Indoor vs Outdoor Flower: What’s the Difference?

Posted on January 4th, 2023 to Education

Have you heard that indoor flower is always more potent? Maybe you’ve been led to believe cannabis plants exposed to natural sunlight are more aromatic and flavorful. As a group of cannabis enthusiasts and you’ll get almost an even mix of answers. Some think growing cannabis outdoors is best, while the other half say indoor cannabis means a better experience. Who’s right? Is there really a difference? Let’s take a closer look at indoor vs outdoor cannabis.

A Closer Look at Indoor Cannabis Cultivation

Indoor cannabis cultivation takes place in a controlled greenhouse or facility where everything from lighting to temperature is controlled. Plants are typically grown in pots or planters instead of actually in the ground, which also means each plant gets a uniform amount of nourishment, water, and even pest control. In some states, not including Vermont, only indoor cannabis cultivation is allowed.

A Closer Look at Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation

Outdoor cannabis cultivation most often involves in-ground seeding or planting. The bulk of what the plant needs—water, sunlight, etcetera—is directly supplied by the environment. This can mean that plants are not quite as controlled, flowering cycles occur according to the environment, and may even grow larger.

Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Flower


Outdoor cannabis may grow larger than indoor cannabis. This can be due to a few factors, such as less control over sunlight exposure, soil nutrients, and water. However, this doesn’t always mean nuggets pulled from an outdoor plant will be larger.


Indoor flower tends to be brighter with lighter colors. Greens will often be closer to sage than emeralds, for example. Outdoor flower is generally darker. For example, a strain with purple flowers may have a lighter, less-vivid shade when grown indoors, but a darker, deeper purple when grown outdoors.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes

Cannabinoid content tends to be similar with both indoor and outdoor plants. Outdoor-grown cannabis does tend to have more terpene development, which theoretically should mean a more flavorful, aromatic smoke. However, indoor growers often take greater care during harvest and curing to retain terpenes, and the processes take place in a controlled environment. Outdoor harvests in an uncontrolled environment can also mean delicate terpenes are lost in the process. Therefore, it is common for both indoor and outdoor flower to have the same level of flavor and aromatics.

Is indoor flower or outdoor flower better?

Growing cannabis is a blend of art, science, and skill. The quality of the end harvest is more related to the seeds used, the grower’s know-how, and the care the plant was provided than the actual indoor vs outdoor environment. It’s easy to assume a controlled indoor environment would mean a better flower, but that’s simply not always the case.

Cannabis cultivation knowledge has grown by leaps and bounds since the onset of legalization over a decade ago. Therefore, even grow-ops in more precarious outdoor climates can be better controlled to ensure a high-quality product in the end. For example, some outdoor growers now use supplemental lighting when sunlight is lacking.

There will always be people who claim they prefer either indoor cannabis or outdoor cannabis as a consumer. But, the reality is, most commercially available cannabis today—grown inside or outdoors—boasts the same cannabinoid content, flavor and aromatics, and quality.

Of course, some people prefer outdoor cannabis due to sustainable growing practices. Outdoor ops naturally rely more on rainwater and sunlight, while indoor operations may use more electricity or public water. However, many large indoor grow operations take massive steps to be kind to the environment, such as relying primarily on solar energy and following stringent water conservation practices.

Indoor or Out, Find Premium Cannabis Flower at VT Bud Barn

At VT cannabis dispensaries, you can find top specimens of both outdoor and indoor flower. And, at VT Bud Barn, we pull together picks from the top growers in the state. Be sure to take a look at our menu to see what strains we have available, or stop in for a visit at our recreational dispensary in Brattleboro.

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