Cannabis Cultivation: Indoor vs. Greenhouse

Jan 6, 2017 2:51:42 PM

Cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated crops, with the earliest written record of cannabis dating back to ancient China in 2727 B.C. Needless to say, people have been growing cannabis outdoors for thousands of years as the crop spread from Asia to Europe, then to the Americas. It wasn’t until the late 1930s when cannabis was first federally prohibited that people began growing indoors to keep it out of sight.

While there is no right or wrong choice, there are pros and cons to both sides. Regardless of which option you chose, it’s important to make an informed decision depending on your specific circumstances.

Here are three main factors to consider:

Environmental Controls

Since environmental parameters such as temperature, humidity and CO₂ are essential for cultivation, maintaining proper growing conditions is going to be the number one concern.

Greenhouse   Indoor

Some think of it as free light, but outside conditions can drastically change, which could take a toll on your crop. Even one cloudy day could stunt growth. In order to protect your crop, it is best the greenhouse is equipped with an HVAC system to keep conditions at desired levels. Timers can be installed to trigger the system depending on the time of the day. Another upside to having a semi-controlled environment is the ability to grow year-round.


Enclosed environments give you the ability to have complete control of the climate, allowing the maximum number of harvests a year. Indoor growing provides a stable habitat, which can optimize growth with the risks and unpredictability of Mother Nature. Having maximum control over the growing environment usually produces pristine flowers with higher THC percentages. Introducing CO₂ into the environment can also increase THC levels, while speeding up the growth rate. However, there’s a catch, no bulb can match the sun which can result in smaller yields and less potent plants.


The price tag associated with opening a growing facility could be a deciding factor behind whether to grow indoors or in a greenhouse. Keep in mind the payoff in your long-term plan.

Greenhouse   Indoor

Compared to growing outdoors, there will be some costs to greenhouse growing. Although greenhouse can cut down on electricity costs, it is expensive to construct one. Even if the greenhouse is already standing, state and local regulations may require it is hidden from view. If you don’t want to take a chance with your crop, tack on the costs for an HVAC system.


Whether you are building a new facility or renovating an existing one up to code, be prepared to spend. Between maintenance and energy consumption, indoor growing has the highest costs. However, the expense may be worth maintaining a stable environment, which allows for year-round harvesting.

Pest & Disease Exposure

Cannabis is no exception to pests, bugs and diseases that are susceptible to plants. It is not recommended, even illegal in some places, to use pesticides to protect your plants due to the harm it could cause to humans. Pest problems can be a challenge to control if not corrected immediately.

Greenhouse   Indoor

The warm, humid conditions inside of a greenhouse can often attract pests. Even though the greenhouse may be enclosed, it is not completely sealed, which means the outside air can introduce pests and pathogens. On the bright side, natural predators, such as ladybugs, on the outside keep pests under control.


Although indoor facilities are sealed, plants are still vulnerable to pests and diseases. Best practice to avoiding them is to mimic its natural environment by adjusting the humidity, air flow and moisture. However, pests can easily sneak their way into a room through the ducts and vents of an HVAC system, floorboards, even a bag of soil. There are natural preventative measures you can take, before turning to pesticides.

Cannabis table -inout-422880-edited.jpg


No matter which method is used to grow cannabis, each one will have its advantages and disadvantages. While many claim that indoor growing produces a higher yield, the popularity of commercial greenhouses are becoming increasingly comparable to the results of indoor growing. Again, there is no right or wrong decision, but be sure to keep up-to-date on new practices you could incorporate into your business to keep you on the cutting-edge.

Posted by Kelly Wright

Kelly Wright joined the MadgeTech team in May of 2016 as a Marketing Content Writer, bringing with her years of education and firsthand experience in media and communications. Kelly is a key contributor in researching and developing interesting, valuable content. As a certified HACCP manager, Kelly demonstrates her expertise at events and tradeshows around the country representing MadgeTech.

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