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Grow Your Own Cannabis Pt. 4: Indoor vs. Outdoor, Which Weed is Better?

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Oh boy, we can already hear your fingers tapping on your phone screens but hold on! Yes, we grow our weed indoors but we think we can have a useful discussion here, not about the commercial viability of one form of cultivation over the other, but about the end result of each which we think could benefit home growers.

Obviously, many home growers do not have the luxury of choosing whether to set up an indoor grow space, build out a greenhouse, or dedicate land outdoors for their crop. Usually, extenuating circumstances make that decision for the grower and they make do as best they can.

We’ll explore the potential benefits to each method, as well as the potential benefits of blending these methods to produce multiple harvests, maximize the yield of those harvests, and, ideally, crank up the quality of the herb you end up with.

This article will assume that you are running a relatively small op, growing your own cannabis within the confines of your local laws which typically limit plant counts to around 6 to 12 total per person.

So, which will kick out better buds? Indoor or outdoor?


When it comes to the quality of your finished product as a home grower, the fact is that the seeds or clones you started with, along with your own experience and dedication as a grower will be much bigger factors in determining the overall quality of your harvest. Whether it was grown indoors or outdoors places a distant third, at best.

We like to break cannabis down into four key categories when appraising its quality. We call it S.A.F.E.

Strength – Simply put, how hard does it hit you based on your tolerance level?

Aroma/Appeal – How does it look and smell in the bag or the jar? How about after it’s been through the grinder?

Flavor – Terpenes will determine what the weed tastes like, and how intense that flavor is, but they also play into the overall…

Effects – “Indica vs. Sativa” has gone out the window as we have come to realize the importance of a stacked and diverse cannabinoid, terpenoid, and flavonoid profile and how certain profiles make us each feel as individuals

There is a misconception that indoor weed is more “potent” while outdoor weed is more flavorful. Again, this is grossly overgeneralized – who grew it? How? Where? What genetics?

While it is true that most of the highest tested levels of THC in cannabis flower came from indoor crops, it is also true that in the 16 or 17 years of the Emerald Cup held at the end of each year in Northern California, the judges’ choices for the best buds every year are never the entries with the highest THC totals. There is more to it than that.

While the ultimate “high” varies quite literally from person to person, all cannabis consumers are seeking their own personal and ideal entourage effect. Whether we all realize it or not, we love weed not because it might lower our anxiety, or boost our appetite, or regulate our sleep schedule, or make Family Guy funnier, but because it can do all of those things when you find the right strain grown properly, indoors or under the sun.

As we have written about before, the fuel for that entourage effect is produced in the all-natural microfactories blanketing your buds known as trichomes.

Inside the bulbous head of each glistening trichome – that shiny, sticky crystal-like coating on your cannabis – the cultivar’s unique blend of cannabinoids (CBD THC, etc), terpenes (flavor, aroma, effects), and flavonoids are produced and stored, just waiting for the day they can be set free in your endocannabinoid system.

Indoor homegrown weed, generally speaking, tends to have a higher abundance of trichomes when compared to the same cultivar grown outdoors. However, more is not necessarily better. Research just came out positing that cannabis concentrates and extracts, while much higher in THC levels than dried flower or buds, do not deliver a comparably higher effect than good ol’ fashioned weed smoking.

Of course, we have seen some noobs left drooling in the fetal position after their first dab, but it does seem to be true in our anecdotal experience that once a certain tolerance level is reached, smoking versus dabbing becomes a personal choice rarely based on potency.

There is an argument in favor of outdoor weed that the trichomes that are present are teeming with a wider variety of cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds due to the day-to-day stresses of dealing with the ever-changing environment outside.

There is also an argument that bugs and birds are shitting all over your weed for months at a time when it’s outside.

Indoor growers have advancing technology at their fingertips that just wasn’t available to them a decade ago. New lighting options can mimic all spectrums of sunlight at the push of a button and store-bought nutrients and soils not only emulate the benefits of growing outdoors but perfectly blend and dose those benefits for the plants. All of this is available to the home cannabis grower… for a price.

Here is where the greenhouse and light-dep growers chime in with a “best of both worlds” comment, and they aren’t wrong! Properly cultivated greenhouse, mixed-light, or light deprived cannabis can look, smell, taste, and work so damn good that even the pickiest cannasseurs would have a hard time believing it wasn’t grown inside.

Alternatively, home growers have been known to start a plant indoors under artificial light, then allow it to finish outside using the natural cycle of day and night… or vice versa! This is great for growers who prefer the results they get from finishing outdoors, but who still want to pull multiple crops each year. These techniques can also be used to finish a crop faster to avoid impending frost or worsening weather.

C’mon, Bros., which one is better?!

We like to smoke indoor weed because we grow indoor weed. We learned to grow weed inside because where we come from, getting caught growing it would likely lead to a double-digit prison sentence and so it was easier to hide under a roof than under the sun.

Odds are high that your first crop (or three) might not live up to your own level of expectations for Strength, Aroma/Appeal, Flavor, or Effect regardless of whether you decked out a grow room or reconnected with nature. It is a learning process. It is farming. It is work. It is worth it.

If you are growing your own weed at home, tell us your preferred method in the comments.

If you aren’t growing your own weed at home, there is no better time to start than right now.

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