather.

Home Growers

As for hobbyists and medical caregivers, your grow method will most likely vary depending on where you live (urban vs rural), what your climate is like, and how much time, money and effort you want to invest.

If you live in a more densely populated area with limited outdoor space, then an indoor grow might make more sense. If you have access to a private space that gets good sun, then an outdoor grow might be the way to go. You only need three months of sun and moderate/hot temperatures to get from seed to weed, making outdoor growing practical in most states.

Should you get indoor or outdoor cannabis?

Most of us are smokers, not growers. Our favorite flower is whatever’s in the bowl, and we don’t give a lot of thought to where it came from or how it was grown. But, here are a few factors that might influence your decision on purchasing indoor vs outdoor flower.

The case for outdoor grown weed:

If you prefer an eco-friendly approach, then the reduced carbon footprint of smoking flower that’s been grown outdoors might be for you. Many seasoned smokers also swear by the flavor of cannabis grown outdoors in the elements vs the flavor of weed produced through heavily fertilized indoor grows.

The case for indoor grown weed:

Indoor bud often costs more because every step of the growing process has to be carefully managed and recreated. But, thanks to all that control, indoor flower tends to provide a more consistent and predictable result, making it an especially good choice for medicinal users.

Is it easier to grow weed indoors or outdoors?

Speaking for those of us who can’t even keep a houseplant alive, both are harder than you think. Objectively, outdoor growing seems easier. Minimal overhead, no messing with timers, temperatures or humidity. Just set it and forget it, right? Not quite. Even though growing outdoors requires less equipment, it’s definitely not struggle-free.

Despite our best efforts at a rain dance, we still haven’t figured out how to control the weather. Mother Nature can be unpredictable, and there’s no guarantee when it comes to light, rain, wind, or even an early frost. These elements can dramatically impact the quality and quantity of flower you produce.

If you have the initial time, money and space to invest in an optimized indoor grow, then you can turn growing into a low maintenance activity. You’ll be able to video-monitor your plants while keeping an eye on temperature and humidity using an app on your phone. If your system is really advanced, you can even make adjustments remotely.  Unfortunately, this usually isn’t practical for most hobbyists who are just growing for their own enjoyment.

On top of the difficulties both indoor and outdoor home-growers face, you’re looking at months before you can enjoy the flowers of your labor. 

Shameless plug: when you order Emjay, you only have to wait minutes – not months!

Can you grow a cannabis plant indoors and outdoors?

Obviously you can grow cannabis indoors, and you can grow cannabis outdoors, but can you do both in the same grow?  Spoilers, you totally can, and it’s called hybrid growing. Welcome to the Wild Wild West of the weed world, where there’s no wrong way to grow.

One hybrid method is to start your plants indoors to help control the environment and closely monitor them. During the vegetative stage it’s recommended that plants get up to 18 hours of sunlight, which is much easier to do in an indoor environment. Once they start flowering they need more rest so you can switch to 12 hours of light, which is more manageable outdoors.

Why bother moving the plants once they start flowering? Mostly money. Sunlight is free, while running lights, fans, an exhaust system, etc. can get costly. Some growers and seasoned smokers also argue that exposing cannabis plants to the elements during the flowering stage impacts the flavor of the bud, but science has yet to confirm or deny that.

Another hybrid method, recommended for beginners, is to start the plants outdoors and then transfer them to an indoor environment to complete the grow. Starting the plants outdoors helps to weather them. Facing the wind and elements causes them to grow hearty stalks and roots. Once they’re ready to transplant to a larger container, move them indoors to control the rest of the grow. 

Is This Indoor or Outdoor Weed?

Now that you’ve got all the details on indoor and outdoor weed, you are undoubtedly staring at your personal stash and wondering where it was grown. Besides the label, there’s generally two ways to tell if your bud was grown indoors or outdoors, appearance and flavor. 


A great deal of commercially produced cannabis is grown indoors. Why is that? Well, it’s actually pretty simple.

You have two jars in front of you.. One is filled with dank, green and orange buds, dense and neatly trimmed. The other is filled with green and orange buds, but they’re not quite as vibrant, looser and not so neat. Same price, same THC content. Which one do you pick?

Just like how you’ll reach for the most symmetrical and visually appealing fruit and vegetables at a farmer’s market, pretty bud sells faster. Outdoor weed tends to be less symmetrical and is naturally flawed from enduring the elements.


Cannabis connoisseurs claim they can tell the difference between indoor and outdoor weed by flavor alone, but your average toker probably wouldn’t be able to.

So, are cannabis connoisseurs just full of themselves? Not necessarily. In the wine world there’s a term, terroir, which refers to the flavor imparted to wine by environmental factors like the geography, climate, and geology of where the grapes were grown. If terroir applies to cannabis plants as well, then properly grown outdoor bud could have subtleties in flavor that can’t be matched by indoor grows and could easily be identified by smokers with a more discerning palette.

Can I get indoor and outdoor weed delivered?

With your new knowledge of indoor and outdoor weed, you can attend any potluck without worrying about how your weed measures up – different strains for different brains. Whether you’re waiting for harvest or just want a hassle-free high, Emjay’s got you covered with same-day delivery right to your door.

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