How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds Outdoors
Find out all you need to know about growing autoflowering Cannabis outdoors, and all the important things to consider.
- 1. What should i consider before planting?
- 1. a. Indoor vs outdoor
- 1. b. Climate region and your location
- 1. c. Mold and pests
- 1. d. Protecting your plants outdoors
- 1. e. Tips for beginners
- 2. Optimal conditions
- 2. a. Light cycle and best time to start
- 2. b. Temperature
- 2. c. Humidity
- 2. d. Spacing
- 2. e. Best nutrients
- 2. f. Genetics
- 3. Step-by-step guide on growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors
- 3. a. Step 1: germination
- 3. b. Step 2: seedling
- 3. c. Step 3: the vegetative stage
- 3. d. Step 4: the flowering stage
- 3. e. Stage 5: harvest
- 4. In conclusion
If you reside in a location where growing weed is legal, you’re in luck. Not everyone can grow cannabis especially outdoors, but if you do get this opportunity use it! With a little knowledge, you can produce loads of buds. And, if you’re here to understand a bit more about how to grow autoflowering plants outside , read on and you’ll know everything there is to know.
Growing autos outdoors is easy because they don’t depend on light to flower. You can grow them almost all year round, by just providing good nutrients and protecting them from pests and rain. Remember that the yield will depend on the light cycle so it’s better to plan ahead.
1. What Should I Consider Before Planting?
Indoor vs outdoor
This is a huge question growers have before starting to grow their own weed because both of them have their pros and cons. To make this decision, you will have to have a couple of things in consideration: environment, smell and most important of all: cost.
Cost is the most important because you will need to spend quite a bit of money to buy a good light fixture, exhaust fan, filter and grow tent, even though it seems like a lot, this will allow you to control every aspect of the growing environment, will allow you to eliminate odor and be more discreet because unless you allow a person in, no one will be able to see your growing operation.
When growing outdoors you won’t have to spend much other than with pots and nutrients, but you should remember that when growing outdoors you won’t be able to control the climate and you can suffer from extremely cold or hot climates and this will affect your plants growth. Another disadvantage is that your plants will be visible and the odor can be a problem if you live in a place where cannabis is not legal.
Climate region and your location
If you’re starting to grow cannabis just now, you probably are wondering When to plant? Well, this will depend on the expected weather and all the things that come with it. There are 6 climate regions in the world, in each one of them the temperature, humidity, and sunlight vary so you should plan according to your environment.
The tropical climate can be found along the equator region, in cities like Brasília (Brazil), Miami (United States), and Biak (Indonesia), and is characterized by a high temperature and high humidity with an average temperature of 18°C all year long.
The subtropical climate is characterized by hot, humid summers and cool, mild winters and is usually located near the coasts like São Paulo (Brazil), Orlando (United States), and Hong Kong (China). This type of climate can be found in all the continents with a high average of 24-27°C and lows from 10-16°C with moderate humidity.
Cold climates (Subarctic and arctic climate)
Cold climates occur in cities like Anchorage (Alaska), Sumedang (Indonesia), and Moosonee (Canada), in these climate regions the humidity is fairly low, the climate is extremely harsh, with an average of -10°C in winter and not exceeding 26°C in summer.
Temperate climates can be found in cities like Sydney (Australia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Atlanta (United States), it has moderate relative humidity, with an average low of 10°C during 6 months of the year and an average high of around 22°C.
Dry climates (arid and semi-arid climate)
Dry climates can be found in cities like Lampedusa (Italy), Reno (United States), and Jaipur (India), it is characterized by really low humidity, with extremely low temperatures at night, reaching -10°C and extremely cold hot during the day, around 45°C .
Depending on where you live, you will have to plan ahead, knowing the expected temperature, humidity, and amount of sunlight your plants will receive can make a huge difference in yield.
For example, California gets an average of 14:30hrs of sunlight in the summer 1 and around 9:40hs in the winter, so you should plan your growing cycle according to where you live.
Mold and pests
When growing outdoors it can be fairly easy to get bugs and pests.
Y our plants are directly exposed to the environments so you should be careful with rain , high humidity, and temperature , the right combination of these elements can attract bugs or mold to your cannabis plants and because you can’t control the environment, it can be quite hard to deal with it.
Protecting your plants outdoors
Cannabis plants must be protected from harsh weather and predators, depending on where you’re growing your plant can be attacked by bugs or even bigger animals like dogs, cats, or rodents this is why it’s better to have a wire fence around them if needed. The fence needs to be underground and above ground around your plant and the roots, despite seeming too much it is essential because animals like gophers and moles live underground, they look for roots to feed on and can eat a whole plant overnight.
It’s also a good idea to build a simple structure to help protect your plants from snow and rain, this structure can be built with wooden stakes and a plastic sheet and will ensure your plants don’t freeze or get mold.
When planting in the ground it’s essential to protect your plants against gophers and moles with a wire cage.
There’s no need to spend too much to protect your plants, a wire fence is fairly cheap and if you want to make a hoop-house it can be easily made with a plastic sheet and plastic tubes, if you want a sturdier one you can build a metal or wood but the structure will be basically the same.
Tips For Beginners
If you’ve never grown cannabis before, there are a couple of things you need to have in mind. Depending on the city you live in, you have to be sure your growing space is discreet, this means not only the plants shouldn’t be visible but also neighbors shouldn’t be able to smell the plants. This not only applies to the plants themself but also the light. Usually grow light fixtures are super bright and can be seen from far away if you don’t make sure there are no light leaks. Masking the smell outdoors can be a little bit tricky because you don’t have a way to eliminate the smell.
You can guerilla grow on your balcony using lots of aromatic plants that will help to camouflage your cannabis plants, it’s not a guarantee that the smell won’t bother your neighbors. Even though you can train your plants, the best way to avoid this is to grow Indica dominant, they tend to grow shorter and compact, so you don’t need to train them (if you don’t want or know how to).
If you wish to grow a specific strain that grows tall, you should grow them in smaller pots or train them so they can’t be seen by people walking by or from other balconies. You can also build a structure similar to a hoop house around your plants, by covering them with a plastic sheet you can keep the rain off, reduce light like most outdoor growers do with the light deprivation technique, and have more stealth cannabis grow.
2. Optimal conditions
Light cycle and best time to start
It is important to understand the life cycle of an autoflowering Cannabis plant, and how they differ from normal photoperiodic cultivars. As the name suggests these strains will begin to flower automatically thanks to their Ruderalis heritage . Originally found in Siberia, the dwarf-sized, low potency Ruderalis had the ability to grow in a vegetative stage and then flower automatically independent of the light cycle. An incredible trait that autoflowering cannabis strains carry nowadays.
Hours of darkness
Once you understand that it’s possible to plant automatics outdoors at any time of the year, you can begin to plan your growing cycles based on the temperature , humidity, and sunlight where you live, although you need to have in mind that outdoors, the light cycle depends on the season you’re in and can differ from one place to another, resulting in more or less plant growth and consequently better (or worse) yields.
The best time to start growing photoperiodic cannabis depends on the amount of light you get, but with autoflowers, things are different. Because they grow fast and don’t depend on light to start flowering, you can grow them outside whenever you want. Of course, the temperature may have an influence on the result but you most likely will have beautiful flowers after every harvest.
Due to the tough resilient nature that autoflowering Cannabis possesses, depending on the strain, it is easily possible to harvest buds during the coldest time of the year with the shortest daylight hours, as well as during the hottest and longest days. It is this incredible ability to adapt to any climates from harsh and cold to lovely and hot that allow for any grower to achieve a harvest all year long.
Although there is an optimal environment that all plants prefer, even though autos can withstand harsher climates, the best temperature to grow auto cannabis plants is from 18-25 °C , with a 60% relative humidity and preferably 18 hours of light per day.
The ideal conditions for a plant to develop to it’s maximum are at least 18hs of light, 60% relative humidity and a temperature between 18-25°C.
Growing in summer
If you’re growing in hotter climates you will need to adjust watering and the amount of nutrients. This is because higher temperatures tend to accelerate the plant’s processes, so you will have to adjust feeding to your plant’s necessities. Also, have in mind that in summer there is an increase in humidity levels so it is good to perform LST techniques to keep good airflow in between the buds and branches and avoid fungus or bugs.
Growing in winter
In colder climates plants tend to slow down their rate of growth, so you will usually use less nutrients. Also have in mind that in the winter the humidity levels are lower, so you’ll want to water sporadically so your plant has time to absorb the nutrients. Have in mind that if the temperature is below 4°C, water can freeze the roots, so it’s better to feed your plant when the temperatures are higher.
- Some automatics can take very cold weather as well as intense heat.
- It is possible to plant from early Spring until late winter with great results.
- Autoflowering Cannabis is very resistant to mold, mildew, and wind.
- Avoid planting seeds if your garden is showing signs of frost.
The humidity levels are super important for a cannabis plant, if the humidity is too high or too low the plant will have a hard time “breathing”, so it’s crucial you know what humidity levels to expect for each stage of plant growth before cultivating. In the seedling stage, your plants will develop better in 60% relative humidity because baby plants don’t like a drier environment and actually need the extra moisture to develop properly in the first weeks of life.
You have to gradually decrease the humidity from 60% down to 50% in the vegetative stage, this is because at this stage plants have already started photosynthesizing and need that relative humidity level to be able to do it properly. Once your plant has entered the pre-flowering stage, you will have to gradually decrease the humidity level to around 40-45% , the buds are full of water so this will prevent them from molding and will result in a healthier plant.
Because cannabis plants will grow and develop a lot of branches, it’s necessary to leave space between them, if you don’t know how much space you should leave between the plants you need to think about the size they will have. For example, in 1m 2 you can fit around 10 small plants, 6 medium plants, and 3 big plants or have around 30-45cm in between small plants, 50-60cm between medium plants, and 65-100cm between big plants, although autoflowering plants usually don’t grow too much so if you leave around 40cm in between you should be fine.
By providing enough spacing between plants you prevent problems you may have further into the growth cycle, like the light not reaching deep enough, taller plants overshadowing the smaller ones, and other issues like the lack of airflow.
Depending on what you can find (or want to use) there are two options for feeding your plants: organic or synthetic nutrients, both of them will work just fine but each one has its pros and cons. Organic nutrients can be harder to use for new growers but can result in a better tasting, better smelling flowers and will be harder to burn your plants while synthetic nutrients are super easy to use, you just have to follow the instructions on the package and maybe adjust the dose with some plants, but it’s fairly easy, just have in mind that synthetic nutrients can burn your plants easily so you need to feed with care, paying attention to the signs your plant gives you.
Either way, as long as you provide an NPK ratio of 2-1-3 in the vegetative stage and 1-3-2 in the flowering stage, your plant will grow great.
A big issue when growing autoflowering strains is the genetics, even if you do everything perfectly you can still be disappointed with the quality and amount of flowers your plant produces, that is because you need good genetics to have a good harvest. Depending on where you live, a certain type of strain will have a better result than another.
If you live in a part of the world that has hotter weather, you are able to grow any type of autoflowering strain but it is recommended to grow Sativa-dominant hybrids. This way you’ll make the most out of every seed because Sativas usually grow taller and with more flowering sites, resulting in a bigger yield.
I grew this with other fast buds strains. I’m very happy how they all grew. I use soil, 19L pots on a 20/4 light cycle. They love it.
This more demanding and larger yielding variety will flourish under the constant sunny climate.
Automatics can really help a grower who experiences colder climates, you should grow Indica -dominant hybrids because their Indica heritage makes them more resistant to cold and a high level.
Just an easy to grow, solid packed buds. A heavy feeder and can be a bit prone to light burn at the end but otherwise perfection!
She is very resistant and will be ready to chop, even after any heavy rain or cold spots.
3. Step-By-Step Guide On Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Outdoors
Growing autoflowering cannabis outdoors can be really simple, by following these steps which represent the timeline of a cannabis plant’s growth you can successfully grow your own medicine.
Step 1: Germination
Before planting your seeds, you will need to germinate them, this is the first step to a successful harvest. There are a couple of ways to germinate seeds, you can germinate them directly in the soil, in paper towels, or submerge them in a glass of water.
We recommend submerging them in water for around 12 hrs before planting or transferring them to paper towels. Remember the seed shell needs to be damp so it’s easier for the seedling to grow out of it.
You should also have in mind that leaving the seeds in water for too long will drown them, so you should keep them for a maximum of 24hrs if they’re too old, but 12hrs is all you need for good seeds.
How Deep To Plant Your Seed?
After germinating your seed, you’re gonna have to plant it in the medium. You should be extremely careful with this process because the radicle is super fragile. To avoid damaging it, you have to make a small hole with your finger up to the first line of your index finger or around 2-3 cm with a pen. That is deep enough for your seedling to grow relatively fast, also make sure you don’t press the soil on top, just throw a little bit of dirt so it’s not too compact and the seedling doesn’t struggle to come out.
Planting In Pots or The Ground?
Once you germinate your seeds, you will need to decide to grow in pots or directly into the ground . Sometimes it is more logistical to use pots because they can be moved around if you need to, however, if you want to spend less and can find a good spot for your plants, you can definitely plant them in your backyard, for example.
Be careful when planting in the ground, gophers and moles are hard to spot because they live underground and they can eat your plants, if you see holes in the ground you should avoid that place. These animals feed on the roots and fibers of the plant and will make your plant disappear overnight.
If you’re growing in pots you should go for a mix of mediums, such as coco coir , perlite, and soil. This will allow your plants to grow more easily, with more oxygenation in the roots, and will help drain the water when watering.
- Pots can be moved around to follow the sun.
- Small plants can be easily camouflaged.
- Planting in the ground (in fertile soil) saves you from having to buy soil and nutrients.
- Organic nutrients are packed with beneficial microorganisms.
Step 2: Seedling
Around 10 days after your seeds have germinated and you placed them in your medium of choice, the seedling will start to emerge from the soil. If you want to make sure your seedlings are safe, you can keep them indoors and transfer them outdoors after you see the first true leaves.
Cannabis seedlings don’t need that much light so they can grow under a CFL light , remember that if you keep your plants under LED or light bulbs, they can get stressed when transferred outside, so you should transfer them as soon as you see the first pair of true leaves fully developed to avoid this. At this stage, the cotyledons have run out of nutrients so your plant will start to need sunlight and nutrients to develop properly.
Step 3: The vegetative stage
When your plant has developed the first pair of true leaves, it is officially in the vegetative stage and this is when you should start watering with nutrients, starting with a low dose and gradually increasing.
At this stage, you should give plants more nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), these are the macronutrients a plant needs to thrive, you should also decide on your location and which part of the garden or terrace receives the most sun.
Placing your plant in the direction where the sun rises is the best option, meaning that when the sun sets, the plants will receive the final amount of sunlight each day ensuring the most direct sunlight possible. To be 100% sure, you can easily look up on the internet in which direction the sun rises, for example, East in Manaus 2 and Northeast in Sydney 3 .
How often to feed?
The watering schedule will depend on the genetics and the environment, there’s no way to say exactly how many times and how much water your plant needs. The best way is to water again when the soil is approximately 65% dry or by lifting the pot, if it’s heavy then it probably still has water in it, if it’s light it probably is dry and needs watering.
For How Long Plants Grow?
Depending on the strain you choose to cultivate, the amount of time it needs to completely mature may be different. Even though all autoflowering cannabis plants are hybrids, some of them have Sativa heritage and others Indica, so their size and how long they grow varies. For example, strains with Indica heritage can take around 8 weeks to mature whereas strains with Sativa heritage can take up to 11 weeks.
How Big Plants Get?
How tall a plant grows depends on their heritage. This is because Sativa’s usually stretch and grow less leaves than Indicas, which grow short and bushy.
So the size will depend on their genetics. For example, a Sativa dominant strain can grow up to 150cm while an Indica dominant hybrid will range from 80-100cm .
When growing Cannabis outdoors, it is a good idea to plan ahead in terms of plant training . This will normally be done in the early stages and will benefit the plants greatly once flowering commences. Low stress training is a very simple technique that has many benefits and can be performed in different methods and several ways, the most known technique being the Tie-down method.
Plant training techniques should be started when your autoflower has around 3-5 pairs of leaves and should be stopped right before the pre-flowering stage or when you have achieved the structure and size you were aiming for. In this timelapse video, our grower shows you a combination of high stress and low stress plant training methods, although you shouldn’t HST unless you have a bit of experience.
As you can see, Green 75 spaced out the branches and cut off the excess foliage so the buds have more space and light to develop, this also encourages the plant to develop more bud sites, allows more airflow in the buds and the light to reach deeper, resulting in better developed and fatter buds.
When plant training autoflowers it is not always recommended to use high stress training techniques (HST) if you’re not experienced, this is why we recommend using low stress training (LST) techniques like the one shown above.
Step 4: The flowering stage
After a couple of weeks in the vegetative stage, your plant will start to show white hairs (pistils), this is a sign that your plant is ready to start producing flowers, at this stage you should start feeding flowering nutrients.
Your plant needs lower amounts of nitrogen (N) and higher amounts of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to properly develop flowers, if you don’t provide phosphorus and potassium the buds will develop airy and light, it is crucial to feed your plant properly if you want fat dense buds.
How to make buds bigger?
There isn’t an exact way to make the buds bigger, buds develop big and dense when they grow with a combination of a good environment and good nutrients, this is why you should plan your grow cycle a couple of weeks before germinating your seeds.
There can be huge differences in the quantity and quality of flowers between a plant grown in cold with fewer hours of sunlight and a plant grown in better conditions with more sunlight.
Supporting autoflowering cannabis outdoors
Cannabis plants outdoors usually don’t have a limit to stop growing and unless you limit their size by planting them in smaller pots, they can grow huge.
Despite huge plants not always being a bad thing, the buds will also grow big and dense, and sometimes the branches won’t be strong enough to hold them and snap, this is why you need to add support. There are several ways to provide support to your plants, you can do this with bamboo stakes, a trellis net, or tomato wire cages.
When do plants start to smell?
Autoflowers usually start smelling around week 4-6 , when they’re in the pre-flowering stage, this happens because when your plant starts developing flowers it will also produce trichomes which contain terpenes and are responsible for the smell.
This is when you should install your carbon filter or any other method to eliminate the typical cannabis smell, remember this is just a guideline and some cannabis plants can start to smell as early as the 3 week of plant growth.
How much plants yield?
How much plant yields will depend on the genetics, although despite the size, Indicas can yield more than Sativas or vice-versa. Usually, the amount they yield will depend on the growing conditions, you can harvest up to 200g from a single plant or as low as 40g . It solely depends on how you take care of your plants and their genetic characteristics like the density of the buds and the amount of bud sites.
Bamboo stakes are the most common way to support branches because they’re cheap and effective although they cannot be used for long because they are exposed to rain so they can rot and spread powdery mildew to your plants.
A trellis net can be used not only to support the buds but also to control the size of your plants, although it’s a bit harder because you will need to build the structure (metal or bamboo stakes around the plant) to secure the net too.
Depending on how you use a trellis net it can provide support and also control the height of your plants.
A trellis net can be used both horizontally on top of your plants (like in Scrog ) or vertically around the plants (like a tomato cage), both ways will work great and it’s just a matter of preference, if you want to control height you can place it on top but if you don’t need to, just place it around to support the branches.
Tomato Wire Cages
Tomato wire cages work the same as placing a trellis net around your plants, they will support the branches from every side but won’t control the height.
Tomato cages can also be used as a structure to tie-down the branches to and are fairly cheap, although you will have to cut it open to remove your plants so they aren’t reusable.
Stage 5: Harvest
When to harvest?
The best time to harvest your cannabis plants depend on the type of effect you wish to achieve, there are three types of high that you can achieve by looking at the trichomes. You shouldn’t harvest when the trichomes are clear because they have not developed enough and the potency will be reduced.
You should harvest your plant when around 40% of the trichomes are amber, this is when trichomes are at their peak potency.
When the trichomes are cloudy, you will have a balanced mix of cerebral and corporal effects, this is when you should harvest your plants if you want to experience all the potency a plant can offer. If you want to experience the complete effect a plant has to offer, you should harvest when around 30-50% of the trichomes are amber. If you harvest when the majority of the trichomes are amber, you will have a more corporal effect because the trichomes have ripened a bit too much.
There’s no correct time to harvest, as long as you harvest to get the effect you wish you’ll be satisfied with the result.
- Check if the buds are dense, swollen, and hard to squeeze. Even if you have exceeded the advised harvest date, it is better to wait until your flowers are as dense and resinous as possible.
- Using a lupe, examine the state of the trichome . Once most of the trichomes are a cloudy white and a bit amber is the best time to cut and hang. dominant autoflower hybrids may take longer than Indica dominant, so be prepared to give your plants an extra week or two if they need it .
4. In conclusion
So if you were wondering how to grow skunk outdoors or any other strain of your preference, now you know everything you need. Despite seeming hard, inexperienced growers can successfully grow autoflowering strains easily, as long as you provide light, water, and nutrients you will be able to grow your own weed in less than 10 weeks. If you are interested in our genetics or have grown them outdoors before, leave us a comment below!
This guide has been updated for the 2021 outdoor cannabis growing season.
9 Mistakes To Avoid When Growing Autoflowering Cannabis
Autoflowers are too easy to grow if you avoid these 9 common mistakes. Find out if you’re growing autoflowering cannabis plants the right way in this article.
- 1. Knowing the basics
- 2. Time it right
- 3. Germination
- 4. Choose the right medium
- 5. Choose good containers
- 6. Do not transplant
- 7. Over and under-watering
- 8. Overfeeding and underfeeding
- 8. a. Macro and micronutrients
- 8. b. Ph levels
- 9. Harvest at the right time
- 10. Frequently asked questions about autoflowers
- 11. In conclusion
Autoflower cannabis has always sparked debates among growers in the cannabis community. Due to a dearth of knowledge or experience, many growers avoid growing autoflowers. Beginners are expected to only grow photoperiod plants, and while the fear of something new and unexpected is understandable, you might discover something more amazing if you just try.
Autoflowers are really easy to grow but there are basic guidelines you should know, just like when growing other plants or vegetables. All plants are different and even though you can successfully harvest the first time you grow cannabis, there are common mistakes that are better to avoid.
If you’re new to autoflower growing and are looking for an autoflower grow guide or want to know how to grow autoflowering strains, here are a couple of tips to have you growing in no time.
1. Knowing the basics
To set things straight, let’s begin by saying that autoflowers are really easy to grow. In fact, beginners can try growing autoflowers with little to no experience as long as they understand the basics 1 .
And this is true for all plants. Can you expect to grow tomatoes if you’re clueless about using nutrients? Or, can you harvest cucumbers if you don’t even know when to harvest them? No? Similarly, autoflowers need you to follow a few basic guidelines like other plants, and you’ll do just fine if you take the time to understand them.
After all, a plant that gives you lip-smacking buds in just 2 months deserves some research, eh? Autoflowers may scare you at first, but if you avoid a few common mistakes, you’ll harvest much more than you can imagine, and it only gets better.
2. Time it right
Timing is everything if you’re planning to grow autoflowers outdoors. Since autoflowers don’t depend on light to flower, you don’t need to worry too much. But, planting too early will generate smaller yields and planting too late affects yields too.
Frost must be avoided at all costs. Typically, most growers begin planting when spring is just around the corner. Depending on where you live, you can plant the seeds as soon as the frost clears. If you reside in a location that doesn’t receive any snow, go ahead and plant when the temperatures range between 22°C to 28°C (71°F to 77°F).
Bigger plants can tolerate much higher temperatures but tender seedlings will succumb to extreme temperatures. Remember to avoid rainy seasons since the plant doesn’t receive too much light. Of course, the timing doesn’t matter if growing indoors, so sow those seeds whenever you wish!
For beginners, germinating the seeds is an important part of the entire process. To get better results, soak the seeds in plain water for at least 24 hours and wrap them in moist paper towels for a day or two. Use a ziplock bag to store the towels.
By soaking your seeds up to 48hrs and then keeping them in a moist paper towel you guarantee successful germination.
It’s important to keep the towels moist because the seeds can rot if there’s too much water. Similarly, the seeds won’t sprout if the towels are completely dry. Don’t make the mistake of directly planting the seeds, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Once the seeds show a tap root, plant the seeds in the final container.
Despite having to keep the seeds in damp paper towels, make sure they are not completely wet, too much water can rot the seeds. The best way to identify this is by smell if the paper towels start to smell like mold, immediately take them out and change the towels.
Sebastian Good gives you all the essential information about germination of autoflowering cannabis seeds.
Depending on your experience, you can also germinate your seeds directly in the medium, just make sure you’re not overwatering it because you can end up drowning your seeds. As you can see in the video, germinating in the soil is easy and doesn’t require anything extra, just be careful and you’ll see a seedling coming out of the ground in a couple of days.
4. Choose the right medium
Growing plants in hydroponic setups seem very cool, but soil is your best bet if you have no experience. Avoid using clay soils that clump up because autoflowers thrive in well-aerated soil. A soilless medium of equal parts of peat moss or coco peat, perlite, some airy soil, and sand is the best potting mix for autoflowers.
If you don’t want to bother about fertilizing at all, you can even try growing autoflowers organically. There are various ways to make your own organic soil, but you can buy some in your local store to start with. Organic soil is premised with nutrients, so it’s ideal for someone that doesn’t have a lot of time. For growers that don’t mind putting in the efforts, composting and building super soil is the best soil mix for autoflowers.
If growing outdoors, till the soil well and amend it with organic nutrients to produce a happy, healthy plant. But, no matter what you do while growing indoors, stay away from old used soil or sterilize it before you plant seeds to prevent diseases.
5. Choose good containers
Please don’t stuff seeds in plastic containers that make life hell for the poor roots. Use porous containers such as fabric pots or even Airpots to help the plants grow as much as possible. Autoflowers are typically small, but they need containers that are at least 5-8 liters in size.
Roots also need oxygen, although they need water to absorb nutrients, a lack of oxygen can damage and kill your plants.
Bigger autoflowers need bigger containers, so make sure you check the description before purchasing seeds. Root aeration is often overlooked, but it’s an important factor in determining your yields.
The appropriate pot size can also help you control the height of your cannabis plants, usually, a 12L pot will allow your plant to develop to its maximum, an auto in a 7L pot will grow up to 70cm and in a 3L pot will grow around 40cm.
6. Do not transplant
It’s important to start autoflowers in their final containers rather than planting them in smaller ones and transplanting them later. Sure, growing cannabis is like growing tomatoes, but autoflowers have a limited time period and can’t afford to lose days while the plant settles and searches for roots.
Some growers use small plastic cups to plant seeds. While this method may work with photoperiod plants, it’s not recommended for autoflowers. If you’re already committed the mistake of planting them in small containers, try to transplant the plant only when the soil is moist. If the soil is too wet, the roots tend to break, and if it’s too dry, transplanting becomes a pain. Of course, experienced growers do transplant autoflowers but it’s not really necessary.
7. Over and under-watering
Most plants die if you over or under-water them. Yes, autoflowers need water to grow, but it’s critical to supply it only when the plant needs it. It’s obvious that the timing is important even when the plants need water.
A way to check if the soil is dry is to use your index finger and stick it in the soil, if it comes out moist then the soil is still humid, although by doing this you won’t be able to know if the bottom is still wet so in order to get the timing right, lift the pots and check the weight.
A dry pot will be easy to lift whereas container with lots of water will be heavy. The trick is to not let the soil go too dry or too wet, so water the plants only when the pot isn’t too heavy or light.
8. Overfeeding and underfeeding
Nutrients play a big role in growing autoflowering cannabis strains. Autoflowers are compact, so they don’t need loads of nutes in order to survive. In fact, autoflowers grow best when light fertilizers are used. It’s also important to feed the right nutrients at the right time.
Macro and micronutrients
For example, cannabis needs more nitrogen in the vegetative stage. In the pre-flowering stage, nutrients with more phosphorous are preferred, and in the flowering stage needs a lot more potassium than nitrogen or phosphorous.
If you’re wondering what the term “N-P-K” printed on fertilizer bags means, it’s nothing but Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium. The plants also need other micronutrients along with calcium and magnesium, so it’s extremely important to get the dosage right.
Don’t make the rookie mistake of using Miracle Grow or any other fertilizer meant to grow vegetables. Autoflowers will grow well even if you do that, but since they have special needs, you might as well stick to nutrients that supply everything. From humic to fulvic acid to enzymes, you can do a lot to make the plants perform to the best of their potential.
Talking about nutrients, some growers try to make their own nutes. While it’s completely okay to do so, you should avoid doing it if you’ve never done that before. Nutrients are expensive and it’s tempting to make your own, but try to attempt that after you’ve gained some experience.
Why? Because cannabis plants require a good blend containing all micro and macronutrients in exact concentrations to thrive. It’s not as simple as diluting a random fertilizer and feeding the plants. You not only risk burning the plants, but the yields will suffer drastically since the plants have no time to recover.
So, if it’s your first time, stick to commercial nutrients. And, the topic on nutrients is incomplete if you don’t talk about pH. Depending on the medium 2 you choose to grow, the pH must be regulated accordingly. Cannabis plants love acidic soil, so the pH must be maintained between 5.5 to 7 in both soil and hydroponic setups.
If the pH drops below 6, the roots will not be able to intake vital nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. Similarly, if the pH is too alkaline and goes above 7.5, the roots cannot take up micronutrients like copper, manganese, boron, etc. It’s very important to regulate the pH at all times to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Here’s a quick table to help you understand pH better:
|Nutrient||Ideal PH Level for Absorption|
Sometimes, it just so happens that the plant refuses to respond even if you’ve done everything. In such cases, flush the plants with lots of water (at least double or triple the size of the container) to reduce any nutrient or salt buildup so that the plants can breathe again. Flushing is typically done at the end, but it doesn’t hurt the plant even if you do it in between because it reduces buildups to a good extent.
Some growers also flush during the pre-flowering stage, when the plants are transitioning from the vegetative into the flowering stage so they can start feeding from zero, as said above, this won’t hurt your plants but should be done properly.
9. Harvest at the right time
You’ve come all this way, and the end is almost near, so don’t screw this up now! Now you’re probably asking “how to tell if my autoflower is ready for harvest?” Well, after you’ve put in all the hard work, wait for the right time. Growers use microscopes to check the trichomes that usually indicate the right time, but you can harvest when at least 50 to 70 percent of the pistils are amber in color.
If you wait too much, the buds tend to produce a couch-lock effect leaning more towards the Indica side while buds harvested too early generate unpleasant psychoactive effects. Also, the main colas ripen faster than the lower portions of the plant.
Often referred to as popcorn buds, the lower portions stay small. However, harvesting the main colas and leaving the popcorn buds on the plant for a week more will increase yields dramatically. Be patient, and let Mother Nature do the rest for you! If you avoid these common mistakes when growing autoflowering cannabis, you’ll soon be rewarded with potent resinous buds that will last a long time if stored properly.
10. Frequently Asked Questions About Autoflowers
What’s the average autoflower size and how tall can they get?
Most autoflowers reach a height of around 50-100cm but a plant’s size depends on the genetics and growing conditions. Also, all strains are different so you will find Sativa and Indica-leaning autos; Most Indica hybrid autoflowers will stay around the 80-120cm mark but Sativa-dominant autoflowers can reach up to 175cm tall.
Can I grow my auto on my window sill?
Yes, you can, although it’s not recommended if you want to get the best results possible but if this is the only way you have, make sure your plant gets at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight a day and that you’re using at least a 10-liter pot.
Do autoflowers grow normal or smaller because of the Ruderalis genes?
The size of an autoflower can be influenced by several factors, genetics being the main one. More modern autoflower breeders breed their genetics to contain as little as Ruderalis genetics as possible, focusing on the more appealing characteristics such as size, structure, potency, and yields.
But when compared to a photoperiod plant, an autoflower has a limited lifespan so things such as stress, damage, or a bad environment can ultimately affect your auto’s height, so it’s ideal to provide optimum grow conditions to get the best results possible.
When is the best time to plant autoflowers outdoors?
This solely depends on your climate, you need to remember that autos prefer dry sunny days so if you’re planning to have just one grow cycle, you can start them 1-2 weeks into Summer, and if you’re planning to have 2 harvests, start the next one right after finishing the first one.
What yield can I expect per autoflowering plant?
The yields depend on genetics, environment, stress, growers skills, and etc.. But in general, you can expect between 50-110 grams per plant.
How long will it take for my auto to start flowering?
In general, autoflowers stay for 4 weeks in the vegetative stage, so about 4 weeks. Then your auto will start developing flowers for 3 weeks, and fattening up the buds for the last 3 weeks.
Most autoflowers take around 10 weeks from seed to harvest but may take longer depending on the phenotype and growing conditions.
This may vary according to the genetics and growing environment, have in mind that it’s just to give you an idea of what to expect, some autoflowers may take less and others take longer.
Yes, you can, although it’s not recommended because it can affect the yields. To prevent shocking your autoflowers and consequently affecting yields, it’s recommended to transplant 7-12 days after germination and if possible, use rooting cubes to prevent damaging the roots.
Can you grow autoflowering cannabis in a greenhouse?
Of course you can, you can grow autoflowers in a greenhouse all year round as long as you keep the inside temperature to a minimum of 15°C and there’s enough ventilation, airflow, and sunlight.
11. In conclusion
Autoflowers (aka self flowering seeds) are suited for beginner growers but it’s crucial you know the basics if you want to have a successful harvest the first time you grow cannabis, although you can learn as you go, it can be disappointing if you waste time and money, and end up with nothing to smoke.
Now that you know the basics and what to avoid, you’re all set up to start your first autoflower indoor grow.
If you’ve never grown cannabis before and are planning on growing our autos, feel free to ask us anything in the comment section below!
Auto-Flowering Cannabis Strains Guide
Pictures of Auto-Flowering Plants – What do they look like at harvest?
Introduction to Auto-Flowering Cannabis Strains
Auto-flowering cannabis strains are the descendants of a wild strain of hemp first identified as “Ruderalis” in Russia during the early 1940s.
These are different from most strains of cannabis, which are known as “photoperiod” strains. Photoperiod plants don’t start flowering (making buds) until they get specific signals from the sun that winter is coming, and so need special light schedules to be induced into making buds.
Conversely, Ruderalis plants don’t need any type of signal. Instead, Ruderalis plants start flowering when they reach 3-4 weeks of age no matter what’s going on with the sun or light schedules, and their buds are ready to harvest only a few months from seed.
Auto-flowering strains start automatically making buds (flowering) when they’re 3-4 weeks old. On average, plants are ready to harvest ~3 months from germination. Sometimes even less!
By living such a short life, Ruderalis cannabis plants were able to survive in Russia with short summers and extremely long winters. Unfortunately, just like other types of wild hemp, wild Ruderalis buds contain very low levels of THC. Wild Ruderalis plants were also very small and produced tiny amounts of bud, which might make them seem useless to cannabis growers.
Fortunately, a forward-thinking breeder realized that the auto-flowering capability and short growing period of Ruderalis strains might be useful to hobbyist cannabis growers, even though the wild Ruderalis plant wasn’t going to work all by itself. This unknown breeder started intermingling Ruderalis plants with famous strains of photoperiod (regular) cannabis in order to increase bud potency while carefully breeding plants to retain the auto-flowering capability.
These days auto-flowering strains, originally known as “Lowryders,” are found at most seed banks alongside photoperiod strains. Although the wild Ruderalis ancestors contained almost no THC and were tiny, most modern auto-flowering strains produce buds that are comparable in potency to other strains of cannabis due to many generations of diligent breeding.
The best modern auto-flowering strains have been bred to produce bigger and denser buds than the original Ruderalis plants. Buds have also been bred to be as potent as photoperiod strains.
Genetics Make a Huge Difference with Auto-Flowering Strains
The original Ruderalis ancestors stayed small and weren’t potent, as were the original auto-flowering strains, so the breeding history of an auto-flowering strain is crucially important.
As breeders have been able to make more specialized strains, they’ve tailored the effects and growth patterns for different needs and purposes. As a result, each strain grows differently, just like with photoperiod strains. That’s why it’s always a good idea to read the breeder’s description of a strain when buying seeds. Some auto-flowering strains get particularly tall, while others tend to stay short. You’ll get the best results if you match your strains to both your setup and each other!
These two auto-flowering plants are the same age and were grown in the same setup! Genetics makes a huge difference to your final results, so it’s important to pick the right auto-flowering strain for your goals! The small plant is White Widow Auto & the huge plant is Onyx Auto.
The following two autoflowering plants are also the same age (70 days from germination) and grown in the same environment. One plant stopped growing and started making buds after just a few weeks, resulting in a tiny plant with one bud that is just about ready to harvest already. The other plant kept growing for almost 2 months before budding in earnest, which means the plant is far bigger but the buds still need a lot more time before they’ll be ready to harvest.
These two auto-flowering plants are also the same age and and grown in the same environment! The small plant is Auto Chemdawg & the huge plant is Super Lemon Haze Auto.
I hope these two examples help show why it’s important to get the right auto-flowering strain for your goals and setup! If you want a small, fast plant you won’t be happy with your results if you purchase a tall strain, or vice versa.
Because of their short vegetative stage and lifespan, in general most auto-flowering cannabis strains tend to stay relatively short, and are ready for harvest around 3 months from germination.
The really exciting part is the auto-flowering world is evolving quickly. More and more breeders continue making new auto strains. We’re starting to see better and better yields, more nuanced potency, and a lot more variation when it comes to harvest times, plant size and growth rates.
Auto-Flowering vs. Traditional Cannabis Strains
Unlike traditional (referred to as photoperiod) strains, autos don’t need any special kind of light schedule to “tell” the plant to start budding. With a photoperiod strain, a cannabis plant needs 12+ hours of darkness a day to initiate flowering.
When growing photoperiod cannabis plants outside, flowering naturally begins when the days get shorter. For outdoor growers, this means that plants must be planted in the spring, and they grower must choose strains that will finish in time before winter.
Indoor growers cultivating photoperiod strains can initiate flowering at will by giving plants longer dark periods (usually by putting their grow lights on a timer). For indoor growers, this means the grower needs to make a light-proof grow space to allow for 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each day while the plants are flowering.
For an auto-flowering cannabis plant, a grower doesn’t have to worry about light schedules. Each auto-flowering plant starts blooming after a few weeks no matter what light schedule is provided. For outdoor auto growers, there’s no need to match up the strain with your local time zone or plant at the perfect time – simply plant autos when you know you have at least 2-3 months of warm, sunny weather.
When growing auto-flowering plants outdoors, you don’t need to worry about light schedules. You just need to ensure your plant will have 3 months of warm weather (above 60°F) and your climate is likely suitable to grow auto-flowering plants. These auto-flowering plants were ready to harvest before summer was even over:
For all growers in a hurry to harvest, an auto-flowering plant will almost certainly be ready to harvest more quickly than any other type of cannabis strain.
How long until harvest?
Generally, autos are ready to harvest sooner than photoperiod plants. Most autos are ready to harvest 2-3 months after being sprouted from seed.
For the first few weeks, autos (auto-flowering plants) only make vegetative growth – stems and leaves. After their short “vegetative stage” ends, the plant will start making buds and continue to grow taller even while their buds are forming.
It’s only until a few weeks before harvest that most auto-flowering plants stop growing “up and out.” At this point, auto-flowering plants put all their energy into fattening buds, and buds can gain substantial weight during the last few weeks.
When purchasing auto seeds, good breeders will be able to tell you how long the strain will take until harvest. It’s important to note that most strain breeders will tend to provide the shortest time frame they can, and many autos will produce better yields and higher potency if left for a week or two (sometimes even three) longer than recommended.
How do I know when to harvest my plants? – Basically in addition to the visual appearance of buds, you can look at your buds under a magnifier to know exactly when to harvest for top THC potency.
Photoperiod strains usually take longer to harvest than autos. In general, photoperiod strains are ready to harvest 3-4+ months after being sprouted from seed, though the final time depends heavily on your grow style and which strain you choose. Even photoperiod plants flowered from seed tend to take longer than an auto-flowering plant to be ready to harvest, and the yields are much lower. Photoperiod plants do best when given some time in the vegetative stage before they start flowering, and aren’t as well suited to quick harvests.
Auto-Flowering vs Photoperiod: Which Yields More?
Autos generally yield up to about 4 ounces of bud per plant when taken care of throughout their life, but the amount of bud produced has a lot to do with the grow setup.
Many growers end up yielding 1-2 ounces per auto or even less, especially if starting with poor genetics or when using a sub-par lighting setup. Like all cannabis plants, autos need a lot of light to produce good yields!
In some cases, growers with a lot of experience, great starting genetics and perfect conditions can yield up to 6 ounces per auto-flowering plant or more.
For example this indoor Dutch Passion AutoMazar plant yielded above 900g (more than 30 ounces of dried bud) from just one plant under about 1000W worth of light. Normal yield for this strain is about 100g, so this – admittedly extreme example – demonstrates what a great setup and grow experience can do for your yields!
When considering yields, it’s important to remember that one of the advantages of growing auto-flowering cannabis strains is most growers can produce several harvests a year (since the lifespan of each auto plant is very short).
Photoperiod strains can have a lot more variation in yields than auto-flowering plants. This is due to the fact that photoperiod growers have a lot more control over the size and shape of the plant, which in turn has a huge effect on yields.
Outdoors, your yields depend a lot on your climate. Warm and sunny weather with many hours of light a day will produce plants with bigger yields.
Indoors, generally your setup is the biggest determining factor of your yields.
Which is more potent? What about smell and taste?
While there are currently fewer auto-flowering strains to choose from, the potency for autos and photoperiod cannabis plants is comparable. Auto-flowering buds are not significantly less potent.
However, one major difference is that many auto-flowering strains tend to have higher amounts of CBD in their buds than photoperiod strains (because Ruderalis plants are high-CBD). CBD is a cannabinoid that is known for having medical properties as well as reducing anxiety.
But in general, a modern “Blue Cheese” auto has been bred to have similar bud characteristics as a “Blue Cheese” photoperiod plant.
Things have come a long way since the original low-potency “Lowryder” auto plants!
Smell, Taste and Visual Appeal – When it comes to smell & taste, the same rules apply. While there are fewer auto-flowering strains to choose from (though the list is growing each day), the smell and taste of each strain is similar to their photoperiod counterparts.
The one visual difference I’ve seen is that auto-flowering buds tend to be a little bit leafier (grow more leaves among the buds) than photoperiod strains, which means they may need a little extra care during trimming to get rid of all the leaves.
It’s important to note that some photoperiod strains grow in the same way, and I don’t believe that extra leaves during the budding process is necessarily a bad thing. If anything, the extra leaves seem to power the growth of buds, causing them to swell up more in a smaller amount of time and less light that photoperiod strains.
Are auto-flowering strains better for medical marijuana?
An important characteristic for medical marijuana patients is that auto-flowering buds tend to contain higher levels of CBD than photoperiod strains.
CBD is a cannabinoid that is known for having medical and anti-anxiety properties. Most photoperiod strains these days are high THC, low CBD, and it can be hard to find high-CBD photoperiod strains. Learn more about THC vs CBD.
This makes auto-flowering buds an attractive choice for some medical marijuana patients who are looking for higher CBD cannabis strains. There are also auto-flowering strains that are bred principally to be high in CBD. It’s difficult for many growers get clones of one of the famous high-CBD photoperiod strains, and auto-flowering strains can make it easier for some patients to get access to CBD.
When I grew auto-flowering strains, the buds felt more medicinal (as opposed to recreational) than the majority of strains I’ve grown. Even in higher doses, the effects weren’t as “racing” as some of the really high-THC, low CBD strains. The buds all made me feel very pleasant and helped melt away stress, without being overwhelming. I think some people might actually prefer the effects of auto-flowering buds, even if they’re not patients, and I believe autos may be a great choice for some medical marijuana patients.
How big will each plant get?
Autos tend to stay short naturally. In fact, in most conditions it is difficult to produce very large auto-flowering plants because they have such a short lifespan. They only grow bigger for about 1-2 months. The rest of their lives are spent fattening buds.
On average, autos grow 1-4 feet tall by harvest time; generally, auto-flowering plants will stay under 4 feet in height. The final height of each auto depends a lot on the strain you choose and whether you provide enough light. You can also use some non-stressful plant training methods like bending tall branches over (low stress training) to help prevent stretchy autos from getting too tall.
Do autos need a special light schedule to start making buds?
Do auto strains needs a special light schedule? In a way, yes!
Autos Should Get 18-24 Hours of Light a Day for the Best Yields
Why are light schedules important anyway?
Auto-flowering strains will automatically start flowering (making buds) after around 3-4 weeks, a time period dependent on the specific strain. You cannot change this; autos will automatically start flowering due to an internal countdown. After they start making buds, they will stay in the flowering stage until harvest time. Harvest is usually 2-3 months from seed and depends almost completely on the strain.
Therefore, with auto-flowering plants, there is no special light schedule “needed.” The grower does not need periods of darkness to initiate the flowering stage and get plants to bud properly. You can grow an auto-flowering plant from seed to harvest even if you were giving just 12 hours or even 8 hours of light a day and it will still make buds and be ready to harvest. However, to get the best yields you want to take advantage of the fact that you can give autos a lot of light each day since more light each day = more growth = bigger yields.
One advantage of this internal timeclock is that auto-flowering strains can be grown outdoor in a city environment where the ambient light at night may be too bright for photoperiod plants to be able to make buds. Autos don’t care if they’re exposed to light at night. This can also be used in warm climates to get plants to grow outside the normal growing season. For example, as long as it’s warm enough you could start a plant in April outside and it will be ready to harvest by July, which is much sooner than you’ll be able to harvest any photoperiod plant (all of which are ready to harvest in mid to late Fall).
Note: The auto-flowering internal clock is why it’s recommended to never take clones from auto-flowering strains – clones will be on the same time clock as their mother. Learn more about why it’s not recommended to take clones from auto-flowering plants.
Photoperiod strains need to be on a 12-12 light schedule to initiate flowering. When growing outdoors, photoperiod plants naturally start making buds as winter approaches and days grow short. However, most indoor growers put their grow lights on a timer to initiate and maintain a 12-12 light schedule during the flowering stage until harvest. This need for uninterrupted darkness is why it’s important to create a light-proof growing environment when growing photoperiod plants indoors.
The term “12-12” stands for 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark each day, and it “tells” photoperiod plants to enter the flowering stage and make buds. During their daily dark period, photoperiod plants need to receive complete darkness without interruption. This light schedule initiates flowering, and must be maintained throughout the entire flowering stage until harvest.
If photoperiod plants receive too much light each day, or are exposed to light during their dark period, they will either produce hermies (bad) or revert back to the vegetative stage (stop making buds). If you will be unable to provide complete darkness to your plants during their night period, it’s recommended that you choose to get an auto-flowering strain, which isn’t affected by light at night.
Are Autos Easier to Grow?
In some ways, auto-flowering strains are more simple to grow than photoperiod strains, but there are some additional considerations. For example autos do poorly if the grower runs into major problems during the beginning of the grow because an auto jumps straight into the flowering stage even it’s not doing so hot.
The auto-flowering White Widow plant pictured to the right is sick and stunted. Because of the auto-flowering nature of this strain, the grower was unable to nurture the plant back to health before the flowering stage began. In this picture, the plant is 2.5 months old (started from seed like all autoflowering plants), and the buds are nearing their harvest window even though they’re still small and airy. As a result, the total yields from this plant will be very low (just a few grams). This can be discouraging as the grower must start over with a new seed in order to try for a bigger harvest.
Autoflowering strains begin making buds and continue on their short internal time-clock regardless of their health. If you make a lot of mistakes, you will not have time to remedy the plant and you may end up with a small stunted plant.
On the flip side, if your grow doesn’t go as well as planned, at least it will be harvest time in just 2-3 months, you’ll learn a lot, and you’ll have the opportunity to try again. That being said, autos are essentially very simple and a first-time grower can easily get a great harvest on their very first grow. Plus, auto-flowering plants (and cannabis plants in general) are hardy! As long as you give them basic care, they will reward you!
Photoperiod plants are able to recover from major growing problems in the vegetative stage when grown indoors because the grower can give the plants as much time as needed to recover before switching plants over to the flowering stage.
In some instances, photoperiod strains of cannabis may be easier to grow indoors if you are a new grower because you can give yourself as much time as to fix problems in the vegetative stage. During this stage, cannabis plants are hardy and can easily bounce back from problems. Even if you make a lot of mistakes, you can still get big yields because unlike with autoflowering strains you are in control of when the flowering stage begins.
Once the flowering cycle is initiated, your plants are more “set” as far as their overall health and structure. Once a cannabis plant starts budding, there is basically a countdown until buds are ready to harvest just like autos (this amount of time is mostly based on the strain). Though the plant may have an initial last “stretch” of vegetative growth when the light cycle is first changed over, as the plant approaches harvest towards the end of the flowering stage, almost all growth halts except for the development of bigger buds.
Are autos better for growing outdoors?
Auto plants are suitable for growing outdoors in almost any climate that has at least 2-3 months of warm, sunny weather every year.
Requirements for growing auto-flowering strains outdoors are pretty simple…
- Lots of direct light each day. Auto plants should receive 5+ hours of direct light each day. More is better. In general, more light = bigger yields.
- 2-3 months of warm, sunny weather. When planting seeds, you should ensure that the weather will stay warm and sunny for at least 2-3 months from when the seed is first planted.
When growing photoperiod plants outdoors, it’s important to make sure you plant your seeds at the right time and choose a strain that is suitable for your climate.
When growing photoperiod strains outdoors…
- Plant in Spring. Photoperiod plants need to be planted outdoors in late Spring, after days have grown long enough to support a vegetative stage. It’s safe to put plants outside in late April for the Northern Hemisphere, and late October for the Southern Hemisphere.
- You can start plants indoors. Photoperiod plants can be started indoors if it’s too cold to put plants outside during your spring, or if you would like to grow bigger plants than would normally be possible in your local environment. Just make sure indoor plants get at least 14+ hours of light each day.
- Choose the right photoperiod strain for your climate. A strain suited to your environment needs to be chosen with your climate in mind to ensure that buds are ready to harvest before winter. What this means is you need to ensure the strain’s “flowering stage” is short enough for your climate. The length of a photoperiod strains flowering stage is primarily determined by genetics; outdoor photoperiod plants will start flowering when days grow short as winter approaches. It’s important that you choose a strain with a flowering period short enough to allow buds to mature before it gets too cold or rainy. Cannabis plants cannot survive freezing temps or torrential rain, so you need to choose a strain that will be ready to harvest before winter sets in. Generally, “Indica” strains have a shorter flowering stage and are more suited to colder climates with short summers. “Sativa” strains are more likely to have longer flowering stages, and are better suited to warm climates with long, sunny summers.
- Make sure photoperiod cannabis plants are not exposed to light during their night period. When growing photoperiod plants outdoors, being exposed to light at night can prevent them from flowering, or cause them to have other problems. While moonlight or starlight won’t bother your plants, it’s important they’re not grown near spotlights, street lights, or other bright sources of light at night.
Can I use plant training methods on auto-flowering strains?
Can I Top an Auto? (full article with instructions)
Auto-flowering strains respond well to very light low stress training (LST) such as bending the plants to “open up” lower branches to light.
Bend too-tall branches down and away from the center of your plant
Plant training is a tactic that helps cannabis growers increase yields indoors by exposing more buds to strong, direct light from the grow light.
When training autos, the idea is to use bending to open up the plant so it grows flat and wide
A view from the side so you can see how those plants were trained to grow flat and wide
Training allows all the bud sites to grow directly under the light, so they get as big as possible
Many growers do not recommend exposing autos to plant training methods that involve cutting the plant (topping, FIMing, main-lining, etc.) as the autoflowering vegetative stage is short and plants often don’t have enough time to recover before they begin flowering.
Because of the quick time schedule, it is important to avoid stressing auto-flowering plants during their grow because the plants don’t have time to recover from problems.
However, when plants are fast-growing and healthy, many growers defoliate, top or FIM their plants with great results. When is it okay to top an auto?
Since photoperiod plants can be forced to remain in the vegetative stage for as long as the grower wants, a grower can take advantage of a variety of plant training methods to shape/train the plant during the vegetative stage, including LST, topping, FIMing, main-lining, ScrOG, etc.
Training methods along with a properly timed light schedule can be used to produce very small or very large plants…whatever the grower wants!
Can I clone auto-flowering plants?
A clone is when you take a cutting of a plant and allow the cutting to grow into its own plant. Autoflowering cannabis plants cannot be cloned effectively because new clones are on the same internal “time clock” as their mother, and therefore any clone taken from her will die when she dies.
Because of this, auto-flowering clones live short lives and most growers strongly recommend against cloning auto strains because they stay extremely small and will not live long enough to produce good yields.
While autos can’t be used to make clones, it is possible to make seeds using a male to pollinate a female auto-flowering plant.
Photoperiod plants can be cloned, which means that a grower can continue to make more and more plants from a single seed. Cloning is a great way to get unlimited free plants which are almost exactly the same as each other.
So, You Want to Grow an Auto-Flowering Plant!
Which breeders can I trust for good auto-flowering seeds?
Which breeders can I trust for good auto-flowering seeds? These auto breeders have dedicated themselves to developing auto-flowering strains in particular, and have gained popularity for their consistency and quality.
Some Excellent Auto-Flowering Cannabis Breeders:
There are many other great breeders that offer auto-flowering seeds, but the breeders listed are known for breeding some of the best auto seeds when it comes to ease of growth, potency and yields. Let us know if there’s an auto-flowering cannabis breeder we should add to this list!
Pictures of Auto-Flowering Plants
Now here are some pictures of Autos (by various breeders and growers) to help give you an idea of what to expect when growing an autoflowering strain of cannabis.
From left to right: Dinafem Critical Jack, Dinafem Sour Diesel, Dutch Passion Blue AutoMazar
Using a small 250W HPS light, I harvested 190.4 grams, or about 6.7 ounces, between the three plants. This was my first auto-flowering grow and I was blown away by the yields, the time-to-harvest and especially the potency!
This was the final height of a “Lowryder” auto plant grown in a very sunny window. Lowryders tend to stay the smallest of almost all auto-flowering strains. This plant ended up having very small yields because it was grown in a window. It’s difficult to find a window that gets 5+ hours of direct sunlight each day, and generally it’s recommended that most growers avoid growing in a window if they want to get decent yields.
These are my 4 x Fastbud #2´s (this strain has now been bred into Ice Cool Auto, which may be even better). I chopped 2 a couple of nights ago and the others today. Day 65 from seed under a mixture of 400 & 600W HPS.
I´m a bit confused by this strain. The buds are quite skinny but they have weight to them and are dense as f*ck. Took a sample and quick dried and it’s a really nice smoke. Comes on really buzzy, then mellows out and gives mad munchies.
They smell incredible. Fruity and sweet, and they are very sticky.
Total dry weight for the 4 plants was 145g plus about 25g popcorn so around 6 oz in total.
View full album by Santacabrera here:
These are pics of my Black Cream autos that are coming down early next week. They could come down now, but I haven´t got time to do it this weekend.
Note: Autos by Nirvana are marked with a plus + sign.
Grown in a Space Bucket using FFOF (Fox Farms Ocean Forest) soil, Big Bloom Nutes, 1 gallon bucket, 135watt cfls, inside a Spacebucket.
The pics show the plant just before harvest on Day 62. (it probably could of went 2 more days but too late now). It was untrained. I wanted to see how she grew naturally in the bucket to see how I would need to adjust for the next grow. I was going to dry the bud in the spacebucket about there was just way too much to fit all the bud in the bucket with good ventilation and space.
She had really close nodes and it shows in my opinion! From day one I kept the plant right on the lights and just lowered them down in the bucket as she grew. I think that help keep the plant from stretching which was perfect in the bucket!
View full harvest album by -Johnny5-: http://imgur.com/a/sp7SZ
Note: Autos by Nirvana are marked with a plus + sign
Grown in a Space Bucket. From the Grower: These f*cking SpaceBuckets are awesome. Finally, Day 75, I pulled this plant down for harvest. She smells so freaking good it’s ridiculous. Berry/fruity type of smell, really sweet. She “was” standing at just around 18 inches. Grown in a 1 gallon pot, with FFOF (Fox Farms Ocean Forest Soil) and Big Bloom Nutes. This plant received around 134 cfl watts for 18 hours a day. ZERO Training! (will train the next grow, she was hitting the top of the bucket). The pic on the right is the main cola up close.
This is my second grow but my first grow with auto flowering plants. I have the lights set on 18:6. They are in 5 gallon pots with Promix soil. I am also using technaflora nutrients.
Final yield was about 1.5 ounces.
White Widow Auto by Pyramid Seeds
- Grow Lights: used a total of 6 CFLs, two on each side plus two under the reflector lamp. 6 x 23w 6500K for veg. and 6 x 23w 2700K for flower.
- Happy Frog Soil
- FloraNova Grow/Veg and Bloom Nutrients
- 2 Honeywell fans
Light Schedule is 20 on and 4 off (20-4). Used that light schedule for the whole grow. This is my first time growing. The plant ended up being just under 2 feet tall at harvest. Harvested on day 67 from seed.
View full harvest album by GorillaMass: http://imgur.com/a/43VNJ
Simple grow guide for growing auto-flowering plants in soil
This simple guide to growing autos indoors uses…
Extra Growing Tips for Autos
Low to Medium Nutrient Needs
Whether you grow in soil, coco coir, or a full hydroponic setup, auto plants tend to prefer relatively low levels of nutrients compared to many other cannabis strains.
When it comes to adding extra bottled nutrients, start at ¼ strength of the recommended dose or less, and only add higher levels of nutrients if needed. In hydro use “vegetative” nutrients until you see the first signs of flowering (pistils / white hairs) around 3-4 weeks. In good soil, you don’t need to add any nutrients during the vegetative stage. After the first signs of buds, start adding “flowering” nutrients at very low strength (¼ or less to start)
Potted Auto Plants
Potted auto plants tend to do best in an airy potting mix with lots of drainage (plenty of drainage holes, and something like perlite to help add more drainage to your growing medium). This helps makes sure roots get plenty of oxygen so plants grow as fast as possible.
If growing in soil avoid choosing a “hot” (lots of nutrients) soil mix. BioBizz Lightmix soil or Fox Farms Happy Frog are good choices that don’t have too many nutrients to start. With any soil mix, it’s recommended to add about 30% extra perlite for increased drainage.
Size & How to Control Height of Auto-Flowering Plants
The final size of your auto plants is largely dependent on the strain you get. Some strains, such as Lowryders, have been bred to grow extremely short – less than 1-2 feet. Other strains can grow taller, up to 4 feet tall or even more.
As a general rule of thumb, auto plants tend to double or triple in size from when they first start showing signs of flowering/budding (usually when plants are about 3 weeks old from seed).
There are also some plant training methods that are effective for giving you more control over the final size and shape of your auto-flowering plants.
The most important thing to remember with autos is to avoid using any plant training method that involves cutting the plant. When reading about cannabis training techniques that involve cutting the plant such as topping, FIMing, or main-lining, please remember that these techniques were developed for photoperiod plants and are not well-suited to auto-flowering strains.
Instead, the best way to control height and size with autos is to use low stress training (LST) which involves bending tall branches and using gardening wire or soft ties to hold down the branches.
Here’s a great LST example by Santacabrera showing how to gently bend the middle colas of an auto-flowering plant down and away from the center without cutting or harming the plant.
Bend too-tall branches down and away from the center of your plant
When growers LST auto-flowering strains of cannabis, the general idea is to gently pull branches away from the middle of the plant, so that the plant looks like a star when viewed from above. This helps expose the lower branches to more light, while also keeping plants short. It’s important to only bend stems that are young, when they’re still soft and flexible. Older stems become woody and hard to bend.
This technique can be used on auto plants that are getting too tall for your setup, or for any stem that is growing taller than all the others. Most indoor growers want to keep a flat, even canopy when growing indoors to get the most from their grow lights.
Best Light Schedule for Autos
Most indoor growers report getting great growth rates when keeping light schedules on an 18/6 light schedule (18 hour of light and 6 hours of dark each days). 20/4 is another popular light schedule for indoor auto plants. Some growers will give 24 hours of light to auto plants, but others believe that auto plants develop better when given at least a few hours of darkness each day.
When growing autos outdoors, basically you just want to give your plants as much direct sunlight as you can each day. Other than that, you don’t need to worry about light schedules When growing outdoors, more hours of direct sunlight = bigger yields. It is almost impossible to give plants too much light when growing outdoors (as long as heat is under control).