Have you ever thought of growing marijuana in a lush tropical paradise?
What about living on a secluded farm, eating food you grow and get from the forest? Does taking a long, extended vacation from work sound appealing? Or maybe you just want to have fun at the beach while you and your buds are soaking up sunshine…. well guess what?
You can do all of this things here in Hawaii, legally!
Hawaii has a lot to offer. It’s sub-tropical climate is an ideal place to grow marijuana year-round outdoors. Hawaii is full of micro-climates that vary throughout the different areas of the Islands. You can go through desert, wet tropical rain-forest, windy pastures, and barren highlands all within a one hour drive here.
I live on the Big Island of Hawaii, literally the biggest island in the chain. With a population of not even 200,000 it retains its local small-town feel to most areas of the island. There are plenty of surfers, fisherman, backpackers, farmers, hunters and stoners – and is filled with some of the friendliest, kindhearted people you will meet.
Hawaii’s medical marijuana program allows patients to be able to grow up to seven plants, not specified whether mature or immature. While this doesn’t seem like a whole lot, there are ways you can maximize your yield of marijuana off of only a few plants, using additional light supplementation and plant rotation techniques. When you combine that with the ability to grow marijuana constantly all year round, being a patient here starts to look all the more rewarding.
Seasons, Daylight, and Additional Lighting
Long season natural growing
Located at about 20° N, Hawaii’s seasons range from a high of 13.5 hours in the summer to a low of about 11 hours in the winter. Marijuana plants here can grow naturally as they would in northern areas, using spring for vegetative growth and finishing up for harvest around fall or early winter; this is what we call the long season.
It is easy to get sativa, indica and hybrid cannabis plants big naturally in the long season – supplying the cultivator with heavy-yeilding bud harvests, while using only the sun as the cannabis plant’s light source.
Germinate (sprout) sativa cannabis seeds as early as even February for long-flowering sativa strains such as SE Asian, African, Central American and Hawaiian varieties.
Sprout indica cannabis seeds in the subtropics anywhere from April until July – hybrid marijuana strains will be started anywhere in between the months stated above to catch onto the long season. Hawaii is in the northern-hemisphere, so the standard crop start-til-harvest plant cycle is similar to other places in the USA.
Long season bud harvests start in August and stretch until December (SE Asian sativas even Jan!). In a fair and mild tropical/subtropical climate you have the advantage of letting pure sativas go unchained; massive long-flowering sativa cannabis buds building mass all the way into winter finish up insane.
That’s the little known secret of getting top-quality pure sativa. Don’t believe naysayers who whine that tropical landrace strains are scrawny, long season in Hawaii has been home to some of the top best long-flower pure sativa cannabis on earth – huge & obese, potent quality buds off of trees – just make sure that these special sativa strains flower l-o-n-g!
Strain selection is a major key to success growing marijuana outdoors. Be sure to check out weekly updated best-selling cannabis seeds list, and our special featured Top 10 Best Outdoor Marijuana Strains at our homepage Mold Resistant Strains.
Short season natural growing
The short season is what Hawaiian growers call growing plants outside of the standard northern-hemisphere plant cycle. So you’re finishing buds in the winter, spring and early summer. This is achieved naturally by starting seed during the latter part of the year or early in the new year. Short season cannabis cultivation can be done with or without additional lighting.
Not supplied with additional light hours, cannabis plants in a low daylight-hours winter will start and live their life out on a slow growing stretchy flowering stasis. If you are an indoor cannabis cultivator, image sprouting pot seeds below 18 hours of light, sometimes even down to 14/10.
Depending on the time of year and the amount of sativa in the plant’s genetics, you will be lucky to get 4 – 6 foot cannabis bushes to finish up good grown like this. Lower yields, smaller plants and slower growth, local guerilla growers combat this by putting out a much more massive volume of plants in the fields.
Many cannabis sativas come from sub-tropical/tropical climates similar to Hawaii and are accustomed to this short season, growing up and finishing decently most times of the year – although – long flowering tropical sativa strains will not be able to finish up during late spring.
Pure sativa growers beware: As daylight hours rise in the new year, short-season-grown tropical pure and dominant sativa strains will begin to morph into vegetative growth, stretching and morphing their buds into branches. Use sativa dominant strains for planting late in the year and balanced indica/sativa hybrids for planting early in the new year.
Indica warning: Avoid planting heavy indica strains between October – January f you can not supply additional lighting. Left with Hawaii’s natural winter photoperiod, cannabis plants will stay small and stunted, resulting in what we call ‘lollipops’.
Sativa-Indica hybrids do best: The most rewarding option for the natural-lighting short season cannabis cultivator to use is sativa-indica hybrid seeds & strains. 60/40 and 70/30 sativa-indica cannabis strains do well for the Hawaiian short season. Sativa genetics will help the plant vertically, while the indica genetics will help prevent vegetative morphing in Jan-May. Check out our weekly list of top high-rated outdoor cannabis seeds for strain ideas here.
Additional lighting, multiple harvests
What is most ideal for the medical marijuana grower to do in Hawaii is to supplement additional hours of light to your plants. If you keep the total daylight hours somewhere above 16 hours for most strains, the cannabis will continue to grow in vegetative growth status and will not start flowering until you stop providing them that additional light.
Simply put, you trigger the cannabis flowering cycle.
This will present you, the cultivator, with the advantage of creating your own seasons and reaping multiple harvests as well as controlling how big you want cannabis plants. How to do this? Easy…
1.) Tropical herb growing, modified: Medical marijuana plants can be be grown outside during the day, soaking up the sun’s free light. Then, before the day’s sunset (or alternatively before sunrise) the plants will be provided additional lighting in the form of grow lights. You will need to invest in a quality growing light that caters to plant light spectrum preferences. HID and LED lights are highly encouraged.
2.) Set up the grow room, or outdoor cannabis arena: You can have your plants in pots and carry them in to a grow room, or grow in a greenhouse/covered outdoor area and have lights turn on for the plants as the day ends. This will keep them in vegetative growth as long as you keep doing this daily on schedule.
3.) Calculate the total hours in your cannabis’ vegetative cycle – this is important. It is imperative to make sure you don’t dip below 16 hours of total light your plants are getting per day. This will induce hormones to start flowering process. You can check daylight hours online here – timeanddate.com/sun/
4.) Keep on the lighting schedule daily: Interruptions in the vegetative plant’s growth cycle will trigger the flowering cycle prematurely. If you are not available to tend for your medical marijuana’s light schedule, make sure someone does it for you.
5.) When you are ready for buds: Simply stop providing the additional lighting, and replant cannabis plants into a larger, fully prepared soil if not in already. Due to the clear change of photoperiod light hours, the plant will start it’s flowering cycle. Refer to the listed flowering time of the cannabis seeds/strain to know when you will harvest buds.
6.) Make a calendar: Now knowing how long your medical marijuana will be grown for, you can make a customized calendar to fit your bud-harvesting needs. Professional growers often keep a solid regime of lighting, planting/cloning, fertilization, transplanting, cleaning and harvesting.
Remember: You have big dreams for your baby seedlings and clones, don’t make the mistake of having them start flowering in the grow room. 18 hours or more of light keeps your plants growing vigorous and quickly, with at least 5 hours of direct sunlight for outdoor cannabis cultivation.
LED grow lights are the preferred option for those who live low-energy and off-grid, relying on solar power or generators for electricity – led lights draw a low-wattage and perform exceptionally well, pumping usable light powering marijuana’s photosynthesis. The secret to these efficient LED grow lights is that they are designed to output only the exact spectrum of light that is the most absorbed by plants – ignoring light frequencies that cannabis does not use in photosynthesis, such as green light.
The best bang for your buck LED light, 300w Galaxyhydro LED is for serious growers who want save on money and power, but still demand vigorous growth from their plants. Expect to see drastic improvement in your speed of growth using additional lighting with a good led light – you will be able to easily pump out multiple harvests quickly and efficiently. Don’t get ripped off by overpriced lights in magazine ads, this one does all the work for a fraction of the price.
Once you have your grow light set-up, you can control how big you want your plants to be – and when they will finish. When you are ready to start flowering them, simply remove the additional lighting. As soon as this is done, the plants will react to the sudden change in daylight hours and start the flowering process, no matter what time of the year it is in Hawaii.
Most all modern popular mixed sativa/indica hybrids and pure indica strains will finish up properly outside, throughout the different times of the year using this trick, with exceptions for dominant and pure-sativas. As much as they do well in Hawaii’s climate, the pure & landrace sativas you gotta watch out for, especially seeds & strains originating from a tropical/subtropical latitude.
Pure and landrace sativas have naturally adjusted to the seasons and will be eager to stretch out and hook on to long season if you try to finish them in late spring/early summer. Quick flowering 60/40 sativa indica strains are the preferred choice for raw yield production.
Remember: with your calendar you can easily make a scheduled bud harvest that repeats itself multiple times a year. Make a personalized schedule to create a time frame set-up that works for you. Top local cannabis cultivators harvest the crip pakalolo (quality cannabis) every 45 days taking advantage of the additional lighting tactic. Mark dates to cut new clones(or plant seeds), start light dates, transplant dates, start of flowering and harvest, ect. Just keep following your calendar to-the-note again-and-again and you will be in a constant rotation of budding plants.
If you really are low budget, or using a small solar system, these little lights will do the job for you cheap. These small led lights are under 25$ each and are only using 12 watts of power. You won’t be getting as good results as a bigger led grow light, nor the light penetration, but hey I’d still pick these over florescent lights. Put one or more over a few clones, and as they get bigger, use a single light for each plant. Buy 4 of them and your only running 48 watts altogether.
MRS top-rated popular LED grow lights online: *Updated Jan. 06, 2017
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