How To Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Strains?

Autoflowering cannabis seeds are a new class of cannabis that have only really emerged on the commercial market within the last few years. Autoflowering cannabis seeds, as the name would suggest, produce plants that begin to flower all on their own after a relatively short vegetative period of 2-4 weeks.

The Pros of Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds

  • 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.
  • For the first few weeks, autos 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.

How Big Will Awtoflowering Plant Get?

Autos tend to stay short naturally. For the first few weeks, autos 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. 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. 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.

Growing Autoflowering Strains 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. Auto plants should receive 5+ hours of direct light each day. More is better. 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.

Growing Autoflowering Strains Indoor – Do They Need a Special Light Schedule ?

Auto-flowering strains will automatically start flowering (making buds) after around 3-4 weeks, a time period dependent on the specific strain. Since the lifecycle of an autoflowering strain is not defined by the amount of light it is exposed to, it can be exposed to as much or little light as the grower wants. Indoors, the general healthy amount of light is 18-24 hours a day, with many growers in consensus that 18 hours produces the best results. 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.

In some ways, auto-flowering strains are more simple to grow than photoperiod strains, but there are some additional considerations. 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. Making sure your autoflowering cannabis strains have enough nutrients is a fairly straight forward process, but it is worth remembering that they do not require as much as conventional strains, so whatever you give them, do it lightly.

What About Plant Training Methods?

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. Auto-flowering strains respond well to very light low stress training (LST) such as bending the plants to “open up” lower branches to light. When training autos, the idea is to use bending to open up the plant so it grows flat and wide. Plant training is a tactic that helps cannabis growers increase yields indoors by exposing more buds to strong, direct light from the grow light. Many growers do not recommend exposing autos to plant training methods that involve cutting the plant, as the autoflowering vegetative stage is short and plants often don’t have enough time to recover before they begin flowering.

Autoflowering strains have a lot going for them, and make a great addition to any grower’s repertoire – especially those growing outdoors, or in countries less friendly to cannabis cultivation.

Autoflowering Strain Yield

The marijuana yield you can expect from an autoflowering cannabis plant can vary largely depending on the specific strain, as well as the quality of the grow (soil, light, etc). Autoflowering plants tend to average between 150 – 400 grams/m2 of bud. This may not seem like much when compared to more traditional varieties of cannabis, but they do pose one huge advantage, especially to outdoor growers that can offset this. This advantage is the fact that because autoflowering strains flower with age, not light, they are not seasonal dependent, thus an outdoor grower can keep crops in rotation throughout the entire year – meaning harvests can be all year round.

What About Potency, Smell and Taste?

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 (an important characteristic for medical marijuana patients). But in general, a modern “Blue Cheese” auto has been bred to have similar bud characteristics as a “Blue Cheese” photoperiod plant. When it comes to smell & taste, the same rules apply.

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