Autoflower cannabis plants are a new development in the cannabis market, and it has really exploded the last few years – even Google knows it.
Searches for autoflowering marijuana have doubled over the last single year. Why? They’re looking for information on growing autoflowers!
The autoflower grow guide
- Why you should grow autoflowers
- What is autoflowering marijuana?
- Autoflower cannabis strains
- How to grow autoflower weed
- How to grow autoflowers outdoors
- Breeding autoflowers
- Pros and cons of autoflower growing
- Male and female
- Super autoflower strains
- Autoflower weed seeds
People are getting increasingly excited, interested, and curious about it. There is a good reason for all this excitement. This isn’t a typical marijuana trend; it could be a total game-changer.
Why you should grow autoflowers
Autoflowering weed gives growers a much easier time cultivating cannabis at home.
Unlike traditional types of weed, autoflowering cannabis doesn’t require a change in the amount of light exposure on their plants to induce flowering.
Growing autoflowers has the added benefit of faster growth, especially during the vegetative stage.
The average autoflowering weed strain only needs around 10 weeks (or less) to fully mature.
Outside of having a much easier time flowering, autoflowers are also reasonably small plants that can grow snugly in any indoor grow room.
Today’s autoflowers also no longer have the pitfalls of earlier autoflowering weed plants, which suffered from reduced yields and less potency.
Nowadays, on top of competing with standard strains in terms of potency and yield, autoflowers are more resilient to drastic temperature shifts that allow you to grow them all year round.
- They are smaller.
- This means they are easier to hide, harder to spot, and are, therefore, a safer choice with a greater variety of grow location options.
- They grow very quickly, have high yields
- in comparison to their size, and are even more resistant to pests and insects than other marijuana strains.
- Ready to harvest in 10 weeks!
- No matter what the lighting situation is like in your outdoor or indoor grow setup, they follow the growth schedule embedded in their genes. They will flower after a certain amount of time, not after the light begins to change.
All this opens up a lot of new possibilities for many growers. This article is intended to keep you informed about this development in the marijuana world.
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What is autoflowering marijuana?
There are plenty of different autoflowering marijuana strains, and no two strains are exactly the same.
Some people think of autoflower marijuana plants as lower quality than more conventional and traditional types of marijuana.
Others consider it a godsend that makes life significantly easier for us growers.
Whichever category you fall into, it may be important to learn more about it, and the different options out there.
So what is an autoflower marijuana plant?
To fully understand this, it’s best first to know a bit more about marijuana itself.
Marijuana is a photoperiod plant, which means that its life cycle (specifically the flowering phase) is influenced by changes in the timing of exposure to sunlight.
Through this logic, growers can manipulate the growth of their indoor plants with ease.
Young cuttings can be spurred to enter the flowering phase simply by giving them 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness every night for a couple weeks.
Older plants growing outdoors won’t enter the flowering phase until this same light change affects them through the natural seasonal variations.
These don’t occur until after the middle of summer.
Autoflower strains of marijuana flower when the plants are a particular age, rather than flowering in response to changes in light exposure.
This means that, regardless of the weather and sunlight patterns, they will enter the flowering phase after a certain number of weeks.
This, understandably, has opened the door for all sorts of new possibilities in the marijuana growing world.
Because ruderalis plants were not cultivated for their high THC content (given the fact that the THC levels were very low), they were not grown or used by smokers very often at all.
For this reason, the dominant traits of the first autoflower strain had to include high THC levels from the “standard” marijuana strain half, and the autoflower genetics from the ruderalis half.
Check this video by Willy Groff of an autoflower in time laps
The process was difficult, and largely unsuccessful at first. For this reason, not too long ago, growers did not readily trust autoflower strains, because of their low yields and low THC levels.
They ended up being considered a scam, of sorts.
Things have changed, however.
The autoflower strains on the market today are just as reliable as any other strain – just be sure to purchase them from a reputable source.
The THC content will also be as high as it is described in the online information provided about the strain.
With these traits stabilized, and the number of high-quality strains of autoflowering marijuana increasing all the time, the dawn of the age of autoflower has finally come.
Autoflower cannabis strains
Autoflower strains of marijuana generally have a shorter life than other types of marijuana plants.
Their quick turnaround is part of their appeal for growers who want more than one harvest per season.
An autoflower strain usually takes around 10 weeks before they are ready to harvest.
When considering an autoflower harvest, it is important to remember that it will be different from the harvest of other types of marijuana.
Certain limitations that come with the plant’s not having the time to grow as long and that includes the fact that it will be smaller.
Consequently, the harvest will be, too. Your yield can only be so high when you grow smaller plants.
Some of the highest quality autoflower marijuana strains require ten to twelve weeks for full growth and flowering, to achieve the best possible harvest.
It mostly depends on the strain you grow.
Be sure to read the information provided for that specific strain, as well as any comments and tips from people who have successfully grown the strain before.
Best Selling Autoflower Cannabis Strains from the ILGM Seed Bank
How to grow autoflower weed
With the short life span of autoflower marijuana plants, this is especially important.
The very beginning is the time to support your plants so they have as much growth as possible.
If this is not done, you may end up with a harvest that is infinitely more disappointing than the “normal” marijuana harvest failure.
The room for error is smaller with autoflowers.
For this reason, it is often recommended that people who want to grow autoflower marijuana plants start growing them indoors, with artificial lights they can control.
Indoor growing decreases the chance for error and favorably controls each aspect of your plant’s early life.
A strong start ensures that it will get everything it needs to thrive, both now, and later on.
Autoflower marijuana seeds
Properly germinating your marijuana plants is crucial to their healthy development, as well.
This can be done naturally in soil, or in a container without any growing medium. I always germinate my seeds in water.
Also read “How to germinate marijuana seeds“.
Most autoflower marijuana growers I know actually prefer the paper towel method.
It simply involves placing a seed within a damp paper towel, or length of toilet paper, and putting it in a container of some sort that will retain moisture and humidity.
This should cause the seeds to sprout within days.
After they sprout, they should then be transplanted to their final growing medium.
After this, do not transplant them again if you can help it as autoflower plants are small and are vulnerable to greater transplanting shock.
Autoflower weed cuttings
For now, cuttings are not a great idea with autoflower marijuana plants.
The problem is that, while you can easily take a cutting successfully, you have to remember that the plants will autoflower after a certain age.
The cutting’s age will merge with the parent plant’s age.
This means they will flower at the same time.
So if you are growing a cutting of an autoflower plant, the final plant will be much smaller than the parent, when it enters the flowering stage.
When all this is considered, cuttings aren’t exactly worth it, as these particular plants are already small to begin with.
Autoflower Weed by Week Feeding Guide
Once your autoflower marijuana plants have reached two weeks of life, you can feed them a small amount of vegetative nutrients.
Feed them higher quantities of it gradually over time, until your plants are either six or seven weeks old.
Bio Bizz Feeding Schedule
All mixes are per liter
All mixes use bubbled water
Always 1 teaspoon per liter
|1||2 ml Root Stimulant||No|
|2||2 ml Root Stimulant
|3||1 ml Root Stimulant
1.5 ml Grow
|4||2 ml Grow||Yes|
|5||2.5 ml Grow
1 ml Bloom
|6||2 ml Grow
2 ml Bloom
|7||1 ml Grow
3 ml Bloom
|8||1 ml Grow
3 ml Bloom
|9||3 ml Bloom||Yes|
Week 1-3 = Vegetative Stage (baby’s just starting out)
Week 4-6 = Pre-Flowering Stage (Has shown sex and started rapid growth)
Week 7-10+ = Budding Stage (fattening up and power-producing)
Don’t switch over to flowering nutrients until you have visibly noticed a stop in its vertical growing.
Even if the flowering phase started a week earlier, don’t be premature with the flowering nutrients.
Be guided, instead, by the ending of vertical growth.
Lighting your autoflowering plants
Similar to regular marijuana plants, you can decide on one of two lighting options:
- One choice is to expose your plants to 24 hours of light per day
- The other is to allow them some rest every day, and give them 18hours of light, and sixhours of darkness. It all depends on your personal preferences, as well as the strain that you are growing.
One specific go-to example is to use 120-watt LED lights for the first few weeks of growth and keep it going for 21 hours each day.
In this case, the light should be set up between 70 and 80 centimeters away from the plants.
Once you have potted the older plants, you can convert to larger LED lights, and a schedule of 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness.
Should you prune autoflowering marijuana plants?
For instance, the pruning needs to take place very early in your plants’ lives, to avoid obstructing their vegetative growth later on.
That being said, many growers claim that pruning autoflower marijuana plants at all is a bad idea and should be avoided altogether.
They say pruning will lower the autoflowers’ harvest.
If you really want to take the risk, try doing it with an autoflower strain that has been proven to take a bit longer than the others.
This way, it has more time to recover and grow, after the pruning has taken place.
What to expect from an autoflower harvest
If everything goes well during your autoflower grow season, what can you expect in terms of a harvest?
Keep in mind that the perfect environmental elements include being around 73°F, 55% humidity, 400 watts per m2 for light, good air circulation, plenty of oxygen, and a solid nutrient regimen (among other things).
To put it bluntly, your harvest will be proportionate to the length of time that your autoflowering weed plants grow. In simplest terms, longer growth equals a bigger harvest.
Know the perfect time to cut your autoflowers when you download my free mini harvesting guide.
- Time your harvest for Perfect Taste
- Get THC levels for a Perfect High
- Don’t waste any Precious Bud
Some strains that grow for about 3 months, for example, often average around 40 grams per plant.
While longer-growing super autoflower strains might get between 150 and 500 grams per plant when grown outdoors.
Choosing when to harvest is also difficult, and equally important to all the other decisions you might make when growing autoflower marijuana plants.
You generally need to check your plant’s trichomes to see when 50% of them are amber in color.
The amber color signifies the point at which harvesting should take place.
Make sure you stop watering the plants for at least one or two days before you harvest them so that their extra nutrients go away.
Curing and storing
Curing your autoflower marijuana buds helps them turn into the delicious product that every grower desires.
If you cure them poorly, then your efforts will not pay off in great taste. Curing should be done inside an airtight container.
This is so the moisture can spread throughout evenly, and move from the middle of the bud, where it is originally held.
During the process, open the container several times per day for a few days straight.
Eventually, you should only open it once a day or longer, until the buds are thoroughly cured, several weeks or months later.
Once they have finished curing, the buds should not have much moisture left at all. A tiny amount of moisture is still good for smoking, though.
Extra dry buds actually make the smoke more unpleasant.
Store the marijuana inside a sealed container, such as a plastic bag or glass jar.
Smoke it within several months, to one year. After a year, it is unlikely that the product will be as pleasant for smoking.
Keep it in a dark, cool location. Freezing it can keep it fresh longer.
How to grow autoflowers outdoors
Although there are certainly plenty of downsides to growing autoflower marijuana plants, they also have some very compelling advantages, as well.
Many would argue that their true value lies in being grown as outdoor plants.
Or, perhaps even better, many might grow them for some time indoors, and then finish their vegetation and flowering stages outdoors.
This usually involves between 1 and 1.5 months of indoor growth, to maximize their vegetative stage.
Then, they are moved outdoors (assuming the temperature is not colder than 50°F).
The reason this is considered such a good thing is because you can get several harvests within one plant’s normal growing season.
While a huge plant will get you a massive harvest at the end of its growth, it takes 8 to 9 months to ever get that far.
Of course, this also leaves more room for unexpected obstacles to mess up your harvest before you even get there.
With autoflowering weed, however, you can have numerous crops growing in the same space of time.
You are, therefore, achieving smaller harvests incrementally while avoiding a long wait to consume any of the buds.
Your work is secured, and you are given several “chances” within the same amount of time, in case one crop gets somehow ruined.
Autoflower marijuana plants will always be shorter than regular marijuana plants.
This means they will not be as easily spotted as the more massive marijuana plants (which definitely tend to attract unwanted attention).
Even if you are growing them in your own personal garden on your owned property, they can still easily go undetected throughout the span of their entire growth cycle, because of their small size.
For reference, the most efficiently grown autos have one square meter each to themselves to grow to their full size (and harvest) potential.
How to Grow Autoflowers Indoors in Soil
Just like there are perks to growing photoperiod weed plants outdoors, the same can be said indoors.
Autoflowering weed plants synergize perfectly with indoor grow rooms.
Week by week, an autoflower can grow freely without having to worry about space, as autoflowers don’t take much of it.
Many autoflowering weed plants grow no taller than 40 inches.
In terms of lighting, autoflowers work well under artificial grow lights. In particular, LED grow lights are a great option for growing this type of weed.
Despite costing more than fluorescent lights, LEDs will save you on both electricity and replacement bulbs. You can choose from full-spectrum LED lights or invest in two individual LED lights.
You’d want two different types because each stage requires a specific spectrum for the best possible yields.
A blue spectrum lamp benefits autoflowers in their vegetative stage, whereas a red spectrum is best for flowering.
On the note of lights, although autoflowering marijuana doesn’t require the same light to darkness ratio as photoperiods, the amount of light they receive can affect their overall growth rate.
To get the most yield out of your plants, you can leave the lights on 24/7. This method will cost you in electrical bills, and it’s only best suited for cold climates.
The typical ratio of 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness is best for autoflowering weed plants, as it’ll save you on electrical cost and give your plants time to rest.
However, lately, many growers have tried giving their autoflowers 20 hours of light and 4 hours of darkness since it produces better yields than the 18/6 ratio but doesn’t cost as much as leaving your lights on 24/7.
Outside of choosing the right type of grow lights and picking the ideal light schedule for your plants, you need to also choose the right strain for your indoor grow room.
To know what strain is the one for you comes down to personal preference and experience. Whether you choose sativa or indica doesn’t matter as much with autoflowering weed.
But, if you’re a first-time grower, don’t mess up simply because you don’t know how to grow. Stick to an easy-growing strain.
It is likely that these prices will eventually drop as this type of seed become more widespread.
Until then, you can breed your own seeds to get the best bang for your buck; however, there is a considerable expense in that as well.
The short lifespan of autoflowering weed plants means that – assuming you want to grow and harvest as many plants as possible within one season – you are going to need a lot more seeds than you would with normal marijuana plants.
In some locations, this would even mean that buying harvested, dried, and cured marijuana could actually be cheaper than growing your own autoflower weed.
Because many people would like to experiment with this emerging new trend but want to avoid spending an arm and a leg, breeding is likely the best alternative.
It is a surprisingly easy process and is well worth the effort when you consider the smaller harvest per seed in autoflower marijuana plants, compared to normal marijuana plants.
Pros and cons of autoflower growing
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of growing autoflower marijuana plants, instead of regular marijuana plants.
Pros of growing autoflowering weed
First of all, you have the chance to attain a higher variety of marijuana when you grow autoflower marijuana plants.
This is because of the shorter growing season.
So within one season, you can grow approximately three separate strains, and get that many different varieties of marijuana for smoking!
This is especially valuable for people who are growing just for themselves and prefer a range of highs, which can change depending on their mood or preference that day.
Therefore, growing autoflowers can help keep things fresh and exciting on the marijuana smoking front.
There is also somewhat less hassle involved — at least in certain aspects.
For example, you will not need a complicated setup with one grow room and one flowering room. That means that, even if you had the space for that many rooms, you could instead use that space to time your growing so that you can harvest every few weeks.
You also won’t have to be so careful with your lighting setup, and grow room light-proof sealing.
This is because light leakages have no impact at all on your autoflower marijuana plants’ flowering phase.
Another advantage is multi-crop systems, which are compatible systems that overlap nicely. They allow you to harvest a new crop every few weeks, and can be set up outside.
They don’t require much space in your garden and are unlikely to attract much attention if any.
In the case of power outages (which can be more frequent for people in certain locations), normal marijuana plants could have their growth and flowering phases interrupted, and their harvests consequently damaged.
You will not have these issues with autoflower marijuana plants.
It is also thought that, because autoflower marijuana plants contain genes from the ruderalis marijuana strain, they may be hardier than other types of marijuana plants.
This idea comes from the fact that ruderalis plants are very hardy, and can handle cold and other obstacles better than photoperiod plants.
Finally, if your growing friends are already growing their own photoperiod marijuana, you can enjoy smoking your own marijuana, while they wait and wait for their own harvest to be ready.
Cons of growing autoflower cannabis
In terms of light usage per gram of harvested bud, autoflower marijuana plants are less efficient than regular photoperiod plants.
This is because you will need the same amount of light per plant although these smaller plants have smaller yields.
Additionally, autoflower marijuana plants tend to be inconsistent in terms of their speed of growth, and their size. Even individual plants within one particular strain might have varying sizes and growth patterns.
This makes certain types of growing methods, like hydroponics, particularly difficult — if not impossible.
Sometimes it will be necessary to harvest one crop several times until all of the plants have been harvested because they flower and mature at different rates as well.
Some smokers of autoflower marijuana will complain that the aroma of their product is not as strong as that of regular photoperiod marijuana plants.
Whether this is a pro or con might depend on your own personal preferences, of course.
Male and female
A normal photoperiod marijuana seed has a 50/50 shot at being either male or female.
This is an unfortunate statistic for the average marijuana grower who is only interested in growing unfertilized female(sensimilla) plants.
If you get feminized seeds, on the other hand, you can expect nearly every seed to turn out female.
Autoflower marijuana seeds are not any different in regards to these ratios. Hermaphrodites can be expected in either case and should be watched out for, even if you are expecting all female plants, like when you purchase feminized seeds.
Super autoflower strains
If you have done any research into this new autoflowering trend, you have probably already discovered the term “SUPER autoflower” to describe many different seeds.
So, what are these super seeds, and how are they different from other autoflowering seeds?
The idea behind the super strains is that they are larger, but still share the same useful trait of flowering automatically.
They are stronger and hardier than regular autoflower marijuana plants, especially when it comes to resistance against mold or pests.
They were created specifically with the goal in mind of having bigger, higher-yielding autoflowering weed plants.
Autoflower weed seeds
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the autoflower marijuana plant growing process is deciding which of the autoflower seeds to buy first.
This is an especially important decision if you are a first-time grower or even a seasoned veteran who has never grown autoflower strains of marijuana before.
There are a huge variety of seed strains to choose from, so it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. The key is always to consider:
- What type of growing conditions the seeds will be planted in
- What ratio of THC to CBD you would like in the strain
- What taste and smell you prefer in your weed.
If you have clearly defined these main points, then you will have a much easier time choosing the perfect strain for you.
Buy Autoflower Seeds
- Flower automatically
- Fast and easy to grow
- From seed to bud in just 10 weeks!
- No light cycle management needed
- The best beginner option
If you have the money for it, it is recommended to purchase feminized seeds, since it will significantly increase your yield (and you won’t need to remove 50% of the crop that turns out to be male plants).
If you just don’t have the money for it or would like to spend that money on other aspects of growing marijuana, then you can feel free to take the risk and keep an eye out for signs of male plants.
Of course, if you are looking to breed more autoflower marijuana seeds, then you will have at least one male plant, so don’t bother with the feminized ones, in that case.
They will require sufficient space to grow large, of course.
FAQs about how to grow autoflowering weed
No, today autoflowering strains are not any less potent than their feminized counterparts.
Autoflowering plants are usually small and will yield somewhere from 10 to 50 grams per plant. Some exceptions can manage up to 100 grams a plant.
When watering autoflowers, we recommend making your mix in a bottle with just one glass of water per pot.
Have you grown autoflowering cannabis plants? Please leave comments or questions below!