What Are Autoflowering Seeds?
Autoflowering cannabis seeds produce plants that flower on their own after 2–4 weeks of growth. Growers don’t need to worry about switching the light schedule to initiate and maintain the flowering phase, like they would if growing feminized photoperiod cannabis.
Autoflowers also need much less time to grow. Some varieties are ready to harvest in a short 8 weeks after sprouting. Plus, autoflowers are compact, which makes them great for indoor growing. Because they are so convenient, autoflowers are (not just) ideal for beginners to cannabis cultivation. More experienced growers can also take advantage of the unique growing traits of autoflowering cannabis.
Non-Photoperiod Strains: What Does It Mean?
Feminized (photoperiod) cannabis plants flower depending on the hours of light they receive. Out in nature, they start to bloom when the days get shorter at the end of summer. Indoors, cultivators initiate flowering by adjusting their grow lights to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
In contrast, autoflowering strains flower based on age, independent of light hours, which means they are non-photoperiod strains. Autoflowers have several noteworthy characteristics:
- Plants flower automatically after 2–4 weeks.
- The average period between planting and harvest is 10 weeks.
- Autoflowering seeds are also feminized. No need to worry about male plants.
- Plants stay small (30–100cm).
- They don’t attract too much attention. Ideal for stealthy grows.
- You can harvest several crops per season.
Particularities of Autoflowers
The autoflowers that first appeared on the market in the early 2000s didn’t really impress. They weren’t very potent, their aroma was lacking, and their yields were not great either.
But autoflowers have come a long way since then. Modern autoflowers rival feminized photoperiod strains (and some even surpass them) in terms of potency, yield, and aroma. Yet, they still provide the same great benefits as mentioned above, along with having a reputation for being particularly stable and sturdy.
These days, autoflowers can satisfy even the most demanding of users: Recreational users won’t have difficulties finding automatic varieties rich in THC, and holistic users can get autoflowers low in THC but high in CBD to benefit from the non-psychoactive cannabinoid.
How Are Autoflowering Plants Created?
Autoflowering strains are created by crossbreeding indica or sativa plants with ruderalis. Ruderalis is a wild subtype of cannabis that grows in regions where the summer is very short but features many hours of daylight (e.g. Northern Europe or Siberia). These plants have evolved to not rely on daylight hours to flower, instead flowering according to age.
- Ruderalis on its own isn’t too useful: Its buds won’t produce a high, and the plants are small with low yields. However, breeders discovered that they could crossbreed high-quality indica and sativa strains with ruderalis to make them autoflowering. This has revolutionised cannabis cultivation by fusing the best traits of all the cannabis subspecies.
Who Uses Automatic Cannabis Strains, and Why?
- Growers: Growers like autoflowers because they are convenient and easy, producing a fast harvest with decent yields. With their compact size, they are among the best plants for growing in small spaces—great for micro-grows or putting a plant or two on a balcony. They also make good strains to grow outdoors as they are resilient and robust. Plus, their small size makes them a good choice for stealthy guerrilla grows.
- Smokers: Recreational users can enjoy autos just like feminized photoperiod cannabis. If you’re smoking for the high, which can be anything from relaxing to uplifting, fun, and giggly, you can find the right autoflower to suit your tastes! Some autoflowers are slightly lower in THC than the average strain, making them ideal for people who like a milder and more balanced effect when smoking cannabis.
The Influence of Terpenes in Autoflowering Strains
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds in cannabis. Each strain has a different terpene profile, which gives them their distinct aromas and tastes. So, if you’re smoking your autoflower buds and you can taste or smell citrusy, flowery, fruity, skunky, or even fuel notes, this is due to the distinct terpene profile of your strain. It is also suggested that terpenes do more than offer appealing tastes and smells; they may even influence the effect a strain has.
Popular Autoflowering Cannabis Strains
Here are some of the most popular autoflowering varieties based on well-known cannabis strain families.
Lowryder (Quick One, Diesel, Solomatic CBD)
Lowryder was the very first “commercial” autoflower, released in the early 2000s. Based on these legendary genetics are Royal Queen Seeds’ Quick One, Diesel Automatic, and Solomatic CBD—the latter of which is aimed toward holistic users, as it contains 21% CBD and less than 1% THC.
Kush (Bubble Kush Auto, Royal Kush Auto)
The “mother of all indicas”, Kush is also well-represented in the autoflowers you can get at Royal Queen Seeds. Check out the fruity Bubble Kush Auto or Royal Kush Auto, both autoflowering variants of classic strains.
Haze (Amnesia Haze Auto, Royal Haze Auto, Royal Jack Auto)
The famous Haze family of strains provides a cerebral buzz that makes it top for daytime smoking. RQS has autoflowering variants of the classic Hazes, including Amnesia Haze and an autoflowering Jack Herer called Royal Jack Auto. Royal Haze Auto is a cross between Amnesia Haze, Skunk, and ruderalis.
Afghan (AK Auto, NL Auto, Critical Auto)
Enjoyed in the Middle East for centuries, Afghan is another classic cannabis variety loved by smokers and growers alike. Enjoy the relaxing effects and spicy notes of RQS’ AK Auto, Northern Lights Auto, or Critical Auto, along with their great yields.
Cookies (Gorilla Auto, Cookies Auto)
From the West Coast of the US hails the immensely popular Cookies family of strains—famous not just for their sweet dessert flavours, but also their uplifting and social effect. Some of the best autoflowers with Cookies genetics are Royal Queen Seeds’ Gorilla Auto (based on the ultra-potent Gorilla Glue) and Cookies Auto.
Blueberry (Haze Berry Auto, Bluematic)
Renowned for their sweet berry notes is the famous “Blue” family of cannabis. Originally from the US West Coast, Blueberry has been infused into two popular RQS offerings: Haze Berry Auto combines Haze Berry and Blueberry Auto, while Bluematic is the automatic variant of the original Blueberry.
Purple (Purple Queen Auto, Purplematic)
Made from select Kush varieties from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Purple family of cannabis features plants with a gorgeous appearance. Purple Queen Auto is an automatic variant of Purple Queen, and Purplematic CBD has 17% CBD and only trace amounts of THC for a clean and clear high.
Banana (Fat Banana Auto)
What do you get when you add Cookies genetics to one of the fruitiest Kushes, Fat Banana? That’s right, you get an incredibly fruity cannabis delight. With 22% THC, this one is also remarkably potent, providing a double-whammy for cannabis aficionados.
Gelato (Green Gelato Auto)
Lovers of great Cali weed won’t say no Green Gelato Auto by RQS. This girl was made by combining Green Gelato with an autoflowering Girl Scout Cookies. The result: an incredible aroma and mind-blowing potency (24% THC).
Skunk (Royal Dwarf, Sweet Skunk Automatic)
No list of good cannabis would be complete without the legendary Skunk family. Royal Dwarf blends ruderalis with Skunk, while Sweet Skunk Automatic adds autoflowering magic to Early Skunk and Critical. Spicy and skunky flavours galore!
Cheese (Royal Cheese Auto, Blue Cheese Auto, Fast Eddy)
For all the fans of the famous Cheese from the UK, Royal Queen Seeds has you covered as well: Royal Cheese Auto has a spicy taste and provides a deep stone. Fast Eddy Automatic CBD is also made with these legendary UK genetics: Low in THC (9%) and rich in CBD, she provides a clear and mellow high.
How to Grow Autoflowering Seeds
Use light, well-draining soil
For autoflowers, you want soil that is even lighter than that used to grow feminized photoperiod cannabis plants. If needed, amend your soil with perlite to increase airiness and drainage.
Indoors vs outdoors
Indoors: No need to switch your lights to a flowering schedule like with photoperiod cannabis. You can keep your autoflowers on an 18/6 (18 hours of light, 6 hours of darkness) or 24/0 light schedule from seed to harvest.
Outdoors: You are not as beholden to the natural seasons as with photoperiod plants. You can plant your autos at any time of the year, provided there is no frost. Harvest 8–10 weeks after planting. If you plant your autoflowers several weeks apart, you can achieve several harvests per year! Autoflowers are stealthy and compact. This makes them perfect for low-key outdoor operations.
How much time do you need to grow autoflowers?
It depends on the strain. But in general, autoflowers will be ready much quicker than feminized photoperiod cannabis. The average life cycle of autoflowers is about 10 weeks, with some strains ready as soon as 8 weeks after germination.
Can you grow feminized photoperiod and autoflowering cannabis in the same grow room?
You can, but it isn’t optimal. One issue can be the difference in size between the two types. The other is that you’ll need to switch your lights to 12/12 to flower your photoperiod plants, meaning your autos will get less than the recommended 18 or 20 hours, and your yields will be smaller as a result.
Optimal temperature and humidity for growing autoflowers
Keep your grow room’s temp at a moderate 21°C (room temperature) for healthy growth. Colder temperatures or excessive heat can lead to growing problems. For best results, grow in an environment where you can maintain full control. Use heating and/or cooling if necessary.
Optimal humidity for your autoflowers depends on your plant’s age. In the first few weeks, they prefer a more humid environment. Reduce relative humidity to 40–50% when your plants start to flower to reduce the risk of mould.
What kind of nutrients do autoflowers need?
In general, autoflowers are smaller than feminized photoperiod cannabis. Smaller plants require less nutrients than large plants.
If you’re using commercial cannabis nutrients, give only ½ or ¼ of the recommended dose to your autoflowers. When using commercial potting mixes that are pre-fertilised, you will likely not need to feed until your autoflowers start to bloom, at about week 3 or 4.
What kind of water for autoflowers?
With autoflowers being smaller and having a smaller root system, they will also drink less than large feminized photoperiod plants. Don’t overwater, and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
When growing in soil, the optimal pH level of your water/nutrient solution is 6–7. You can adjust your water to the correct pH level using natural pH “up” or “down” products.
What about plant training with autoflowering cannabis?
Plant training techniques such as topping, FIM, super cropping, and defoliation are not recommended for autoflowers. Any training that involves damage to your plants will temporarily slow or halt their growth and requires time for recovery—time that autoflowers don’t have (given their limited lifespan). You’d end up with greatly diminished yields.
On the other hand, you can try gentle plant training such as LST (low-stress training), where you bend down the stems and branches to create an even canopy and optimise light exposure. Skip the parts that involve any cutting or pinching.Get the scoop on autoflowering cannabis seeds. Find out what autoflowering seeds are and get tips on how to grow autoflowering cannabis
How To Get The Biggest Yields With Autoflowering Cannabis
- 9. Use reverse osmosis water
- 10. Dial in nutrients and pH
- 11. Prioritise climate control
- 12. Use CO₂
- 13. Train your plants
- 14. Use sea of green (SOG)
- 15. Use progressive harvesting
- 16. Document, refine, and repeat
- 17. The top 5 highest yielding RQS autoflowering strains of 2020
Autoflowers have finally earned the respect they deserve. More importantly, they have earned a place in your grow room. With our guide to achieving maximum yields, you will crop the biggest harvest possible from your autoflowers!
TAKING AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS YIELDS TO THE LIMIT
Autoflowers grow blazingly fast and don’t rely on light hours to enter bloom. As they make growing weed a lot more convenient, autoflowering strains have become very popular as more high-quality strains appear on the market.
There are several things growers can do to encourage bigger yields from their autoflowers.
1. START AUTOFLOWERS IN THEIR FINAL CONTAINERS
Autoflowering cannabis will race from seedling to stash in a quick 60–90 days. When autos are stressed too much or their growth is otherwise slowed, they will still bloom at the same time, and your yields will suffer.
To max out yield, you should sow seeds directly into their final containers. Alternatively, you can germinate them using the paper towel method (or whatever your preferred germination method may be) and then put them straight into large pots. A healthy root zone must be fostered early.
2. USE BIGGER POTS
The bigger the pot, the more the roots will develop and the bigger your plant will be. If you constrain it in a pot that’s too small, your plant’s development and production will be reduced. It is recommended that you use 15–20-litre pots to maximise results without overwhelming your plants. A pot that is too big will be a waste of substrate and fertiliser.
3. CONSIDER POT MATERIAL
A healthy and strong root system means healthy plants with great yields. Consider “smart pots”, like the RQS fabric pot, to give you an advantage in this domain. With their ability to prevent plants from becoming root bound, fabric pots are better for overall development.
In addition, fabric pots make it nearly impossible to overwater your cannabis as they facilitate excellent drainage.
4. USE AN AIRY GROWING MEDIUM
Autoflowers grow fast and vigorously, and have only a limited time to do so. Because of that, you want to support their growth in every way possible. A loose and airy growing medium makes it easier for your autoflowers to develop a strong root system.
If the substrate is too compact, you can make it suitable for autoflowers by adding some perlite and coco coir. See our article here for more tips on the best soil for your autoflowers.
5. ADD A ROOT STIMULANT
Another way to support root development is by adding a root stimulant. One good way to do this is by introducing beneficial fungi into your growing medium. Mycorrhizal fungi increase nutrient and water uptake, protect plants from disease, and generally encourage an optimal growing environment.
Easy Roots – Mycorrhiza Mix
6. START SEEDLINGS INDOORS
Whether you are planning an indoor or an outdoor grow, make sure to start your seedlings indoors.
As you and your plants are on the clock from day one, you want to ensure your seedlings root well. A cool white CFL, appropriate LED, or even a sunny windowsill are adequate. Just make sure vegetative growth goes smoothly; ready or not, your autoflowers will bloom on schedule.
7. SUPPORT PLANT STRUCTURE
Staking or plant support of some kind may be needed to keep your plants upright and their buds healthy.
There are several ways you can go about this. Bamboo stakes and strings, trellis netting, or tomato plant cages can all be used to help a plant carry its heavy load. If you want more tips, see this article on five ways to support heavy buds.
8. OPT FOR 18 HOURS OF LIGHT
Opinions differ on whether keeping plants under a constant 24-hour light cycle is beneficial. 18/6 is still the most common, and will save you money on energy.
Indeed, you could potentially grow them with less light, but we are aiming for a huge harvest, so you’ll want to provide them with as many lumens as possible. More light, more buds. Easy.
When grown outdoors, your autoflowers will thrive in the fine summer weather. Sunlight for 18 hours is not essential because Mother Nature’s grow lamp is infinitely more powerful than any artificial bulb.
9. USE REVERSE OSMOSIS WATER
Your water may be fluoridated or chlorinated, or may contain other impurities that hinder healthy microbial growth in the soil. In short, if your domestic water is unsuitable for drinking, it won’t do good for your cannabis plants either. You can solve this by using reverse osmosis water.
Simply spoken, reverse osmosis is a filtration process that results in pure, ultra-filtered water. With this, you are in total control of the mineral profile of your water. This can benefit the growth of your plants and your yield.
10. DIAL IN NUTRIENTS AND PH
Autoflowers are usually smaller, so they drink and eat less compared to large photoperiod plants. If you’re using ordinary cannabis nutrients, a good idea is to start out with 50% or even 25% of the recommended dose.
Soil growers are advised to use lightly fertilised soil for autoflowering cannabis. Heavily fertilised soils will burn these babies. Aside from supplements like enzymes, vitamin B, and beneficial fungi, autoflowers don’t really require large doses of base nutrients during their short vegetative stage. Heck, with good-quality soil, your plants may do just fine without additional nutes all the way to harvest.
If you must add nutrients to the soil early on, do so sparingly. Generally, bloom nutrients and boosters are all that’s needed during their life cycle. Even in flowering, low to medium doses of nutrients will suffice. Over-fertilising plants is a common yield-thwarting mistake autoflower growers often make.
Easy Combo Booster Pack
If the pH is off, your plants can’t uptake nutrients even if they are present. The correct pH for your water when growing in soil is 6.0–7.0. With a few drops of pH up or down products, you can adjust your water to the correct pH window.
11. PRIORITISE CLIMATE CONTROL
Seedlings and young plants prefer a more humid environment, while flowering plants require significantly less humidity to avoid mould and rot.
At times, just a simple standing fan or leaving a window open is all that’s needed to create an optimal growing environment. If that doesn’t cut it, look into solutions such as a heater or air conditioner for your grow room.
12. USE CO₂
It is scientifically proven that plants use CO₂ as fuel for photosynthesis, and with more CO₂ in your grow space, there should be a noticeable difference in growth rate and size.
The thing is, it only makes sense to provide your plants with CO₂ if all the other conditions in your grow room are already optimal. If there are issues with temperature, humidity, water, or nutrients, address these first before looking into a more elaborate (and expensive) CO₂ system.
13. TRAIN YOUR PLANTS
Low-stress training (LST) is a non-destructive training technique that even beginners can use. As the name implies, it is a minimally invasive technique that doesn’t involve any major damage to plants.
All you do is carefully bend and tie down the stem and branches to encourage lateral growth. This way, more bud sites are exposed to your grow light, resulting in fatter nugs and bigger harvests.
If you’re an expert grower and not afraid to put a knife to your plants, you can see whether topping will work for you. Just ensure that everything else is under control before looking into these more-involved plant training techniques.
14. USE SEA OF GREEN (SOG)
The sea of green, or SOG, method involves growing many small plants in close proximity to max out space and yields. This is especially effective in otherwise small grow-ops, and there is no better candidate than autoflowering strains. Their fast growth and short stature essentially do everything for you. Plus, no pruning or excessive handling is needed.
15. USE PROGRESSIVE HARVESTING
It normally happens that the flowers at the top of the canopy mature faster than those at the bottom. Simply clip off the individual buds that are ready, and wait for the rest to ripen. Wait 1–2 weeks between each harvest and watch for signs that they’re ready to pick. Most autoflowering plants only require two cycles of progressive harvesting, but larger plants may need more.
16. DOCUMENT, REFINE, AND REPEAT
Nobody is born a master cannabis grower. To become an expert, you want to pay attention and carefully record each process used in your grow. Only this way will you notice which techniques render the best yields.
Something can always go wrong when growing cannabis. The key to high yields is swiftly and smartly identifying problems as they occur. As you refine your processes, the health and yields of your plants will improve over time.
17. THE TOP 5 HIGHEST YIELDING RQS AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS 2020
Perhaps more important than any other factor listed above, genetics have a huge influence on a given strain’s production potential. So, before we conclude our guide on achieving maximum yields with autoflowers, here is a list of the highest-yielding autoflowers from Royal Queen Seeds.
1. NORTHERN LIGHT AUTOMATIC
Northern Light is a legendary cannabis strain that derives from Afghan indica genetics. First bred in the 1970s US, and coming to Europe in the 80s, this indica is still a favourite among many cannabis lovers. The autoflowering variant Northern Light Automatic shines with all the goodies of the “big one”, without compromising on flavour and effect. Moreover, she is one of the highest-yielding autoflowers out there with a whopping 550g/m² indoors. She pleases with a sweet, earthy pine flavour and a cerebral effect that is happy and uplifting.Autoflowering cannabis has come of age now both potent and productive. With our simple 10 step guide, your next autoflowering marijuana harvest will be huge. ]]>