A guide to growing autoflowering cannabis seeds
When you decide to start growing cannabis, you might find yourself looking at online seed catalogs. Here you’ll see companies offering strains that are dubbed “autoflowering,” but what does this mean and why might a grower choose autoflowering varieties of cannabis?
What Is Autoflowering Cannabis?
The concept of autoflowering strains is simple: in time, they will automatically flower as opposed to waiting for a specifically timed light cycle. In other words, the plants begin to flower all on their own after a relatively short vegetative period of 2-4 weeks.
This unique process is created when breeders fold in genetics from Cannabis ruderalis, a subspecies of the cannabis plant that is known for its autoflowering attributes and short stature.
Crossing the autoflowering ruderalis with indica and sativa varieties results in a plant that doesn’t rely on photoperiods to flower, but rather grows and flowers on its own time.
The Pros and Cons of Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
There are a number of reasons to consider autoflowering varieties for both indoor and outdoor cannabis:
- When grown outdoors, autoflowering plants will start producing buds no matter how many hours of sunlight you are receiving; this means you don’t have to worry about running a light deprivation system or supplementing light if you are trying to achieve multiple harvests in the season.
- When growing indoors, autoflowering strains allow you to rapidly grow strains from start to finish as they generally complete maturation after three months.
- Autoflowering plants can receive more than 12 hours of sunlight a day and create bigger buds in less time than many regular cannabis plants.
- Autoflowering plants are small and stealthy; they are perfect for closet grows or growing outdoors where you don’t want your neighbors to see what you’re up to.
There are, however, reasons why autoflowering plants are not as popular as regular cannabis indica and sativa plants. Autoflowering strains are small in stature and do not produce large yields. Other issues with autoflowering strains include higher electricity bills and an inability to really train your plants to make the most of your grow space.
Since the introduction of original autoflowering strains in decades past, significant improvements have been made to these genetics. First, potency in autoflowering varieties has increased significantly since their initial introduction. Also, there are now hundreds of types of autoflowering seeds being sold, giving you a large selection to choose from. Because of these improvements, autoflowering seeds are worth a shot for any curious gardener looking to try something new.
How to Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Strains
Autoflowering strains require some preparation, as they will grow quickly and start to flower whether or not you’re ready for them. However, follow these steps and you should find success in your autoflowering garden.
1. Training Your Plants
Generally speaking, you’ll want to train your plants while they are in vegetative growth. For autoflowering plants, this period could be as short as two weeks which means time is limited.
To start, consider topping your plant after it has developed three nodes to promote a more even canopy. Another LST (low-stress training) method involves training your plant by pulling it down sideways to create new upward growth. Once your plants do begin to flower, you should not top them. Prune your plants conservatively for no more than one week into flowering.
2. Climate Considerations
When you are growing autoflowering plants, you’re allowing plants to flower when they should be in a vegetative growth. Because you don’t need to follow photoperiod light cycles, many people start autoflowering plants early in the season (e.g. March) or late in the season (e.g. September). For this time of year, it’s important to remember that the plants still need warmth to grow, and there also might be considerable rain putting the buds at risk of rot. To combat these issues, consider growing in a greenhouse to provide protection from the elements.
3. Go Easy on Feeding
Autoflowering strains do not need to be heavily fed due to their small size and the short amount of time they spend in the vegetative cycle. Feed very lightly and understand that they don’t need as many vegetative growth nutrients such as nitrogen. Also note that these vegetative nutrients are best put to use if they are readily available for the plant to utilize quickly.
4. Harvest Gradually
Autoflowering plants often do not have time to develop a canopy, which means you will be keeping buds that are lower down on the plant. Because of this, it’s a great idea to harvest your plants sequentially. First take the colas, then allow more time for the lower buds to dense up before they are harvested next.
5. Prepare Your Next Crop
To get the most out of autoflowering seeds, it’s a good idea to prepare your next batch of plants as you are harvesting. This means popping seeds before you harvest your current plants so that your room is continually producing. Because the plants autoflower, you can have plants that are just starting out in the same room as those that are finishing without worrying about the lighting.
How to Find Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Autoflowering cannabis seeds are most easily found through seed banks and seed banks online (note: just be sure to read and understand the legal fine print about purchasing seeds online). Seeds may also be purchased at some local dispensaries, though depending on where you are, they can be difficult to track down at retail outlets.
Have you tried growing autoflowering strains before? Share your experience in the comments below and let us know how they turned out!
Learn more about autoflowering cannabis including what it is, the pros and cons of growing autoflowering seeds, and tips on how to grow them.
How to grow autoflowers?
Beginners, but also advanced growers and a huge group of commercial growers, have a preference for autoflowers which isn’t surprising at all as an autoflower grow features great advantages. You can harvest quickly, the growing process is very easy and you don’t need much to let the plant grow. A successful cultivation is therefore almost always guaranteed.
Wondering how to grow autoflowering seeds? Use our autoflower grow guide below!
The advantages of an autoflower grow
Many growers who never grew an autoflower before wonder if autoflowers are worth growing. We therefore listed the advantages below so you can decide yourself!
- Fast harvesting
- Simple growing process
- High cultivation yield
- Little space needed
- Suitable for indoors and outdoors
The fact that autoflowers are popular among growers proves the above advantages. Moreover, you can choose from many different types of top quality autoflowers, which have greatly improved in quality in recent years. New generations of autoflowers produce more weed in less time (usually harvest within 12 weeks) and are also of better quality. In short: enough reason to try it yourself.
Indoor or outdoor growing?
Basically there is no such thing as the best way to grow autoflower strains. Just like any other type of marijuana seeds, an autoflower plant can be grown indoors as well as outdoors.
In this article we explain step-by-step how to grow autoflowers indoors and outdoors, what you need, which varieties are available for beginners and how long they should be grown. Depending on your situation and preferences, you decide whether you want to grow the autoflower indoors or outdoors.
Growing autoflowers indoors in soil
Many growers choose to grow their autoflower indoors which is not strange when you look at the advantages.
Advantages of growing autoflowers inside
Autoflowers are ideal to grow indoors because of their many advantages. We list them for you.
- Little space needed: Autoflowers are relatively small plants and therefore very suitable for growing in a small space.
- No complicated light regime: You grow them without having to adhere to a light schedule. Give them light 12, 16, 18 or 24 hours a day, for example. The autoflower always blooms!
- Good yields: Autoflowers can tolerate a lot of light and as the experienced grower knows: light means weight. And more weight means a higher yield.
- No problems with rot and moulds: By growing them in a controlled indoor space, the chance of top rot is very limited.
- No burden of excessive wind or rain: Unlike outdoors, you don’t have to worry about the weather conditions.
- The autoflower is robust and forgiving: Autoflowers are strong and tough plants. If you forget to feed or water the plant once, there is usually not much to worry about.
How to grow an autoflower indoors?
Are you convinced of the advantages of indoor growing? Awesome! Let’s explain straight away how to get off to a flying start and do this job expertly.
Step 1: choose your spot and grow setup
First of all, you decide where to start your autoflower grow. Of course you can do this in a grow tent, grow box, a specially reserved room, but maybe you prefer to keep it simple and grow your autoflower in a sunny spot in front of the window. In any case, make sure there is enough light available.
Step 2: buy autoflowering seeds
Strong genetics form the basis for a healthy plant. Whether you buy your autoflower seeds at Weedseedsexpress or from another (online) seedbank, choose your seeds carefully. Check references and reviews from the seller. Read the specifications of the different varieties so you will grow an autoflower that meets all your wishes and requirements.
Check all our: autoflowering seeds
Step 3: choose your pots and growing medium for indoors
An autoflower grows fast. Often the plant starts flowering within 30 days so you don’t have much time to repot. We therefore advise you to place your germinated seed directly in the final pot or to repot within 1 week from the start to the final pot in which you grow your autoflower.
Use a lightly fertilized, well aerated growing medium. Think of soil mix or coconut. Air pots are very suitable but also dark pots of 15 – 30 litres with drainage.
Step 4: choose your (LED) lamp
When it comes to the lights there is plenty of choice. Basically it’s hard to make a wrong decision as each choice is a good one. LED, CFL, HPS or MH lamps, the choice is yours!
Growing with LED lighting is gaining popularity lately as LED lamps are more economical, emit less heat and can be placed closer to the plant which saves space.
Growing autoflower indoors without lights, is that possible too?
Yes, you can very well grow an autoflower indoors without lights. These plants love to stand on the windowsill in front of the window or in the conservatory. In any case, choose a sunny spot. A window sill or conservatory facing south is preferable. This way you ensure the plant of maximum sunlight.
Step 5: germinate and plant seeds
As soon as you have all the equipment you need, the real work can begin. That starts of course with germinating and planting the seed.
Step 6: plant care, cultivation and harvesting
After you’ve planted the seed, the care begins. Make sure you have enough water at all times, but do not let your plant drown. If desired, add some nutrition at the start of flowering and cultivate your plant completely. After about 10 to 12 weeks your plant will be ready to be harvested.
Tips for growing an autoflower indoors
Finally, we have some useful tips for you to be sure that your indoor growing will be a great success!
- Nutrition – The autoflower is a relatively small plant with a short vegetative phase (growth phase). In contrast to most photoperiod species, they therefore require considerably less nutrition. In fact, an autoflower grows fine without extra nutrients. However, do you decide to use nutrition? Then take it easy and avoid overfeeding.
- Temperature and humidity – Autoflowers grow best at a temperature between 20-25 °C with a humidity of 50-70%. Therefore, do not grow your autoflower in winter, but rather in spring, summer or autumn.
- Lighting – The light doesn’t have to be on all day. With 12 to 16 hours a day, you can already grow a beautiful autoflower. However, do you want to get the most out of your autoflower and do you have growing experience? Try 24 hours of light a day!
Note: autoflowers grow quickly and therefore have an increased risk of burning. Keep a close eye on your light and place it a bit higher rather than too low. LED lighting significantly reduces the risk of burning.
Related article: Growing weed with led
Growing autoflowers outdoors
Above you can read that indoor growing offers many advantages. But can you grow autoflowers outdoors as well? Sure you can! Let’s look at the advantages first.
Advantages of growing autoflowers outside
Every plant grows naturally outdoors. This also applies to the autoflower (also called cannabis Ruderalis). The autoflower strain originates from wet, cold regions. Logically, the plant thrives well in the Northern Hemisphere. However, this isn’t the only advantage. Wondering why you should grow your autoflower outdoors? Take a look at the advantages below.
- Autoflowers are mould resistant: despite a humid climate, the autoflower can grow undisturbed and mould-free.
- Little space required: the compact size makes the plant less conspicuous.
- Better yields: because of the short cycle, you can sow and harvest 2 to 3 times per season. The final harvest of an autoflower is often better when grown outdoors.
- Faster harvesting: CO2 ensures a fast metabolism which makes the strain grow faster. This means that in the end you can harvest faster.
- A bigger plant: when you grow in the open ground, the plant becomes considerably larger compared to growing in a pot. This results in more weed.
How to grow an autoflower outdoors?
Convinced of the advantages? Let’s take a quick look at how you do this job expertly. Growing an autoflower outdoors requires a lot of preparation.
Step 1: choosing a spot
For successful breeding you first choose a suitable place. Preferably in your own garden or on the balcony. In any case, make sure you have a place with sufficient sunlight.
Step 2: choose your autoflowering seeds
Which autoflower seeds do I buy? An important question that is answered by determining what you think is important when it comes to the characteristics of the plant and the effect of the weed. For example, do you want to grow high CBD varieties or perhaps a high THC species? Do you want quick results or is the plant allowed to flower a bit longer? What tastes and smells do you like?
As soon as you have your wishes clear, the search can begin. Luckily, there are numerous suppliers of autoflower outdoor seeds nowadays. Do your research and choose a supplier you have heard good stories about. Also online you will often find many reviews.
Step 3: growing in a pot or in the open ground
Outdoors you can grow in pots or in the open ground. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. Let us therefore first briefly explain them.
Growing in a pot
A pot is easy to move which is useful when there is a lot of wind outside or when it rains for days. But a pot also offers limitations. The edge of the pot will block the development of roots. An autoflower grown in a pot therefore becomes less tall compared to a grow in the open ground.
Growing in the open ground
Want to grow a big autoflower? In the open ground, roots have free rein. Logically, your autoflower can grow quite large, but when it is windy or raining your plant is less easy to protect.
Step 4: choose the autoflowering medium for outdoors
One of the most important factors for growing autoflowers outdoors is the soil. For firm buds you need a decent soil. Autoflowers like a light organic soil. Organic potting soil mixed with nutrients such as cow- and chicken manure, compost, bat guano, blood meal or permite form an ideal medium. Such a mixed soil is more than sufficient to provide the autoflower with nutrients during the whole process of growing and flowering. In case you spot a nutrient deficiency during cultivation it’s always possible to add extra nutrients.
Step 5: germinating and planting autoflower seeds
Even if you’re going to grow outdoors, germinate your seeds indoors. This also applies to planting your autoflower seed. Seedlings are fragile and can break through a gust of wind. Small plants are also eaten faster by animals.
Step 6: growing and harvesting
After about 2 to 3 weeks you move the plant outside. You can repot the plant to a larger pot or dig it into the ground. Make sure there is enough water and light at all times. You then grow your autoflower all the way to harvest.
Tips for growing autoflowers outdoors
When growing your autoflower outdoors you have to deal with influences over which you have little or no control. Yet you can take various precautions. We therefore advise you to follow the tips below.
- Growing in a greenhouse – Outdoors your plant is subject to the weather. Would you like to grow your autoflower outdoors, but don’t want your plant to be subject to negative weather influences, reduce the chance of top rot and protect your plant against vermin? Then we advise you to grow in a greenhouse. Moreover, a greenhouse offers protection against pollination.
- Mould, insects, animals – Take insects and animals into account. They pose a threat to your plant. We therefore advise you to take precautions. You do this by digging a hole in the spot where you are growing, placing gauze and sealing the hole with the soil. We also recommend placing a chicken wire fence around your plant. Fungi and insects are difficult to control. Fortunately, rain and wind often cause insects such as aphids and spider mites to start a colony on your plant.
Curious how to grow autoflowering seeds? Check this blog with great tips for your autoflower grow – indoors and outdoors.