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.
The difference between feminized and autoflowering seeds
Growing weed doesn’t have to be difficult. Anyone can do it. But you do need some basic knowledge. For example, you need to know how to grow a cannabis plant and which seeds are most suitable for you. The most popular seeds among beginners and advanced growers are feminized cannabis seeds and autoflower seeds. But what is the difference between autoflowering and feminized seeds? And which seeds are right for you?
Choosing between: feminized vs autoflowering
Cannabis seeds come in a huge variety of varieties and grow into beautiful plants where the weed differs in taste and effect. However, apart from the harvest result, there are also big differences in the way of growing and yield. For example, you have fast growers that need little attention (autoflowers) and cannabis seeds that require more time and knowledge (feminized seeds). On the other hand, the latter delivers a higher yield. But what are the differences exactly and are there other differences?
Difference between feminized and autoflower seeds
To make it easy for you, we have included the differences between the two species in a table. This gives you a clear overview and allows you to make the right choice between feminized seeds and autoflower seeds.
Small to medium
2 – 4 weeks after planting
When a light cycle of 12 / 12 is applied
Average time from seed to harvest
Medium to large
Small to medium
Medium to large
Feminized cannabis seeds are seeds specially grown to eliminate male chromosomes. In short, with feminized seeds you grow a female cannabis plant. Exactly what most growers want, because only the female cannabis plant provides smokable buds (weed!).
Taking light into account
When growing cannabis outdoors, the plant will start flowering as soon as it gets less sunlight. This is towards the end of summer and the transition to autumn. Indoor growers will have to mimic autumn by (gradually) adapting their light schedule to a 12/12 hour light schedule.
Although adjusting the light schedule is not complicated, it does require some knowledge and effort.
Advantages of feminized seeds
- Feminized seeds develop female plants and produce smokable buds (cannabis).
- Plants from feminized seeds produce weed with a higher THC and CBD value which makes the effect more intense and lasts longer compared to autoflowering seeds.
- Feminized seeds are almost 100% hermaphroditic free.
- Female plants grown with feminized seeds develop higher yields compared to autoflower plants.
- Plants grown from feminized seeds produce fewer leaves compared to autoflowers.
- Unlike autoflowers, female plants grown with feminized seeds are easier to prune.
Find your seeds:
Category: Feminized seeds
Beginners often choose autoflower seeds. The most important reason for this is, as the name suggests, that these plants grow automatically without too much attention. Despite the fact that autoflower seeds have many of the same characteristics as feminized seeds, there are clear differences.
No light scheme needed
Where feminized seeds start flowering as soon as they receive less sunlight (or artificial light), an autoflower flowers based on age. The grower does not have to adjust the light schedule or wait until autumn (applies to outdoor growing). Growing an autoflower is therefore much easier than growing a cannabis plant from feminized seeds.
Advantages of autoflowering seeds
- Autoflowers bloom automatically and require little attention;
- Just like feminized seeds, autoflower seeds develop female plants and deliver cannabis;
- The cycle from seed to harvest is short, allowing growers to harvest 2 to 4 times a year;
- Because autoflower strains are crossed with the ruderalis plant, the plant grows less tall and requires less maintenance;
- You need less growing space;
- Compared to female marijuana plants plants grown with feminized seeds, autoflowers are more resistant to temperature fluctuations, pests and fungi.
Find your seeds:
Category: Feminized seeds
What’s better: feminized or autoflower seeds?
As you have read, both feminized seeds and autoflower seeds have their own advantages and disadvantages. Advanced and experienced growers choose feminized seeds more often because of their higher yield and quality.
Moreover, weed plants from feminized seeds are more flexible in growing. You can use cultivation techniques such as scrogging (Screen of Green) and topping. These techniques ensure a higher yield.
Beginners prefer autoflower seeds because it is easier and the seeds are less sensitive to external conditions (fungi, temperature fluctuations). After all, the plants grow by themselves so you hardly have to worry. Moreover, you can harvest faster and more often.
Are autoflowers less potent?
If you look at the difference in potency between the autoflower variant and the feminized variant of specific marijuana strains, you will notice that the autoflower is almost always less potent. If you compare an autoflower strain with a feminized variant of a different strain, the autoflower is certainly not always less strong.
Many new growers wonder: What is the difference between feminized and autoflowering seeds? Let’s explain it in a simple way. Check it out!