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The Difference Between Sun Grown and Indoor Grown Cannabis

For decades, growers have debated the merits of indoor and outdoor growing styles. To make things more complicated, certain cultivators have started describing their cannabis as “sun-grown” recently.

Is sun-grown just another way of saying outdoor? What exactly are the differences between outdoor and indoor cannabis? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more! 

Outdoor Vs Indoor

The untrained eye might not be able to tell the difference between outdoor and indoor flower, but an experienced cannabis enthusiast can easily look at a plant and determine where it was grown. 

Outdoor flower tends to be on the bigger side. They have infinite space to grow, and outdoor plants literally stretch and reach towards the sun during their growing cycles. The result is a lighter, larger, more spread nug. Indoor cannabis, on the other hand, usually comes in denser and more compact nugs. 

Color can be another way to tell where the flower’s been grown. Indoor flower tends to have more vibrant hues, brighter greens, and lighter purples, while outdoor cannabis often takes on a darker appearance. The dark greens can almost venture into the brown territory, and the purples take on a deep eggplant-like color.

In terms of quality, where the cannabis was grown doesn’t have as much impact as how it was grown. With best practices, both techniques can create an equally potent flower. It all comes down to personal preference. 

History Of Indoor Cannabis 

For many years indoor cannabis was considered the industry gold standard. Indoor Strains like Southern California’s Ocean Grown Kush (OG Kush) were constantly name-dropped on west-coast rap albums.

Side note: contrary to popular legend, the OG in OG Kush doesn’t stand for original gangsta or original genetics, but actually, ocean grown. Ocean Grown Kush history starts with the landrace strain Hindu Kush, which sometimes gets referred to as mountain-grown since the strain grows wild in the Hindu Kush mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The phrase ocean grown is a direct reference to this, but playing on the fact that the OG Kush strain was grown indoors in view of the Pacific Ocean.

The popularity of indoor-grown cannabis had a lot to do with the fact that getting caught growing could land the cultivator in some serious trouble with the law. Before legal dispensaries were slinging bud in plain sight, cannabis grow operations were clandestine operations intentionally hidden from view. 

Not only did you have the cops to worry about, but thieves who stumbled upon your operation might take you for everything you had. Indoor growing facilities served as a way to hide flower from prying eyes, as they’re less conspicuous than an open field of marijuana plants. 

Indoor grow facilities also served to give the cultivator more control over the final product. Things like humidity, light, carbon dioxide, and temperature can all be controlled in an indoor grow-op, while outdoor farms are subject to the temperamental nature of the elements.  

The main drawback to indoor growing is the toll it takes on the environment. These facilities require a massive amount of energy to function. A whopping 8% of the State of California’s total household energy use goes directly into indoor cannabis growing facilities. That translates to a massive carbon footprint. 

Outdoor Cannabis And Sun-Grown Cannabis

Now that a large portion of the country allows cultivators to grow legally, we’re seeing outdoor farms come back in vogue. Since legitimate growers don’t have to hide the plants, they’re able to take full advantage of nature. Not only does outdoor flower create larger yields with less supervision, but it also may create more desirable terpene profiles.

Many cultivators believe that giving plants access to the full spectrum of light that comes directly from the sun creates more fragrant terpene-rich flower. These natural wavelengths are what drives photosynthesis in the wild, and may also encourage cannabinoid and terpene production better than the facsimile created by indoor lighting rigs.

Beyond the benefits to the plant itself, outdoor growing is far and away the more sustainable growing option. Instead of using artificial lights, which, as we said before, creates a huge drain on energy grids and leaves behind a giant carbon footprint, outdoor cannabis uses the most powerful lighting source of all time—the sun.

Cutting out the energy drain not only helps protect the environment so that future generations will still be able to enjoy the wonderful benefits of cannabis, but it also cuts down on costs for the grower themselves. 

The phrase “sun-grown,” which you often see used by cannabis companies, refers to outdoor cannabis. However, the companies and cultivators who describe their crop as sun-grown rather than just outdoor tend to have an explicit focus on sustainability.  Oftentimes they go above and beyond by doing things like using locally sourced water and organic fertilizers.