How to grow marijuana outdoors all year round in Hawaii. When to start seeds for the subtropical long and short seasons.
Hawaii’s medical cannabis program allows registered patients to grow up to ten plants at the patient or caregiver’s property. While this doesn’t seem like a whole lot, remember that it’s year round growing in Hawaii. There are ways to maximize yield from only a few plants by using additional lighting and crop cycling methods.
Seasons, Daylight, and Additional Lighting
Let’s discuss Hawaii’s growing seasons and how the daylight hours affect the growth of the cannabis plant. We’ll answer some frequently asked questions such as the right times to start (germinate) seeds during the different times of the year.
As you may already know, cannabis plants react to seasonal changes. This trait is called photoperiodism. Basically, the plants grow and will bloom depending on the light hours seen per day.
Indoor growers can manipulate this trait to control the size and life cycles of their plants. In essence, they control the seasons with grow lights.
Outdoor growers are subject to the sun’s daylight hour schedule. This is why you hear many Hawaiian growers talking about when’s the best time to start seeds.
Long Season Natural Growing (Without Lights)
The long season is the same spring to fall growing season the rest of the northern hemisphere is on. That means cannabis plants growing in long season use spring for vegetative growth and summer/fall for blooming.
Hawaii is located at about 20° N on the map. The daylight hours in Hawaii range from a high of 13.5 hours in the summer to a low of about 11 hours in the winter. Growing without lights, you can start seeds anywhere from Spring to mid-Summer to catch onto the long season.
When to start Sativa strain seeds in Hawaii?
Sativa strains started too early may grow woody and weak by the time they are ready for harvest. On the other hand, starting sativa strains too late will result in plants that end up blooming through winter and re-vegging into spring.
Start sativa seeds or sativa dominant cannabis seeds as early as even February for long-flowering sativa strains such as Asian, African, Central American and Hawaiian varieties. Most Hawaiian growers start seeds on the dark of the moon in April.
When to start Indica strain seeds in Hawaii?
Indica strains started too early may not grow according to the long season and end up finishing around June or July as stretchy buds. That’s why it’s better to start the fast flowering indicas a little later than the big sativas. However, starting indicas too late will end up bringing the plants budding into winter, where yields are reduced and humidity dangers are increased.
Start indica seeds or indica dominant cannabis seeds anywhere from April until July to catch onto the long season. The dark of the moon in May is the best time to start indica dominant strains.
What about hybrids?
50/50 sativa/indica hybrids or breeds close to that ratio tend to grow more like an indica than a sativa, so use the indica strain germination guidelines for best results.
Start hybrid seeds anytime after February until July. Hawaii is in the northern hemisphere, so the standard crop start-til-harvest plant cycle is the same as other places in the USA.
When will the plants finish?
Cannabis plants growing in the long season typically finish from August to November, depending on each strain’s flowering time. Some long flowering sativa strains will even keep budding into winter, such as Thai strains. Here are two considerations to make before planting:
- Everyone is going to have bud in November, so you can beat the flood with a fast-flowering strain that finishes in August.
- Or, you could go big with a pure sativa strain. These plants will grow larger than most and yield enormously, although they take a very long time to finish.
Short Season Natural Growing (Without Lights)
The short season is the season that plants catch onto if you start the seeds in late summer or winter. The plants grow slower in short season and end up producing buds in the winter, spring and early summer.
Why is that?
The reason that plants grow slower in the short season has to do with two factors.
- Decreased daylight hours
- Colder temperature (at high elevations)
Cannabis plants that are not supplied with enough light during the vegetative growth cycle will grow slowly, almost stunted as it starts its life off in what is essentially a flowering room.
Depending on the time of year and the amount of sativa genetics a plant has, you will be lucky to get 4–6 foot cannabis bushes naturally in the short season.
Growing Sativa strains in the Short Season
Certain sativa strains have dealt with short seasons all throughout their genetic history. Through natural evolution, the plants have developed methods to grow and reproduce in the warm tropical winters around the world.
However amazing this trait may be, growers are often disappointed with short season sativa plants due to the very stretchy, airy buds that they produce in the winter. On top of that, most sativa strains will jump on the chance to grow again for the long season once it hits early spring. That means all of your buds will re-veg and end up rotting on the plant. You can do light deprivation techniques to stop this, although it’s easier to just plan ahead.
By using any of the popular sativa dominant hybrids instead of a pure sativa, you can finish in the safe window, which is harvesting around Dec to Feb. As a rule of thumb, the only time you’ll want to grow sativa strains in the short season is if you can get them to finish before March.
Growing Indica strains in the Short Season
Indica strains are quicker to grow, but most indica and indica dominant strains simply don’t get enough light hours in the winter to grow big. A lot of growers end up with what we call lollipops: a stick in the ground with one bud.
Your best bet is to start the indicas around late summer to fall. That way, the plants can get bigger than if they were started in the winter. As we get into December it dips to under 11 hours per day which makes it really hard for plants… they’ll just sit there and not grow.
Growing Hybrid strains in the Short Season
Sativa domiant hybrids do best: The most rewarding option for natural lighting, short season cannabis growing is to use is sativa/indica hybrid strains. The sativa dominant 60/40 and 70/30 cannabis strains perform well in the Hawaiian short season. Sativa genetics will help the plant vertically, while the indica genetics will help prevent vegetative morphing during Jan–May.
Additional Lighting for Multiple Harvests
What is most rewarding for the medical marijuana grower to do in Hawaii is supplement extra hours of light by using grow lights. If you keep the total daylight hours above 16 hours, most strains of cannabis will continue to grow in vegetative growth status and won’t start flowering until you stop providing them the extra light.
Why provide extra light?
So you can harvest buds whenever you want. Using extra light in Hawaii replicates indoor growing, giving you the option to control a plant’s growth cycles and size.
The plants can be grown outside during the day, soaking up the sunlight for free. Then before sunset (or alternatively, before sunrise), put them under grow lights for a few hours or the whole night!
How to do this?
1.) Set up a 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.
2.) Calculate the total hours of daylight and add up to 18 You can check daylight hours online- timeanddate.com/sun Then add the number of hours under lights. Plants in their vegetative growth cycle should be provided more than 16 hours of total light per day. This will give you fast growing plants that stay in veg (they don’t flower).
3.) Keep on the lighting schedule daily: Interruptions in the vegetative plant’s growth cycle will trigger the flowering cycle prematurely. Even missing one day should be avoided. Try getting a friend to do it if you’re busy.
5.) Induce flowering: Simply stop providing the additional lighting, and the plants will start their flowering process. Refer to your strain’s flowering time to estimate when you will harvest buds.
6.) Make a calendar (optional): Rotating clones or seeds on a schedule works great for harvesting year round. Knowing your strains flowering time, you can easily make a scheduled bud harvest that finishes exactly when you want it to.
That’s it! Now you can harvest the crip pakalolo (quality cannabis) every 30 days, 45 days, 60 days, wheneva. Mark dates on your calendar to cut new clones or plant seeds, transplants, flowering and harvest.
Are LED grow lights worth it for Hawaii?
LED grow lights are a good option for many cannabis growers, especially due to the high price of electricity in Hawaii. LED grow lights do not use much power and deliver the right kind of light needed by cannabis plants to grow. The secret to these efficient LED grow lights is that they are designed to output only the most efficient spectrum of light that absorbed by plants, while ignoring other light frequencies that cannabis does not use in photosynthesis, such as green light.
The best bang for your buck LED light, this 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.
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 high-yield production all year round.
If you really are low budget, or using a small solar system, these little lights will do the job for cheap. These small led lights are under $25 each and are only using 12 watts of power. Kinda silly if you think about it but these little LED lights actually do a better job than the equivalent match in fluorescent bulbs. Put one or more over a few clones, and as they get bigger, use a single light for each plant until they 2 feet plus. Buy 4 lights and your only at 48 watts power draw.
Better LED Grow Lights
We’re trying to introduce a bill for the legalization of cannabis seeds throughout Hawaii. More details soon, you can check out Hawaii Cannabis News for related information.
What are your favorite grow methods and strains for cannabis growing in Hawaii? Leave your strains and comments below. Aloha!