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Indoor Versus Sungrown Cannabis Featured

The Differences Between Indoor and Sun-Grown Hemp

Hemp is one of the world’s earliest crops, dating back over 10,000 years. With more than 25,000 industrial uses, it’s not surprising that hemp has historically been such an important part of agriculture. Moreover, cannabis and hemp plants were included in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medical texts written thousands of years ago.

Now that laws are changing and attitudes towards cannabis are relaxing, hemp is experiencing a renaissance. Hemp flowers are finally seeing their “day in the sun,” as more scientific studies suggest that cannabinoids like CBD may have tremendous therapeutic potential. Smokable hemp flower has become one of the most prominent trends in the CBD industry, and one question seems to be on most consumers’ minds: Which is better, sun-grown or indoor hemp?

History of Indoor Cultivation

It wasn’t until relatively recently that growers started cultivating cannabis plants indoors. Indoor gardening began in the 1970s when Richard Nixon made it his mission to crack down on cannabis as a means of suppressing the growing anti-Vietnam war movement. After Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act in 1970, listing cannabis as a dangerous Schedule I substance, farmers were forced to grow indoors to avoid prosecution.

History of Indoor Cultivation

It wasn’t until relatively recently that growers started cultivating cannabis plants indoors. Indoor gardening began in the 1970s when Richard Nixon made it his mission to crack down on cannabis as a means of suppressing the growing anti-Vietnam war movement. After Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act in 1970, listing cannabis as a dangerous Schedule I substance, farmers were forced to grow indoors to avoid prosecution.

Potency in Indoor versus Outdoor Hemp

While indoor buds may have more frosty trichomes, most experts agree that indoor and outdoor hemp flowers can be equally potent. The most important factor for cannabinoid levels is genetics. When treated with care, sun-grown hemp flowers can match or even beat the potency of indoor strains.

The Pros and Cons of Outdoor Hemp

Even though the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp products, some state and local laws prohibit outdoor grows. However, in more cannabis-friendly states, outdoor growing has had a continuous presence despite national prohibition. 

Growers in northern California’s Emerald Triangle have been cultivating high-quality outdoor cannabis since the 1960s. The Emerald Triangle region, encompassing Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties, is home to some of the best breeders in the business. In Humboldt County, expert breeders like Lawrence Ringo produced some of the first high-CBD hybrids.

sungrown cannabis

Outdoor Hemp Pros

If you happen to visit northern California or Oregon, you’ll find many an aging hippy who swears that outdoor-grown flowers impart more subtle flavors. There may be some truth to that belief. Natural, full-spectrum light may facilitate the production of more cannabinoids and terpenes, which hemp plants produce as a sunscreen. Outdoor plants may also produce more trichomes in response to pests. While cannabinoids and terpenes are therapeutic for humans, cannabis plants primarily use them as a natural insect repellent.

Whether or not outdoor hemp flowers taste better may be a matter of opinion, but one advantage of outdoor growing is indisputable: Sun-grown hemp is more environmentally friendly. Since outdoor hemp harnesses the power of the sun, its production doesn’t require as much electricity for running lighting and ventilation systems. Additionally, outdoor hemp growing is less expensive, a fact you’ll see reflected in the lower price tag on most outdoor hemp buds.

Outdoor Hemp Cons

Outdoor hemp plants are at the mercy of the elements. Wind and rain can damage delicate trichomes, leaving outdoor buds with a thinner layer of frosty crystals. Another disadvantage for outdoor growers is that they can only produce one harvest per year. Sun-grown hemp is dependant upon the seasonal cycle and must be planted in the spring and harvested in the late summer or fall. Weather conditions like rainstorms or cold temperatures may force outdoor growers to harvest early, resulting in underdeveloped hemp flowers. Furthermore, outdoor hemp gardens are typically larger operations, and it can be difficult for growers to give each plant the attention it needs to optimize the quality of the flowers.

The Pros and Cons of Indoor Hemp

Indoor hemp growing offers unique advantages as well as challenges.

Indoor Hemp Pros

Indoor growers can completely control the environment, resulting in less damage to trichomes. While indoor growers use ventilation systems, they are careful not to damage trichomes by blowing fans directly at the flowering plants. Indoor growers can adjust the light cycle, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, and many other factors to bring out desired characteristics in their plants and suppress undesired genetic tendencies.

Another advantage of indoor growing is that indoor hemp plants are typically grown in small batches, which allows for more attention to each individual plant. Because indoor plants aren’t dependant upon the seasons, indoor hemp growers can produce more than one batch per year or even arrange for perpetual harvests.

Indoor Hemp Cons

One of the biggest drawbacks of indoor growing is the expensive equipment required to grow hemp inside. Indoor grows require lighting, ventilation, and humidity-control systems that use a considerable amount of electricity. Traditional high-wattage High-Intensity Discharge (HID) grow lights also produce a lot of heat, which taxes ventilation and temperature control systems. 

Indoor growers can reduce their carbon imprints and their electricity bills by switching to full-spectrum LED lights. Full-spectrum LEDs produce significantly lower heat and require less electricity. Full-spectrum lights may even allow indoor growers to mimic the complex terpene profiles of sun-grown hemp. Unfortunately, old habits are difficult to break, and many indoor growers hesitate to make the switch from HID to LED lighting systems. Although LED technology has advanced and LED systems are getting less expensive, switching to LEDs still requires a considerable investment of money and time.

Additionally, indoor hydroponic hemp may take on some of the flavors of the chemicals used to grow it. However, these days most hemp farmers, even indoor growers, are using organic soils instead of hydroponic mediums. If you would like to know more about indoor organic growing methods, check out the book True Living Organics by The Rev.

How to Tell the Difference Between Indoor and Sun-Grown Hemp Flowers

tell the difference indoor versus outdoor

Well-crafted outdoor hemp can look and taste nearly identical to indoor varieties. However, there are some general characteristics to look for when you’re trying to determine how your hemp flowers were grown.

Indoor plants tend to produce smaller, denser flowers. Indoor buds usually have a thicker layer of trichomes because they were grown in a controlled environment. Indoor hemp buds typically look more appealing because they’re usually finely manicured and have thinner stems.

In general, outdoor plants produce larger, fluffier buds. Sun-grown hemp plants tend to be darker in color with thicker stems. Outdoor cbd hemp flower usually has a more sparse layer of trichomes due to exposure to the elements. A rough trim job is a good sign that your hemp flowers were grown outdoors. Outdoor growing allows for larger gardens, but they can be a handful to manage around harvest time.

Which Method Produces the Best Quality Hemp

Sun-grown versus indoor hemp and cannabis is the subject of much debate. The question of which hemp flowers are better is mostly a matter of taste. The most critical factor for producing quality hemp plants is beginning with good genetics. Careful hemp growers can produce equally high-quality flowers, whether they’re grown inside or outside. 

Why not decide for yourself? Here at Cannaflower (formerly Berkshire CBD), we offer both sun-grown and indoor hemp flowers. If you’d like a little help picking out legal hemp strains (such as Suver Haze, Bubba Kush and Lifter), please contact us for additional information. Our friendly budtenders would be happy to assist you in selecting premium hemp flowers. We offer free shipping on our CBD products for orders over $50.

The world’s best CBD hemp flower straight to your door.


  1. National Hemp Association (2020) “Hemp Facts and Statistics.” National Hemp Association.
  2. Gabay, M. (2013) “The Federal Controlled Substances Act: Schedules and Pharmacy Registration.” Hospital Pharmacy Journal.
  3. Comer, J. (2018) “Hemp Farming Act of 2018.” United States House of Representatives.
  4. Letts, S. (2019) “Lawrence Ringo: Father of CBD.” The Emerald Magazine.
  5. Frender, K. (2020) “Lighting Strategies for Higher Terpene and Delta 9 THC Content in Cannabis.” Greenhouse Grower.
  6. Klein, K. (2019) “Full-spectrum Lighting for Growing Cannabis.” Cannabis Training University.
  7. The Rev. (2016) True Living Organics. Green Candy Press.
  8. Sirius, J. (2016) “The Big Grow Debate: Which is Better, Indoor or Outdoor Pot?” High Times.

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