Want to start growing auto-flowering cannabis? Here’s all the info you need to get started! Growing autoflowering cannabis seeds outdoors is easy and it's a very good option for beginner growers. What are the biggest mistakes you can make when growing autoflowering cannabis? Read the basics and find out how to take care of your strain's buds.
How to Grow Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Whether you’re new to growing cannabis or you’ve been growing pot for years, auto-flowering strains are possibly the best way to go. You could be growing autoflowers indoors in soil or setting up a hydroponic autoflower grow ; it doesn’t matter. Autoflowering seeds are ready for harvest in just eight weeks while still producing potent effects.
For the most part, growing autoflowers indoors or outdoors is the same as growing regular marijuana, except it’s a lot easier. However, to grow the best cannabis, you need to do more than know how to grow auto-flowering seeds. You’ll also need the best supplies. Don’t worry; a Pot for Pot has you covered.
What Does “Autoflowering” Mean?
Autoflowering seeds are typically a mixture of cannabis Sativa or Indica with Cannabis Ruderalis, a species native to Russia. People don’t grow Cannabis Ruderalis on its own because it typically lacks a high degree of THC content. But because this species grows automatically after seven weeks and fares well in cold weather, these traits have made them desirable to use for interbreeding.
An auto-flowering cannabis strain switches from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage automatically instead of requiring closely timed hours of light and dark. Photoperiod flowering seeds start to bloom after the summer solstice, while auto-flowering seeds flower after a specific phase of the development period. In other words, they grow automatically (hence their name, “auto-flowering”) when they reach the right size.
Autoflowering cannabis plants tend to be smaller than other cannabis plants, especially in comparison to Sativa strains (Indica tends to be shorter, regardless of whether they’re auto-flowering or photoperiod flowering). Compared to regular photoperiod flowering feminized cannabis, auto-flowering strains are better able to fend off mold and pests. Read more details and benefits (along with some potential challenges) to growing auto-flowering seeds below.
Planning for Your Garden
Autoflowering seeds are a great idea because they grow faster than regular seeds. They’re also preferred by many marijuana growers because they are easy to grow.
How fast a specific auto-flowering strain takes to reach harvest can depend on the type of strain. However, it generally takes 8-10 weeks for most strains. Some strains require up to 12 weeks.
The fact that autoflowers can grow so fast means they spend less time fighting off pests and viruses. On top of that, many auto-flowering strains are bred with strong genetics to fight off these risks. The end results are plants that are incredibly easy to grow, even if you plan on growing autoflowers outdoors .
The downside to an auto flower grow is that the yields will not be as large as traditional seeds. However, a smaller yield on something you are nearly guaranteed to be successful at is better than no yield from something a bit harder to grow. If it’s your first time growing these quick-growing seeds, try using an auto flower grow journal to document your journey. This way, there’s a record of your work, and you can improve upon it in the future.
In general, the best soil for autoflowers will have these key ingredients:
Light and well-aerated soil
Autoflowering cannabis needs a growing medium that is light and airy. This allows the roots to penetrate the ground easily and not struggle to get the nutrients that it needs. Heavy soils make it difficult for roots and water to penetrate the ground, making it difficult for autoflowers to grow.
Soilless mixes such as coco coir have no natural nutrients, so you always have to add nutrients to these. However, when using soil, this is not the case. Simply start with a mixture that already has what you need. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be easier said than done. Most soil will have some nutrients, but they may not be what you need. The best soil will have all the essential autoflower nutrients: Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorous.
Neutral soil pH is at 7. If the pH is below 7, that means the growing medium is acidic. If it is above 7, that means the soil is alkaline. Autoflowering cannabis plants thrive in a little acidic soil, so keep your soil pH ranges between 6.2 and 6.5.
You could, of course, experiment with making your own soil. If so, you’d only need peat moss, some compost, perlite, and vermiculite mixed in a 3:3:2:1 ratio. However, the easiest option would be purchasing a Pot for Pot’s Superb Soil , which is specifically designed to be the best soil for autoflowers.
Growing Autoflowering Plants
We think they are some of the most fun plants to grow because they are fast and manageable. They are a great gateway to growing your own at a low price if you are new to growing. And funny enough, if you’re an old green thumb, you most likely have never grown one before. Autoflowering plants are consistently grown from seed because you cannot make a clone from an auto-flowering plant due to the fact they start to flower from the get-go, and cloning them won’t restart their timer.
Because they evolved in such a harsh environment, these plants grow well outside and indoors . They do not need a specific light cycle when planting indoors, which makes growing them super easy. If you are not putting them into a dedicated growing environment, they will need a sunny window or a bright supplemental lighting source. These plants are light hungry, so the more light, the better. It still needs its beauty sleep, though. Try to let it rest for at least 4 hours of darkness so the plant can do its nightly functions. But she’ll still grow successfully under 24-hour lighting. We will cover lighting with more depth in a later blog post.
When growing outdoors, you can plant around mid-April, as soon as your seedling has hardened off. Hardening off is when the seedling is no longer a seedling and has developed a couple of sets of true leaves. Because Ruderalis hails from northern latitudes, it does better with the cold than regular cannabis; thus, you can get multiple harvests in one outdoor growing season.
Because of their short life cycle, it is best to only transplant them once, early in their life. These are flowering plants, so the less stress they experience ultimately will result in bigger flowers. Your container size will affect the size of your plant as well, so we recommend a minimum of 2 gallons. They grow great in hydroponics or soil but typically don’t want to be overloaded with nutrients. Since they stay small, so does their appetite.
Choosing Your Location
As we said at the beginning, autoflowers can be grown anywhere due to their sturdy and resilient nature. However, if you are wondering if there is a specific climate that all autoflowers prefer, the simple answer is, there is not.
Autoflowering weed is available in a variety of strains . Some are Indica dominant and prefer cooler temperatures, while others have more Sativa genetics and grow best with large amounts of light. What’s different about an autoflower is that it can grow in situations that a photoperiod version cannot. That’s thanks to its rubbish, also known as Ruderalis, background. Therefore, do not panic if you are in an extremely cold or warm climate. Find the appropriate strain, then choose the auto-flowering option.
How do autoflowers perform indoors?
Autoflowering cannabis can thrive indoors if you have the proper grow room setup and the right equipment. Keep a close eye on the humidity and temperature at different stages of growth for optimum growth.
If you are using lights, you can stick to a fixed light schedule (18 hours of light and 6 hours of dark) from seed to harvest. Autoflowers are ideal for growing indoors because they are short, and the space is limited. Also, within ten weeks, your plants are ready for harvest. In terms of autoflower yield , you will have better results growing your plants outside, but for the amount of cost in effort, it’s still worth it.
How do autoflowers perform outdoors?
You can grow autoflowers anywhere, but you will get the best results if you grow them outdoors. The only consideration you’ll need to make is the amount of sunlight your plants receive. Autoflowering plants should have at least 12 hours of light daily. However, it is even better if they can get about 16 hours, as this will promote optimum growth.
This is when you should be paying attention to the strain. If you reside along the Equator, select a strain that thrives in tropical climates. On the other hand, if where you live has colder temperatures, select strains that are best suited for those temperatures. Regardless of the climate, you want to make sure your plants are exposed to a minimum of 12 hours of light if you want them to produce something worthwhile.
In general, auto-flowering weed thrives in tropical climates. This is because the plants are exposed to more than 12 hours of light, which promotes optimum growth. In a tropical climate, you can have several (about four) harvests in a year because of the plant’s short lifecycle. In this type of climate, you can also grow auto-flowering marijuana plants year-round. The biggest consideration is excess heat. If the temperatures rise to above 80°F, you may want to invest in some shade so that your plants don’t burn or suffer from heat stress.
In cold climates, you won’t be able to grow year-round, but you can grow outdoors during the summer, as long as you ensure a minimum of 12 hours of light and protect your plants from frost.
Autoflowers and Lighting
Autoflowering seeds do not need a change in their light cycles like regular marijuana seeds. Now, that doesn’t mean auto-flowering marijuana plants don’t need light. However, it does mean that they will continue to grow whether or not the light source is ideal. If you want to make it better for your plant, you can provide as much light as you wish. You could even buy marijuana grow lights and shine them on your plants all day long – but you don’t have to.
That is the point.
This characteristic makes growing autoflowers outdoors perfect when you take advantage of mother nature’s natural light source. Whereas most plants can only grow during a specific season, autoflowers can successfully pull off two to three seasons instead of one. As long as you germinate your seeds by the beginning of spring, protect your plants from extreme temperatures (the 90s and above), and the humidity stays between 70 and 90%, you can enjoy a very long outdoor growing season.
How to Grow Autoflower Plants
Use this step-by-step auto flower grow guide to go from seed to harvest.
Week 1: Germination
It usually takes three days for autoflowers to germinate. This process is when the seeds come alive. Then, the root travels into the soil and leaves sprout above ground.
To start germinating your seeds, you will need the proper soil mixture. In general, autoflowers will need fewer nutrients than regular seeds; still, they will need rich potting soil to help support their rapid growth.
A typical do-it-yourself potting soil recipe includes compost, perlite, and peat moss, and perhaps a tiny amount of vermiculture. The easiest option, however, is starting with A Pot for Pot’s Complete Kit. It includes our Seedling Pot and Pellet, which is perfect for germinating auto flower seeds.
Once your seeds have sprouted, you’ll need to transplant them into their potting soil. If you aren’t using A Pot for Pot, you will need to carefully remove your seedling from its current home and place it in another. This process, unfortunately, can lead to shock. With a separate seedling system, such as the Seedling Starter Kit, this risk is reduced.
Week 2: Late seedling phase
At this point, your seedling has begun creating energy from its light source. If you are growing indoors, you’ll want to use LED lights to give your auto-flowering plant some light. Choose LEDs – they save energy and direct less heat. Plus, they are affordable. You’ll only need a single light to grow a large plant in an indoor autoflower grow setup .
You don’t need to use an LED light if you’re growing outdoors, although you can. Our Light for Pot can convert nearly any space into a suitable spot for growing autoflowers indoors.
Week 3-4: Vegetation is flourishing
Yay, your plant has reached the vegetative stage. That means you should be focusing on creating the best environment. This is when you’d add the reinforcements. But, wait, you don’t have that? If you started with the Complete Kit, you would.
This week is when the important stuff starts to happen. The fan leaves are sprouting, enhancing the photosynthesis process, and increasing your plant’s ability to create potent flowers. You should focus on keeping your plant watered (but not too watered!), maintaining a constant temperature, and making sure it has light (if growing indoors). Trust us; this is not the time to be figuring out fertilizers.
If you are growing autoflowers indoors, this is also the time for starting low-stress training if you’re into that sort of thing. Training is helpful; however, it can also be risky and should only be done during the early part of the vegetative stage. Training helps to form buds receive the most energy from their light source – and that is a good thing.
Week 5-6: Flowering
In week 5, small, ‘hairy’ sacs start to form on the nodes. These will become sticky buds.
As the flowering stage proceeds, you’ll want to continue lowering the humidity if you are growing indoors yet keep your plants well-watered. It is very easy to develop mold during the flowering stage, and that can ruin all of your hard work. That’s why you need to pay attention to the amount of water in the air and soil. Using a watering can help you keep track of how much you are giving your plants. We include one in our Complete Kits.
Week 7-8: Monitor and prepare
We’re almost done! See how easy an autoflower can grow? In week 7, you’re going to focus on maintaining the environment. If you have your plants outside, make sure it’s not too hot or wet. If they are inside, check the humidity. You should be near 40% humidity instead of the 70% you started with during the vegetative period.
You also want to look at the soil. Use a magnifying glass to identify any pests. Look at the leaves for signs of nutrient deficiency. If you’d like to be precise, you can use the Smartphone Camera Lenses included with A Pot for Pot’s grow kits.
If you used any nutrients, you’d want to start the process of flushing on week 8. This means you stop giving your plants anything other than water. You don’t want any of that stuff in your final harvest. Flood the plant’s soil so that any excess chemicals are cleared before the plant can eat any more of them. This will prevent those chemicals from remaining in the plant when it’s time to harvest. Repeat the flooding process multiple times for up to two weeks, but don’t overdo it. Allow your pot to dry out between flushings.
Finally, it’s time to do a little trimming. Find some trimmers and remove the small fan leaves from the bottom nodes. You can also cut off any fan leaves near the top that doesn’t look that great. This process will help your plant get more light and reduce the chance of mold developing.
Week 9: It is almost harvest time
You have finally reached the point where your time and energy are about to reap good results. However, you must maintain the perfect conditions before you officially get there, so your plant remains infestation-free.
Continue following the lighting, temperature, humidity, and watering guidelines that you’ve been following since the beginning of week 7. The fan leaves might look rust-colored or otherwise discolored; this is perfectly normal.
Week 10-12: Harvest time!
You’ve reached the best part of this autoflower grow guide – the end. Depending on your specific strain, you may be ready for harvest anywhere from 10-12 weeks. You’ll know it’s time when most of the trichomes are whitish, and the pistils are brownish-red.
Keep in mind regardless of how much you trained your plant, some buds automatically position closer to the light, and as a result, will finish ripening first.
Especially when growing autoflowers indoors, your results can vary depending on the strain and the quality of the seeds. If your plant seems to progress slower or faster than others, don’t let it bother you. Come harvest time; you may find that you were worrying about nothing.
Growing auto-flowering marijuana plants is already easy, but it’s even more so with A Pot for Pot. We don’t just provide the best pot; we also offer the best soil, nutrients, and tools for maintaining your marijuana garden. And we provide step-by-step instructions in our Complete Grow Guide, and ongoing online grow support. So if you want it easy and fast, growing autoflowers indoors in soil (or outdoors, weather permitting) with a Pot for Pot is hands-down the simplest way to go about it.
Growing autoflowers during winter
Autoflowering marijuana plants can grow in any climate; however, the plant will struggle in extreme temperatures, such as extreme heat and cold. However, an autoflower can survive most of these situations due to their hardy genetics. This includes growing during winter.
If your winters are mild, you should be able to grow autoflowers outside . Generally, marijuana plants do well in temperatures as low as 60 degrees. As long as there is enough light, even if it is a weak source of light, the plant will produce for a minimum of 12 hours. If this environment is not doable, or your winters are not mild, you can grow your plant inside with a stable light source.
Harvesting Cannabis in Humid Areas
In general, harvesting is pretty easy. However, if you live in a particularly humid climate, you may need to take a few extra precautions. Mold can severely impact your harvest and make it unusable. That’s why you need to dry your cannabis as soon as you harvest it.
Before you get started, make sure you have all the equipment needed ready. You are going to need:
- Mason jars
- Drying rack
- Fan or AC
Drying begins immediately after harvesting. If you leave your harvest sitting around to rest (especially if you’re somewhere humid), your plants might attract bacteria and fungi.
Here’s how you should dry weed in a humid climate:
- Set up a drying room in a barn or garage. Install a dehumidifier, some heaters, and a fan.
- Cut the whole plant and hang it to dry or cut piece by piece, branches, leaves, and buds. You can also lay them on a drying rack.
- Now it’s time to trim if you haven’t already. If you cut everything up before you dried it, that is considered wet trimming. If you dry the whole plant first and then trim, that is called dry trimming. Either way, when you trim, you are removing the unnecessary parts of the plant. Remove larger fan leaves to expose those cannabinoid-rich flowers.
- Slow dry your weed by maintaining a temperature of around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the humidity between 50-60%. Do not try drying your cannabis in an oven or microwave unless you want to ruin the flavor.
- Keep checking on your drying marijuana regularly until it feels dry to the touch. You can also confirm by checking that the stem is snapping instead of bending. It takes about 3-7 days for the flowers to dry thoroughly.
- Once your cannabis is thoroughly dry, cure it for long-term storage .
If you are looking to grow marijuana in the easiest and fastest way possible, autoflowers are the ideal choice. If you are a new grower or want to grow outdoors in less than perfect conditions, autoflowers are an excellent choice. Autoflowering cannabis grows practically anywhere, so even if you are in a less than ideal climate, there is a strain that will thrive in your area. If not, you can always grow them indoors.
As long as you focus on how to grow auto-flowering seeds correctly and then take the time to dry and cure them, you’re likely to end up with a harvest that you’ll love. Growing autoflowers is quick and nearly foolproof. The only way it can get any easier is if you start with a Pot for Pot. .
Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.
Grow with the Sun
Grow Year Round
Seed Coupon Included
Online Grow Support
Harvest up to a pound
The Pros of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Faster Flowering and Harvest
Autoflowering cannabis plants grow quickly and flower a lot faster than their photoperiod counterparts do. For example, some autoflowers can flower in as little as three weeks to 30 days after the seed is planted, while many photoperiod varieties take months before they transition into the flowering stage from the vegetative growth phase . If you want the fastest harvest, auto-flowering varieties are your surest bet.
The Plants are Small and Compact
One of the biggest pros (out of many pros and cons of auto-flowering seeds) is their small size. Because of their Cannabis Ruderalis heritage, auto-flowering marijuana plants tend to be smaller and more compact when compared to the ordinary Sativa, Indica , and hybrids of these two.
This smaller size makes auto-flowering cannabis plants suitable for growing in confined spaces , such as a closet or on your balcony. Their compact size also makes it easier to look after. It’s simple – if your plant grows past six feet and you can’t see the top of it, it will be harder to manage. Autos, however, rarely exceed four feet, so it is easy to trim, train, or otherwise care for them during the different stages of their growth.
No Change to the Light Cycle
Autoflowering cannabis seeds combine the genetics of Sativa, Indica (or hybrids of them) with Cannabis Ruderalis. Cannabis Ruderalis is a variety very few people know about because it is naturally smaller, with smaller buds that produce very little to no THC.
Older strains of Cannabis Ruderalis had few desirable qualities, such as an ability to grow very fast. This is because it is native to Siberia, where the growing season is shorter and daylight hours are fewer. As a result, Ruderalis, outside of its original growing zone, adapted to maturing quickly and switching to the flowering stage regardless of how many hours of sunlight it is receiving.
Autoflowering cannabis seeds exhibit this attribute. They switch into a flowering mode as a result of their genetic programming rather than environmental factors, such as the amount of light they are receiving each day. Therefore, you don’t have to bother changing to a 12/12 light cycle to induce the flowering phase in auto-flowering marijuana plants. Autoflowering strains require less maintenance , making them easier to grow.
They Are More Resistant
Another key benefit of auto-flowering marijuana plants is an easy growing experience due to their Ruderalis heritage. Because of their fast adaptation, as detailed above, these plants are hardy and resistant to several adverse conditions. Ordinary cannabis plants can easily succumb to many diseases and pests , but auto-flowering plants will stand up to such a threat and survive. Similarly, auto-flowering strains are also resistant to mold, overfeeding, and underfeeding, while regular photoperiod varieties will be adversely affected by these conditions.
If you live in an area where the climate can change rather quickly, or you aren’t too particular about maintaining the ideal growing conditions for cannabis, then opt for auto-flowering strains since these are more forgiving when conditions aren’t exactly right.
Let’s face it. While legalization has made growing cannabis easier, not everyone is pro-pot. Even in legalized areas, you still need to practice discretion . Autoflowering seeds are the best way to achieve this.
With auto-flowering seeds, you can grow compact cannabis plants in an inconspicuous part of your property without anyone asking what you are growing. Plus, their rapid growth makes it even less likely for visitors to notice them. Regular cannabis plants take a lot longer to reach full maturity, which only increases the chance that people will notice your plants. Since some auto-flowering cannabis strains can mature in as few as 8 or 9 weeks, the amount of time that it takes to reach harvest is a definite pro on the pros and cons of auto-flowering seeds list.
Less Space Needed
Whether you are a large-scale commercial grower or a hobbyist, you can benefit from the space economy that auto-flowering cannabis varieties provide. Since these plants are small, practically anyone can grow their own cannabis plants.
For example, you can grow auto-flowering plants on your balcony if you live in an apartment block. Heck, these plants can even feel at home inside a small closet t !
Faster Flowering Times
Autoflowering seeds tend to grow more quickly than Indica and Sativa strains, with some strains ready for harvest in as few as two months.
It usually takes 30 days, or about a month, for auto-flowering seeds to reach the flowering phase. During these first 30 days, make sure to make small lighting adjustments to avoid scorching the leaves. You should also ensure proper soil aeration so that your cannabis flowers on time. To do this, you can use our Coco Bricks. They come in our Complete Grow Kit and help aerate the soil and regulate moisture.
After you see pistils, you’ll only have to wait for another 45 to 60 days before the bloom cycle is complete and your plants are ready to be harvested.
Multiple Harvests Each Year
Autoflowering plants don’t rely on the amount of light available each day to enter the flowering stage. This independence means you can harvest outdoor-grown mature buds several times a year. How do you do it?
One way is to stagger your plants. Start a couple of plants a month or two before the rest. That way, you can harvest some plants while others are nearing maturity, and the harvest cycle continues.
You could also start a few plants at the beginning of your outdoor growing season and then plant a few more once the first few plants have finished. Because they grow so fast, there is plenty of time.
Many Autoflowering Plants Have CBD
Research into the medicinal value of marijuana is still ongoing, but we, so far, know a lot about the therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). It is actually one of the most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
The Ruderalis genetics in auto-flowering cannabis seeds lead to plants that are relatively lower in THC content and higher in CBD. This means that those looking to enjoy the medicinal benefits of cannabis can easily obtain it from these easy-to-grow plants.
However, if you are mostly interested in the high that cannabis can provide, autoflowers are still a good choice since many varieties offer high THC content (in addition to CBD).
Suitable for Beginners
People who are just starting out on the exciting journey of growing their own cannabis would be well advised to opt for auto-flowering cannabis seeds. They are easier and less demanding to grow than regular photoperiod strains.
For example, with regular strains, you need to monitor and change the light cycle so that the plants have 12 hours of darkness each day while in the flowering stage. Any light finding its way to the plants can make them halt their flowering and yield poor-quality buds. Light can also cause the plant to re-enter the vegetative phase and stay there for an indefinite duration.
Autoflowering strains are ideal for beginners because you don’t have to worry about lighting. They also grow much faster, leading to even faster rewards.
City Environments Don’t Affect Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
People who grow regular photoperiod cannabis plants have to go to great lengths to exclude light from their grow facilities, and this task can sometimes seem near impossible. This is because the city or urban environments have artificial light that can “confuse” photoperiod plants into “thinking” that daylight hours are still more than the hours of darkness. The ambient light, therefore, tends to lower the quality and quantity of buds harvested from photoperiod cannabis strains.
However, auto-flowering cannabis plants remain unaffected by the ambient light in cities or the light which leaks into a grow facility when the tent tears or the grow facility gets damaged in any other way. The plants will, therefore, reach their full potential as long as you keep other necessary settings in order.
The Cons of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Autoflowering cannabis plants are sometimes called dwarf plants due to their typically smaller size when compared to ordinary marijuana plants. While this smaller size comes with some benefits, as discussed earlier, those growing auto-flowering plants should be content with a lower yield since a small plant cannot sustain bigger, dense buds.
This lower yield can be an issue for the commercial grower who wants to maximize the returns earned from each plant. However, for a home grower, the yield produced from an auto-flowering plant is often more than enough. If it is not, it’s just as easy to grow multiple plants or choose auto-flowering cannabis seeds with higher than normal yields.
While lower yields might be a turn-off to some growers, the plus side is that auto-flowering cannabis plants are easier to grow indoors. Autoflowering seeds are good for at-home growers who don’t need to grow massive volumes and growers who live in compact spaces.
Lower THC Content
Ruderalis plants provide many of the desirable traits of auto-flowering plants, but they also produce one noticeably undesirable one. The buds of auto-flowering plants tend to be less potent in terms of their THC content . THC is responsible for giving marijuana users a “high,” so lower THC concentrations in a plant mean that you will not get as high as someone who has used buds from a plant with a higher THC content.
However, don’t let this dampen your zeal for auto-flowering cannabis plants. You can purchase auto-flowering cannabis seeds with higher levels of THC if you want a bigger kick from your plants.
Vulnerability to Grower Errors
The rapid growth rate of auto-flowering seeds is one of its major attractions, but this growth rate can be a double-edged sword. Faster growth can mean bigger problems if you make a mistake and the plant doesn’t have enough time to recover.
This is most noticeable when training your plants. There are two ways to train your plants. One way is low-stress training (LST). That’s when you’d bend the plant’s branches while they are still soft and pliable. The other training method is called super cropping. This method is very stressful to the plant since it is done when the branches have become harder, so they take longer to recover from this training exercise.
High-stress training methods, such as super cropping, are not a good idea for auto-flowering plants since they grow so fast. Remember, the clock is ticking on your plan’s lifespan, and any mistake made can lower the yield. Whereas training methods are designed to increase a plant’s yield, if done incorrectly on an auto-flowering plant, they will more than likely harm it.
You Can’t Clone Autoflowering Cannabis Plants
Sometimes you fall in love with a specific plant. Many times, a certain attribute (yield potential, for example) is so desirable that you’d like to reproduce it in future plants. This is doable through the process of cloning.
For photoperiod marijuana varieties, cloning is simple. You simply cut a small piece of the plant, and that cutting will yield another plant with the exact attributes of the mother plant. For auto-flowering varieties, this, unfortunately, does not work. You can only grow these types of plants from seed.
You should also note, however, that growing from clones is not the same as growing from seed. Although cloned plants will have the same attributes as their mother plant, they are also not as hardy as seed plants and are more susceptible to errors during the growing process.
Loss of Control
Agriculture has grown into science where professional cultivators can enjoy varying levels of control over their crops. In grow labs around the world, cultivators play with ways to delay the flowering phase of their photoperiod marijuana varieties. They do this to create bigger plants that subsequently yield a more abundant harvest.
Such control isn’t possible for growers of auto-flowering cannabis plants since these varieties change states (from vegetative growth to flowering) based on their age rather than on external environmental conditions. Purists who want some control over the growth process may therefore shy away from auto-flowering cannabis seeds.
Since auto-flowering seeds need more light, they can be slightly more costly if you’re just looking at your electricity bill. That said, auto-flowering seeds also require fewer nutrients during the vegetative cycle. As a result, the costs end up evening out. For more information on growing weed cheap, check out our article .
As you can see, there are many pros and cons of auto-flowering seeds, and you need to weigh the benefits against the drawbacks so that you make an informed decision. A Pot for Pot always recommends auto-flowering seeds for home growers because they are cheaper to grow , easy to maintain, and provide a good blend of THC and CBD. With just a little light, the right soil, water, and some love, you
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you maximize autoflower yield?
Make sure you avoid three things.
- Avoid Over Watering
- Avoid Re-Potting
- Avoid Topping & Filming
What soil should I use for autoflowering seeds?
Potting mix is ideal for autoflowering seeds. Primary ingredients should include decomposed moss and compost.
What size pots should I use for Autoflowers?
Perfect pot size for auto flower plants should be 1,5 to 2,5 gallons (5,6 to 9,4 liters)
What are the top 5 autoflowering strains for cold climates?
Here are 5 autoflowering strains for cold climates: Sweet skunk auto, Royal cookies auto, Royal critical auto, Purple queen auto, Northern light auto
What are the top 5 autoflowering strains for warm climates?
Here are 5 autoflowering strains for warm climates: White widow auto, Diesel auto, Stress killer auto, Royal critical auto, Royal jack auto
Will humidity affect growth of autoflowering cannabis?
Usually, cannabis plants hate high humidity, hence if you are trying to grow autoflowering plants indoors you must maintain optimum humidity
What is the best outdoor Autoflowering strain?
Here is a list of top 5 outdoor Autoflowering strains: Pineapple Express Auto, Diesel Auto, White Russian Auto, Super Silver Haze Auto, and Caramel Auto.
How do you get big yields from Autoflowers?
Avoid re-potting your autos. Instead, grow them straight in their final container. Give them plenty of light, and avoid over watering.
How much do Autoflowers yield outdoors?
High yielding autoflower seeds can yield up to 5-7 ounces, and average yield can be expected around 1.5-2.5 ounces.
Have more questions? Reach out to us at [email protected]! Enjoy your grow, and check out our grow kits if you’re ready to get started.
Learn how to cultivate marijuana. Find the best marijuana growing advice for seed germination, cloning, pruning, trimming, and curing to help maximize your yields.
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. Drying, trimming, and curing your outdoor auto harvest
- 4. a. Drying your buds
- 4. b. Trimming your buds
- 4. c. Curing your buds
- 5. 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 summer1 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.
Your 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 2-3cm 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. Drying, Trimming, and Curing Your Outdoor Auto Harvest
So, you have finally seen the crop go all the way from seed to harvest. What a feeling, right? The levels of excitement surrounding the thoughts of at long last being able to smoke those gorgeous, juicy nugs that you have grown yourself are at an all-time high. But hold up just a minute (or actually, a little longer than a minute).
We are sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but you are still a little way off from being able to consume the fruits of your labor. Sure, you could go down the hillbilly route and chuck some buds in your oven at the lowest temp possible and dry some of those bad boys out, but that would only be doing you, your hard work, and the plant itself a disservice.
Cultivating and harvesting a crop is really only half of the work. To get the very best out of the buds they need to be properly and carefully dried, trimmed, and then cured. Let’s have an in-depth look at exactly the steps that need to be taken to see the best results in terms of terpene maturation and smoke quality.
Drying Your Buds
Drying cannabis is not rocket science, and is a pretty easy task to complete as long as you have the correct setup. So, what’s the correct setup? Well, that really depends on how much weed you are trying to dry. If you are reading this guide then there is a good chance that you are a novice grower, so we are going to stick to a small-scale operation here. The very first decision you will need to make is whether you are going to wet or dry trim. There are pros and cons attached to both styles of trimming, but for the vast majority of growers, we suggest going for dry trimming.
Wet trimming is when you remove most of the unwanted plant material as soon as you harvest, and before the drying period begins. Dry trimming involves leaving the majority of the sugar leaves attached to the buds while you let the plant dry. It is fine to remove the larger fan leaves, but for the most part, you can just break the plant down and hang it for drying.
The only time we really suggest wet trimming is if you live in an area where the temperature and relative humidity is quite high and you are unable to bring them under your control. For the rest of this guide we will assume you are going to dry time your harvest. Using a large cardboard box as the drying area is one of the most common solutions for novice growers. We suggest using twine to create a bunch of horizontal hanging lines throughout the box and hanging the buds or branches directly from these lines. You can also use your grow tent to dry the weed, but that takes the tent itself out of action for a couple of weeks. Another common solution is a herb drying rack.
To properly dry cannabis you need to be able to control the drying environment unless you are lucky enough to live in the perfect environmental conditions. In terms of temps, we are looking for it to sit in the range of 60 – 70°F (15 – 22°C). For relative humidity, a range of 55 – 65% is perfect. This should result in a slow drying time of between 10 to 14 days. Any faster and you run the risk of destroying the terpene profile, any slower and you could be looking at mold issues. To get this right you may need to use some kit, depending on your current environmental conditions. An AC may be handy if it’s way too hot, as may a dehumidifier (or a humidifier for that matter). You could also use some fans or even a small electric heater. It all depends on your set up really. Just remember that a hygrometer is your best friend, and will give you all the info needed to be successful in drying your harvest.
Trimming Your Buds
Dry trimming weed isn’t a hard job, but boy oh boy can it be a super tedious one – especially if you have a bunch of buds to deal with. To make life as easy as possible do not use any old pair of scissors. Trimming scissors are going to make the process much quicker and easier. And make sure you grab a decent trim tray like the OG Trim Bin. Trim trays do a great job of grabbing all of the fallen trichomes that would otherwise be lost.
When trimming, the golden rule is to never shave the buds. You want to use the tips of the scissors to dig into the flowers and snip the stems of the sugar leaves while leaving the calyxes and pistils undisturbed. Now that the drying and trimming are done it must be finally time to smoke, yeah? Hell nope! Look, at this stage, the buds will be fine to smoke – but if you really want to get the best out of them, you need to let them cure.
Curing Your Buds
It is best to think of the curing process in the same way as aging wine or whiskey. Without it, the product will not be at its peak. Thankfully it doesn’t take nearly as long as aging alcohol, but it does still require a little bit of patience. How long does it take for the curing process to finish?
Well, that really all depends on the environmental conditions, the strain, and how dense the buds are. The answer is also dependent on who you ask, but for the majority of strains, a curing period of 2 to 4 weeks should be fine. That being said, some strains can take up to 6 months to properly mature, so even if you think the process is finished it’s best to leave them in their curing containers. For the curing process to be successful you need to provide the right conditions, which isn’t too hard as long as you have the right equipment and space.
First up, you are going to need to grab some air-tight containers. Most people choose glass jars, but honestly, anything that is re-sealable will do. One golden rule to keep in mind is to not overfill the containers. Try to keep them less than 75% full so the buds have some room to breathe. Store the jars in a cool, dark area, and if possible get a separate hygrometer for each jar. These come with probes that can be placed inside the jar with the main body outside. In terms of temps, you should be looking to keep it around 70°F (22°C) with a relative humidity level of 60-65%.
These jars are going to need to be burped twice a day for the first 10 days or so, and then twice a week for the rest of the curing period. Don’t be alarmed if the buds seem to become a little moister in the first 3 days, this is just the remaining internal moisture leaking out. What should alarm you is if you smell anything close to ammonia when you burp them, as this is a tell-tale sign of mold. If this happens then quickly empty the jar and place the buds back in the drying area for a day or two and pray that the mold disappears. Once a month has passed, the buds should be more than ready to finally smoke!
5. 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.
But what makes autoflowering cannabis cultivars so easy to grow? Well, there are a few beginner-friendly traits that set them apart from their photoperiod cousins. For one, they descend from a type of cannabis—known as cannabis ruderalis—that adapted to the harsh conditions of Siberia. All autos possess Ruderalis genetics, which endows them with impressive hardiness, good pest and disease resistance, and rapid growing times. If you’re an indoor grower, you won’t even need to adjust the light cycle to get them to flower. Now that you’re more familiar with autoflowering genetics, let’s take a look at what mistakes to avoid to achieve the best outcome possible.
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).
If you live in a particularly cold region, there are steps you can take to protect your plants from the threat of late frosts. Of course, starting seeds indoors will help here. Plus, doing so will help to speed up germination times. Moving them out into greenhouses and polytunnels will add an additional layer of protection as the seasonal frosts begin to wane. If you have no choice but to move them outdoors under the sky, consider covering young plants with bell cloches and mulching the surrounding soil with hay or straw as a form of insulation.
You can also leverage timing to take advantage of successive harvests. Staggering sowings by two weeks till break up the work that awaits come harvest time. It will help you space out all of that trimming, drying, and curing into easily manageable portions. 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.
There are a variety of different techniques to create healthy compost loaded with organic matter and beneficial microorganisms. If you can get your hands on enough green (grass cuttings, food scraps, coffee grounds, manure) and brown materials (cardboard, paper, woodchips) to fill a compost bin immediately, you can create a hot compost pile that will produce an excellent growing medium in as little as a few weeks. Simply add 50% green material and 50% brown material, stack them in alternating layers, and turn and water occasionally.
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. If you have the luxury of a garden, you can leverage biodiversity in your favor to produce incredible auto specimens. Consider sowing companion plants such as basil, chamomile, and yarrow nearby to attract beneficial insects that will help to keep pest species away. If you live in a hot climate, low-growing ground cover plants such as winter squash will help to cast a shadow over the soil and, in doing so, boost moisture retention and reduce the amount of watering you have to do.
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.
If you’re growing autos outdoors in a warm climate, your containers will dry out fast—especially during heatwaves. To help improve water retention, consider applying a layer of mulch onto the top of your growing medium. Straw, hay, or leaf litter helps to produce more of a natural growing environment—how much bare soil do you see when walking through the forest? As well as breaking down and feeding soil microbes over time, these materials shield the top layer of soil from the sun and reduce water loss via evaporation.
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. While judging pistil colors works well for many growers, you can use trichome color as an accurate estimation for harvest time, too.
Have you ever noticed that white frosty layer on the surface of cannabis buds? They might not look like much to the naked eye, but these are tiny mushroom-shaped glands known as trichomes that produce all of the cannabinoids and terpenes that underpin the effects, aroma, and flavor of different strains. Low-cost forms of magnification, such as jewelers’ loupes, offer an up-close and personal view of these little phytochemical factories.
By assessing their color, you can get a good understanding of the maturity of your buds. Clear trichomes indicate that flowers are still too young and lack adequate levels of cannabinoids and terpenes. Aim to harvest when at least 50% of the trichomes you inspect are milky and opaque. If you wait too long, these glands will start to display an amber color, signifying the partial degradation of THC into CBN—a byproduct associated with a more physical and stoning effect.
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!