Growing Cannabis In Greenhouses vs. Indoors
People often assume that indoor-grown cannabis operations have more advantages than greenhouse-grown cannabis operations – or the other way around. The truth of the matter is that both cultivation options come with their benefits and drawbacks. Growing indoors gives operators more control over environmental factors like light, temperature, and humidity. While this increase in environmental control can be helpful, the truth is that there is no clear-cut answer as to what facility type is better.
There are best practices, but there is no best way to cultivate cannabis. Many aspects of a cultivation operation are unique, and different growers have different goals, resources, and products. Another critical thing to remember is that sometimes plants can be fickle, which can make blanket statements like “indoor growing operations are more successful” unhelpful.
If you are a prospective cannabis grower trying to weigh the pros and cons of potential facility types, some questions to ask yourself are:
- Which facility type would be more beneficial to my operation’s needs?
- What facility types do I have access to?
- Which facility type would be more realistic for my operation?
Below is a breakdown of the three most common cannabis operation types.
Different Cannabis Growing Facilities Options
You can cultivate cannabis in many different ways, including:
A greenhouse cultivation facility is a plant-growing space typically made from glass or other see-through materials. Greenhouses provide plants with natural sunlight but shield them from other harsh elements like extreme temperatures, severe rainfall, strong winds, and more.
An indoor cultivation facility is usually a fully enclosed warehouse-style space. Like greenhouses, an indoor facility can protect plants from harsh elements (extreme temperatures, severe rainfall, strong winds). In addition to that protection, indoor facilities give cannabis growers nearly complete control of the cultivation environment.
Outdoor cannabis cultivation is another option for growers. This type of natural growing is often the least common, as it offers the least amount of control. In an outdoor cannabis growing operation, plants are exposed to all outdoor elements including those mentioned above and also pests. One advantage of an outdoor operation, though, is that there is no need for expensive equipment like lights, ventilation systems, etc.
Growing Cannabis Indoors: The Advantages And Disadvantages
Control: Control is the primary advantage of indoor growing operations vs. greenhouse operations. Indoor cultivation offers growers more control over aspects like air temperature, humidity, air circulation, exposure to sunlight, and more. Indoor growing also allows operators to only expose their cannabis plants to specific parts of the light spectrum.
Keeping Things Clean: When it comes to growing cannabis indoors, one significant benefit is that the likelihood for mold and other fungi to pop up is significantly reduced. Indoor environments allow for easy cleaning and upkeep. Without the need to treat any mold, mildew, or other fungi, indoor growers are much less likely to need to expose their cannabis to harmful chemicals.
Year-Round Cultivation: Being able to grow indoor plants at all times throughout the year can be a significant upside for many growers. With a highly controlled environment like an indoor facility, cultivation operators can rest assured that their growing season never has to end. Also, indoor set-ups are the most consistent when it comes to lighting needs.
Certain Strains Thrive Indoors: Certain strains of cannabis are highly adapted to growing indoors. When a cultivation operator has the opportunity to grow these plant strains, they can quickly secure high yields and profits.
High Operating Costs: One limitation of indoor growing operations is that there are often high operating costs. Sometimes, location can help bring these costs down. If your indoor operation doesn’t need much temperature control (AC and heating), these operating costs can be less of an issue.
Space Limitations: Another drawback that is more common with indoor cultivation is that most operations have a limited amount of usable space. Suppose you are growing cannabis indoors, and your ceilings are lower than those commonly in a greenhouse. In this case, your cannabis plants can only grow so much before needing to be harvested. If your yield is a significant factor in your operation, indoor space limitations can be challenging.
Faster Contaminant Spread: While it is true that it is less likely for contaminants like mold and fungi to pop up in an indoor operation, if they do, they can spread quickly. Because an indoor environment is often smaller and less air permeable, any molds found can soon become a serious problem if not treated promptly. In order to avoid this issue, ensure your operation has systems and protocols in place that are designed to check for early warning signs.
Growing Cannabis In A Greenhouse: The Advantages And Disadvantages
More Energy Efficient: One of the most important benefits of utilizing a greenhouse for growing commercial cannabis is that they are much more energy efficient than indoor cannabis growing spaces. Not only is this increase in energy efficiency good for the environment, but it can also be good for your wallet as operating costs tend to be lower. Also, because greenhouses utilize natural sunlight, heating and cooling equipment may be less necessary, depending on your location.
Control: While greenhouses do offer less environmental control than indoor cultivation operations, there is still so much control that greenhouse growers have. Greenhouse-grown cannabis (under the right conditions) can still produce the same yield as cannabis from an indoor facility.
More Space: When you utilize a greenhouse, you often will have much more physical space to work with. Not only are greenhouses larger than most indoor cannabis facilities, but they also tend to have higher ceilings. Higher ceilings help to ensure your operation is growing cannabis to the fullest maturity possible, which maximizes your yield.
Certain Strains Thrive In A Greenhouse: There are certain strains of cannabis that are highly adapted to thriving in a greenhouse environment. When a greenhouse grower has the opportunity to grow these plant strains, they can quickly secure high yields and profits.
More Affected By Outside Elements: Outside elements like temperature and sunlight will always affect a greenhouse more than an indoor facility, even when there is proper sealing. Year-round cultivation may not be realistic with a greenhouse depending on your location.
Pests Pose A Bigger Risk: Unlike indoor cannabis cultivation, where pests are more removed, greenhouses are more likely to deal with these annoying critters. Picks can not only damage your plants, but the pesticides often needed to rid them can reduce the quality of your product.
High Upfront Costs: Greenhouses are cheaper in terms of operating costs, but in terms of upfront costs, they can be more expensive. Greenhouse cultivation is not always easy for industry beginners, especially those with minimal financial resources.
Greenhouse Vs. Indoor Cultivation: What’s Right For Me?
As stated above, there are both pros and cons to each type of cultivation set-up. When weighing these pros and cons, it is vital to consider the subjective factors that are unique to your cultivation operation. These factors include:
- Cannabis Strains You Plan To Grow
- The Climate In Your Location
- Your Current And Potential Resources
Suppose you would like to start your operation in a cool but dry climate where you can access lots of space. In this case, utilizing a greenhouse rather than an indoor growing space would likely be more beneficial.
Another critical thing to consider should be how practical each facility type would be for you. Someone that would like to start a growing operation in the middle of a big city is unlikely to go with a greenhouse. Practicality is also essential when you consider costs and upkeep. Typically, short-term costs are higher with a greenhouse, and long-term costs are lower. With an indoor space designed for growing cannabis, usually, the opposite is true.
Doing your research is one of the best ways to ensure you make an informed decision about what facility type to use. Also, you can always reach out to others in your network and get their options and advice.
How We At Prospiant Can Help
If you’re looking to weigh out the pros and cons of potential cultivation facilities for your operation, remember that often the best choice is the most practical one. If any questions cross your mind, always feel free to reach out to us at Prospiant and get more information to ask. Our expert staff is always more than happy to talk to you.